Monday, November 19, 2012

The homeschooling debate

Last year, we sent Belle to private school. It was an easy decision for us because she does well in social learning situations, has always loved school, and that was our only option for schooling if we were not going to homeschool (Western expat children are not able to attend public schools in the UAE).  We spent the whole year questioning the decision as we watched the work she brought home, saw what she was studying, and dealt with the outcome of the classroom behavior of her peers.

This year, we decided that her only option if we wanted her to return to her previous level of academics and progress (as well as avoiding the horrific behavior she was subjected to), was to homeschool. I spent most of the summer researching different programs, determining what we felt was important, examining the work she would be doing in our home district and what curriculum would address her needs. We finally found one that we felt was challenging, appropriate, and fully addressed social studies, science, and language arts. We decided to work with the same math program as her home district. Her school year began a couple weeks before her local friends because we knew we'd lose a bit of time adjusting to the new baby when she arrived.  Her curriculum is everything we hoped it would be and I gladly pay the tuition, shipping costs for books and manipulatives, and the supplies that accompany her learning experiences. To build in more opportunities for socialization and social learning, she is a member of the overseas Girl Scouts and takes piano lessons.

Lately there has been a lot of debate in our expat community due to recent government committee discussions about mandatory schooling for all expat children, and where homeschooling falls in this context.  Some of the conversation is quite upsetting and disturbing as some members accuse homeschooling parents of doing it out of "cheapness" or "laziness"... This makes me think more about my own understanding of homeschooling prior to our overseas experience. I always wondered how children would be socialized and whether it was possible to provide an adequate education for a child without the support of a school system. I now am much more informed and recognize that there are benefits to homeschooling that I was quite blind to before... That does not mean that we'll be homeschooling the girls when we return to the states where the school programs are much stronger, but we now have an understanding of why some parents select this option.

No comments: