You may read the short version here in an article I wrote for Squigly Junior , or read on for a more detailed answer.
Noah Webster in the American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, defines education this way:
The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.
I was recently reading the Mt Hope Chronicles Blog Article "Why We Home school" and I discovered that she pretty much sums up why we decided to home school (with a few minor differences). It is for that reason that you'll find (with the permission of the author) a number of quotes from this article. I know why we home school. The problem is, when asked why, I fail to put it into words without messing up what I really mean to say. I've spent a great deal of time reading and understanding classical education. My desire is to really understand the how and what of home schooling to go along with the why. So, I decided to develop a response (more for my sake) to that question, why. The reality is, whether we know it or not, all parents home school to some degree. How it's done depends on the parents. As the Bible says: Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6. Dorothy Sayers, in her article The Lost Tools of Learning, 1948, said: I want to inquire whether, amid all the multitudinous subjects which figure in the syllabuses, we are really teaching the right things in the right way; and whether, by teaching fewer things, differently, we might not succeed in "shedding the load" (as the fashionable phrase goes) and, at the same time, producing a better result.
Here a some of the reasons that we decided to home school:
We prefer to be the ones who instill values, manners, morals, etc. in our children. We do not wish to subject them to the many different beliefs, value systems, etc, that would be imparted on them if they were to have many teachers and the required curriculum from which they teach. Don't get me wrong, we will discuss other belief systems, value systems, theories (evolution for example), and such. But we will teach them from a truthful position, examining them for what they truly are. Our children will learn morals and values from a Biblical perspective, the way God intended.
Everybody learns in different ways. Rather than having many teachers with different teaching styles (who don't have the time to discover the student's learning style), it is of great benefit for the student to have one teacher who can really understand the way he learns best and teach in a manner that is most effective. Who knows a child and his learning style/abilities better than his own parents.
Susan Wise Bauer, in her essay What is Classical Education, put it this way: To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Astronomy (for example) isn't studied in isolation; it's learned along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the churches relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history. The reading of the odyssey leads the student into the consideration of Greek history, the nature of heroism, the development of the epic, and man's understanding of the divine.
The author of Mt Hope Chronicles said the following: In my experience, children in recent times lose their innocence early and mature later, creating a 10-15 year (or longer) adolescence. My hope is to help my children retain their childhood innocence longer and encourage maturation. I want my kids to think for themselves without a herd mentality. Lots of free play time (particularly outdoors), time for imagination to let loose, quality children's literature, selective television, very little video games, more interaction with adults or families and less with large groups of same-aged peers, chores and responsibilities, serious participation in and ownership of family relationships, deep friendships, challenging academic studies (including Socratic dialogue and discussion), more time [for]... personal development sports...music lessons, quality group experiences...apprenticeships, and specific training in life skills will all help serve my children as they enjoy childhood and develop into mature young adults. I could not agree with her more!
More time can be spent on-task when there is no transportation time to and from school, no school assemblies, no roll call, no explanations/discipline/review for other students, no 'busy work,' no inappropriate socialization during study time, no 'filler' classes or subjects. When children are able to be on-task at their exact learning level with a 1:3 teacher/student ratio and with immediate personal feedback and discussion, much is accomplished in a short amount of time. This leaves hours of the day free for a full and well-rounded life, complete with down-time. --Mt Hope Chronicles.
School schedules can be worked around appointments, illness, injury, etc. While we don't take many vacations, if we did decide to go somewhere we would be able to do so during the off season when it would be less expensive.
It is important to encourage advancement in subjects with which our children will excel and to spend the extra time necessary on the subjects with which they will struggle. Home schooling allows us to do so.
While there are other reasons for our decision to home school, I am satisfied with narrowing my explanation down to the above mentioned.