At CRHE, we sometimes receive questions from individuals planning in advance to homeschool. Sometimes they intend to homeschool because of negative experiences they had attending public school as children. In other cases they plan to homeschool because they have concerns about Common Core, or because they disagree with the education policies of the state or nation. We encourage these parents to consider and evaluate all available options, including the local public schools, before making the final decision to homeschool.
Schools today are not identical to schools when you were a child.
Public school teachers and administrators are always looking for ways to make education better. Since the 1980s there have been major shifts in how schools address bullying, for example, and an increasing move toward project-based learning. Don’t assume that today’s schools are the same as the ones you attended.
Your children are not destined to repeat your experience.
Every person is different, and that means you and your child are different, too. Your children will have different teachers, meet different classmates, and excel at different subjects from you. Let your children create their own stories.
Educational quality varies by state and region.
State and local policy have a large impact on the quality of any given school district. You may be concerned about the direction of federal education policy, or even state education policy, but you should give your local school district a look rather than pre-judging it based on the actions of bureaucracy.
Don’t judge a public school without visiting it first.
Test scores often have far more to do with student demographics than with school quality; school ratings based on test scores can contribute to segregation by race or class. Place more weight on the experiences of parents whose children attend the school than on its reputation in the wider community, and remember that diversity enhances children’s experiences.
Your child is not your political pawn.
While it is commendable to make political statements with your own choices, it is unfair to your child to let your political activism determine the quality of the education they receive. Your child’s education should be about what is best for your child, not about making a political statement.
Your child should have input in this decision.
Don’t make this call for your child without involving them in the decision making process! What your child wants should matter. Many homeschool advocates value homeschooling for its potential to be child-centered, but upholding this value necessitates centering the decision to homeschool on the child’s wishes.
Why would a homeschool advocacy group encourage parents to consider alternatives to homeschooling? Wise parents remain flexible and receptive to the changing needs of their children—different educational options may be best for your child at different seasons in their life. Evaluating the various options available is an important part of determining whether homeschooling is best for you—and, more importantly, for your child.