Editor’s Note: This post was written by Tiffany from Mommy Methodology. To find out more about Tiffany, please visit her website here and her contributor page here at Our Small Hours. Be sure to follow Mommy Methodology on social media: Facebook, G+ and Pinterest.
Can We End the Home School Debate?
Decades ago I was home schooled during my middle school years. The school district in which we lived had a sub-par education system. I literally finished the same curriculum courses in a matter of a few weeks that it took the public schoolers a full semester to complete. Despite flourishing academically at home, a debate raged within the community and within our extended family. Home school was anathema, ridiculed. Questions abounded:
- What about socialization?
- How could my mother teach subjects she’d not mastered?
- What about school functions?
Today, homeschooling is nearly mainstream. The questions our family faced decades ago still exist. A debate continues as to whether home school or traditional school is the best way to educate our children. Sometimes the debate is public, sometimes it’s private, and sometimes it’s just an internal debate. The latter is what I’m facing now, an internal debate.
Internal Debate: Is Homeschooling Better?
Do I home school or send my child to traditional public school? The very fact that I face this debate should tell you that I think there is tremendous merit in homeschooling; however, I know homeschooling is not right for everyone. I wonder if it’s right for me as the parent/teacher. I wonder if it’s right for my pre-schooler. Is it healthy, her level of attachment to me? I wonder if it’s right for my family, period.
While that decision is largely up to my husband and me, I’ve researched the subject tirelessly. I’ve asked for input from teachers and other parents. What are my findings?
First, let’s get the statistics established regarding the student-teacher ratio:
PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO 2010-2014: 16.0:1
- Elementary: 15.9:1
- Secondary: 16.4:1
- Combined: 13.0:1
Public school systems will employ about 3.1 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers in fall 2014, such that the number of pupils per FTE teacher—that is, the pupil/teacher ratio—will be 16.0. This ratio is not measurably different from the 2000 ratio of 16.0. A projected 0.4 million FTE teachers will be working in private schools this fall, resulting in an estimated pupil/teacher ratio of 12.5, which is lower than the 2000 ratio of 14.5 (source).
Even without the statistical information, the facts are self-evident. My child will get more one-on-one time if she’s taught at home. Teachers exposed to the success and failures of homeschooling tell me the key is to have a structure and a goal to truly educate.
Fellow parents experience the same debates I do. Most send their kids to public school; they have no options. Those that do opt to send their child to public school do so because they feel the structure their children receive outweighs what they’d receive at home. Other parents, after years navigating the public school system, decide to bring their child home for schooling. Many times this is due to the emotional needs of their child rather than strictly academic ones.
The issue of homeschooling is complex, yet we can end the debate if we consider one thing:
The solution is to find a way for our child to get the education he or she needs. Teachers serve an invaluable role. Parents serve an invaluable role. Our personal goal is a mutual one: to educate each individual child in the best possible way, according to their needs and abilities. To establish the lifelong ability within an individual for independent learning and sound emotional well-being is a precious gift.
That may mean that what is right or best for our childrens’ education this year is not right for them next year. The home school / traditional school may be a revolving door in our household. And that’s ok! Different is not necessarily better or worse, just different.
Decades ago, what did my parents and I ultimately decide about my education? I was homeschooled all through middle-school. I was inadvertently spared the labeling, bullying, and other issues rampant in middle school, for which I’m thankful. I decided to enter public school again for high school. By that point, we lived in a much more advanced school system; I entered honors classes after equivalency testing. My parents and I made this choice before the advent of the internet and online schooling. It was a successful path for me.
However, my sister may not paint the same picture of her homeschooling years. This underscores the fact that the solution is in establishing what is best academically and emotionally for each child/parent unit. Make a joint decision between parent and child if possible. And reevaluate that need on a periodic basis.