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Thursday November 16th 2023

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A Childhood Is a Terrible Thing to Waste: School-Induced Stress

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By Linda Dobson

I collect information about education in general – and public school and homeschooling, in particular – the way children used to collect trading cards. How many children today have time to collect trading cards? I ask this not because trading cards are so great, but because my collection of backed-up articles on which to report is way too full of reports about stressed out children.


I began thinking that it couldn't possibly be all that difficult to help a child learn how to read, write and understand basic math.

I can so relate to this. In 1984, I watched the most happy-go-lucky little boy I ever met (my first son) rapidly turning into a bundle of nerves. There was only one change in his life at the time – I sent him off to kindergarten. Not full day kindergarten, not “advanced kindergarten,” just plain ol’ half-day kindergarten. The changes in him began within just a couple of months. Even as a five year-old, the injustices and nonsensical nature of the system did not sit well with him, and right before my eyes a sweet child became tense, grouchy, and mean-spirited. He was totally stressed out.

If these personality-altering changes were set into motion after only a couple of months, what would happen if he was exposed to these stressors for thirteen years? The only thing I knew for certain was that I was not ready to send my child off to school for that length of time to find out.

I consider our family among the luckiest in the world because I happened to learn of this thing called “homeschooling” after a few more months. Watching author and founder of Growing without Schooling magazine John Holt on television one day, I learned my son didn’t have to suffer that stress. I learned that if I was willing, I could help him learn – at home.

I began thinking that it couldn’t possibly be all that difficult to help a child learn how to read, write and understand basic math. The more I meditated on and thought about this, the more clearly I saw that these were the blocks that build a true foundation upon which a human may then build an education for himself. And the rest, as they say, is history. I told the school thanks, but no thanks, and we became a homeschooling family, with my son’s two siblings following in his footsteps of what we ultimately realized was not schooling, but an education of value. We realized a true education isn’t received, it’s achieved.

If the media is finally paying attention to and reporting on school-induced stress, the problem has already reached major proportions. Stressed children lose their childhood, which explains a lot of problems we’re seeing in our culture today.

Think about the child who lived in your home prior to school attendance. Observe that child today. If you see negative changes, homeschooling may be the perfect antidote for your child, too. Homeschoolers enjoy a lot more support, networking, and resources than we had in 1984, so it’s even easier to accomplish today.

A childhood is a terrible thing to waste. Don’t let it happen to your kids.


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