Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Response to Letter to the Editor

This letter was sent to a writer for Meridian Magazine, an LDS ezine.

I wondered what you think will happen to your daughter as you home school her? I have thought about home schooling my children but the ones that I have seen home schooled turn out either socially inept or really needy. I wonder how to home school without all of the negative impact.
I see the condition of the schools today and they are nasty! I would like my children to have the comfort of being surrounded by the gospel but the support system is just not here with the home schooling. I wonder if this is a topic that you would approach. I am interested in hearing how others deal with this situation, and keep their children happy and well adjusted. (I also worry about my children being "dumb" if I cannot teach them something right. Where is the support for this?) Thank you so much. Jaime in Canada

I offer my reply below.

I think Jaime is right to be concerned about the social outcomes of homeschooling. A child who can't communicate and relate to a variety of people will not make an effective leader, employee or missionary. But I do not think it follows that the best option then is public school. After all there are socially inept kids there too, along with a lot of other stuff. The best option in my opinion is to be proactive as a parent. You have identified a concern so now you can address it. You want your child to function well socially, so what does that include? Relating to peers, relating to a variety of people regardless of age, race, religion or background. Perhaps you want them to be able to speak effectively and persuasively and not be intimidated by others. If these are the things that you are looking for in a socially well adjust person then as a homeschooling parent you can provide the oppurtunities for your child to develop them.

For instance your child may take classes in the community, privately or at the local college. For awhile my parents let all of the teenagers in our family, and there were up to four at a time, have a party once a month at our house. They could supervise and meet our friends while making it more inviting for peers to feel welcome at our house. Your child may join a club or apprentice for something that they have an interest in and will help them to make relationships with a variety of people. In high school I apprenticed with a 60 year old horse trainer and two living together interns from Austria, and worked with migrant workers from Mexico and a very moody cowboy/boss. None of these people had much in common with me except we liked working with horses, but I learned to relate to them and enjoy their company while gently letting them know where my line was. In highschool I also went to seminary Monday through Friday, church dances on Saturday and church on Sunday, so I still saw friends and people my age every day. There are ways to provide the social experiences that your child needs to be well adjusted. And if you really want your child to have other homeschooled friends to share experiences with, you could always start asking around to see if anyone else is interested. You will probably be surprised by how many people are thinking about it. I recently moved to a ward with no other homeschoolers, so I decided this summer I would teach a beginner's homeschooling class for four weeks. The first class had one person, the second had three, the third had six and I am expecting the same to the fourth and final class, all of which have said they are going to homeschool now that they know what to do. If you lead, others will follow and you soon won't be alone in the venture.

Thoughts from a homeschooling mother of four and homeschool graduate,

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