I would probably describe myself as a reluctant home-schooler.
Out of necessity we school our children at home. We did correspondence school for many years, but recently have decided to do home-school instead. This decision was partly due to the length of time it would take to between the teacher setting one lot of work, to setting another lot of work in response to that first lot. This could take anywhere from four to six months. In between, the child would be doing work either set at the same time as the first lot, or set subsequently, but before having seen any work the child had done. In the end we felt like the advantages of being able to 'feedback' immediately was greater than the advantages of being enrolled in a 'proper' school. Futhermore, having seen how much "faith" (of any sort) is side-lined in the state curriculum, we thought we'd take advantage of this opportunity (however short or long) to educate with faith at the centre.
And I think it's been a good decision. We are enjoying school much more. The children are growing and learning. I have more freedom to teach to my strengths.
But because I am not wedded, in principle, to home-school, I feel that I am free to talk a little more openly about the down-sides of home-school. Most home schoolers face fierce criticism from friends and family because of their decision to home-school. They end up having to defend themselves so often that it makes it difficult for them to talk about the difficulties they face without people saying "I told you so" or "well send them to school, then".
Here are three things about home-school I would like you to know.
Home-schooling is tiring. T.I.R.I.N.G. I cannot explain why. I have no idea how a teacher manages thirty children. I feel like I have no right to complain about being tired as I only have two (three now) students. But I am. And so are others I know that home-school.
It is difficult to home-school with younger children at home, too. My friends whose elder children went to school spoke of how precious this time is with their younger children in their pre-school years and how much they loved getting to know them. My younger children in their pre-school years were being ignored, or looked after by other people, as much as possible. I was either occupied with school or too tired to play. I didn't spend much time with them at all.
Home-schooling literature and magazines and support are so pro-home-schooling it is extremely difficult to change track and enrol in school without feeling like you've let the side down, abandoned ship and been a failure. Because, as I said, I'm a reluctant home-schooler, going to a 'proper' school would be a relatively easy for me. But I've read enough of the literature to be overwhelmed by its emotional grip on its adherents. It's an impossible situation.
If you know anyone who home-schools, whether or not you agree with them, be gracious to them. Don't let the conversation fall silent after they admit they home-school. After-all, they're not from another planet. Truly.