If parents wanted their children to have a good classical education, wouldn't their best option be a good classical school? Why would a parent choose homeschooling over a private classical school? This question is especially timely as classical education becomes more popular and dozens of classical schools have popped up all over the country drawing many students away from homeschooling.
There are three important reasons why parents need not abandon homeschooling in order to pursue a classical education.
The attitude of some homeschool parents is, "We can't do the classical approach. We have to leave that to the experts." They unknowingly throw out one of the many strong arguments for homeschooling: private tutoring is much more effective than classroom teaching for a classical education. The question is, is there something about classical education that nullifies this argument? Is classical homeschooling not practical?
In the past, private tutoring in classical education was common. Today, some parents question whether they can act as a competent tutor when they have little or no experience in teaching subjects such as Greek, Latin, logic and or classical literature. But there are many friendly, digestible, self-teaching materials available in these subjects. Any parent with little or no familiarity with classical education can indeed act as a competent tutor without and extraordinary amount of effort — a hurdle you have already jumped when you entered the ranks of homeschooling. No special degrees are required, except a PHD (Doctor of Parenthood).
2. Homeschooling is for Parents
If we parents value a classical education for our children, why should we not value it ourselves as well? Just because we did not learn these things in our youth does not mean that we should not learn them now, or that we cannot learn them as we teach our own children. We never learn anything so well as when we have to teach it ourself. What a blessing it is to have children to teach these lessons. Let's face it, we twentieth century graduates of public education were cheated out of a lot and we need to teach these critical lessons to our children.
We started homeschooling in 1980. In 1985, we were involved in an attempt to found a private school based on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Despite working very hard at setting up this school, organizing schedules and deciding on curriculum. One problem persisted: no students. Efforts at arousing interest in such a school failed. Our own children would undoubtedly have attended the school but instead we moved away and continued to homeschool. At the time we were disappointed. We did not then understand, as we do now, the real value of homeschooling.
Most children who attend a classroom school — private or government, classical or traditional — are pulled toward their peers. They bond with their peers and they are often drawn away from their parents. The authority of the parents can be undermined — subtly and quite unintentionally, but nevertheless unavoidably. In The Socialization Trap, Rick Boyer says, "Peer socialization breaks down family relationships.... [it] separates kids both from their siblings and their parents through time commitments, interests and emotional bonding." Oh, sure, the child stills loves mommy and daddy. But the heart, the affections, the attentions the very life of the child becomes bound up with his peers.
If you had asked us in 1985 why we homeschooled our children, we would have responded that we wanted our kids to get a good education. We wanted them to learn Latin and Greek. Today, we would tell you we homeschool because we want our kids to be socially bonded to their family. Parents need the sanctification that comes from teaching our children, and our children need the same from us.
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