I’ve been asked about why we decided to remove our children from the education system in favour of homeschooling them. My emailed reply became rather long-winded and as I’d been intending to blog about our decision I’ve tweaked it and decided to post it here. However, it’s long and so in an effort to keep you from wanting to stick forks in your eyes through boredom I’ll be breaking it down. And yes, before you say it, I am opinionated!
Why we decided to homeschool: Part One
A few years ago our second daughter Stephanie ended up being homeschooled at the age of 11. This was after a mixture of bullying and not getting any of her choice of secondary school. We firstly found out that she had been given a place at a school with an absolutely awful reputation and Ofsted report, and our appeal failed. We weren’t prepared to let her go there and so began looking into homeschooling with a view to starting in September that year. Then within the following weeks, some bullying had got increasingly worse at the junior school she was still attending.
One day she was crying because she had once again told a teacher about the problems she was having with some particular girls and the teacher sent Stephanie to summon the girls in for a telling off. Of course she was worried about the repercussions and so we made the decision that she wouldn’t be going back. We homeschooled her for two years. The first was autonomous. We didn’t follow any particular curriculum or anything. She chose topics to learn about and then worked on them.
The second year was more structured, which I much preferred. Having a brother a year older than herself, I bought the text books he had been using the year before and she followed pretty much the curriculum he had done. A lot of my time though, was spent researching, planning and arranging lessons for her. By the time she was due to start GCSE’s we had moved and she went back to a different school, and despite being deeply unhappy at the thought of returning she settled in well and is enjoying it. She was worried that she wouldn’t be at the same level or standard as her new peers but she needn’t have worried as she far exceeded them, and then some, which made her very happy. She now has a year left and is expected to achieve high grades in her exams next year.
Anyway, Caitlin was happy in school, and so was Harry when he started. However, my husband Michael and I were unhappy with a number of things. Firstly, there are some very good teachers out there. I don’t think I’ve come across many, if any, that aren’t good. But they aren’t being allowed to teach any more! Unfortunately, the government seems so set on creating little robots, with test after test, and a one size fits all education. You cannot teach millions of children the same thing, the same way, at the same time. You cannot hammer them into the shape you want them to be. But the government thinks it can.
My husband and I were no longer happy handing over the care of our children to teachers who had the pressure only of meeting targets, as it’s no longer about teaching children. I don’t blame the teachers. They have an extremely difficult job to do with seemingly little support. I do feel strongly that the government is to blame for the education system crumbling. I feel it’s more about pushing their future voters through the production line from an early age as possible, be it nursery or lowering compulsory school age or pushing daycare centres and schemes to enable parents to work or to have a break even. It’s good if that’s your choice but I don’t see any support to encourage or strengthen the family unit, or to help parents actually be parents to their children.
I feel the school day is far too long for poor little four and five year olds. My children were so tired when they finally got home. They’d be miserable, and it didn’t seem there was any quality time with the family any more. They didn’t want to talk about what they did once the novelty of the first week or two wore off. Conversation now consisted of single word replies, or even just zoning out because they were so tired.
It seems all about the rankings now. It’s all about the schools getting money. As long as a child gets the right grade it’s ok. It doesn’t matter whether the child understands what they are learning as next week they have to cover “x” subject anyway, but for THIS week they have to learn “y”.
There isn’t any ground work done and there isn’t any consistency either. There seems to be a different way of doing the same thing each new school year.
Discipline in schools is close to non existent. We were fed up with children being rewarded for sitting still during registration when our children, the ones that were learning and putting their effort into actual work, were overlooked. Harry had several problems with one boy in particular. In reception his ear was cut with a pair of scissors. Harry had been repeatedly pushed, hit, shoved, spat on and was shouted at in his face at close range. He had his work destroyed and when he told the teacher the child in question was not spoken to, but Harry was told to redo his work.
It’s not the teachers fault in most of the cases. There just isn’t a clear line any more for some kids on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Teachers have no authority, or power to discipline children any more. The children have the upper hand. And if they have little respect when they are young it is unlikely to increase as they get older, and so the problems continue and only get worse once they reach senior school age. While the majority of children do want to learn, it only takes one or two to disrupt a whole class. And the child’s view is, “What are you gonna do about it?”.
You can read the rest of the series of posts here:
Why we decided to homeschool: Part Two
Why we decided to homeschool: Part Three
12 thoughts on “Why we decided to homeschool: Part One”
you know I quite feel what you wrote is true in the way they school..ie as far as they are concerned they have to follow that curriculum at all costs and that is what matters. In Malta I don't know of ANYONe who homeschools and not sure if its permissable by law actually! but to keep children abreast they send them to private lessons after school so you got school from 8 till 1430 than u go home for an hour or so and another hour or two of private lessons…insane! I hope I;d be able to help my son myself but I know I cant homeschool since I am not good for that kind of thing!
As school fast approaches, I always wonder why I don't do this. I'm going to miss them so much and it would be so nice to have them around every day. No one here homeschools, but I commend those who are successful. You rock with your homeschoolin' self!
One of the blogs I read when I was over on MySpace was of a teacher who exposed the underbelly of the education system. She revealed how No Child Left Behind ruled what she could and couldn't teach. Her entire day became about what was on that test they take at the end of each year. If she strayed from it to teach something she found important, she got in trouble. A LOT of kids will suffer because of this act…it's all about making children pass, whatever the cost.
I agree with your comments and though we probably live far away from each other since I am not familiar with some of your schooling terms, I too am determined to homeschool. I was lucky enough to have an example to look at as I grew up of the difference between homeschooling and public schools. My best friend and cousin was homeschooled next door to my home while I was put on a bus every day and sent into a rural public school. I am lucky it was a small rural school, as the discipline wasn't quite as bad as a larger crowded city school, but there was still plenty lacking. The changes in the educational system in this country in the last decade have only made things worse. I know even more from having a husband who spent a semester teaching high school kids. The standards he was expected to meet had nothing to do with teaching kids and everything to do with the school obtaining certain grades from testing. My reasons for homeschooling go on and on and I am just so suprised that more people do not consider it. I haven't begun yet and I know it will be a lot of work. My children are 3 and 1 and I have another on the way. I however put priorities, as you said, on spending time with my family and raising my kids in a healthy environment. I also want to make learning fun and avoid the horrible influences of the kids whose parents don't discipline or even pay attention to their kids behavior. Well, I tend to get opinionated and long winded too… just wanted to say Good for you!
@Equidae – Wow, it sounds like the pressure is on there too!
@Jennifer Juniper: Have you seriously considered homeschooling? Have you tried working out your reasons for and against it and seeing where you end up?
@Stephanie Faris: That blog sounds interesting. If you come across it again I'd love the link.
@Misty M: Your husband's insight is very interesting. Good luck with the new baby and with homeschooling once you begin!
Great post! I agree with everything you said. The stuff about the government controlling education in order to prepare future voters is so true. Our country is now indoctrinating children in socialism and it is so sad. I have been homeschooling from the beginning, but have had 3 of my sons go to a Christian high school for the sports opportunities. I think it is great that you had the courage to take your children out of the system and teach them yourself!
Hello, I found you in the blog hop and I'm glad that I did. I 100% agree with you. Teachers can no longer teach the way that they crave, it's now all about testing. Students are increasingly not being parented and shuttled off to the "school babysitter". We are a homeschooling family also. Glad to "meet" you!
We are new to home schooling this year. I love your blog and plan on reading a lot more often than before. 🙂
Thank you, Angie! You're very kind. Good luck with the homeschooling. I'm sure you're going to love it!