Today, I got a compliment that filled me with joy and pride. As I checked out with the receptionist at the doctor’s office, she exclaimed, “Your children are very well-behaved. Do you homeschool?” When I responded in the affirmative, she then added, “I knew it. Homeschooled children are so well-behaved compared to other children; you can tell that they’re homeschooled right away.” I just beamed. “Thank you very much,” I said. My children collected their books, and we quietly made our way out of the office in an orderly fashion, after saying goodbye to the kind receptionist. Earlier in the day, before leaving the house to go to the appointment, I had made my children pack some books into a backpack. When we got to the lobby, they sat down next to each other, pulled out their books, and quietly looked at them while we waited. When I took my youngest back for her check-up, my other children patiently continued viewing their materials. There was no loudness, or pushing, or whining (though those things are not so uncommon at home! but we’re working on it). Probably, that receptionist doesn’t often see the sight of five children lined up in a row and silently looking at books, for an hour’s space of time.
Are homeschoolers better behaved than other children? In my opinion, any couple can train their children to be respectful and responsible, whether they’re home educated, or not. Taking the time to instruct our young ones proper etiquette is something that can, and should, be done by everyone. However, home education makes that task easier.
How so? Well, imagine this scenario:
Junior heads off to school early in the morning. On the bus, the kids crack jokes and jostle each other. The bus driver keeps track of them through the rear-view mirror, but he really doesn’t have much control over what happens. Unless something dangerous or abusive occurs, he won’t be stopping the bus.
Next, after arriving at school and entering his classroom, Junior is again surrounded by a host of other children his same age. There might be one teacher, or a teacher/aide duo, in proportion to a class of thirty or more kids. Generally, the children are made to keep order within the room, but that doesn’t keep them from talking and poking fun behind the teacher’s back.
At the playground, all the pent-up energy is let loose. Stories are swapped. Imaginative play runs wild. A few kids get into arguments. Some kids sneak off behind the storage shed. The teachers can’t possibly pay attention to that many kids. And they certainly can’t monitor every conversation.
School is over, and Junior is back at home. Homework, chores, dinner, bed. He’s passed about half his day at school, and the other half busy with getting ready for the next day at school. His parents are tired from work. They rush to get dinner done and get the kids in bed. All so they can start the race again the next day.
This is probably typical for many families. The children spend a lot of time with other immature children of the same age. There are far more children than adults in their lives. The parents have delegated the education of their offspring to (1) the government, and (2) other children. What little time the parents are able to sacrifice from their busy schedules to spend with their children is small compared to the time their children pass soaking up the influence of their peers.
However, in a homeschooling family, the children are almost 100% of the time with their parents. And not only that, but they are around a variety of different age groups, if they have siblings. Who better to teach children, than the children’s own parents? To say that parents are incapable of properly performing this duty, is a lie. That’s what the government may want us to believe, but it’s not true. When parents start to abdicate their authority over to other people, there are consequences. One of which, is that the parents themselves begin to believe the lie.
Children are very malleable. They are very impressionable. Their innocence can be stolen from them in an instant. We parents are the guardians of their hearts and minds. We stand as bulwarks between them and a hostile world. Yes, they have to grow. They have to be given the chance to interact with new ideas, even ideas contrary to the parents’ beliefs. They have to toughen up. But, they shouldn’t be put in the boxer’s ring in a match against an opponent 10 times their size! We prepare them for the world little by little. The homeschooling parent has the privilege of a coach: exclusive training rights to prepare the athlete to become a champion.
Children behaving well in the doctor’s office may not seem like a big deal, but it represents one of the biggest advantages of home education: the power to influence our children for good.