I have been reading a bit about homeschooling on Penelope Trunk's homeschool blog. She says a lot of things that I would anecdotally agree with, like high school damages kids. I had a lot of unpleasant experiences in high school and there are an awful lot of people I know that feel the same way but I still question the conclusion that everybody should homeschool their kids. The trick is that there are, in fact, people who quite liked high school and just because thing X has big problems is no basis for choosing thing Y. There are an awful lot of us who aren't particularly inclined nor especially skilled at teaching and a big advantage of having specialized teachers is that they are generally good at teaching and interested in doing so. I don't particularly want to teach Elli full time for the next twelve years and I suspect that I would go quite batty trying to do it; other people are very different from me but I am sure that this is a common sentiment!
The question to my mind is not "Should everyone homeschool their kids?" because I think the answer is a resounding "No!" but rather "How can we make school better?" There are plenty of different ideas out there but I think that this video presents some really good ideas; in particular we can start with dispensing with grades and grading as the primary organizing elements of schooling. When I was younger I was disgusted with how the system did away with failing students who did not learn and perform but I have changed my mind in that regard. I don't think that failing the kids who refused to learn would have helped them or changed their behaviour; they did not make their decisions based on rational, long term objectives but rather simply went moment to moment. You can't cause an eight year old to work hard and study by having the possibility of failure at the end of the year as they will not do the work either way. What you can do is try to give them the opportunity to do and to learn in the way that suits them best.
The daycare that Elli goes to seems fantastic in this regard. They have the advantage, I suspect, of not having to submit grades and stick to mandated lesson plans like a school would but rather can simply do whatever it is that works. They regularly tell us that the children have indicated interest in particular lessons, crafts or ideas and the teachers just run with it. If the kids are finding ironing beads and the patterns they can make with them interesting then they do that; next week it may be books about dinosaurs or perhaps weather. Regardless the kids end up learning all kinds of basic things like letters and numbers but the teachers take every opportunity to channel their enthusiasm for random topics into learning.
One thing I think is key here is that there is far too much to learn. You can't learn all the facts out there but you can learn how to learn and how to think and making sure that the children are engaged and interested means that they get a lot out of the lessons. Whatever facts in particular they miss they can pick up later when and if those facts are required. No one ever failed in life because the didn't know the date Canada became a separate nation but many have failed due to lacking emotional awareness or problem solving skills. We should focus on learning skills, not facts and prioritize interest over structure.