VITAL

The Homeschool Choice

The Homeschool Choice

By Lucky Tomaszek “Where do your kids go to school?” “Well, actually, we homeschool,” I answer a little hesitantly. “I really like being with my kids, and homeschooling works well for our family…” I’m trying to be PC, trying not to start another controversial discussion with this well-meaning woman at Chuck E Cheese. But after letting that last sentence trail off, the silence thickens. And I realize that there is more I would like to say. I want to tell her that I have been teaching my children since the day they were born. I know them better anyone else, and know how each of them learns. I am intimately aware of their strengths and weaknesses and I know how to push them a little farther, without pushing them so far that learning becomes a chore. But it seems my opportunity has passed as we both go back to laughing at the antics of our children ascending into neon colored tubes and dropping into the ball pit. After several minutes, she says… “No offense, but why would you want to do that?” To start with, my interest was piqued when a homeschooled child won the National Spelling Bee in 1997, and again when first, second, and third place were all won by homeschooled children in 2000. And a little later in 2000 I read an article by Helen Cordes that said that homeschooled children are accepted to Stanford at “twice the rate of conventional schoolers.” I did a little more research and discovered that the average homeschooler scored in the 75th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, compared to conventional schoolers who scored in the 50 percentile. I must admit that the tragedy at Columbine High School in April 1999, and all the other shockingly similar tales weighed in to my decision making. Of course, there was also the personal journey I made as a mother. I stay home with my kids, and I have devoted a lot of time to guiding them through childhood and helping them become loving, generous, and freethinking little people. When my oldest daughter turned five, I put her into kindergarten. I had obviously thought a lot about homeschooling, but in the end I decided that it would probably be better for her if she went through conventional school. We gave it our all! We bought the cute ‘first day of school’ dress and the box of crayons. We took a lot of pictures that day, and she was adorable. The first week went well, she seemed to enjoy school and had lots of new songs and finger plays to teach us at dinner each night. The second week was a little harder. She was more reluctant to go to school in the morning, and when I picked her up after school she had less and less to say about what she was doing all day. “What did you learn today?” I would ask. “Nothing,” she would respond. The third week was worse; […]