I’m not ordinarily a huge fan of CBN. While, as a Christian, I support some of their viewpoints, sometimes they’re just too sensationalist for my tastes. That said, I couldn’t help smiling my way through this article that was shared with me today:
The results the researchers found absolutely mirror our real-life experiences. Naturally, you can’t say that ALL homeschooled kids are exemplary citizens, or that ALL traditionally-schooled kids exhibit anti-social behaviors. I know of one homeschooled kid, that at age nine, threw rage-filled tantrums to rival any 2-year-old. I know of another whose mother keeps him so sheltered that he is clueless on how to behave when he’s around other children, thankfully, that is the only homeschooled child I’ve encountered who is that way. And I can give you the names of at least five good friends whose kids are absolutely delightful to be around even though they attend regular schools.
But generally speaking, this article is spot-on. I continue to be blown away by how mature, considerate, friendly and kind my kids’ homeschooled friends are. Seeing this difference played a huge part in our decision to start homeschooling nearly 3 years ago.
I also taught art for a year at a local private school, and then taught art to our homeschooling group last year until my pregnancy forced me to give it up. From a teacher’s perspective, the differences in the schooled vs. homeschooled students were astounding.
While each class at school had a few well-behaved kids, for the most part, the entire time I had them was a lesson for ME in classroom management. Every class had the class clown, the bully, the shy ones that got picked on, the studious ones, the slackers who stared at the wall instead of working. Most classes had groups of the above, and keeping them separated enough so that something got accomplished each week was a job in and of itself.
One of my most basic rules as an art teacher was also one of the hardest to implement in the school setting: We don’t touch another person’s artwork and we don’t criticize what another artist is creating. So many of the kids were just plain mean, and so competitive and sneaky about cutting each other down. I wish I had a dollar for every time I had to console some poor first grader because she was devastated over mean girls picking on the content of her work.
The first class or two of the day was filled with tired kids who didn’t get enough sleep the night before, kids needing bathroom breaks because they hadn’t had time to go yet, hungry kids who said they hadn’t had breakfast, kids with awful morning breath and uncombed hair that you could tell were rushed out the door that morning.
Afternoon classes were also filled with tired kids, particularly in the younger grades when some probably could’ve used a nap but of course, didn’t get one. They were often crankier in the afternoons, just waiting for that last bell to ring, and antsy from a lack of physical activity throughout the day.
We were set up in a corner of the gym, where lunch was also served. It was interesting to observe the dynamics of the children at lunch, too. That might be the topic of another blog.
One thing I did learn was that teachers who can handle that all day, every day, deserve so much more respect and honor than our culture typically gives them. It is HARD work and something I never desired to do again.
But I loved the process of teaching art, and missed how rewarding it was to discover hidden talent and nurture creativity in little kids. So when our homeschooling group needed an art teacher, I decided to give it a go.
The only real problem I had with the homeschooled students was teaching them to wait their turn to talk and raise their hands to ask questions. Many of the kids had never been in a classroom setting and simply didn’t know how it worked. And I did have a chatterbug in each of my groups, who had to be sent out to sit with their mothers for not listening and being quiet during worktime.
Overall, though, I was beyond impressed with these children. I rarely had to tell them to keep their hands to themselves, or to not speak negatively about another student’s work. And the oddest, most wonderful thing of all was how helpful these kids were. They just openly shared supplies with each other, helped younger kids who might’ve needed assistance with their scissors, etc. They were respectful to me, friendly and happy.
Maybe it was the overall feeling of happiness that was the greatest difference of all. I never had to deal with a homeschooled student who was exhausted, hungry or angry. They came ready to work and happy to do so. They didn’t need to trash-talk each other to feel good about themselves and their work, and they exuded a genuine self-confidence that I only rarely saw in a school setting. They didn’t pick on anyone, or form cliques. Only rarely did I have to nag anyone to clean up. It was a completely different, completely positive environment where the kids enjoyed being together and I enjoyed being with them.
And I couldn’t help thinking about how lucky those homeschooled kids were; and what a gift their parents were giving them. Sure, some kids thrive in traditional schools. But an alarming number do not. I just wish that more parents would consider homeschooling as a viable, healthy alternative, instead of dismissing it as I did for so many years. It really is just so good for kids, and good for our nation’s future.