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The Link Editorial

Innocence - Insulation or Isolation?

Guest editorial by Lennon Leppert

Having been homeschooled all of my life, people ask me whether I regret it. They ask the typical questions I’m sure most of your kids have been asked, such as, “What about socialization?” “What is your typical day like?” and “Do you feel you’ve been isolated?” Seeing as how those first two questions are always covered in every beginning guide to homeschooling, I am going to touch on that third topic: Isolation. 

From what I’ve seen and experienced, this isn’t a problem with most kids that attended public or private school. This is because they have been exposed to so much at such an early age, that they lose the natural flow of being informed of age-appropriate lessons or content. I really do not understand where we lost that natural flow. I know that it happens in today’s world of confusing children’s values because: (1) Either the parents aren’t paying attention while some marketing team is shoving the world of pop culture into the child’s head, or (2) the old-as-time game of “Telephone.”

In other words, kids talk to each other about cultural things -- more than parents realize. Even with “telephone education” among kids, the resounding truth is that homeschooled kids, for the most part, are still more “isolated.” With that acknowledged, let us return to the main question posed in my mind lately: “Should this be considered insulation, or isolation?” -- “insulation” being defined as protecting or guarding, and “isolation” as being alone, or detached. In some cases the most accurate word would indeed be the latter of those two labels. However, in my experience, the word “insulation” better describes the action most homeschooled parents are taking. In my opinion that is a great accomplishment in today’s world of television, movies, and internet technology. I have a very short story that sums up the meaning of all of this in the real and imperfect children’s world that most homeschool parents are protecting or “insulating” their kids from. 

I was at a friend’s house with three of my friends, all 15 years of age. Also sitting with us watching T.V. was my friend’s younger sister, who is 11, and her friend, who is 10, and happens to go to public school. One of the guys in the room refereed to the artist “50 Cent” in some way or another and the little girl (who was the only public school kid) there, said, “Oh I love 50 Cent!” Everyone in the room paused and the 10-year-old asked why everyone looked so shocked. That’s when I asked her how old she was and how her parents felt about her listening to the explicit lyrics of this new king of hardcore hip-hop. She promptly told me that she was of the ripe old age of 10, and that her mom had heard the album numerous times, and just kind of fast forwarded through the “bad” parts, but never took it away or made her actually turn it off. I was shocked, not because this half-grown innocent little girl knew who “50 Cent” was or even because she liked his msic. I was shocked because her parents let her listen to this. The idea of a child, who isn’t even a teenager yet, being exposed to content of that magnitude is mind blowing to me. I cannot even ponder what I would say to her parents if I had the chance to meet them!

In closing, I would like to say that I am proud to call myself homeschooled for life and I believe that my parents have insulated -- not isolated me. I haven’t been deprived of life-threatening information. To all of you homeschooling parents, whether you be new or old to this imperfect art of raising your own children, I’d like to say “Good job so far.” As for anyone reading this who has children in public school, I plead with you not to shrug this problem of premature, unneeded education and say, “They have to learn it sometime.” That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard come from a parent’s mouth. If that way of thinking proved true, then you would have the knowledge of a 50-year-old at the age of 20, and we could skip everything in between. As any 50-year-old can tell you, this isn’t true. And, as any 18-year-old can tell you -- as I am now -- that when I was 10 I didn’t know what I know now. The important thing to remember is that this is the natural process of things and by playing with this, I’m afraid we’re taking the risk of becoming a jaded society. L.L. 

In this issue, we have many excellent articles from both our regular columnists and a varied number of homeschooling parents . . . Learning Success Coaches, Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson answer questions from homeschooling parents; Alison McKee covers Writing Skills the Unschooled Way; Debra Monte Wetzel discusses her sons’ relationships with each other in Best Friends for Life; Ann Muchnij relates her journey of homeschooling in Finding My Way Through Homeschooling; Erin Chianese covers the topic of teen Romantic Relationships; we present two more excerpts from Michele Hastings’ excellent book, The Homeschooling Trail and finally, especially entertaining is Diane Flynn Keith’s humorous “An Open Letter to Rob Reiner” regarding his push for mandatory preschool for all Californians.

For all of you who live near Los Angeles, please remember to see our Conference 2006 ad and registration form. Beginning in 1997, The Link “kid comfortable” Conference pioneered the idea of offering quality workshops and activities for our children attendees, with the philosophy that all of us came to homeschooling because of our children, so how/why should they be excluded from our homeschooling conferences? Our conference was the original kid-comfortable conference, and the 2006 version will be no exception. We will be presenting some incredible children’s workshops including Fine Art classes; Beginning Digital Photography; Recreating The Link Newspaper; Creating Mosaics and back by overwhelming demand, Much Ado About Shakespeare will present a wide variety of Shakespearean workshops, including Stage Combat, Elizabethan Stagecraft, Shakespearean Stage Makeup and more! We will also continue to offer young childcare on a pay-as-needed basis.

For you adults, you will be able to hear “live” a number of our regular writers, including Richard Prystowsky; Erin Chianese; The Learning Success Coaches; The Urban Man, Marc Porter-Zasada; plus other great thinkers who often contribute pieces to The Link such as John Taylor Gatto; Dr. Mary Hood and Patrick Farenga plus many other great speakers and workshop presenters that will do their best to enlighten your homeschooling experience. We hope you choose to join us for a great 4-day weekend, in Woodland Hills, CA, June 8-11, 2006. And thank you for reading The Link!