The Tánaiste should take five minutes to look at the statistics before criticising home education, according to a homeschooling counsellor.
Monica O’Connor told Newstalk Breakfast that she homeschooled her six children, with three going on to third level education.
She said she was “saddened” to hear Tánaiste Micheál Martin’s comments on home-schooling over the weekend.
Speaking on his visit to New York, Minister Martin said he was not a fan of homeschooling because it leads to problems with socialising.
He said the Enoch Burke case shows why children should be educated in the home, noting that without trying to sound patronising, he finds it “sad” and “disquieting” that the Burke family have found themselves in such a situation.
Ms O’Connor took issue with the comments.
She suggested that the Tánaiste and “anyone else who worries about socialisation” could find studies in the UK and US showing that homeschooled children are socially adept.
“It saddens me that our Tánaiste who I think is supposed to protect our Bunreacht and protect all the people of the country and all the children of the country and he would go after a minority,” she said.
“That saddens me a bit.”
She said homeschooling advocates view socialisation concerns as the “eye roll question”.
“Everybody asks us about socialisation,” she said. “I don’t know about you, I no longer socialise, since I left school, in groups of 24 or 30.
“That is not how I do my socialising.”
Ms O’Connor said she didn’t follow the national curriculum when educating her children, instead following an ‘unschooling’ approach which allowed them to learn about the things that interest them.
“I’ve done courses as an adult and I know that at my age - I am 55 - not everybody should know the same things,” she said.
“So, I don’t see why I wouldn’t accord that same level of respect to my six-year-old and say that at six, you need to be able to read or be on page 12 of the maths book or whatever.
“In my home, people have learned to read between the ages of six and 10-and-a-half.
“A ten-and-a-half-year-old in school in school not reading would be labelled and might be lucky enough to get an assessment and support but my son doesn’t have a reading problem, he just learned to read later on his own timetable.”
She said she chose homeschooling, “literally, just for the love of being with my children”.
She insisted that her children are just as prepared for life as anyone else.
“I would say that having a good grounding with the love and support of your family is a good preparation for the knocks that will inevitably come in life,” she said.
“I don’t think putting a four-year-old in a class of 24 or 30 is a good way to prepare them for life or the knocks they are going to get.”
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