Shedding Some Light on the Dark Side

This is my reply to an article that exposes the “dark side” of homeschooling. I beg to differ, and I have no problem stating so. If you are curious about my reply, read on…

Recently I had the opportunity to read the article, “Homeschooling: The Darker Side” in your most recent issue of AmeriKidz magazine. As a parent of four children I completely understand the commitment of raising a family with the highest standards, and thus choosing the best form of education for my children.

As a former Orange County native I decided to move my family to Arizona in 1998; however, I have kept close ties with my friends there in California. One of my friends forwarded the above mentioned article for my review. I have to say that I was slightly appalled during my reading that such a negative tone was given to this wonderful venture called homeschooling.

My educational background is vast and of great length. I have always believed that a great education can lead to a great future. My own educational journey has included several starts and stops, including 19 years to complete a Bachelors degree. This long term goal was fulfilled in December 2011. As an avid believer of internal motivation, I continually encourage my own children to do their best in their studies so they may also achieve their dreams and success.

I first learned about homeschooling through an employer in 1990. There wasn’t a lot of credibility with this alternative form of education during this time. Although the seed of “teaching my own” was planted in my mind, I never thought I would teach my own future children through homeschooling. Back then I didn’t realize that every mother is already a child’s first teacher.

When my oldest son asked me to teach him to read before kindergarten, my mother bought a phonics program from an infomercial and gave it to me.  I spent 15 minutes a day going through the program with my son. Within three months’ time he had learned to read – fluently – and at a 5th grade level. When I put him into kindergarten that fall of 2001, the teachers were astounded at his fluency and comprehension. They were actually upset at me for teaching him to read, since they didn’t know what to do with him for the rest of the year!

The rest of the story is pretty much similar with my other three children, with the exception of my second-born son, who has a learning disability. I taught my third-born son and my fourth-born daughter to read before kindergarten, too. I even sent my children to public school because I thought it was the “right” thing to do. I still didn’t believe that I was “teaching my own” at home just because I had taught them to read.

In 2005 I decided to take the plunge and begin homeschooling my third-born son. He did not like preschool because he felt ‘trapped’ by the routine of the typical school day. He was a calm and easy going child, and he thoroughly enjoyed being at home. He flourished at home, and I continued to homeschool him through kindergarten, part of first grade, as well as third and fourth grade. He attended public school in the latter half of first grade and all of second grade for the “experience.”

In retrospect, I have done it all. I have public-schooled my children, and I have home-schooled my children. Currently, my oldest son is a junior in public high school, my second born son is homeschooled (due to his learning disability), and my two youngest children are in a local charter school. I have not regretted one bit of the homeschooling days. Yes, there are times when it seems bleak, redundant, and lonely, but that is only because there is not a lot of public support.

So, my reason for this letter is to ask of a favor: would you kindly post an article about the benefits of homeschooling, as it is a great alternative to traditional schooling? I think it would be a great source of encouragement for the many families in California (and the rest of the United States) who are sacrificing their time, talent, and treasure to make sure that their children are getting the best education they can provide. Although your article does point out truth of the “dark side” of homeschooling, there can be multitudes of books written about the “dark side” of public schooling as well.

I have been a teacher in the public school system, both in the special education field and in an inclusive classroom. I have interviewed many teachers who are burned out with their career because they cannot get the support from the powers at be, nor with the parents at home. The true “dark side” of education today rests with the fact that there is a lack of support from the home, the community, and the political realm. No dollar amount from any government system can make up the difference needed to support the future of our nation in education better than the encouragement and support from the home front.

If one parent can give sacrificially to their children because of homeschooling, I believe this path is much easier than one teacher trying to give sacrificially to her 30+ “surrogate” children in the classroom. So, please, write a sequel to this article about homeschooling. I would love to have the honor of writing the article as a guest author, if you are so inclined.

Whatever the outcome may be, I do appreciate your time in reading this letter. I fully believe that our children in this wonderful nation deserve the best. So, let’s support those parents who are willing to come alongside their children and devote every ounce of time, energy, and care into raising and educating their own.


Jeanne Cerrone

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