Parents should do their homework first

Letter from Miriam Westbrook

Home-schooling – November 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

Some Home-School Pointers from an Experienced Parent-Teacher

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed the back-to-school articles in the September issue. And since we are in our eleventh year of home educating our three children, the home-schooling article especially caught my eye. I thought the article was well done and I can add my emphasis that home-schooling should not be undertaken lightly because it is becoming a fad thing to do. It takes an incredible amount of time, dedication and patience. Think it through before you jump in. If it really is for you and you plan well, the rewards will be worth many times more than everything you put into it.

I did disagree with a couple of points. One area is a point of law which may seem insignificant, but a study of the history of Colorado home-school law will reveal the importance of this “detail.” It is true that testing or evaluation must be done at grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 but those results can be submitted to a private or parochial school as well as the public school. The private school must report these test results to the public school only if the child’s composite score falls below the 14th percentile. Also, if a parent chooses to enroll his child in what is known as a satellite school or is a certified teacher, he is free from these requirements. This provides an additional margin of safety for families living in a school district that does not understand the law or chooses to ignore it.

The other point I feel there is confusion in is the area of the parent-child relationship and the socialization issue. First of all, only good can come from more contact with your child.When your child is born you are her parent and her teacher and you teach her the most important skills she will ever need to know. It is ridiculous to assert that when a child reaches age five (and some would have it as early as age two) that you are no longer qualified to teach her and that by insisting on keeping her at home, your relationship will suffer. You know your child best and know when she needs to be pushed and when she’s approaching frustration. We have two children in the adolescent/teen age range which is typically the age when parents and kids can’t communicate and the kids are embarrassed to be seen with their parents (and some parents are embarrassed to be seen with their kids). But we do not have these problems with our kids. I am not saying that you have to home-school to have a good relationship with yo

Recently someone suggested to me that home-schooled kids are being cheated socially. This is usually the first objection that is raised when someone mentions home-schooling. Maybe this is because studies have shown that home-schoolers average 30 points higher on standardized tests than public school children, so academics can’t be attacked. Several articles could be written on socialization, but I will make just two points:

1) Home-schooled children do interact with children their own age, but parents are able to have more control over who, how much, and what they are doing when together.

2) Socialization is not learning how to get along with kids your own age. It is learning how to get along in society. Home-schooled children spend much more time interacting with a wider age range of children and adults than their traditionally taught counterparts. Respect for all age groups is stressed. Several studies have been done that indicate home-schooled children are more than adequately socialized.

When considering home-schooling it is important to know all the facts and a wise parent will do his homework before undertaking the task of home education. But you are as capable as any “professional.”

Miriam Westbrook