Homeschooling, The Answer For Public School Apostacy?

Families in Northeast Ohio are taking back the role of raising and teaching their children, from the public school system.
by Kirk Rattray

Study partners: 13 year old Kte and 9 year old Elizabeth are homeschooled by their Mom Kathy Oberle in Euclid.

Why home school? Public schools have outlawed the Bible, which teaches that sex outside of marriage is sin, and now they distribute condoms and teach that fornication is acceptable as long as it's "safe." Public schools have abandoned the Bibles teaching of creationism and now erroneously teach a hypothesis called 'evolution' as if it were proven fact. The public schools are even advancing the homosexual agenda by teaching that it's ok for Mary to have two mommies and Freddie to have two fathers. Why home school? What are the benefits? What about the critics who claim that a home school environment doesn't meet a child's emotional, social or intellectual needs? Connection Magazine recently met with three home schooling families to discuss these issues.

Scott and Tammy Walker, from Cleveland, have always home schooled their three children, now in grades three through six. Cheryl Rosenberg tutors her fourth and sixth grader from her Parma home, and Kathy Oberle instructs her fifth through eighth grade children in her Euclid home. Each parent was eager to dispel the misconceptions surrounding the home schooling issue, and spoke honestly about the joys, challenges and sometimes limitations each one faces.

Many parents teach at home because they want to determine what and how their children are taught. Walker vows that his children will not have the (skate-through school experience) that Tammy did. They passed her through, even though she wasn't doing much work. Rosenberg appreciates the parental control she has over her children's curriculums. (I don't want the government to teach my kids about morals or about sex or about things the secular world would be teaching that I didn't feel comfortable with.) For Oberle, it was a matter of principle when she pulled her children out of the public schools, because (any school system has degraded to a point that respect and honor, those common values, whether you're Christian or not, just wasn't there.) One particular incident at school cemented her decision to teach at home, because it was (really revolting. I could not believe a child could get away with talking to an adult that way.) Walker sums up that the reason he homeschools is because it's more of a philosophical issue. I feel it's a parent's responsibility to do that. Rosenberg agrees, adding that it's a good thing having your children learn under you. Oberle finds it comforting that she, not her school district, determines her curriculum. She calls the politically correct manifestos being taught in school today repulsive.

Some additional reasons to home school include the reward of teaching your children yourself, the passing on of vision, and the flexibility to adapt your lessons to fit your individual lifestyle. Rosenberg loves to teach, not only because (I can do a better job) but also because (I get to spend more time with my kids. Her greatest joy is that I've taught both my children to read, and it was amazing. Oberle wants to mold my children to do something in this world to change it for the better, a vision her children might not receive in a public school system. When the Walkers had to attend to a family crisis in Oklahoma, they took school on the road. During their three weeks away from home, they worked in educational opportunities, with field trips to museums, factories, caves, cities and historical sites.

Each parent agrees that another benefit to home schooling is that the education their children receive includes character-building concepts. The Walkers discovered a surprising aspect of their efforts - their children learn principles of responsibility and leadership. They are thrilled that learning at home (helps the little ones because they learn from seeing the big kids do and listen to what's going on... the bigger kids learn how to help out the younger kids. Another unexpected result of home schooling is an accelerated learning pace, because as fast as you can go, we're going to give it to you. Accountability can be taught at home, because excuses are not tolerated. If their homework is lost or eaten by the dog, Rosengerg expects her children to do it again. The one on one time parents spend with their children reaps tremendous reward, and curriculums can even be tailored to fit each child's individual needs. Oberle was appalled when she found out that her second grader had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that the school had never implemented. Incredulously, she laments (Where have I been? None of this has been completed. He now receives schooling tailored to his situation. Finally, in dismissing the concerns of naysayers about what his sixth grader learns at home, Walker scoffs by responding that (He learns what your kids learn in seventh or eighth grade.

Despite the numerous advantages that a home schooling education gives, there are distinct drawbacks that require a parent to be flexible, creative and diligent. The Walkers greatest challenge in teaching four children in three grades, plus having a toddler at home, is keeping discipline...or maintaining a culture that fosters education. Rosenberg agrees that discipline is a struggle because (they don't see me as teacher. They see me as mom. She alerts others to the sacrifice that home schooling requires: It has to be something that God has put on your heart to do. Oberle notes that it's not a fly by night thing. You don't just spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your kids for nothing. She also cites the cost of a home school curriculum, and warns that you don't get any perks. The state doesn't send you extra money because you homeschool. In spite of these and other drawbacks, these parents treasure the opportunities for relationship and fellowship with their children that home schooling provides.

However, there are critics that lambaste the home schooling experience. One criticism that parents often and easily dismiss is that their children are socially impeded by the lack of interaction with their peers. The Walkers refute this argument by citing a litany of social activities their children are involved in. Activities like city sports programs, Boy Scouts, recreational leagues, swimming lessons and field trips fill the Walker's calendar. Rosenberg refutes the critics with a simple Bah humbug, and continues the activity list. Her home school organization (holds graduation for their students...dances, activities, science labs, national spelling bees, geography bees, science and history fairs and many other events.

Obviously, home schooling students have the same social opportunities that public school children do.

Another criticism of home schooling is that the children lead a sheltered life, and are not exposed to the realities of the world, the flesh and the devil. Rosenberg points out that this element is in all of society, not just school. In preparing her daughter to handle herself away from home, she has talked to her about protecting her heart and walking away from ungodly situations. Regrettably, those situations sometimes occur inside traditional school settings. Oberle warns that not all school districts look favorably upon home schooling. She recounts a recent incident in a neighboring city where a home schooled student was kicked off the high school volleyball team after her educational arrangement was discovered. Oberle is morally opposed to this decision, and decries this logic by asking how is the community going to grow and become better by denying this child? One school official defended this decision with the statement (If you don't like the meat and potatoes (curriculum) then you shouldn't have the dessert (extracurricular activity). An advocate for home schooling responded with this rebuttal. I paid for the whole meal (property tax) I can pick what I want of it. Oberle supports this argument and furthers it. Well, my taxes go to Lakeland College, and I never went there. It appears that these unfounded charges of seclusionism only prove that home schooled students are afforded an equal opportunity to experience sin and separation as are their public school counterparts.

One final charge that home schooling parents often deflect is that their children will be lacking in the arts, drama or music. How can a parent who has no artistic or musical ability teach their child? There are numerous day schools in this area devoted to the arts, often run by churches. One such school is The Psalmist School of The Arts, located inside Cornerstone Chapel in Medina. This school is open all day Wednesdays for classes in art, music, languages, drama and dance. Here, an innovative approach to teaching is that children as young as five can begin classes, years ahead of the public school arc. Director, Mary Jane Kolodziej affirms that (children start learning long before school age. Students that young are welcomed for training because from birth to age five (their growth curve is tremendous and (they learn more than any other five year period in their life. Another novel approach to Psalmist school is that parents, even if they have pre-school children, can stay all day and participate in classes with their enrolled children. This equips the parents to continue the lessons, including homework, throughout the week. Kolodziej further contrast the difference between her school and public schools. (We focus on training students to use their skills to worship the Lord, and to present the Gospel in an arts format. In the public schools, it's just about the performance. Obviously, this approach to education is attractive. Enrollment at the nine-year-old school has exploded and new classes are added regularly. Furthermore, no public school system anywhere can match the cost of classes at Psalmist school. Tuition for any nine week class is a paltry $40, about the cost of a one-hour private music lesson.

How can parents prepare to homes school their children? First, befriend someone who home schools, and pick their brains. Surf the internet. Local libraries offer a plethora of information for both parents and children, and some even give out information kits. Churches like Grace Missionary Alliance in Middleburg Heights hold curriculum fairs that help parents choose various courses of study. Many parents use the Abeca home school curriculum, favored for it's ease to administer and it's strict academic criteria. It is published by The Pensecola (Fla) Christian College, and includes state proficiency tests your child must pass to graduate elementary, middle and high school. Legal help is readily available, too. The Christian Home Educators of Ohio (C.H.E.O.) assists with understanding the legalities of home schooling, and also holds seminars and scholastic competitions. The Home School Defense League (H.S.D.L.) works in conjunction with C.H.E.O. to protect parents legal rights. Because of a wealth of available assistance, home schooling parents are usually more aware of how to protect their children's interests than are their secular counterparts.

Because of the chaotic, immoral state of public education today, more parents are choosing to teach their children at home. Traditionally a choice that only religious families made, today more non-practicing households are home schooling, since the benefits transcend denominational lines. However, the rigors of introducing a cohesive curriculum into the home, coupled with physical, emotional and financial demands, makes home schooling a daunting task. But the benefits of a flexible environment, a personalized curriculum and an accelerated program far outweigh the downside of home schooling.

The question is, do we allow the public schools to teach our children how to live their lives or should parents reclaim the role?

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