There was a period of time in the mid-1990s when Georgette was homeschooling five of our children at the same time, all of whom were at different grade levels. During that time, she was also taking care of our two youngest children, who were not yet in school. Because she was so overwhelmed, we had several conversations about putting some or all of our children in the school system.
Although we eventually decided to enroll our younger children as part-time students at Illinois Central College when they turned 15, I was always against sending them to grade school or high school. My animosity toward the school system was primarily based on my own negative experiences in grade school, combined with my personal observations of how some of my brothers’ and sisters’ belief systems were adversely affected by their teachers and peers while they were in school.
In many respects, Georgette felt the same way I did about the school system. Her parents had immigrated to the United States when she was an infant. Because she was not fluent in English when she started grade school, she had trouble understanding what was going on in the classroom and was discriminated against by several of her teachers and fellow students. She knew from personal experience how cruel children can be toward their peers, and she didn’t want to expose any of our children to the types of cruelty she was forced to endure.
Every time Georgette and I engaged in a serious discussion about whether to place our children in school, my position was the same. I always ended up telling her, “Don’t worry about teaching a full curriculum. Until you get some breathing room, just focus on teaching them the faith and how to read. As long as they’re well-grounded in their faith and are good readers, they’ll eventually catch up on everything else.”
Although we always ended up agreeing that we would keep our children home until they were ready for college, to her credit Georgette insisted on sticking with a balanced curriculum for each of them. On most days, the curriculum included a trip to church for Mass and Communion.
Georgette always felt that her role as our children’s teacher started before they were born. During the time she was pregnant with each of them, she routinely alternated between praying, singing, and reading out loud. After each of our children was born, she continued the ritual of praying, singing, and reading out loud while she nursed them. She wanted to instill in them a love for prayer and God, a love for music, and a love for reading.
I thought about the early years of educating our children at home when I read about legislation that is currently being considered in the Illinois Senate. While current law requires that children begin attending school at the age of seven, the new law that has been proposed – Senate Bill 1307 – would lower the compulsory school entrance age to five.
There are no long-term studies proving that lowering the mandatory school attendance age from seven to five is better for the educational development of a child. On the contrary, Dr. David Elkind, a Tufts University psychologist and child development expert, stated the following:
There is really no evidence that early formal institutionalization brings any lasting or permanent benefits for children. By contrast, the risk to the child’s motivation, intellectual growth, and self-esteem could well do serious damage to the child’s emerging personality. It is reasonable to conclude that the early instruction of young children derives more from the needs and priorities of adults than from what we know of good pedagogy for young children.
Karl Zinsmeister, an adjunct research associate at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, said the following concerning forcing children younger than seven into the school system:
Declining parental attachment is an extremely serious risk to children today. The verdict of enormous psychological literature is that time spent with a parent is the very clearest correlate of healthy child development.
Dr. Jean Piaget, a highly respected child developmental expert found that a child’s cognitive abilities usually mature between the ages of seven and nine, and that children who have slower maturation rates than their peers are put at risk when they are forced to attend school before they have sufficiently matured.
In addition to the risks to the long-term well-being of children, a requirement that they start school two years earlier would result in significant increases in taxes to pay for the teachers, resources, and facilities needed to accommodate the younger students.
While our state is functionally bankrupt, our elected representatives continue to enact new laws that infringe upon our parental and religious rights; laws that ultimately limit our freedom and liberty, while imposing new taxes and fees on us.
Not every child is ready to leave his or her parent’s home at the age of five to attend school full-time. There is no legitimate reason that can justify the passing of a law that lowers the compulsory school entrance age from seven to five.
What’s going to happen when a child’s parents don’t think he’s mature enough to start school at the age of five and holds him back until he’s seven? I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is going to go into Juvenile Court and attempt to take the child away from his parents.
I’m having trouble keeping up with all the new laws that are being passed by our morally corrupt politicians.