Social contact is best enjoyed among extended family and like-minded people. Children will benefit from exposure to diversity if there is no intent to undermine family values and otherwise do harm. Parents are responsible to protect their children from physical and social harm.
What social traits do you want your child to have? Make a list: self-confidence, patience, respect, independence from peer pressure. ...You decide.
Take your list to a jr. high school and walk through the halls or sit in on an assembly. Does the product they are turning out match the desired outcomes on your list?
My child needs to learn to adjust to the Real World!
Do you mean that you want your child to feel at home in an environment that undermines his personal values? Or do you mean that you expect your child to be uncomfortable in the real world but to go there anyway to be an example of and a missionary for a better way of life?
- If the highest order is for your child to spend his days in a place where the value system is below his own, how will you know whether he is influencing the environment or the environment is influencing him? How will you keep track of his converts?
- If your child is in a school situation where the truth about history, science, government, and religion are not taught, how will he learn truth? How will he teach truth in the face of falsehood?
- If a God-less school is the most desirable environment, you certainly don't want your child to aspire to a Christian college such as BYU. Where then, will he go for college? What career will he choose in order to continue in the value path?
- Are you, as parents, spending the bulk of your day in a place where you are subjected to the pressures of a value system less God-like than your own? If not, why not?
- Study the children in your church or neighborhood. Are they influencing or being influenced by their social group? By the teachings in the school? How do they learn truth? What college and career choices are they making?
- Study homeschoolers for the same questions.
I can't home school my first grader; I don't know enough!
Can you read a worthy book and talk about it with him? Can you show him how to write an m and an e and tell him the sounds they make, individually and together? Can you write for him as he dictates stories and journal accounts? Can you count pennies and cut cookies into thirds and fourths? Can you color on blank sheets of paper? Can you tape Popsicle sticks together? Can you sing and dance and bounce a ball and pick flowers?
Make a list of the things you have already taught your child.
If you could teach those things, could you teach a little more? Is there anything left that you would really like to share with your child? Are there places he should see? People he should meet? Has he had time to watch the grass grow?
But I was so looking forward to my freedom!
You'll get your freedom soon enough, and you'll wish for those grimy hands around your neck again. Could you maybe manage an extra year for your child at home with mom before you throw him to the wolves? Kinda like every extra month of nursing adds a little bit of germ immunity?
If you don't get the most out of every minute of these precious young years, how great will be the loss? Will time spent now bring a return in your old age?
Talk with ten women over 60 and ask them if they spent enough time with their children.
I could never teach my teenager!
Could you read a great book together, discuss it, and then keep records of what you have learned in the form of essays, journal notes, notebooks, etc.? (If you are LDS, did you notice that the church introduced a new method of teaching a few years ago? We read and discuss. It's basically the same method given in Deuteronomy. It is sublimely simple, yet a much higher level than listen-to-the- teacher.) Are there things your teen would like to learn by doing? Could you set up apprenticeships for him? Or help him start a lawn-mowing business?
If you have a teenager, you should be lots smarter than you were when he was a toddler. Are you smart enough now and determined enough to find alternative ways for him to set educational goals and accomplish them. Do you trust the powers of Heaven to help?
I'm afraid of the responsibility!
Sorry, some teaching jobs can be delegated, but the responsibility and the accountability are yours and your child's forever. The sooner you help him take control of his own education, the better off he will be. While he is young, you can structure your time. (The house is quiet while we study at this time every day) but give him freedom to choose what he will do with that time. You, as parents, must be the leaders, however. Parents set family goals and rules. Parents teach self-control and goal setting and the joy of learning through discussions and by your own example.
Do you want your child to take responsibility for his education now while you can lead and guide him and while his mistakes are still inexpensive, or do you want to wait until he goes off to college and let him learn there, where his mistakes may be disastrous?
Yes, we live in perilous times. Are you up to the challenge? Homeschooling is actually the easier, more peaceful, more fulfilling way to go. Hold your family together. Live a simple, focused, Christ- centered life. You can raise home schooled children who are spiritual, self-motivated, inventive, capable, lifetime learners. You will find joy in your posterity and be richly blessed in your old age.