Thoughts about how urban parents are changing the face of homeschooling

February 23 |
By: Lyn LomasiCC BY 2.0

Education is always a big topic on parenting sites — we've chatted about those who opt for public, private, home, and unschooling throughout this site's existence. Michelle recently shared a piece that resonated with me: Linda Perlstein's Why Urban, Educated Parents are Turning to DIY Education.

Perlstein talks to Tera and Eric Schreiber, a Seattle couple who toured local public schools, applied to private schools, and ultimately decided to homeschool their three kids. These two, along with fellow homeschooling parents, often list wanting to attend to each of their kid's individual needs or wanting to experience as much of their kid's lives as possible as their reasons for homeschooling:

Tera's kids didn't particularly enjoy day care or preschool. The Schreibers wanted a "gentler system" for Daisy; she was a perfectionist who they thought might worry too much about measuring up. They knew homeschooling families in their neighborhood and envied their easygoing pace and flexibility—late bedtimes, vacations when everyone else is at school or work. Above all, they wanted to preserve, for as long as possible, a certain approach to family.

Several homeschooling moms would first tell me, "I know this sounds selfish," and then say they feared that if their kids were in school, they'd just get the "exhausted leftovers" at the end of the day. Says Rebecca Wald, a Baltimore homeschooler, "Once we had a child and I realized how fun it was to see her discover stuff about the world, I thought, why would I want to let a teacher have all that fun?"

It's 12:30 p.m. on a Thursday, and Tera and her daughters have arrived home from a rehearsal of a homeschoolers' production of Alice in Wonderland. Their large green Craftsman is typical Seattle. There are kayaks in the garage, squash in the slow cooker, and the usual paraphernalia of girlhood: board games, dolls, craft kits. Next to the kitchen phone is a printout of the day's responsibilities. Daisy and Ginger spend about two hours daily in formal lessons, including English and math; today they've also got history, piano, and sewing.

To me, this need to take care of each need of their child is akin to Attachment Parenting — something Perlstein also brings up. In fact, whenever I consider homeschooling our son, I always come back to this idea. While I love the time I spend with my son, I also value the time that I spend with myself, my husband, or with friends. In addition to not being an option for many families for a variety of reasons, homeschooling seems so incredibly daunting: am I really the right person to educate my kid?

While we're a long way from homeschooling being the dominant way many kids in the US and beyond are educated, it stands to note that according to this piece, the percentage of kids who are homeschooled in New York City has grown 36% in eight years. It has me wondering: in a pretend world where you had your pick from any option, how would you want to your kids educated?