One of the most interesting things about homeschooling, which is hard to truly understand until it is experienced, is that it is much more than simply educating your children; homeschooling is a lifestyle. More specifically, it’s a way of doing life that is different from the pervading culture, an approach that goes far beyond academics into many other realms of life. Home educators often go far beyond just doing “school” differently from the norm; they tend to “opt out” of many conventional ways of handling life. From state to state, a trend emerges among homeschoolers: people who do not simply accept the status quo, or follow socially accepted way of doing things just because that is what everyone else does, but who seek to make conscientious, informed choices about what path their family will take, based on their family’s values and the impact of those choices on their family life.
It is this “opting out” approach that provides homeschoolers with unlimited opportunity and creativity to raise children in precisely the way they believe to be best. Rather than accepting what the culture at large says is the “right” way to do things, many home educators take the time to investigate and become informed about issues or choices that most of the world does not question. And, by doing so, often these parents come to different conclusions about the path they choose to follow for their families, and they “opt out” of the socially accepted norm. Obviously homeschoolers have already chosen the road less traveled in the area of academics, but here are just some of the other ways that many homeschoolers have chosen to opt out:
- Reduced television – Did you know that according to a study by the Kaiser Foundation, children aged 8-18 spend an average of 4 ½ hours watching television per day? As a point of comparison, research by Lawrence Rudner found that 65% of homeschooled fourth graders watch less than one hour of t.v. per day (as compared with 25% of students nationwide). Clearly many homeschoolers have chosen to “opt out” of the societal norm for children to spend lots of time in front of the t.v., and instead fill their time with more educationally, spiritually, and emotionally beneficial activities.
- Age segregated socialization – It is commonly accepted by mainstream families that the best way to socialize your child is to put him or her into classrooms with people his/her own age, so that the child learns how to relate. However, many homeschoolers challenge the philosophical basis for this norm, believing that children are best socialized away from their peers, in a situation where their primary influence is their parents, and where their secondary influence is people of a variety of ages, races, socioeconomic levels and backgrounds. Homeschoolers often note that it is this type of socialization which most accurately reflects the “real world”, not the socialization of a classroom where children are similar ages, socioeconomic levels, and from the same geographical locale. For an “opting out” perspective and research on age segregated socialization, read Top 5 Reasons for Christian Parents to Homeschool.
- Nutrition – Did you know that once wheat is milled, it loses 90% of its nutrients within 72 hours? And that those nutrients are not replaced through the commercial process of enrichment? Many homeschoolers look beyond the commercially-produced food advertisements of “whole grain” and “no high fructose corn syrup” to understand the facts behind nutrition, and to make informed nutritional decisions for their families. By doing so, it is common to find homeschool families that buy locally grown produce, maintain their own gardens, purchase locally raised and produced meat and eggs, frequent natural food co-ops, and mill their own wheat. Visit breadbeckers.com for more information on milling your own wheat, and whole foods.
- Vaccinations – While for most of the world, it is a generally accepted assumption that vaccinations prevent disease, rather than simply accept this belief unchecked, some homeschoolers have investigated scientific data about the risks and benefits of each individual vaccine. In doing so, it is not uncommon to find homeschoolers who have “opted out” of, or delayed, some or all of the vaccines given in childhood. For an “opting out” perspective on vaccines, visit Dr. Sherri Tenpenny’s website (or watch her videos, Vaccines: What CDC Documents and Science Reveal; or Vaccines: The Risks, The Benefits, The Choices), or visit mercola.com.
Read part 2 of the lifestyle of opting out!