by Job Ang
At 6am, or some other early hour across America, millions of teenagers awaken to begin their trek to school, ready for another day of education. However, there is a small but growing group of young people who bypass this morning ritual. In fact, they bypass the traditional school model altogether. Ladies and gentlemen, these non-traveling students are what we call homeschoolers.
No. It’s not a rebellion against the governmental institution of “traditional” school. It’s not a youth movement or some radical secret society. It is just a number of normal kids whose normal parents decided to take it upon themselves to educate their kids at home. The reasons for such a monumental decision are numerous.
Some may homeschool their kids because of disciplinary problems at school; others because their kids are on traveling sports teams. My parents believe it to be their Biblical mandate to educate their kids in a Godly fashion. With the recent rulings concerning homeschoolers in California, parents’ ability to teach their children at home has been seriously challenged. Some judges think they know a thing or two about parents’ apparent inability in caring for their kids, but I would beg to differ.
Early on, my mom and dad both worked during the day. That meant that, for the first ten years of my life, I was either in babysitters’ houses or school. When I finished 5th grade and my brother finished pre-school, my parents decided to make the jump to homeschooling. Consequently, my mom had to abandon her career to stay home to work with us, then learn from conferences for homeschoolers how to manage the basic curriculum and other essentials like educational field trips, tests, and sports.
I have taken four years of Latin (yes, it is a dead language, but still!), all the regularly required math courses, physics for my senior year, and a number of online classes, including world religions and British literature for Pottersschool.org, that are conducted via conferencing software. My British lit teacher is a taskmaster. Let’s just say the course is highly rigorous, with a load of books to read each week, as well as a 600-word weekly essay to boot. Then, after all of the regular schoolwork, there are quite a slew of electives, like American Government, debate club, and church youth group. Needless to say, homeschooling offers the same comprehensive schedule as actual school, with about half the lecture time. Instead of classes all day, we could begin and finish homework immediately after the lessons, saving many a late night, simply because I’m home already!
Obviously there will be skepticism as to whether homeschooling grades are accurate or not. That’s why it is important for homeschoolers to do well with the “Scholastic Aptitude Tests,” (SAT’s). Oh, and those SAT prep classes at a prep center in Irvine are brutal! Waking up at seven on Saturday mornings just to go and take some tutorial classes, then full-on practice tests with all the questions and essays included, is not exactly how a 17-year-old wants to spend his entire Saturday. Whether homeschooler or public schooler, we all suffered together through the prep classes, but it all paid off, because I got a pretty sweet score, good enough to help gain acceptance into UC San Diego, so far.
But aside from the usual schoolwork, there are avenues for extra activities. I do indeed have friends with whom I can hang out with at times (we’re not all social outcasts). And there are other opportunities to learn outside of the usual school subjects. My parents have taken me to several business seminars—something homeschooling allows time for. It’s been quite eclectic experience learning in the homeschool environment.
Although I am a senior in high school, the recent ruling regarding homeschoolers in California provides an uncertain future for my brother and others around the state. The judges may think parents are inept, but I am evidence that homeschooling is indeed a viable option. My mom and dad are not certified, professional teachers. They are intelligent, caring, hard-working parents, who believe their responsibility is to raise their children, providing the best possible education for them, much like colonial America did. There weren’t government-run schools nor were there certified “teachers.” Parents handled the education for their children, until they were college age. Then they were sent to what were then Bible institutes like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.
Homeschooling is almost like a retrospective way of schooling in America. It actually is not quite so novel a concept. I think my parents have done an excellent job, even if I do say so myself. It takes much responsibility and willpower to stay at home with kids and make sure their grades are on par, that they are getting their college applications done, AND to ferry them everywhere for sports and activities. As my high school years are just about wrapped up, I owe a huge amount of who I am to my parents and their decision seven years ago to teach me at home… thanks Mom and Dad. b