I have been home-schooling my two kids for the past three years. They are twins and are 8 years old. Friends and other family members have told me I’m crazy, and that I should let them go to school, because I am depriving them of learning social skills and interacting with a variety of people. What do you think? Is this harming them?
Dear home-schooling parent,
I have known families who have educated their children at home, in private or public settings, and by doing a combination of all three. I believe there can be excellent reasons for parents to choose all of these options and suggest that moms and dads review the inevitable pros and cons of each for their families.
I think that it is useful for parents of homeschoolers to find ways for their children to be around people their own age — who are not part of their immediate family — on a regular basis. This gives young people the experience of sorting through the intricacies of peer relationships — an important part of life.
It can also be helpful to find classes or activities that children can attend, giving them the opportunity to accomplish goals as part of a group — another important part of childhood development.
In New York, there are strong networks of home-schooling parents who have sorted through ways to provide a variety of options to their children that include ongoing contact with other home-schooled children. New York City Home Educators Alliance is one organization that is an excellent source of support and information.
It is not unusual for parents to find themselves in a “defensive” position when explaining their parenting decisions. This is especially true when their opinions are different than “mainstream” thought.
I believe that parents know their children and should make decisions about the priorities they want to stress in their families. As they do so, I also suggest that they look for places to receive honest and thoughtful feedback about their ideas from adults they trust. It can also be helpful to take their children’s ideas into consideration as well. (For example, many home-schooled children I know have wanted to try attending a traditional school at some point during their education.)
Best wishes as you sort through the details of a wonderful learning environment for your young ones.
©2012 Community News Group
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