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Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Choice

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Yesterday’s New York Times story, “The Gilded Age of Home Schooling“, looks at the practice from a lifestyle choice. The lead gets right to the point: “In what is an elite tweak on homeschooling—and a throwback to the gilded days of education by governess or tutor—growing numbers of families are choosing the ultimate in private school: hiring teachers to educate their children in their own homes”.

Well, that sure blows the hell out of homeschooling as a religious or philosophical choice. And I agree with the Times take. The tutor approach often is about lifestyle, such as people who travel. “Many say they have no argument with ordinary education—it just does not fit their lifestyle”. 

The Times cites US Department of Education homeschool statistics showing a 29 percent rise—to 1.1 million students—between 1999 and 2003. Twenty-one percent are tutored.

We plan to start tutoring this summer. Because my daughter wanted to take Japanese, for thee Spring semester, my wife found a competent Japanese teacher and organized a class in our home. My daughter would like to continue study over the summer, tutored by her teacher. We will likely pay more, but with greater benefit, as my daughter can learn at a brisker pace.

According to the Times:

Parents say in-home teaching arrangements offer unparalleled levels of academic attention and flexibility in scheduling, in addition to a sense of family cohesion and autonomy over what children learn. To them, these advantages make up for the lack of a school social life, which they say can be replicated through group lessons in, say, ballet or sculpture.

My daughter also takes acting, as part of homeschool. While emphasizing the basics, homeschool also caters to her interests.

Last night, we had our annual review; it was the first time. In Maryland, either the state oversees homeschool progress or an accredited homeschool group does. We chose to join the homeschool group (it costs, yes), because of other benefits. While there are subjects we’d like to improve on for seventh grade, the annual review showed excellent sixth-grade progress.

We did the review as a family, with my daughter the one answering most of the questions.

For us, homeschool is a lifestyle choice, even if differently from those people spending thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—on tutors. I work out of a home office, my wife is the at-home teacher and my daughter is the homeschooled student. We are together, as a happy, cohesive family. While my wife and I had worried about outside social interaction, my daughter does just fine making and keeping friends or from interacting with other kids at homeschool group outings. Homeschooling was a tough choice for us—one we agonized over most of last summer. But it was the right one.

Photo Credit: James Walsh

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