By SAVANNA DANZEY
ROSWELL, Ga. – Laura McBrayer is a stay-at-home mother of four. Her oldest daughter is adopted from China and her 2-year-old son is from Ethiopia. In addition, she has two biological sons. Like many mothers today, she has chosen to home-school her children. While issues of socialization and academic ability surround the topic of home schooling, McBrayer believes there are no disadvantages to the practice.
“Through the generations it’s like our perception has sort of gotten skewed, because it’s only in the last 150 years that we have modern schools like we do now; before then children were taught in smaller environments or they were taught at home,” McBrayer said.
McBrayer has worked a full-time job, run a nonprofit, and attended graduate school consecutively and she admits that home schooling is the hardest thing she’s ever done – yet also the most rewarding. She has specific lesson plans that she follows and this past year she completed two years of science with her children in one year’s time.
Why Home School?
There are advantages to home schooling. It gives the parent the ability to tailor the work independently for the child, especially if they have a disability. It allows children more fundamental time with their parent, and because of the one-on-one time, it also often heightens the child’s ability to reach his or her full potential.
“One of my children has dyslexia, so we do a program that’s especially tailored for that because he’s gifted, so I don’t want to hold him back. I feel like special education in a public school system would definitely hold him back in other areas and also really affect his self-esteem,” said McBrayer.
McBrayer specifically home schools for disability, religious, and what she calls innocence purposes. She sees the public school system as a place where her children could lose their innocence early on. She believes that if she can strengthen them mentally while they are young, they will ultimately be people of more inner peace and stability.
Home schooling is viewed negatively by some who argue that it takes away from a child’s socialization. McBrayer disagrees.
“I think it’s sort of a false sense of what socialization is. I mean we do outside-of-the-home activities where my children are socialized. We are a part of home-school groups and African groups, and though we’re not currently part of a Chinese group, we hope to be,” McBrayer said.
If home-schooling mothers go the extra mile, many opportunities for social activities exist, such as home-school groups, churches and sports as well as numerous other extracurricular opportunities for children’s socialization.
A Teacher’s Experience
Judith Osburn, a second-grade teacher who has been in the Cobb County School System for 16 years, has seen many students come to her from home-schooling backgrounds. Her experience has been that these students are often academically stronger in certain subjects than the other students – and better behaved.
“If you do home schooling correctly, you can really do a great job,” Osburn said. “If I were there now, [with young children] I would definitely consider home schooling. I think there’s a lot more opportunities for children … You can go do interesting things that go with curriculum. If you are studying ocean animals you can go to the aquarium or whatever your resources are.”
How will home schooling affect the future of students? Both McBrayer and Osburn believe that home schooling children makes them stronger. Osburn’s experience leads her to believe that students will go off to university more prepared.
“I think if anything, they probably have a stronger base,” Osburn said.
McBrayer says she has seen true advancements in her children’s academic lives.
“Oh, I think my children will be more prepared academically, socially. I think they will be more independent and more mature actually,” McBrayer said.
While public schools are cutting budgets and increasing class sizes, the home schooling trend continues to rise. The expense and time commitment of home schooling is high, but the reward and strength of students may be worth the effort.