Thursday, March 27, 2008

Preschool or Home?

We have chosen to pass up preschool for our 2 children old enough to go. This is an option for us because I am a stay-at-home mom. I do preschool work with them at home as they become old enough (this varies with temperament of the child). There are several reasons for this, the primary one being, I want to spend every minute that I can enjoying my children. Okay, maybe a better and more truthful way to state that would be that I realize that I need to be enjoying my children. Sometimes I have to force myself to slow down, let things go, and laugh at some things instead of being so quick to punish.

I do not agree with the argument that children at at this age need socialization and therefore should go to preschool. What better place is there for a young child than being saturated in home life, allowing for close relationships to develop between siblings and parents as well. Generally, by the time a child reaches preschool age, a parent is really starting to see a genuine personality emerge - and only to send them off to preschool at this point is missing the opportunity to shape and guide at a very critical point. Besides, in our society, we typically do not have a problem with children being home too much - it's the total opposite. They will learn to socialize quickly enough in Kindergarten. In the case of an only child, there are always play groups that could happen and other circumstances that will naturally expose children to what it's like to play with others.

It is such a joy to teach these little bits of beginning knowledge, and I am encouraged to sing more, play more, and be creative in the midst of my everyday parenting duties, and I can saturate them in the Word of God without having to worry about what is being put into such young minds, even at a Christian preschool.

We also save money.

And hey, we're all qualified, right? A B C D....


Jennifer Poole said...

Totally agree. We are all qualified for the job and called to be responsible for training our children in the important ways you described. A more tragic mistake than 'undersocialiation' would be to hurry the child into the world of grade segregation. My hypothesis is that this artificial early socialization may hinder the child's ability to relate to others outside their immediate peer group (i.e. adults & younger or older siblings). So a healthy family environment has the advantage of teaching children the important value that life is not all about them and their achievements or sense of self-esteem.

Molly said...

You must know how I feel about this because we are indefinitely schooling our children at home, but I had to comment. Is the local 3-year old (or an entire pack of them) more qualified to socialize my children than I am? Is a child socialized when he acts like his peers or can relate well to people of all ages? Homeschooled children, when grown, are more often than children schooled in classroom settings to vote, volunteer within his church and broader community, and be involved in other community-centered activities. That's a socialized person. I am always frustrated to hear other adults claiming that a child who is polite, well-spoken, and well-behaved is un-socialized because he doesn't act like his peers. Our society is saturated with rude, self-centered, sassy children and people have become accustomed to it. Therefore, any child out of the norm (respectful) has been labeled as "unsocialized". It has only been recently (at least in terms of the history of the world) that children have become expected to socialize outside of their own families in order to be considered well-rounded. (In part due to the fact that the average amount of children per family has dropped below two; which means we aren't even replacing ourselves, but that's another issue.) Families in their truest form are our best opportunity to create life experiences for our children--sharing bathrooms and (gasp!) bedrooms, caring for one another, forgiving one another, showing sacrificial love, just to name a few. In terms of reading, writing, and arithmetic, those are all secondary to the virtues of faith, hope, and charity that are given to a child at home. (I must of course make my disclaimer that I would never claim that children who are sent to a "school" cannot learn these values. On the contrary, it happens all the time. My issue is with people who claim that children schooled at home aren't given the opportunity to become socialized human beings because of the fact that they aren't socialized by their peers. In our situation, we're happy to create many peers for our children who live right under the same roof as us--they're called siblings.)

Anonymous said...

I would be very interested in learning the source of your statement: "Homeschooled children, when grown, are more often than children schooled in classroom settings to vote, volunteer within his church and broader community, and be involved in other community-centered activities." I would also be interested to learn if the correlation is in fact directly related to homeschooling or if it is instead correlated to the type of family that homeschools. In my experience, families that homeschool are more likely to participate in the things you listed. Perhaps the children grow up to do those things because that's what their family did while they were growing up not because they were homeschooled.

Did this study you site say anything about homeschooled children's ability to work productively on teams in the workforce? Relate to people with differing backgrounds? Voice opinions that are drastically different in a constructive manner? Handle rejection?

Anonymous said...

Sean raises a good question that possibly the type of family that chooses to homeschool their children is also the type of family already engaged in socialized community behavior and so the kids follow that example. Unfortunately, whether that is correlated to the fact they were homeschooled cannot be proven or disproven because there is no way to go back and replay their life to see how the family would have lived under a different educational scenario. I would suggest that the families under debate here would probably turn out good kids in either case. I'd also like to state that homeschooling is not a one-size-fits-all solution nor is it automatically going to be the best thing for every family.
And Sean asked a great follow-up question about successful adult behaviors. I can't claim to be the perfect stereotype (or even stereotypically perfect) for this because I had the range of government and home-education. But I think any of my former employers would answer that I relate well with everybody and work easily within teams even when the dominant people have 'drastically different' opinions. As for rejection, I'm not sure what the typical homeschooling family does but thankfully my parents gave me plenty of chance for rejection. We all have to face this and would never deal with it in a healthy way apart from finding our true identity in Christ.
So, let us simply invest as much of ourselves as possible in our kids today and trust that God will lead us to make sensible choices for their continued growth and education in the context of what He wants for our families.

Sarah said...

Well-said, Lance. We do need to trust God to take care of our children amidst all kinds of parental failure. And I agree that homeschooling is not right across the board. I do think that it has gotten a bad rap and that because of this, there are many parents who would do wonderfully homeschooling their children, who shy away from homeschooling because if the stigmas still attached to the issue. Unfortunately, many of these parents don't even think the issue all the way through because of this. I would encourage everyone to at least give homeschooling a decent amount of thought before dismissing it - we're still in that process right now.

Molly said...

I guess I never thought to check back on my comment until now. Sean, here are some references to studies that thoroughly support my previous statement about the social and civic involvement of adults who were homeschooled as children.

And for the entire study:

Your comment about causation may be true, but in any case, for one to claim that homeschooled individuals are unsocialized is, based on the facts, unfounded. Perhaps many of these people would have been involved at these levels without a homeschooled background, but certainly you can now see that the statistics are in favor of well-rounded, highly educated, socialized (previously homeschooled) adults.
In terms of studies about teamwork, handling rejection, voicing opinions, etc, some of this is indirectly addressed within the above-mentioned studies (along with other studies on the HSLDA site indicating the future success of homeschoolers. For example, colleges wouldn't be going out of their way to recruit young adults who are increasingly self-centered, biased individuals who can't work with others. Nor would companies be hiring these individuals for high profile jobs.) I would also be hard-pressed to agree that the public school system is excelling at addressing these issues with the majority of their students when approximately 1.2 million students are dropping out of school each year. (That's one-third of the total student population.)

As for trusting God with our children, of course we must trust Him in all things. (And thank goodness He gives us the grace needed to be the best parents we can be.) Each family has its own set of circumstances that form their decision for the education of their children; and certainly every family must come to its own conclusion as to what is best for their children.

But, also, let us not throw our children to a pack of wolves and assume it will all work out. We have a duty as Christian parents to protect the innocence of our children and Brendan and I have decided that we can't trust the local public schools to do the job we were entrusted to do.