Heather Sanders

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March 2014



Homeschooling is selfish; I agree.

Written by , Posted in Homeschooling, Reality

Homeschooling is selfish; I agree.

Jeff and I made the decision to homeschool when our oldest, Emelie, was in Second Grade. Previous to that decision, we never considered homeschooling our kids; not once. We were fully involved in Emelie’s early elementary education by volunteering, attending school performances and teacher meetings, and of course, helping her with homework, supporting her teacher and the school.

As a child, Emelie was expressive, upbeat and talkative. So when we witnessed her turning inward, spending more time in her room away from family, having nightmares regularly, and wetting the bed long after she successfully potty-trained, our concern escalated to fear.

As you can imagine, we mentally reviewed EVERY SINGLE MOMENT she was away from us, as well as EVERY SINGLE PERSON whom she came into contact with trying to find a reason for this abrupt change in our daughter.

It wasn’t until Emelie began begging not to go to school that we believed we’d finally found our culprit. Now, let me state for the record that Emelie LOVED her Kindergarten and First Grade years. She flourished under those two teachers, amidst her classmates, and never grumbled about school or anything school related.

Following the school’s protocol, we emailed the teacher to request a meeting, and were told it would be upwards of three weeks before the teacher had time to speak with us. We pressed the issue without success, and after another night of screaming nightmares, my husband and I made the decision to pull her from public school.

For the sake of this post’s brevity, it was a whirlwind for a while. At that time, my husband was active military, and we were not stationed in our home state. Our other two children, Meredith and Kenny, were 3-years-old and 10-months-old, respectively. Meredith had just undergone a second eye surgery for the correction of her Exotropia and Kenny was in and out of the hospital with complications from RAD (Reactive Airway Disease); so, to say we were not prepared to homeschool is an understatement. If anything, we were opposed.

We chose to homeschool because our priority was (and is) family, and our daughter needed rescuing.

In other words, we made a selfish decision to homeschool based solely on the needs of our family and our child.

Weeks later, in a chance meeting with another parent, I learned that Emelie’s second grade teacher used public ridicule and shaming as a means to control and discipline her classroom. Emelie daily witnessed other students coming under “fire”, and feared that it would happen to her every time she set foot in that classroom. What was even more upsetting is that this appeared to be common knowledge; as in, parents and the administration knew this was going on.

It took weeks for our family to acclimate to this new change. It was not unlike taking on a new identity in many ways. But our reward for the effort was our daughter’s mental and emotional health.

Back to Public School

We homeschooled Emelie through Second Grade and half of Third Grade when we moved back home to Texas. At that point, we put both Emelie and Meredith back in the public school system so I could work more hours for a down payment on a home; once again, the public school was a wonderful experience (except for the pick-up lines–uggh).

The girls both did very well in public school. In fact, when we turned in their homeschool archives to their teachers, we were told that the girls had already exceeded what their classes would learn that year. We chalked it up to a solid review year and moved on with the plan.

In other words, we made a selfish decision to utilize the public education system based solely on the needs of our family.

Emelie remained in public school from midway through her Third Grade year until she completed her Fifth Grade year. Meredith was in from Kindergarten through her Third Grade year. Kenny even did one year of Pre-K at the same school. I became a “regular” at the school–volunteering in the library, helping with fundraisers, and assisting with AR Accelerated Reader tests for the kids who were not as familiar with the computer.

WE LOVED OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, and they loved us back.

Emelie’s Fifth Grade year was an eye opener for us though. We clearly saw the distinction between great teaching and sub-par teaching. For instance, her Science teacher was incredible; he was loved by teachers, parents and students alike. His classroom was active and interesting, with kids sharing responsibility for caring after all sorts of insects and animals–even while on breaks. He was playful but firm, and held very high expectations that the majority of students met, even if they were failing elsewhere. The same could be said of her Math teacher; her approach was strict and less “fun”, but entirely effective.

However, the majority of teachers were just pushing through the syllabus. They openly complained of paperwork and testing, and Emelie frequently conveyed her teachers’ struggles when she came home. All the while we watched her grades drop in those classes. Sure, she filled in the blanks on the worksheets and completed all her homework and projects on time, but she was not ENGAGED, and really, she was not LEARNING.

Emelie also dealt with bullying from one child in particular. I went up to the school on more than one occasion to speak to someone about the issue, but it was not resolved until the child’s family moved away. We like to say we prayed them right out of town!

Back to Homeschooling

So, having already traversed the path of homeschooling, we made yet another selfish decision to withdraw Emelie, Meredith and Kenny from the public education system, and we begin homeschooling again.

It has been six years since we made that decision. At first, we evaluated it every year to see if it was what we needed, but after a while it just became our family’s culture.

We have freedom and flexibility in our schedule.
We have choices regarding curriculum (or not), testing (or not), and the ability to slow down or speed up per subject/as needed.
We can hold high standards, engage our kids, and feed their areas of giftedness; in this way, homeschooling continues to be a blessing for our family.

If parents are honest, ALL forms of education are selfish.

I’ve experienced both sides of this decision and see the inherent selfishness in ANY choice we make regarding our kids’ education. I think it’s okay to admit we’re all being selfish in that regard because it’s the truth.

Most of us make decisions for our family based on what is best for our family, right?

Public and private schooling are both selfish choices because it turns our children’s education over to someone else so we can do what we need or want to do, whether that “thing” means working, caring for younger children and a home, volunteering elsewhere, going back to school full-time, etc…

Homeschooling is selfish because we withdraw as participants in the community’s education systems to focus on meeting our own children’s academic needs.

In my opinion, neither one is right or wrong; just different.

Still, they are both selfish, and I’m okay with that.

Heather Sanders


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