Homeschooling is popular around the world. Some recent statistics show that the number of homeschoolers is dramatically increasing. For instance, the number of children being homeschooled increased by over 40% in the UK over the last three years! Wow! Right? And what does this have to do with being forced into homeschooling?
Do the reasons even matter? Yes, I think so! I want to point out there is something happening in the UK that we all need to know about because we are starting to see it here in the United States. And I find it frightening. At the top of the list for the reasons why homeschooling is exploding in the UK are mental health issues and avoiding exclusion.
Sounds great, right? They are protecting the vulnerable…. Well, there is more than meets the eye here.
What Is Exclusion?
They are not protecting the children from being excluded by the other students, which is exactly what I thought when I read the article. Schools are encouraging students who are struggling in the traditional school environment to be homeschooled. And I’m not just talking academics here.
Students at risk.
Students who are falling behind and are struggling to keep up.
Students who have a mental health issue.
Those who might be in the juvenile detention system.
Those who are doing drugs or drinking.
Those acting out in other inappropriate ways.
An exclusion is where the headteachers exclude children if they misbehave in or outside school. It is what we call expelled here in the United States.
Ironically the number of students “excluded” rose by about the exact same numbers in this same time period. Coincidence?
So these parents are essentially being forced into homeschooling their children to avoid the children getting that “exclusion” on their school records. I’m not sure this is good for the students or the parents.
Because Homeschooling Takes Commitment
Homeschooling is the hardest job I’ve ever had. Period.
It takes commitment.
Love. Lots of love.
But even more determination. Because there are days we don’t want to do this homeschool thing.
Gasp… yep, I said it (well … I wrote it).
We don’t always want to be everything to our children.
Most days, yes. But not every day. Day in and day out.
IT IS HARD.
It is hard giving our own identities up.
It is hard figuring out all those details of homeschooling.
It is hard finding balance between homeschool and, well, the rest of our lives.
So throwing a mom into this situation without her full DESIRE and COMMITMENT is dangerous. And it is happening here in the United States too.
What’s the Answer?
The children who are being removed from schools because of behavior problems or mental health issues need help! Instead of simply being forced to homeschool, these students need to have their mental and perhaps even physical issues addressed. In most cases, if a student refuses to behave and learn at school, he or she will do the same thing in a homeschool setting. Simply forcing the child to homeschool does nothing to address the root of the problem.
Think of it this way. If a person becomes diabetic and is given insulin but is never told cut down on (or cut out) sugar and carbs, that person isn’t going to be able to truly get well. It’s the same with troubled students. If those students are simply told to leave the school in order to be taught at home, the underlying problems aren’t being addressed, so the student doesn’t have a chance to “get well.”
In other words, homeschooling (or public schooling or private schooling for that matter) is not going to “fix” these students’ problems. While many many parents love homeschooling and are committed to it and do a wonderful job teaching their children (statistics prove this to be true), forcing parents who are overwhelmed already with children who have mental health and perhaps physical problems to homeschool is not going to help. Adding that kind of stress and responsibility to parents who are overwhelmed, struggling, and unsure how to help their children will only exacerbate the problem.
It just doesn’t make sense at all.
So What Does Make Sense?
Addressing these students’ mental and physical issues first! Regardless of the setting, students who are struggling and have serious issues like these cannot successfully learn. The only way for these students to become successful, to learn, and to grow up to be productive citizens is to address their problems, help them get well, and then to teach them. Until we address their health-related issues, they aren’t going to be able to learn no matter where we try to teach them.