1. Why would any parent want to teach their children?
For many reasons. Some people are doing it because they are dissatisfied with the public school system, but that is not the best reason. Those families who are finding the most success in home schools are those who have established them for purposes of religious and moral training and especially for family unity. Fathers find great satisfaction in shouldering this responsibility. Mothers find joy in watching their children learn new things, and they find their lives better organized. Children like home schools because they are not under pressure or bored, and they are able to develop their individual creative talents. Family members notice a growing closeness, a less worldly outlook, and they even fight less!
2. Is it legal?
Yes. Utah law requires that children be enrolled in either a public, private, or home school. (Legal details are included in the legal packet.)
3. Are public schools "bad" then?
Not necessarily. Sometimes they are very good. There are many excellent teachers who could be even better if they were allowed to choose their own programs and work without governmental and administrative interference. The biggest problems are that the schools keep the young children away from home too long and that they often teach Humanistic doctrines. It is good that we have a choice.
4. If I did want to teach my children, how would I know what curriculum to use?
Parents must first deal with some very basic questions: What things do I want my children to learn? How much time should be spent at a desk, developing creative talents, watching the grass grow? When will they be ready to read and write? In the BYU publication, School Can Wait by Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore, the authors show that children are not emotionally ready to leave their mothers or physically ready to spend long hours at a desk until at least eight to ten years of age. President Kimball said: "This mortal life is the time to prepare to meet God, which is our first responsibility. We have this life of limited years in which to learn of God, to become masters of our own destiny." (Deacon's Study Course, p. 54). So the most important part of your curriculum is the study of things relating to God. If your child doesn't learn these things he won't be helping God here on earth, and a collection of facts will not do him or anyone else any good.
5. Working at home; what things "count" as school?
What is school? At best it is life itself. At worst, it is an institutionalized imitation of life. The more closely the institution comes to duplicating life outside the institution, the better the school. So home school includes all of life, and in everyone's life, young or old, time should be set aside every day for scripture study, academic pursuits, developing talents, and for recreation. Home school is really for the whole family!
6. What about intelligence and achievement testing?
In institutionalized teaching, testing must be done in order for the staff to evaluate their effectiveness. But testing is expensive, misleading, inaccurate, and often emotionally damaging to children. It also creates a competitive atmosphere, and competition is the world's game, not the Lord's. In God's Kingdom certain requirements are set and anyone who meets those requirements - not just the first three - may win the prize. The Lord's plan is to measure achievement through personal interviews. Parents should follow this interactive example by allowing children to evaluate their present status against their potential rather than each other.
7. What about socialization?
The idea that children must spend great quantities of time in same-age groups is a theory of man and has no basis in fact or scripture. Actually, large groups of undirected children tend to become trivia-oriented, mean-spirited and competitive. Home schooled children are not isolated; they merely have their socializing within the family and within the social groups chosen by the family.
8. But will home-taught children be able to adjust to the "real world"?
Hopefully not! Most parents who home school do so because they want something better for their children than what is usually meant by the real world. Actually, the real world encompasses a lot of places and a lot of lifestyles. None of us can be comfortable in all places. The skid row alcoholic, for example, would be just as uncomfortable in a temple as a prophet would be in a bar. Some people consider it a mark of maturity for their children to slip easily into jr. high; other parents do not want their children to fit into that atmosphere, ever. Parents must decide which corner of the real world they want their children to be comfortable in and then prepare them for that life. If they are to be most comfortable in sacred homes and temples, they need to grow up in holy places.
9. Can you have jr. high and high school at home?
Certainly. this age is the appropriate time for more emphasis on academics, and many students are asking for home school because they see its efficiency. They can get their academic work done more quickly and have time to develop their creative talents, to serve vocational apprenticeships, to get on with the real business of life. This age is also an appropriate time to look outside the home for special teachers and meaningful peer group activities. Because these students are the masters of their time, they are available to participate and experience many things; many exciting opportunities are waiting for them.
10. What about a high school diploma?
Some colleges accept the GED exam as proof of high school graduation. Many home schoolers are admitted to colleges and universities on scholarship. There are even some universities who have shown a preference for home educated students because "they bring a fresh outlook to the educational experience."
11. How much time will it take?
Plenty, but the time is there - 24 hours a day. Every hour must be spent on something; it is simply a matter of priorities, organization, and a simple lifestyle. Actually, I spend just 2 and 1/2 hours a day with my children; the rest of the time they work on their own.
12. What if I haven't got the patience?
Our children are not the enemy. They are not the major inconvenience in our lives. We don't begin living when they leave home, it is just a transition from nurturer to counselor. Our children, are the very essence of our lives. We are all in this together, and we can all work together, helping each other learn and grow. The family is the divinely instituted laboratory where we can best learn the important lessons of governing according to the principles of freedom, which aids us in acquiring knowledge, and developing character. Personal growth, or the lack of it, is not an obstacle to home schooling; it is one of the purposes for it. If you aren't patient, if you don't know enough, if you aren't organized, this is a good time to start - don't sell yourself short. You have intelligence and the ability to develop your talents. If you have the desire to improve your own life and your relationship with your children, this is the time.
13. Who will check to see that we are doing a good job?
Who is checking now to see if you are doing a good job? You certainly will have to make an accounting someday - regardless of where your children go to school - but it won't be to anyone on this earth.
14. But what if we DON'T do a good job?
You probably won't - at least at first. Home school is a new idea to our generation, so we have many false traditions to overcome and many new ideas to learn. But remember that the public school system has been operating in Utah for a hundred years and they have not yet reached perfection. Give yourself at least that long!
15. Where do I go for help?
You have accepted a stewardship over your children and the answers you need to help you guide them past many of their early problems will be given to you. Beyond that, there are many experienced home schoolers who will be happy to help you in any way they can, up to a point, then you will be helping others, too.