With the COVID-19 pandemic closing classrooms across the country and making most students switch to school-at-home, that means a good many parents have had ample opportunity to sample what 2 million American children have been doing all along.
Which no doubt has also led some of these moms and dads to ask: Why would anyone choose to homeschool?
It’s a good question, and one we hope parents caught in the turmoil of a global health crisis will ponder with an open mind.
Families choose to homeschool for many reasons. Chief among these is the freedom and flexibility the educational option affords.
Homeschooling allows parents to schedule learning in a way that conforms to their families’ needs. Its customized, individualized approach lets students spend more time on subjects that challenge and excite them.
Homeschooling frees children from the rigid and artificial classroom environment so they can learn in a real-world setting and interact with people of diverse ages and backgrounds. It lets children explore while anchored in a place of safety, free from bullies.
Homeschooling is simply a way to empower parents to choose what they believe is best for their children.
And it works. The achievements attained by homeschool parents and students since homeschooling’s renaissance in the late 1970s establishes this truth beyond debate.
Homeschooling has produced great athletes like Tim Tebow and Coco Gauff, best-selling authors such as Christopher Paolini, industry-leading entrepreneurs like Robby Berthume, and chart-topping pop stars and award-winning actors.
And of course, homeschooling has also produced many scholars and public servants such as Dr. Grant Colfax, one of the first to graduate from Harvard. He served as an aide to President Barack Obama and today is serving the people of San Francisco as their director of public health.
Every loving parent wants to be his child’s biggest cheerleader. Moms and dads long for their children to succeed, and to share their values and beliefs. This is only natural and right.
The Constitution safeguards rights Americans value most — free speech and the free exercise of religion. Our nation’s highest laws also protect the right of parents to guide their children’s upbringing.
And this is what Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has been fighting to protect since 1983.
But despite all the success of its grads, homeschooling still has its critics.
Some point to public schools and the regimented schedules, age segregation, standardized tests, counselors, nurses, administrators and security guards, and wonder how this can possibly be emulated by moms and dads operating on modest budgets augmented with a little ingenuity and a lot of love.
Well, it can’t (and why would anyone want to replicate that?), but that’s not the point. What the critics’ arguments boil down to is a matter of control.
The question, then, is this. Are children better off being managed by experts operating under the strict authority of the state? Or are children better served when fit parents have the freedom to raise, nurture and educate them?
At HSLDA, we’ve been believing in and advocating for parents for more than 35 years. And we think that parents have justified our faith in them.
We’re in good company. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said that when it comes to child-raising decisions, the law presumes that parents act in their children’s best interests.
So we encourage parents who are getting a taste of homeschooling to explore the full potential and benefits for your kids. You might find that it’s much more than an education — that’s it’s a lifestyle.
For more information on homeschooling and how to get started, visit mompossible.org.
J. Michael Smith is the president of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
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