But Neuharth takes the idea further. When he talks about "giving kids wings," he apparently believes homeschooling parents refuse to do that. Look at this quote from his editorial:
My concern about our educational system is for those who aren't part of it — these home-schooled:
* An estimated 1.7 million to 2.5 million will be taught at home by a parent this year.
* They are tied to their mother's apron strings or father's bootstraps.
Not letting kids try out their own wings after we've provided the right roots will disadvantage them later in life.
Wow! Does Mr. Neuharth really think the several million homeschooled kids throughout the country are ALL still "tied to their mother's apron strings or father's bootstraps"? Does he really believe we should send our 5- and 6-year-olds to spend 8 1/2 hours - 1/3 of their days - in an environment we rarely even witness, let alone are able to impact in any significant way? And can he actually think that if we don't think that's such a great idea, we will therefore keep them tied to our apron strings for the rest of their lives?
There are some of us who believe that the process of releasing our children ought to be gradual, to be done only when they have a solid foundation - "the right roots." There are some of us who believe the first five years of a child's life are a bit short to sink their roots deeply. Even for a tree, the process of building solid roots takes many years; it can't be accomplished overnight. How much more true is that for a child? There's a reason our country keeps parents accountable for their kids' actions until they are at least 18 - because we recognize children aren't adults until then. They need time to sink deep roots. Homeschooling facilitates that.
Once the roots are firmly established, THEN we encourage our children to fly. We give them opportunities, first with plenty of parental involvement, and then gradually weaning them to their own direction. Just like a gardener, we gradually release the stakes that support them, one at a time, not all at once. So when they do leave home (for swim team, for camp, or for college), we don't worry as much, because we know their roots have gone deep. These are not shallow-rooted trees that will tip over in the first big windstorm; they are solid, mature oak trees that will stand against the worst weather.
My older daughter is 11. I am even now giving her more and more control. She decides what she will wear and what she will have for lunch - and she has made her own lunches most of the time since she was about 8. (She can do that, you see, because she's at home all day. She's not limited to what I pack in her lunch or what the school serves that day.). She does her own laundry (at her request). She chooses most of her own clothes (with some guidance from me). She chooses her own friends (though I still exercise considerable guidance because this is a more difficult decision than what to have for lunch or what clothes to wear - as she gets older, she will have more control). She chooses her extracurricular activities, whether gymnastics or swimming or band or whatever, and has since she was 5 or 6. This school year, while I give her the assignments, she decides what her day will look like, as long as she gets her assignments done. (What school child has that kind of freedom?) She could go to school if she wanted to - she recognizes that homeschooling gives her far more freedom and more control over her day. In the meantime, I am confident in the decisions she's making, as I watch her continue to make wise choices. I believe by the time she's ready to leave home, she will not only have solid roots, but strong, fully developed wings as well. While I will miss her, I'm looking forward to that day, to watching her soar on her own.
I hate to disagree with you, Mr. Neuharth, but I'm convinced you are badly mistaken in this assessment of homeschoolers (how many homeschooling families do you know, anyway?). I very much want my children to fly. I just don't believe that pushing them out of the nest before they have their flight feathers is going to do anything but land them on the sidewalk for the neighbor's cat to feast on.