Trust The Children

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Is Home Education All About Location?

Over the years, we have observed many families come to the conclusion that "Home Schooling" is the solution for an unmotivated child, or a child for whom the public system is not meeting needs. This is not a shock to us. After all, we came to that same conclusion years ago as our children were younger. There are many many advantages and benefits that come to the family and the children of that family, when parents can so order their lives to provide an education at home. However home education is not for everyone. Our world is full of people who had no such opportunity growing up and become productive and positive influences for good.

There is, for most families, a period of transition from a public environment to the home schooling environment. This transition can take days, or weeks or months or even years. Can the parents patiently wait while the transition occurs? For many the answer is NO.

Some parents create a false expectation that years of influence in the public system of education will suddenly go away once the child is home. Parents often don't realize that children absorb habits of thinking and expectations for personal initiative from the public system that won't go away immediately just because the location has changed from bricks and classrooms at the public school, to the welcoming walls of the home.

This is especially true when, as I recently observed, the parents view, of home schooling, is a virtual reproduction of the disciplines and schedule of the public system, only relocated at home. It is almost as if the parent worships the system of public education so much, that the child himself, is relegated to a lessor position in the scale of importance. It has appeared to me, in many years of observation, that often the parent's need to fulfill their own expectation and vision of what education IS, takes strange precedence over the more obvious needs, interests, enthusiasms and passions of their own child.

My dad used to call it, in our business, people with a "plane and train schedule" mindset. More emphasis on the schedule, than the needs of the customer. In an educational sense, this is an almost rabid dedication to the form and function of education, including curriculum, testing, grading and grade level, to the frequent exclusion of the child's natural interests or curiosities or passions. Yes, the children at home need to be "DOING SOMETHING". However, in the first few weeks and months after coming home from years in the public system, it is going to take a while to undo what the public system has done. Be patient. (ie. Dumbing Us Down, John Taylor Gatto).

After years of being told by someone else, what should be of value to them, what should be important, what should be their loves passions and ambitions, a time of adjustment is required, especially, when at home, someone actually gives to a child the opportunity to answer that question themselves, from within themselves. The muscle of reaching inside themselves for answers is just not often highly developed. Mostly because it just isn't practical to encourage this in the public educational setting where there is only one teacher and 30+ students. But also, because, public education, by its very nature, can be more like building a car using a "Henry Ford Production Line" rather than a custom"one at a time" operation. Fitting the approach to the child is an enduring contrast and advantage that the home education environment forever offers. But getting to the point where a son or daughter can connect to this, may take some time on their part and patience on yours as parents. Patience and encouragement that thrives in a less structured environment and more responsive environment to the child instead of bringing the structure of the public system home.


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