A Personal Opinion about Home Schooling
The following is an account of an experience relating to home schooling, values and education.
In a sense, all (okay most) of us who have children "home school" at one time or another. We have children, and for the first four or five years, if affordable, a parent stays home with the child. That time is precious and beyond any monetary value in the development of the child's social and intellectual growth.
I have a son, now grown to a man. When he was born, my wife and I had already decided she would quit her job as a teacher and stay home with him. It was a tough time; suddenly our expenses had doubled and our income was reduced by nearly half. We made sacrifices. We had two cars. We found we couldn't afford both, so we sold one. I bought a moped and used that to go back and forth to work. Not exactly the safest mode of transportation, but it sufficed.
During the first five years of his life, my wife "home schooled" our son. Being a teacher was an advantage. By the time our son was two, he knew his alphabet, could read rudimentary words, and had an idea of numbers. She read to him, explained things to him about the world, taught him to read, and took the time from her personal needs to do all of this.
By the time he was five, our son had completed C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" and was well equipped to begin kindergarten, or so we thought. He was overprepared, and that proved to be an impediment to his ensuing 12 years of education in the public schools. Public schools are both a system and a machine, and as would be expected, aren't geared well to accommodate certain types of input. Our son did quite well, ending up a National Merit Scholar, receiving an IB diploma, winning awards, etc., but in retrospect, he was basically unhappy with his public school experiences. College wasn't the cake walk one might expect, but ultimately he did get a masters degree in mathematics, is working on a Ph.D. and is now teaching at the college level.
The question, of course, is whether such a person should have been "home schooled." I really don't know. We could not afford for my wife NOT to go back to work, and so off to school went our son. If I had it to do all over again, I might have gone further into debt to have provided an alternative to public schools, but there are many other variables to consider.
If you are considering home schooling, please get all the information you can. Make sure you have the means, temperament, and subject-matter knowledge to do the best possible job for your child. Home schooling can provide an invaluable opportunity to spend quality time with your child or children, but it is not necessarily easy. However, there is no price tag than can be placed on the value of such time.
Time will tell whether the current interest in school vouchers will affect those who choose to home school their children. I suspect that there will be court challenges to attempts to withhold vouchers from home schoolers.
There are so many variations in how home schooling is conducted, validated, evaluated, and managed that you must spend some time gathering as much information as possible. Many who advocate home schooling also advocate demolishing the public school system. Others want to move to some sort of hybrid voucher system that funnels money back to those who teach their children at home. For some, these beliefs take on a sense of missionary zeal, and that such individuals are the keepers of the "Holy Grail" of truth about what works and what is right. Zealots, of any persuasion, scare me