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Is Homeschooling Just the Latest Parenting Fad?

Education is always a hot button topic in parenting circles. In this week's Moms Talk, we're discussing home schooling.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to homeschooling:

The topic of home schooling has garnered major headlines these days. A recent Newsweek cover story with the title “Are Homeschoolers Out of Their Minds?” has generated a good deal of online chatter among both those who homeschool and those who don’t. The Newsweek article itself is a bit more balanced than the cover headline might indicate, detailing the reasons “Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education.” Now we want to know what you think:

Is homeschooling just the latest parenting fad?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.
  • Jennifer Willenbrock of Nazareth is mom to two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 6 weeks. She was previously employed by Catholic Charities, where she worked in a girl’s group home in Philipsburg, N.J.  

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Ruth Beck February 12, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Social education is just as important as academic interaction. Kids need to be around other kids.
Fr. Andrew S. Damick February 13, 2012 at 02:12 AM
The homeschoolers I know (and I know a lot) are around lots of kids all the time. The idea that homeschooling = sheltering is largely a myth. Further, homeschooled students tend to be *more* involved in community life than their public school counterparts. In any event, even if that were true, we would have to conclude that almost all human beings throughout the history of mankind (and even in our own time) were improperly socialized because they didn't partake of modern, industrialized, mass education. Historically, what we now call "homeschooling" simply used to be childhood. As to the question the headline asks (whether it is a fad), there are close to 2 million homeschooled students in the U.S. now, and the percentage has been growing far faster than population growth. Some useful stats: http://www.nheri.org/Research-Facts-on-Homeschooling.html
Jennifer Elston February 13, 2012 at 02:13 AM
I know many people who homeschool their children. I respect their decisions to do so, but I think sending children to school outside the home has too many benefits.
Lisa Merk February 13, 2012 at 03:24 AM
I attempted to home school my children for 1 year. It didn't work out for several reasons. I wasn't able to complete the year, but I very much enjoyed that time with them and I knew they were learning. Also, the program I selected was well established and accepted. Part of the program was meeting with other home school families for field trips and doing some community service - we weren't isolated. I very much liked the program and would gladly do it again if that what would work best for our family.
tamarya February 13, 2012 at 03:32 AM
I agree with everyone on their point of view, personally learning responsibility and learning how to suceed in life could be taught better at home, where I know for my kids academically it is better in a school outside of home, because I struggled with my own grades going through school. I know for when I was in school, public school would definately be better, because they taught not only academically, but they taught responsibility and safety to us, where now that is stuff they want parents to teach at home. But interacting with other kids is good too, the only way I could see homeschooling is if either you have a child that is causng severe trouble in school, or if the kid is being bullied to the point where it will lead to bigger problems if it is not stopped.
Lisa Amey February 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I don't believe homeschooling is a fad at all. (Thanks to Fr. Andrew above for providing reference website above.) I know of several homeschooling families, some of which utilized it consistently for several years, and others who have used it short term. I usually can fully appreciate the reasons they have decided on this method of education, as it is best for that child or family. The only time I disagreed was when a middle schooler asked to be homeschooled in the middle of the school year because another kid called her "fat", and the parents obliged. In this case, I think it was a reactionary decision, rather than deal with the issue. They aren't doing a great job teaching her at home, as both parents work full time, and her grades are terrible. I believe there is a lot more going on here that needs to be addressed, and homeschooling is not the answer for them.
Jeanne February 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I homeschooled my children when we were in between moves as to not enroll them and pay full tuition for the full year @ private school and not enroll them in the area public school until we moved out here. I followed a curriculum and gave tests....we had school from 9-1:30....if we had a long day we took an hour break for lunch and the day lasted until 3. It was a little more challenging because i had a 4 year old and a 10 year old....so working back and forth was tricky but worked very well. I think homeschooling is a great concept but i think the parents have to be able to do it and that there should be guidelines across the board on what the expectations are on not just an annual basis but a monthly one. I was in New Jersey ....and there aren't any standards for homeschooling. I also think the children that are homeschooled should have to have surprise visit by a rep from the school, just to make sure its not a sick or abusive family that is doing that to cover up their issues. Otherwise i think its a great idea...my kids were 2 grades ahead by the time they got into school....and i only homeschooled them for 7 months, with social events as well as outtings.
Sue Adams February 13, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I don't believe homeschooling is a fad. All throughout history, kids have been homeschooled. We live in an age where everything is discussed and scrutinized. The media is always looking for a hot topic to debate. Also, we live in an age where it has become easier to homeschool. I'm not saying that it is easy. Homeschooling is a full-time job and a huge responsibility. It takes a lot of research, organization, time, energy, patience, and yes, the housework does suffer! In addition, it can be quite expensive!! However, with internet access in almost every household, we now have the ability to do research and access curricula, purchase books and get instant answers to questions all at the touch of a few buttons. More of us now have the ability to homeschool, so of course the homeschool community is growing. Also, the social aspect is easier than ever before. Kids are social creatures by nature. Homeschool parents just need to offer them opporutnities and kids will grab them. Sports and activities are no longer only offered to those in traditional "brick and mortar" schools. It is a great time to be a homeschooler - whether you are the teacher or student!
Rosemary B February 13, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Most of the home schooled kids I know, and I know many, have WAY better social skills then the average public school child that I meet. If I had it to do over again I would have home schooled.
Chris Miller February 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Jennifer Name the benefits
Chris Miller February 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
The parents are responsible for the education of their children. That said given what is going on in schools today and haveing taught istory for 32 years I would recommend that if you can home school your children do it. There are support groups throughout the area that will be only to happy to assit you. Our public schools where we are paying around $12 thousand per year per child are a mess. Last week it was announced that 10 states were going to be given waives on the No Child Left Behind program. It is time to eliminate that program and the schools should be setting their own program. For generations we sent children to local schools grades 1-6 and we had individuals who were both business men and professionals. We went from that to the consolidation of school districts that for all intent are miserable failures. Thankfully thiere appears to be some changes on the horizon. There is talk of gettting rid of this concept to improve the self-estem of the kids and return to kids having to learn by correcting their mistakes. You can do that at home from the beginning.
Laurel Wenson February 15, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I've been homeschooling for 8 years, with one daughter now in college and another finishing up 8th grade. As assistant director at a weekly community coop for homeschoolers -- now with 118 kids attending each wee -- I can say with certainty that homeschooling is not for everyone. However, the reasons that people choose to homeschool today vary greatly, and with the resources and curriculum now available I highly encourage those "thinking about it" to give it a try. When I began the journey, my concerns were about things like socialization, missing out on activities such as prom and musicals, and whether or not I had the commitment and organization to actually teach my kids. As they got older, and I realized that they needed more than I could give in certain subjects, the idea of the coop was born....so while I might teach high school english and fine arts, I let someone else who is degreed or highly qualified in other subjects to teach those areas. Overall, I think homeschoolers are BETTER socialized in most cases, as they learn to communicate with people of all ages and walks of life. That being said, not all SHOULD homeschool; it takes a huge commitment and a selfless way of life, and not all parents are able to do so (for a variety of reasons). I am so grateful for my own choice to jump into the world of homeschooling, and have never regretted my decision.
StGabes June 30, 2012 at 03:23 PM
There are programs, like gym class, art ex. for home schoolers and the Indoctrination of teachers in public school is ridiculous.....
StGabes June 30, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Isn't teacher indoctrination a good reason?

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