The Homeschooling Question

Ok. So Mike, Ellen and I went to a homeschool conference this weekend in St. Paul. I know Ellen is only 10-month-old, and honestly, we don’t even know if we want to homeschool her or not, but it was great to get out there and just see what our schoolin’ options are. Mike went to public school for most of his education, and he was also homeschooled for one year for which his mom gets 10 gold stars. I went to public school for a couple of years, and then did most of my education in Catholic school. So, we have a pretty wide angle view on the situation. You might call us education aficionados. Or not. Anyway, now we are just trying to figure out what will work best for Ellen. Coincidentally, that might just be the option that drives me the less crazy. (Is that a phrase?)
Let’s take a break to look at a photo of my brother and me on the first day of school:

If you’re wondering where you can get that outfit or any of the fantastic art pieces on the geometric fireplace mantle, it’s simple. Just head on back to 1993 to your local Hudson’s home furnishings. If you’re wondering where you can get those expressions, you’re out of luck. Those are all ours. Anyway, back to Ellen’s school options.
I wouldn’t say there is an advantage of one over the other. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision right now. I’m also glad that we are looking into everything early. As a former teacher myself, education is extremely important to me, so it is important that I put a lot of thought into it.

Now, here is my question for you: What do you consider to be the pros and cons of these different models of education? Where did you/are you going to/will you send you kids and why? Tell me in the comment section below. Thanks!

This post is part of the Chatty Mommy Link Up.

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  1. Mary says

    My husband said the most insightful thing regarding homeschooling…I should clarify, homeschooling for the intention of ‘protecting’ your child from the world or, sheltering their innocence (Which is a philosophy I am sometimes tempted to follow).  He said, ‘what if the other children in school need Jesus and our children can witness that to them?’.  I thought it was a beautiful way to consider the evangelization potential of keeping our kids in public schools.  SO, we are pretty committed to that.  That being said, if we ever felt like the public school was causing actual harm to our children or that our children were unable to handle the pressures associated with attending lower-middle class public schools…we would look at different options.  For now, we are kind of all about the public school

  2. Bethany says

    Hi Jenna,  I just started reading your blog. :)   I, like you, have experienced the gambit of education this country has to offer.  I attended 4 different public schools in two different states as a child, I also attended a private, independent school, and I graduated from a Catholic college prep school. My oldest son, too, spent a kindergarten in a public school in MI, 1st grade in a public school in IA, and 2nd and 3rd in a Catholic school in IL, we spent the last two years homeschooling (I’m so glad my husband’s job has settled in one area, for now). Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot.

    I agree there are pros and cons for all types of schools, in fact the best experience I had in school was either the first couple of years at the first public school I went to (but then I got a third grade teacher who called me a sissy in front of the class, because I was crying) and the private, independent school, which I realize, now, ran a makeshift classical education system, and I really enjoyed it (but my mom worked at the school so I know the stories of the behind the scenes that made the school a little turmoilish).  

    What I like about homeschooling is that the pros and the cons can often be fixed by the parent (sometimes in conjunction with a specialist, in certain circumstances) – such as curriculum changes, needing to go faster or slower in certain subjects, finding extracurricular activities to provide opportunities for interactions, or the ability to take a “mental health day” when things are too crazy. 

    However, what I found with the public schools and the private or parochial schools as well, is that the pros and cons seem to be “the luck of the draw,” so to speak. Sure, my mom had to go in once to the school and fight for me to be moved to a different math class, because the one I was put in was too easy, and luckily it was possible for me to switch.  BUT… this isn’t always the case and the bureaucracy and red-tape that schools seems to be tied up with means that whether or not you get a good school or a good principal or a good teacher (not to mention a curriculum that works for your child) is pure chance.  Good schools can have lousy principals, great principals may have lousy teachers, and great teachers may work in lousy schools. There are too many variables for me to feel comfortable – it’s like taking a chance on my child’s education (not to mention self-esteem, self-worth).   

    I admire what Mary’s husband says about the kids witnessing Jesus to those in school that need it.  And that it is a noble thing. And for some children, they are able to serve in this manner and this is wonderful.  Of course, unless the children will be hermits if they’re not going to public school, they’ll see many of these kids in other places: around the neighborhood, at the Y, in the grocery store, at the park, playing baseball or soccer or basketball, swimming lessons – so the opportunities to witness will still be present just in different ways. 

  3. says

    I like that idea a lot. I think it requires a lot of accountability on the parents’ part in the beginning. You need to teach your children well enough that they will not succumb to the pressures that are out there. Kudos to you, because I know you and your husband have what it takes :)

  4. says

    Thanks so much for you comments, Bethany. I am a former teacher, and I am very familiar with the politics and variables of the education system. I loved teaching, but I hated the mandates, the abusive parents, the apathy and many other things. You’re right. There are so many of these kinds of variables. Those things definitely put a check in the homeschool column for us!

  5. Jen @ Ginger Guide says

    As much as I would like to homeschool, we A) cannot take the pay cut from my salary and B) I know I would probably say for most of it “you don’t need to know this, let’s move on”. We’re just stuck in the private/public school debate right now but only 3.5 years to make a decision. The Pioneer Woman has a  great section on homeschooling with lots of resources, fyi

  6. Marissa says

    I solved this issue…we know enough kids roughly the same age that you guys move back and we’ll just start our own little school co-hort!  Jesus can be the principal and we have all the grades covered.  What do you think?

  7. Marissa says

    In all seriousness though, this is something that continues to keep coming up to David and I. David, no matter what happens, will not have our kids in the public high school.  Yesterday, I found out that out our middle school, 15 kids were caught selling/dealing weed brownies.  So, now it’s the middle school?  This K2 thing isn’t helping either.  I’m extremely torn.  I want baby girl to go to school, and to have that driving natural competition to do well in school.  I want her to have another person tell her where she needs to improve, and then I can be the supportive model to help her achieve that goal.  I want her to get lousy teachers, because they prepare them for lousy bosses. There is something about “get through the year” and learning that there is an end to terrible things, and new things will start to change your outlook on things.  I want to teach her our values, morals, and beliefs, and I want her to have opportunities to test them before she’s 18 and I still have the ability to ground her and teach her consequences for her actions.  I want her to be able to discover what she wants to be involved in, find friends she decides fit her scheme in life, and help guide her to making good choices in all those situations.  I need to know she has been exposed to enough before college that I can trust she won’t go buck wild after 18 and there’s nothing I can do anymore to teach her the best way I know how to get through life.

    That being said, I’m scared of the kid sitting next to her in third grade who asks her to give her an inappropriate sex act because he’s having a tough childhood.  I’m not ok with her coming home being rude or inappropriate because the majority of her peers speak to their parents that way.  I do not want my child to be a data point, someone seen as “raising” or “lowering” a teachers passing percentage in order for them to be seen as an acceptable teacher.  I want my child to be seen as a learner, successful in the classroom, and willing to work because she knows it will benefit HER, not the teaching system.  I want her to go to school and color, play, and learn to enjoy learning in K….not forced to write personal narratives and how to papers before first grade.  Not to mention I never want her to have to read a Scholastic News.   Sleeping over at others houses would be limited to who I know, and to parents I actually spend time with.  If I don’t know what happens in their home, I don’t want my daughter their.  

    I’m angry with society that it’s forcing me to make these choices for my daughter.  I don’t even know if researching it will help me, because I’m so torn.  Maybe public for elementary/private for middle school/finish with homeschooling in the upper half of HS?  Best of all three???

    like I said, I’m still all about starting our own school….