The big lie homeschoolers tell

The most arrogant, out-of-control part of the homeschool movement is the idea that “homeschooling is not right for everyone.”

What does that mean? That you are special because you can homeschool but not everyone is as special as you?

This week, Time magazine reports that US public schools are worse than any schools in the developed world. New York magazine reported that poor kids do way worse in public school than rich kids do, and that kids of uneducated parents do way worse than kids of educated parents. Finally, the Heritage Foundation reports that most homeschoolers perform higher than average on state testing – regardless of the household income of the homeschooler.

So we need to squash the delusional, self-aggrandizing idea based in classism that “homeschooling is not for everyone.”

Here’s another way to think about it. We know that breastfeeding is very important for babies. It gives kids a boost in their immune system, and other health benefits, but it also gives emotional benefits related to the connection with the mom and the baby.

However breastfeeding is really hard. It hurts at the beginning. It doesn’t work at the beginning. The baby cries more because milk comes slowly. The mom cannot pass the task off to someone else, and she’s already exhausted. (You don’t see this in my picture, but trust me, it was there.)

On top of that, the recommended time to breastfeed is two years. This is really really hard for moms who have to go to work at a job at a fast-food restaurant. Where will they pump? And, by the way, I ask that question knowing that it’s number 93 on the list of problems a new mom has if she works at a fast-food restaurant.

So it’s easy to say that only moms who have a support system in place, and do not have to work full-time outside the home should breastfeed. But we don’t say that. Because it’s not true. All moms should breastfeed for two years. We have solid proof that this is best for the baby’s development. And, given the range of benefits to the baby, it’s safe to say that having all women breastfeeding for two years is best for society as well.

So now here’s my experience breastfeeding both kids for two years. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that every time I breastfed a one-year-old on the subway in New York City, someone would come over to me and tell me the kid was too old and I was disgusting.

What I’m going to tell you is that I was the breadwinner for the family, we were so poor at times that I cashed out my 401K, both kids were born with special needs, and we got eviction notices regularly. I also had a nervous breakdown and put a knife into my head and had to go to the hospital for mental health issues.

Still, would you really say that my kids would have been better off with me gone from them? Should I have worked outside the home because we were poor? Or on the edge of sanity? Or overwhelmed with other issues besides taking care of kids?

No. We had a hard life that was going to be hard whether I breastfed or not. Breastfeeding was really hard, and I got no sleep for five years, while I supported the family, but the decision to breastfeed is still right.

And I could make the same argument for staying home with kids. Wikipedia, of all places, comes right out and says that all the research about attachment points to kids needing a single caregiver during the first year of birth. This is not controversial. We can, with certainty, say that all babies should have a single person taking care of them for the first year. And, it’s probably going to be the mom.

Given that data, are you really going to say that breastfeeding is only right for some people? Why? You’d be lying. And the same is true with homeschooling.

148 replies
  1. Gwen Nicodemus
    Gwen Nicodemus says:

    We don’t say “homeschooling is not right for everyone” to be classist. We say it to make people feel better because they are not homeschooling their kids. I suspect most people know homeschooling is better. Deep down.

    But if I had to homeschool my friend’s kid, with ADHD and tourette’s, I’m pretty sure I’d lose it.

    Which, frankly, is another reason to homeschool. The schools have to help all the kids with ADHD, tourette’s, dyslexia, …

    I only have to teach my kids and they have problems that I understand. (We just have the crazy gene, and I understand that, having dealt with it all my life. My sister’s kids eat table legs, and she understands that because she had big SI issues.)

    • Carrie
      Carrie says:

      “We don’t say “homeschooling is not right for everyone” to be classist. We say it to make people feel better because they are not homeschooling their kids. I suspect most people know homeschooling is better. Deep down.”

      Exactly! I used to say this, but I stopped. Because anyone can homeschool, even those who work full time outside the home can do it. So I don’t say it anymore. Ever.

      Penelope you blew the top of my head off with this post. You are so right. I love this comparison and can’t believe I didn’t come up with it myself!

    • karen
      karen says:

      Actually, Gwen Nicodemus, I do homeschool my boys, one of whom has ADHD, Tourette’s and a bunch of other stuff. When he *was* in school until age 11, these were a huge issue for all of us.
      Homeschooling was the best thing we could have done for him, and our family. I was able to let go of the stigma associated with his diagnoses, and see my kid as a whole person, not bits of “normal” and pieces of “broken.” Believe me, if he was your kid, you wouldn’t “lose it”, you would do what you could to keep your kid from getting sucked into a system that didn’t work for him. And you wouldn’t “lose it” because you would love your child, even though he’s not “easy”.
      Anyone CAN homeschool, given resources and support. It’s the attitude the parent’s bring to it that make it work (or not). When parents try to duplicate school at home and remain inflexible to the children’s needs and interests, there are bound to be difficulties.
      That said, school is appropriate and a good fit for some kids and many situations. I always say, homeschooling works for us, (even with my ADHD/Tourette’s kid!) but it doesn’t work for everyone, for many, many reasons, but not because the child has ADHD or Tourette’s.

  2. redrock
    redrock says:

    not the same thing: breastfeeding and homeschooling. While breastfeeding is better on many levels, many many kids grow up with bottles and do extremely well. Some moms cannot breastfeed for none of the reasons cited above. It is not always about wanting to do a certain thing!

    And why everybody commenting here seems to say that homeschooling is better and EVERYBODY knows it, this is not the case. People not homeschooling might do so because they actually are convinced that homeschooling is not the best way to go, and the reason is not necessarily the social contact with other kids. It is only the first thing which comes to mind.

    I realize this is a blog about homeschooling, based on the assumption that homeschooling is the one and only legitimate way to go – it is not. There is a certain percentage of kids (about 20-30%) who will thrive in nearly any schooling environment, there are those who are very intelligent who will catch up fast if they need to do it to get into a college, but there are many who will not thrive. Teaching well is difficult, a teacher has to have a grasp of the material which is superior to that of the pupil or student, and while you mind know your kid best, you still might be a lousy teacher, whether you stay home of not.

    I am convinced that the percentage of functional literacy will go down even more if the percentage of homeschoolers becomes very high. After all there is a very good reason schools were invented (no, it was not to keep the masses quiet and have worker bees – that one is much easier accomplished if people can not read).

    • Laurie Betz
      Laurie Betz says:

      Actually you are mistaken. The US was terrifically literate prior to mandatory public schools. In JP Gattos book, dumbing Us Down, he cites multiple studies that show the US had over 90% literacy. By some measures even higher. The first generation that utilized public schools actually performed worse on the military entrance exams than did the generation mainly homeschooled. The reasons we have public schooling have very little to do with the ideal education and everything to do with factory training and preparation. Your assertion that literacy rates would decrease is simply not empirically true, nor particularly logical given how poorly our schools do teaching kids to be even functionally literate. By any measure, our literacy rates are dismal. Dianne McGuiness explains in her book, Why Our Kids Cant Read and what We can do About it” that at best, 5% of our population could read at what the National Literacy Counsel determined to be a level 5. Level 5 being the ability to read and utilize jury instructions. Rates are far worse for minority students in urban settings.
      Although homeschooling cannot be demonstrated to universally improve scores, truly it would be difficult to do much worse than our current system. Universal homeschooling may not be economically feasible but it likely would improve literacy.
      I am a certified public school teacher by the way and have seen first hand how out schools are failing many children.

  3. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    You may have heard stories of babies failing to thrive, occasionally dying, because the breastfeeding mother was not producing milk or feeding often enough. I believe that almost all women can physically breastfed if problems are resolved, but there’s something else wrong when you let your baby starve though you think you’re doing the best thing.

    My view is not based on how well a parent can teach subjects because as a homeschooler I know that is not the challenge.

    It sounds almost naive to say that everyone can homeschool. It’s not about income or education per se. Providing a healthy home life is not innate any more. Not everyone will be conscientious or even self-aware enough to improve it.

    Some children find school the only place they find a book or paper for writing or hear discussion of anything in the wider world. For some, school is the place they have a sober, lucid adult. Some children find school the only place they get relief from constant berating, control and abuse. For a lot of others the parent is just checked out and the child is unsupervised or neglected. Maybe you think that child would do better homeschooling anyway. I’m not convinced.

    In your travels you must have met these people and it surprises me that you don’t question whether school has any value in the balance of such a child’s life.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I was a kid who was getting beaten up at home. When there was someone at home. And for the most part, there was no one at home. I didn’t brush my teeth til I was a teen, to give you an idea of the neglect going on. And I was removed from my home at 16.

      I did not find refuge or support at school. I was a discipline problem, I never did my homework, I couldn’t get to school on time. I remember, for the longest time, being absolutely stunned at how slowly other kids learned and bored out of my mind waiting for them to do it.

      I also remember wishing some kid would take me home with them. I kept looking for another family to attach myself to.

      I tell you this to tell you that me being homeschooled would have not been worse. I probably would have figured out something to do with myself. I would have had my brother with me all day. That would have been nice. I missed him during the day when we were separated into classrooms.

      I think school does not fix neglect and loneliness. In some cases it emphasizes it without giving any solution. I think a lot of people who imagine what the problem might be like also imagine school is a solution to that problem. I’m not that convinced.

      In fact, as I write this I think that as a society we see a kid who is in a lot of trouble and we think we, as individuals, that don’t need to do anything because the school will take care of it. So maybe, in this way, school actually means less support from society for the kids who need it.


      • Niecie
        Niecie says:

        Ohhhhhhh Penelope….you absolutely and completely break my heart with this post. COMPLETELY!!! I am in tears at this comment. I LOVE you blog and thank God you were able to survive and thrive despite that childhood and the hard times you grew up to have as a new young family. I mean really….your boys are sooooo fortunate to have a mom who tries soooooo hard to do DIFFERNTLY than she had growing up. When you know better…you DO better. I’m right there with yua…I’m trying…everyday I struggle and the next day I ask for forgiveness for the hitting, screaming, scolding, shaming and belittling and I try to breathe and start all over again.

        • Karen
          Karen says:

          Niece, I can see by what you wrote that you really care about your kids and that you are struggling. There is a class called “Love and Logic” that many of my friends have taken that might help you with how to handle things. If you are regularly hitting and yelling at and demoralizing your kids, I strongly urge you to get help in dealing with your anger (or whatever the issue is). Your local school district or hospital or library should be able to help you get started (maybe even without identifying yourself).

        • Christy
          Christy says:


          I found myself in a similar situation a couple of years ago – fatigued, depressed, loving my kids but sometimes losing control and yelling at or hitting them. It turned out that my problem was wheat – yup, that stuff you eat every single day. An aunt recommended the book Wheatbelly, and halfway through I cleaned out my cupboard. Within 2 weeks I was back to my old self. I think it was triggered by pregnancy. By all means get help, but don’t ignore the possibility that it’s food related. Many doctors or counselors would think it’s crazy, but it was definitely the solution for me, and for at least 1 friend as well. I’m so thankful God lead me to the solution before I hurt my kids or myself.

      • Kimberly
        Kimberly says:

        I think you are absolutely right, Penelope. The myth that kids from broken homes need to attend school is so inaccurate.

        My parents were very distant toward me growing up and I hardly ever spent time with them. Because I was in daycare from an infant, I never had the social confidence that results from parental attachment.

        School only exacerbated this issue. Well adjusted kids simply do not want to hang out with troubled/awkward kids and no amount of forcing them in a classroom for 8 hours a day will change that.

        My parents both worked very demanding jobs and I think that they hoped putting me in as many activities as possible would make up for not spending as much time with me. Well, guess what…it didn’t. School is not a substitute for a stable home. In fact, it can push many kids off of the edge.

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      Agreed, Penelope. Most people who use this weak argument about school being the only refuge for kids from troubled homes have either never been a troubled child or have never met one.

      School does not fix the problems of a poor home life. This is the idea that politicians put into your mind to get support for a failed system. However, no school teacher has the time nor the resources to deal with troubled children and their behavioral patterns as a result.

      If this were the case, children from poor or troubled families would do better than children from stable homes, because they would be benefiting from it more. However, we see that this is not the case.

      Issues that arise from a troubled home life do not fix themselves by getting, 5 minutes of attention, from an overwhelmed, overworked teacher who is just trying to keep the classroom in order and get through a lesson.

    • Momofsix
      Momofsix says:

      Well said, Zellie! I do/have homeschooled my six. My husband is a police sergeant, and considering what he sees every day, I would never say homeschooling is best for everyone. It’s a bit naive. Ditto for breast feeding…not everyone is the same. I’ve been homeschooling for about 20 years and have about 18 more to go, and I’m always saddened to see this type of attitude among fellow homeschoolers.

  4. redrock
    redrock says:

    I think homeschooling very much depends on how well a parent can teach. Why do we always shout that the school teachers are not good, not qualified. not whatever, and then don’t ask parents to provide good schooling? School is not a place where to keep the kids, schools are primarily places of learning, that many use them otherwise is one of the biggest problems of schools and distracts from their true purpose and intention.

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      The problem is the school setting is not conducive to natural learning, so a teacher needs skill to get kids to know something in a style and environment contrary to exploration and self-determination, foundations to normal learning.

      In the home one can observe the natural learning process and know that knowledge does not have to be inserted into the mind of the child if he is permitted to gather it himself. Teachers don’t have the luxury of allowing this to happen.

      • Vanessa
        Vanessa says:

        I am very naive about homeschooling, and I’m not originally from the US, so apologies for my question, but don’t kids have to pass specific exams here too? on specific and diverse disciplines if they want to have any certificate of education or degree to put one day on their CVs?

        In Portugal you have to pass specific Exams on the 9th year and 12th year of secondary school, for example, in order to have a certificate that grants you the minimum mandatory education if you want to get any job as an adult. These exams cover several subjects and years of content.

        What does a homeschooled kid puts on his CV when he becomes an adult if he only wanted to study bugs while he was growing up?

        How can any parent educate a kid on Math, Languages, History, Science, etc, or know the kid is on the right path on those, if the parent is not knowledgeable on any of these things?

        How do kids here get a secondary school certificate or any proof of education or apply to a university?

        I’m not critizing, honestly, I really want to know as I think homeschooling can be a good thing if done right, but have no clue how you do it.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          Hi, Vanessa. Homeschool kids still have to take exams, but they are generally very easy for kids to pass. It takes a homeschooler about one hour to learn everything a kid learns in school in eight hours. So homeschoolers generally do better on state exams than non-homeschoolers.

          As for college degrees, if you have a lot of work experience, most employers in the US don’t hold the degree against you. Experience counts for a lot in the US.


          • Adrienne Sweat
            Adrienne Sweat says:

            Actually, testing depends entirely on which state you live in, as do all homeschool regulations. Many states on the east coast have more stringent requirements, and the state departments of education give parents a lot less control. Midwest and further tend more towards letting parents sign a waiver, some once, some every year (like Utah where I live), and that’s it. Being from the east coast and quite liberal minded for Utah, I actually relish the lack of government control over what and how I teach my kids. It’s one of the few, very few, things I like here.

        • Dawn
          Dawn says:

          I’m not sure if this is correct but I’m guessing a CV is a resume or job application.

          Here we have LOTS of high school drop outs so you can get a job without testing that schools do…. Not good jobs but there are ones out there. Also we have what’s called a GED (General Education Diploma), you take a test and pass or fail and from what I’ve heard it’s actually harder than graduating from high school and many seniors can’t pass it. So homeschoolers can take that.

          As far as colleges, many Ivy League schools are accepting a vastly high percentage of the homeschoolers that apply than the public schoolers. These schools are looking less and less at grades and test scores and more and more at what students have done outside of school, this gives homeschoolers a huge advantage. And this has been happening with the tip schools for a while now and is happening at more and more schools all over the country.

          As for testing in general, like someone else said it depends on the state. (Here education is a state’s rights issue so really the federal government really shouldn’t be involved at all, but that’s a different can of worms).

          Where I am we have to declare that we are homeschooling and either test or show what I child has done to a teacher that signs off that they progressed throughout the year. It’s a lot like what many schools do for special education students so it’s pretty standard in education already and it’s not hard at all to show you progressed from the beginning of the year to the end.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      “School is not a place where to keep the kids, … “.
      As a kid educated in the public school system, I really liked the relatively very few field trips we went on. The public schools could start there in their effort to reform. Get the kids out more to see and experience the “real world”.

    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      This is actually a myth too… parents know their kids better than anyone else and can teach them better than anyone else. Yes it takes special training to teach 15-30 of OTHER people’s kids but not to teach your own.

  5. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    The reality is that people who decide to take their kids out of school to homeschool them are *often*, not always, going to be people for whom education is very important. It’s not easy to go against the grain, perhaps adjust to a single-income household, etc. One has to believe that the public school is not providing what it should. So the idea that homeschoolers would be parents who hold their kids back from an otherwise good life at school is utterly silly and improbable. Not everyone *will* homeschool, plain and simple. But those who decide to do so, and move heaven and earth to make it work, will almost always succeed with stunning results.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      yes, I do think you are correct: it is self-selection. But the point on this blog seems to be that everybody should homeschool, and that it is not just for those who do it anyway for intellectual or religious reasons. It also means that the statistics about performance of home school versus school kids is completely meaningless.

      • Hannah
        Hannah says:

        Except in the documented cases of children who struggled in the traditional school setting, were then homeschooled, and did much, much better. This happens quite often, acually. In these cases, it’s clear that one way worked better than another. This is not to say that some children won’t do well no matter how they’re educated. I have a child in that category.

      • Zellie
        Zellie says:

        Mainly the stats mean that people’s arguing that homeschooling is bad is not supported by test scores.

        • redrock
          redrock says:

          no the statement that Homeschooling is bad is not supported by test scores, but you are comparing to different populations of kids. In that way the comparison can not be made, well, it can be made, but it is meaningless.

      • Dawn
        Dawn says:

        Nope you didn’t get what she was saying.

        While breastfeeding might not be what’s best for every MOM, every baby would benefit more from breast milk than from formula.

        It’s the same with homeschooling, it’s the parent’s it’s not right for, not the kids. All kids would benefit from having someone that is dedicated to one on one instruction that is suited to them. Even kids that thrive in public school would soar even more if homeschooled.

  6. Monica
    Monica says:

    OK, now you are my hero! You are just brazen period and I, for one, am right there with you. Breastfeeding a 2+ year old with the 4 year old in tow…homeschooling because it IS the right thing for them and remembering daily that I brought them into this world and I owe them my best shot.

  7. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    This post reminds me of the difficult time you had with your local public school this year. They wouldn’t negotiate with you some mutually agreeable solution and accommodate you and younger son (or maybe both) needs. They seemed to be very inflexible. I think eventually, if public schools continue with this mentality, they will break as surely in an as many pieces as that clay pot (that will be fired) your son was making on the potter’s wheel (earlier post).

  8. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    I say that to people All the time.Some parents could probably not handle the stress of trying to decide how to homeschool their kids. Then they would not be nice to their kids.

    It takes a secure parent to go against societal norms and decide to homeschool.

    I think everyone could do it but they don’t have the confidence to do it.

    And just like with breast feeding …if you are worried that they are getting enough…look at the output. I’ve written about this before. As a homeschool mom it’s hard to see the growth because it happens in a small way every day.

    BTW…I breast fed both my kids until they were 1 Maybe there is a correlation between parents who do hard things and those who homeschool.

  9. Jennifer Soodek
    Jennifer Soodek says:

    Not everything is so black and white Penelope. Each situation warrants a decision based on the present circumstances. A mother experiencing a nervous breakdown might benefit from taking a short break and allowing a friend or relative to help with the baby.
    I think if you were willing to introduce the concept of compromise into your parenting ideology, you might find the experience less stressful.
    Parenting is a constant roller coaster with ups and downs. I have been doing it for the past 26 years and could not find a more fulfilling and challenging job.
    I advise opening yourself up to see beyond the barriers you seem to set up for yourself. It really can be easier than you think!
    You clearly are a caring, loving mom, but relax a bit Penelope! Enjoy the ride, don’t obsess about the small stuff or you risk missing out on the joy of the minutia.

  10. Kim
    Kim says:

    I don’t think you’ve ever fully addressed how homeschooling is supposed to work in a household where both parents’ incomes are necessary and the mom (the one who, as you’ve pointed out, will most likely be doing the homeschooling) has a job/career that requires her to be present at work for at least 8 hours a day.

    Or how about the mom who simply has no desire to homeschool? Are you saying that a lack of desire to homeschool equals a lack of desire to parent? I don’t think it does anymore than a lack of desire to breastfeed for two years indicates a lack of desire to parent.

    And I don’t think you’ve addressed what it means for women if now the benchmark is 2 years of breastfeeding plus 12 years of homeschooling per child. If that has become the new brass ring, then what should homeschooling moms teach their daughters? How to be good teachers?

    • Victoria
      Victoria says:

      Yes, this. What is the point of lavishing all this attention on daughters if they are “supposed to” then spend 15 years of their adult life minimum being miserable because they have to do something as a career that they don’t like at all?

    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      But you are missing the point… she’s saying just like every baby would benefit from breast milk, every child would benefit from individual schooling. The point you are making is about what’s best for the parent, not the child.

      Her point is what’s best for the child and how can a teacher with even a small class of 12 students (which is VERY rare) give the attention that child could get at home.

      Homeschooling might not be right for all PARENTS (just like bf isn’t right for all moms) but both are what’s best for the kids.

      And there are MANY MANY families where both parents work full time and they homeschool, I actually know several so work doesn’t mean you can’t homeschool either.

  11. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I’m that mom! I have a great career and great aptitude for business and its way easier for me to do that than homeschool. I only homeschool becayse its the right thing to do for the kids.

    Also, I still earn all the money in our household. I’m married to a farmer- he works all day but dies mot earn the cash we spend.

    So I guess you should follow this blog, and you can see how someone like me does it. So far, I have to say, its been extremely hard and I’m a wreck. But hopefully I’ll get better at managing this life.


    • Kim
      Kim says:

      I’ve followed your blog(s) for years, and I’m genuinely curious to see how homeschooling works out. But your career allows you to work from home, and you’ve only been homeschooling for a few months. I wish you and your family every success, but I think it’s very premature to be standing on the soapbox and saying this is what everyone should be doing. And I also question whether “I’m a wreck” should be discounted so easily, as though it’s a worth it no matter what. Again, it’s only been a few months.

      • Dawn
        Dawn says:

        At the homeschool co-op I attend we have at least 10 families where both parents work, so it’s not just her and many have been making it work for years and years. It is possible.

  12. Jennifer Soodek
    Jennifer Soodek says:

    On another note, 21 years ago I opened my first of five child care centers so I could work and have my children with me as well!
    If you can do it, it is a great way to combine work and mothering!

  13. Todd
    Todd says:

    I admire homeschoolers & agree that most public schools are not great places for kids; however, I think you might be a bit too confident with respect to the extent that a child’s schooling will impact their long-term life outcomes. If you haven’t already, you should read Bryan Caplan’s “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids”. The biggest impact your behavior is likely to have on your kids is on how you all feel about each other. Again, homeschooling is probably a great way to nurture that relationship, but your kids won’t be lost if you need/want to send them to a school.

    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      Actually many kids are lost when sent to school so that’s not a true statement either.

      I know many parents that are homeschooling now and look at the freedom to be themselves their kids have and see what school squashed out of them and it’s only gotten worse. The push to conform from the top down to other students it terrible today. I can’t imagine how awful I would have been in school now and I did well in school when I was a kid.

  14. Leanna
    Leanna says:

    Thank you for this! I breastfed my third child until he was over three, in Kentucky, where reaching 6 months and still nursing is almost unheard of.

    My kids are homeschooled primarily because our schools are awful here. We have continued to be a one-income family so that we can do this, and it has been a huge sacrifice at times, but it’s working well for our family!

    Like talking about breastfeeding to a formula-feeding mom, I often find it hard to talk about homeschooling with someone who sends their kids to public school. Obviously I think breastfeeding and homeschooling are best, otherwise I would not have chosen them for my kids.

  15. maria
    maria says:

    I see a correlation between women who can’t stop breastfeeding and women who can’t sent their kids to school.
    I think it’s something like fear of seperation?
    Fear that an emotionally distant couple ,will not make it without the presence of the kids?
    If that is the case,this is not healthy for the psychological development of the kids.Not to mention their sexual development ,which is in my opinion the most important argument against homeschooling,

    • p
      p says:

      This is so funny! Women who “can’t stop breastfeeding”? Seriously? The length of a breastfeeding relationship is a choice made in tandem by a mother and a child, and the idea that someone “can’t stop” is totally preposterous. But I love the image of a woman who “can’t stop.” Like that woman who eats dryer sheets.

      And the most important argument against homeschooling is kids’ sexual development?! Are you going all Flowers in the Attic here? Most homeschooled kids still see other kids, and there’s plenty of time for wide-eyed handholding and more. Jeez.

      • maria
        maria says:

        Well, i happen to know more than one woman who needed the help of a psychologist to stop breastfeeding because they had grown an addiction!Mostly these were sexually unsatisfied from their marriage.
        As, for the sexual development i mentioned please go ask any psychiatrist.It’s basic Freud psychology!!!!!Adolescents need space to develop their owm personality ,without parental quidance but through parental rejection.
        Look at what Dr Phil says

        • Hannah
          Hannah says:

          Freud has been largely discredited in the psychiatric field for years now. This is not up-to-date info.

        • p
          p says:

          I am loving your made-up anecdata! Amazing and hilarious–although a bit disturbing that anyone out there is so uncomfortable with breastfeeding they feel the need to make impossible shit up.

          Also, you clearly don’t understand homeschooling–it is not a literal term. Most of the homeschooled teens I know have at least as much and often way more freedom to come and go than their peers

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I absolutely can’t believe we are having this conversation in 2011. “Can’t stop breastfeeding”????

      That is absurd.

      The American Medical Association recommends breastfeeding for two years.

      After that, the child will eat so much solid food that it’s hard to keep milk anyway. And it’s hard to get a kid much older than 3 to breastfeed. Because its so awkward.

      So what, exactly, would the addiction look like? Breastfeeding a ten year old? I mean, this is so far outside the norm that it’s not worth talking about. It’s like, “what about women who can’t stop killing their kids?”


    • Gwen Nicodemus
      Gwen Nicodemus says:

      I breastfed my daughter for 13 months and my son for 18 months. I didn’t like it. I felt like a cow. Whenever the kids nursed, I got thirsty. I did it because it’s best for the kids. (I didn’t hate it. I just considered it a chore.) The only time breastfeeding was “ok” was when I considered that I didn’t have to wake up at night to feed the kid. :-)

      My daughter didn’t want to stop. I broke my foot and wanted to take the anti-nausea pills that would allow me to take the narcotics. Yes, at that time I cared more about taking narcotics than nursing my daughter. Broken bones hurt.

      My son didn’t particularly want to stop, but it was Christmas time and he got too busy to nurse for about three days and mommy broke.

      Most people consider the length of time I nursed “long.” I don’t. Two years makes sense. That said, I’m kind of glad I broke my foot and my son got busy at Christmas time.

      I also homeschool my kids. I decided I’d homeschool the minute I found out I was pregnant with Kid No. 1. Why? I know, without a doubt, that I can teach them better than they can be taught at school. I know I hated worksheets at school and was bored. I know that other kids can be mean. (My kids have plenty of friends and playmates. There are a lot of other kids that are homeschooled.)

      Am I overly attached to my kids?

      I don’t think so. I most certainly love it when I get a break. Sometimes I tell my husband I’m taking the weekend off and he should take the kids and himself to grandma’s or something because I want alone time. Some nights he comes home and I already have keys in hand and say “I’m taking off. They’re yours.” And I take myself to a bookstore or out to a movie.

      I love my kids and I will do what I think is best for them and my family. But believe me, there are days I really consider tossing them in school.

      There are days I want to work outside of the house. (I freelance at home.)

      Why am I at home and not my husband? I like to say I lost the quarter toss. When I quit out-of-the-house work, I made more money than he did. What it comes down to, however, is that my nature can cope better at home than his can. He also knows that if he ever gets laid off, we’re in a race and the first job offer gets to go to work. :-) He’s promised to take over teaching my classes at co-op.

      • maria
        maria says:

        Am I overly attached to my kids?
        This is a question you can ask a child psychologist , if you have that doubt.
        It is a fact, that mothers have a dark side ,as well .They become control freaks over their children lives ,in direct but also in indirect ways ,which can’t be easily pointed out .It is one of the most difficult things to become a good mother ,which means to not suffocate the kid’s personality with your need to impose power ,with your need to have a life goal ,with your need to fill the gaps of your marriage ,with your need to fix the mistakes of the past you or your parents made.

        • Laura
          Laura says:

          Dear God, I wasn’t going to reply to Maria, but for crying out loud, she completely discredited herself when she linked to Dr. Phil. That duck’s a quack.

          Thank you, P, for starting an interesting conversation. I’m seriously considering homeschooling and this portion of your blog has given me a lot to think about.

        • Rebecca
          Rebecca says:

          Dear Maria

          I sense from your comments that you have a very limited understanding of psychology, education, schooling, pedagogy, child development and English grammar. I am an education academic, teacher, researcher (yes, into home-education), mother and former English teacher. It would do you some good to research, even in a limited capacity, before commenting. I also recommend reading your comments for sense, comma usage and clarity before hitting the ‘post comment’ button.


          • Victoria
            Victoria says:

            Do you grade everyone on the Internet for English usage? It’s a comment forum to a blog post, you self-righteous bitch!

    • Skwerl
      Skwerl says:

      Maria, do you even know any homeschooled kids? Do you know any unschooled kids? The ones you’ve seen on TV don’t count.

      Just wanna throw some things out there…we’ve been homeschooling for 11 years and I was only a SAHM for 1.5 of those years. I’ve almost always worked outside the home 25-35 hours per week. I’m currently unemployed but I’m a full-time student. The husband and I are happily married. Obviously, there are no “separation issues.” We simply LIKE our kids. We have one grown son and one 16yo who was probably happily banging his 17yo (homeschooled) girlfriend last night after the dance they went to. (Yeah, I said it). So…sexual development? Are you saying that if they attended school, I wouldn’t find condom wrappers in the trash?

      I must say I’ve never met a woman who can’t stop breastfeeding, despite working in women’s health for a number of years. @@

      • Brian Heagney
        Brian Heagney says:

        I’m very curious for how two working parents can engage in home- or un- schooling. Got any links? Advice here?

        We’re both working as much as we can at the moment, and we’re not making enough to get by, and sinking deeper into debt. If we worked any more, we’d need daycare/school/etc..if we worked any less, we’d be pretty much homeless.

        What’s your strategy?

    • amocrame
      amocrame says:

      I think Maria has a point – there are women who are “overly attached” to their babies, even when their babies are not babies anymore. If Dr. Phil or Freud are not credible, how about Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child?” This is a popular book and it points out that a lot of times a mother’s attachment prevents a baby from developing good sleep habits. This book, as you can imagine, is controversial. So my personal conclusion is that there are different levels of maternal attachment, which are all a matter of opinion and also largely due to cultural influences.

      That said, my mother AND my father were breastfed until they were 4+… in China. My sister breastfed her kids well past age 2 in the U.S., as do lots of women I’ve known in La Leche League. I was the tradition-breaker, a book-learned mama, breastfed my daughter for exactly one year and my son for 9 months, only because he couldn’t last a year and I got tired of shoving my boob in his mouth for two weeks only to end up in a struggle multiple times a day. (He took to eating regular food like a king, no surprise.)

      My sister practiced attachment parenting – Dr. Sears was her favorite author. I did the sling thing for awhile, but I quickly adopted the philosophy, “if you don’t want your child to have these habits forever, then don’t get him started on it.” I equipped myself with several sleep training books and both my kids slept through the night before they were 6 months old. Even though I myself is not a scheduled/structured person, I fully embraced the notion that structure and routine are GOOD for kids, because it puts them in control, they know what’s coming up next and they become much more independent.

      Independence is a theme for me even now. I homeschool, but I use a “self-teaching” curriculum, where I’m a “coach” not a teacher. I tell my kids that I expect them to be smarter than me when they’re done with their pre-college schooling, because they have the opportunity to truly LEARN, not waste time and brain matter in classroom gossip, talking about music idols, bad movies, trying to fit into the popular crowd, feeling like a drone, holding in their bowel movements, etc.

      I was a latch-key kid growing up, so I agree with Penelope – sometimes it is much better learning something at home than being at school. My sister who went to New York City’s finest high school, the gateway to university for all immigrant children (Stuyvesant H.S.) ended up dropping out, so she could go to the library to read. My brother had terrible grades (a lot of boys are not sit-still types, as I’ve been learning and listening to female authority figures who are not their mother isn’t exactly stimulating either). So he got assigned social worker after social worker. One of them was an obese, unmarried women. She was very nice to my brother at first, but ended up confessing to him her “feelings” for him; my brother was 12. Then the next social worker was a man, also unmarried. He was a cool dude, rounded up a lot of the urban boys for a sleepover at his house – yep, you know what’s coming up next. He decided my brother -who was then 14 and buff from weightlifting- was his “favorite” and tried to tell my brother that it was “OK” to “try something new.” All this “help” made me nauseated as an older sister and can you imagine how my parents felt?!? What is wrong with the U.S.??? I did the most sane thing I could – I went to art school, where the other subjects (e.g., history = racism) didn’t matter.

      This is why I thought it best that I NOT be the teacher , even if I homeschool. And I chose to homeschool, b/c I live in a NJ ghetto with mandatory Spanish classes from Kindergarten all throughout high school (I have cursory knowledge of Spanish, my kids are mutts but not a drop of Spanish blood), while kids in my town have a 65% average in English on the NJASK standardized test. No, my kids are better off reading on their own at home with Khan Academy on YouTube to help them with their math.

      I wanted to say my two-cents on the male-female dichotomy when it comes to discipline/attachment, but my post is too long already…

  16. Jenna L
    Jenna L says:

    Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Some people literally just don’t want to.

    Before the advent of a school system here in America, everyone knew that it was their duty to educate their children if they had them. That’s been gone so long that no one thinks of it as their duty, rather the state’s. It used to be that a family educated their own kids, had a relative do it, paid a small fee to the teacher at the little school in the village, or hired a governess exclusively for their family’s use. Funnily enough, a greater percentage of the population was functionally literate then as opposed to now.

    Of course, the other side of that argument is that now, it’s illegal to refuse to educate females or persons of non-Caucasian heritage. Given what I’m seeing now, though, I’m not sure the state is doing any better for the minority students than what they could do for themselves. For many of them, school is what enables the parents to work. It’s a dire situation.

  17. Jason
    Jason says:

    My experience with homeschooling is my wife is homeschooling our kids and my sister tried homeschooling hers. My wife has a masters degree and so does my sister. Before we had kids my wife would say she couldn’t imagine homeschooling and could never do it. Before my sister had kids she would say she was definitely going to homeschool.

    Now 3-5 years later, my sister gave up on homeschooling – she just couldn’t handle it personally. My wife on the other hand once we had kids just can’t imagine not doing it and she completely loves it.

    I think it is understandable that some people find it simply too difficult to homeschool. I personally am not sure I could do it. Maybe I could adapt, but I do start to get a little crazy when I spend even a few hours of concentrated time with my kids – especially when we don’t have something to do.

    So that would be why I might say homeschooling is not for everyone. Not only can’t I see how a single parent could even manage it, but I also can understand how even the perfect potential homeschooling parent (my sister’s masters degree is in childhood development) might not be well suited to that specific task.


  18. Mark K
    Mark K says:

    Very provocative article.

    tl;dr The shift toward homeschooling is still in an early phase. It would be counterproductive to start a revolution in education, when evolution is already taking us where we need to go.

    Breastfeeding is an great analogy for homeschooling. When I look a little more deeply at breastfeeding though, I come to a different conclusion. Here’s why.

    When I was born, in the US in the early 60’s, my mother was given general anesthesia. She has no idea what happened in the hours surrounding my birth. When she woke up she was told that she had been given a “dry up” shot to ease the uncomfortable breast swelling that generally occurred after birth. That was the extent of the discussion and thought given to breastfeeding. It was absurd to propose something so obviously primitive, and a bit perverted. It was unthinkable to question the doctors. The doctors felt no need or obligation to discuss the decisions they made on behalf of their patients.

    In one generation things have come so far. My son was breastfed on demand until he stopped initiating breastfeeding.

    Acceptance and understanding of breastfeeding has come light years in mere decades. But we have still lost the heritage of knowledge about something that is exquisitely complex, even though it is literally the most natural thing in the world. Generations of women stopped passing down the knowledge about the optimal beginning of life that had been learned at great expense over many thousands of years.

    For example, we still often give routine iv fluids mothers during labor. This can lead to the baby being born over-hydrated. Compounding this, the umbilical cord is cut before the 30 percent of the baby’s blood, that is held in the placenta to ease birth, can be pumped out immediately following birth back into the baby. So the baby is low on blood but the blood they have is artificially diluted by the iv fluids. The baby is going to naturally resist more fluids, and thus lose weight until things are at equilibrium again. Many times the baby is taken away from the mother to be “warmed up” or whatever they claim these days, and frequently still given formula while the mother is told to rest. After labor many mothers are happy to get a break.

    Thus, in the critical period of seconds, minutes and hours after birth, biochemical processes that are scripted by nature to happen are not allowed to happen. In the interest of brevity I will skip the half a dozen other things we still inadvertently do that further complicate breastfeeding. My point is that still today not every woman can successfully get breastfeeding started and maintain it for reasons not only beyond their control, but reasons they are not even aware of.

    Our culture is only slowly reconstructing the knowledge about how this miraculous process works and how to facilitate it instead of interfering with it.

    Homeschoolers have been on a parallel journey. After generations of institutionalized education, more and more people are re-discovering how children optimally learn and grow and thrive. We have come a long way, but there are still massive social hurdles that make it very impractical for everyone to homeschool.

    As Jenna L pointed out, myriad social changes have taken place since people last took responsibility for educating their children.

    Further, most homeschoolers are themselves products of institutionalized education. All of their formative experience is of a highly dysfunctional system. We’re not just intellectually stunted by our past, but psychologically as well.

    So some will pioneer. Some will go in front and rediscover and they will pull the center of the bell curve along behind them, as pioneers tend to do. Attitudes will change. Ultimately, we will end up with a whole lot more intelligent ways to educate our young, and a lot more support systems. Along with that probably a much more fluid barrier between “schools” and homes. There are functions schools could meaningfully serve even in a world where everyone homeschools – as strange as that may sound on its face.

    Some of this is happening with schools allowing homeschooled kids to take part in sports and certain activities. And people are forming local groups to support one another. As more people homeschool and work together, unforeseen changes will take place and I doubt we’ll recognize the landscape 20 or 30 years from now.

    I am a vigorous and enthusiastic advocate of homeschooling / unschooling. But I do not think we are ready for everyone to do it yet. I believe the most fruitful approach is to wake people up to the options they have and let homeschooling spread organically, rather than trying to coerce people to do what we have come to feel is best. Evolution, not revolution.

  19. LJM
    LJM says:

    Saying that everyone can homeschool is no different than saying that school is right for every kid.

    The fundamental reason that public school isn’t right for every kid is that kids are individuals, with individual needs and abilities. Adults, like kids, are individuals with their own needs and abilities.

    To say that one is not capable of homeschooling their kids is no worse than saying that one is not capable of teaching their kids football or piano. Homeschooling is not right for some of the very best parents in the world.

  20. ANK
    ANK says:

    Interesting post. But I agree with someone above who said that many people are not able to breast feed because their bodies don’t produce milk or because of many other serious complications. And, the majority of our mothers did not breast feed us for two years, and there are a heck of a lot of successful people in our generation.

    As for home schooling, I feel that it is a great option, however I don’t home school. All research that I have seen is that home schooled children outperform public school children across the board. My children go to private school, but if we could not afford that option, they would probably go to public school. This is not because I can’t handle home schooling, but simply because I feel that no matter where your child is receiving their “schooling”, the nurturing, caring, and encouraging starts at home. If a child has a negative or abusive home life and they are home schooled, is that a good thing? What if they are home schooled and spend half the day watching TV? Just the fact that they are home schooled doesn’t make it better for the child. When you put a knife to your head, Penelope, was that healthy for your children?

    No matter if a child has “school” at home or away from home, we all learn in life. Receiving love and support, being exposed to the wonders of nature and to other cultures, and putting your child in a position to ask questions about real experiences that they are having – that is learning.

    I think that home schooling is great, but the real answer to success in raising a child is removing them from computers, televisions, and video games, and spending quality time with them. That is hard work, but most certainly worth it.

    Another recent article: The Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago reported that 90 percent of all children of Google and Apple executives attend Waldorf schools where you are not introduced to a computer until 7th grade. When asked why they chose that option? They said the hard work in raising children is to make them grounded, intelligent human beings. And an intelligent person can learn everything they need to know about computers in about a year.

    I am also a believer of schools because I went to public school and went to a top-five college.

  21. LJM
    LJM says:

    How is it “arrogant” to believe that homeschooling isn’t for everyone? How is it a “lie” to suggest that homeschooling isn’t for everyone? Everyone is different. Everyone has different skills.

    And isn’t it really arrogant to call people you disagree with “liars?”

    • Sandra Dodd
      Sandra Dodd says:

      I agree with LJM. I’ve been helping unschoolers for 20 years now, and unschooling isn’t for all homeschoolers.

      Pressure from others to do things isn’t helpful to natural learning. Pressure from others to take kids out of school if the kids are fine and the family is functioning is damaging to families. We had fundamentalist Christian neighbors when my kids were young who went to a church where homeschooling was considered virtuous and Godly. The mom did NOT want to homeschool, but she felt no choice. That family ended up divorced and scattered and the kids very unhappy, while our godless family is still together.

      People who learn to see their options and choices will live with an increasingly healthy awareness of why they are choosing their actions, words and thoughts.

      For me, as a child, homeschooling would not have been good. I needed to get away from my mean alcoholic mother as much as I could, and school was a place where there were kinder people, sober people, who read books and had travelled and who could look at me and talk to me without shaming or scaring me. I learned to be a better parent by having adults in my life other than my own parents. (My dad was sweet, but working and watching TV more than interacting with us.)

      “The big lie” is not a helpful accusation to have made.

  22. Pamela Price
    Pamela Price says:

    It’s like the Trinity of the Mommy Wars here: breastfeeding (complete with nursing shot), homeschooling, and the strident condemnation of other people and their respective opinions/experiences/capabilities.

    Golly, but this post is gonna get a ton of hits and comments. A TON.

  23. Tiffany (NatureMom)
    Tiffany (NatureMom) says:

    Yes everyone CAN homeschool. Should they, just because they can? No. I homeschooled my oldest (11, autism) for a couple years and it was definitely NOT in his best interests… it was just the best option we had at the time, since he was being beaten up in public school. Now he is in a “private” public school reserved for kids with IEPs, in a class of three and thriving. We love this school so much that we will not even dream of moving away from it until he graduates. And I would never dream of doing him a disservice by schooling him at home again.

  24. Kenneth Danford
    Kenneth Danford says:

    Great point. I quit my public school teaching job to start a program that helps teens get out of school and use homeschooling to improve their lives. I hope you will find our model inspiring as a way to make this option realistic and appealing for any interested teen. visit for more information.

  25. Rich
    Rich says:

    We homeschool and when people say it is not for everyone it is because not everyone has the temperament to teach a whole bunch of subjects through the school years. That said most people can do it just fine. Others we know just could not make it work for them. Everyone is different those that don’t homeschool often supplement what the school is doing so the kids are better off. You can no longer depend on the schools alone to educate your kids if you ever could.

  26. Meg
    Meg says:

    Penelope didn’t get where she is by uttering mild euphemisms and sticking to safe and thoroughly explored and agreed-upon territory. That’s what the majority of the blogosphere, quietly moldering in anonymous self-aggrandizement, is for. That, and gathering a few “me too” comments. I have to admire her courage to pronounce her views audaciously once she has come to them.

    It is too bad that for the most part, people (more often women, than men, for whatever reason), value consensus over discourse. My tendency to value discourse (and argument!) over consensus makes me come across as too forceful, loving argument for its own sake, or just unpleasant, when to my mind, I respect someone else’s position contrary to my own, if they make a valid and well-thought case for it.

    I find having to go through life nodding and smiling and sticking only to the most banal topics, blandly and mildly agreeing halfheartedly with other women, so odious, that I’m embracing solitude for a while, because it’s actually more fun.

    How nice to see someone who doesn’t live in the perpetually half-stooped posture of interminable compromise with popular consensus.

  27. Kay
    Kay says:

    I think there are exceptions. I imagine about ten percent of the population (wild guess) might not be best served with homeschooling or breastfeeding. I wouldn’t recommend either to the drug addicted or alcoholic mom.

  28. ChristineMM
    ChristineMM says:

    (I have not read the other comments.)

    Penelope, using your arguments above how would you respond to a mother who homeschooled happily for six years then decided to enroll her kids in school saying “homeschooling is not right for us, right now”? Certainly you could not accuse her of being classist about her own self!

    I am new to reading your writing. Maybe your schtick is to throw around bold opinions and some negative classifications. Such writing can make for interesting reading and can drive comments, things good for blog traffic and for helping blog ad revenue rise. I don’t know what your M.O. is…

    I’ve homeschooled my kids “since birth”, they’ve never been in daycare or preschool. They are 14.5 and 11.5. I have been around all kinds of people, different religions, different reasons for homeschooling, different methods of homeschooling.

    I’ve seen people quit homeschooling for many reasons, and some return back to it (for a time). I have volunteered with support groups and heard lots of stories and situations. I think your harsh tone in this post has to do with not having yet experienced enough different situations that others live with, which would help you gain wisdom.

    How about the mom I knew who died of Breast Cancer in her 30s? While sick as a dog on treatment she put her kids in school. Would you say that she should have persevered?

    How about the mom I knew who homeschooled five kids – they stopped at a rest stop while driving to a summer vacation spot and while mom was in the restroom, dad keeled over dead onto the restaurant table. She had to go back to work full time plus hire a Nanny to shuttle the kids to extra-curricular activities and CCD while she worked til 6pm.

    What about the mom whose child wound up so severely dyslexic that she was unable to teach him and still have time to give her other 3 kids attention — who wound up sending the boy to a special school for dyslexic kids?

    Gee whiz.

    I think what bugged me about this post was it seems so closed minded and seeks to divide.

    I blog strong opinions and enjoy discourse but if that is what a blogger wants they need to write in a way that seems to show the door to discussion is open not just preaching a certain stance. (Actually I think I’ve mellowed out over the years that I’ve been blogging.)

    BTW I did attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding, after breastfeeding struggles, so I’m in the know about that stuff.

  29. Sally Terranova
    Sally Terranova says:

    Absolutely freakin awesome! I homeschooled in NYC as a poor, single mama and I so hear you with a ton of things you said here. Amazing post, so very true. Anything is possible, if only more people could know this to be the truth.

  30. Mary Donald
    Mary Donald says:

    I have finally decided what to say when people comment negatively about our decision to home school. I say…”It’s hard. It’s worth it, but it’s hard.” This way I have acknowledged that I am willing to make the sacrifice for my kids and that there are great rewards for it.

    By using this wonderful statement that I have found, I stop people dead in their tracks. I am not apologizing for seeming to do more for my child than the other person by saying, “It’s not for everybody.” I also believe that it makes the other person think. This is the best that I can do for myself and for promoting homeschooling.

  31. Susan
    Susan says:

    Current studies show statistics on breastfeeding are overblown and marginal at best. This is pretty mainstream information at this point, but no one pays attention to it. I’m not saying it’s not usually the best option and that there aren’t numerous benefits, but you need to get a little more up to date on the info. I also doubt most breast-feeding Moms are eliminating toxins, sugar, flour, chemicals and other harmful elements to their diets while breastfeeding.

    I’m open to the idea homeschooling is best. But what about free, public charter schools that offer individualized learning and still have arts and specialty programs? I just don’t see how homeschooling is ALWAYS best for everyone everywhere. That’s a lot to promise.

  32. Julie Stout
    Julie Stout says:

    Great discussion here. I wandered onto this blog & as a mother with mental health issues myself, I am excited to read more.

    I can say that I used to think that more along these lines when my daughter was younger, but as she’s grown older and more independent, it has become very important to me to support her pathway to learning the way SHE wants to learn. I let her go to public school because she wanted to try it. Now she is attending private school and wants to stay there. Her current school was expected to close after this year, and she was leaning towards returning to homeschooling because she really did not want to go back to public school, but now that we found out she will be able to return to her current school next year, that is what she is planning to do.

    I hated school & can’t imagine why I would choose to attend if I were in her shoes, but she likes it. She says that she feels more focused & on the task when there are formal, external expectations. She worries that her achievement would drop going back to homeschool. Of course, I don’t believe that. I want her to grow and flourish & it seems that at her stage of maturity, I should be expecting her to spread her wings more. That the pathway to spreading her wings that she has chosen is one that I personally find suffocating is irrelevant. I’m going to support her & if she changes her mind, I will support that, too. Because homeschooling isn’t something I do so much as it is something I do FOR her. Yes, I enjoy it, but I feel like for me to TELL her that she has to homeschool would be like my parents telling me I HAD to go to school.

  33. Emmismee
    Emmismee says:

    I disagree. While I think more parents could absolutely homeschool if they would stop listening to the masses, I also think there are some families that it is not right for, whatever their reasons are.
    So, I think it’s being judgmental to assume everyone can homeschool, just like it’s judgmental to assume every woman can breastfeed for two years or even at all.
    I don’t think we should judge anyone for anything because we’re all different. What’s right for one, isn’t right for some.

  34. Andi
    Andi says:

    My baby girl firmly indicated at almost exactly one year that she was done with breast feeding. I wasn’t going to force her to do something she had clearly outgrown. Her protests of “No Mama” made it obvious she wasn’t “it” to it. Today she is a healthy, happy 1st grader — one of only four who are in advanced reading classes in the entire 1st grade — & a complete snuggle bug. So I know she doesn’t suffer from our mutual agreement to call it quits.

    My son, on the other hand, was born premature, only weight 3 lbs, 9 ozs at birth, & had to be tube fed for the first week. Even so, I was able to eventually get him to latch on, & I happily nursed him for about six weeks before it became clear he just wasn’t getting enough. I’m pretty sure that stopping so soon didn’t harm him, either — he’s 18, extremely smart & healthy — so healthy he made it to State in his senior year of wrestling.

    And then there’s my sister. She didn’t nurse any of her three children. They are as happy, healthy, & smart as my two babies. Breast feeding is definitely the best first choice, but it certainly doesn’t make you evil or shitty if you opt out for whatever reasons you may have. People are so smug when they talk about nursing, like engaging in this natural body function somehow makes them special Olympic winners instead of just people who might choose tampons over maxi-pads, or vice versa.

    We are all so caught up in the process, we forget that it’s the end result that most matters: Happy, healthy, smart children who grown into contributing members of society, & who will take care of us in our old age, & who will eventually be in charge of the world. There are many paths to success, & many definitions of success. Why any one mom would thinks she knows it all is over my head.

  35. Julie Stout
    Julie Stout says:

    I think the issue that is much bigger than whether or not it is right or wrong to be judgemental about other people’s parenting decisions is, what would a state where everybody homeschooled look like? Even though there are a lot of us, and I don’t know if the numbers are still growing like they were, we are still very, very much in the minority. Public policy dealing with homeschooling so far in the US is minimal. Some states, like Texas, are completely hands-off. We are operating a completely separate, parallel system of education in a public policy vacuum. That works only when we are in the minority. If homeschooling were to become a majority pursuit, we would need more public policy & lots of it. Because at that point, what we are doing with our kids would have a much bigger impact on every other aspect of public life… public health, transportation, the economy. It would affects other sectors in ways we can’t even anticipate. When I ask myself the question, “Would it be a better place if everybody homeschooled?” I know that I can’t answer that question… because every major shift in the public’s behavior has unanticipated consequences and some of them are very negative. I’m sure that when agricultural planners were sitting around in the early twentieth century figuring out how to use technology to improve farming yields and getting better nutrition to the cities, making fresh foods affordable for the urban poor, nobody anticipated the obesity epidemic, the rise of Type II diabetes, etc. etc. They were thinking, Kids are starving! So even if you believe that kids are starving for an education, I am very wary of any solution proposed for the majority, because whenever you have the majority of people making a major shift in their behavior, there are going to be other unintended consequences.

    • sumer
      sumer says:

      Thankyou for being an intelligent person and thinking outside the box! This article has made me so mad i want to spit!

      Nobody thinks about what they are saying when they tell everyone to do the same thing.

      What would all the educators do? Government employees? I guess we arent thinking about them and their families.

  36. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Breastfeeding is *not* for everyone. When I was pregnant I had to make the choice between taking mood stabilizers that pass through into breast milk or risk coming down with Post-Partum Psychosis, a condition my mother had suffered from. I choose the meds – even so, I had very disturbing thoughts about harming my child. If I hadn’t been medicated, who knows what would have happened.
    Along those lines, homeschooling is not for everyone. It sure as hell wasn’t for Andrea Yates. Yes, there was a hell of a lot going on there aside from homeschooling (the creeper husband who insisted on impregnating her over and over again despite doctor’s warnings), but IMHO it would have been much healthier for her school aged kids to be in school, at least until she had recovered.

  37. Casey
    Casey says:

    I am frustrated by your insistence that homeschooling is the best and only way to raise educated children. Perhaps I just don’t want to believe it because I am a 39-year-old widow and mother of three who chooses to work instead of stay home with the kids so that I can pay for stuff. Perhaps. Although I really do believe my frustration lies in the fact that you are basically saying that in order for kids to not be forced to grow up thinking there is only one best way to learn, you are telling parents that there is only one best way to teach. Bullshit. Kids who want to learn and have supportive adults in their lives will do so. Homeschooling is irrelevant.

  38. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I loved this post! I agree that homeschooling should be for everyone. I know most of the kids who my unschooled kids meet wish they were home schooled. I think it’s the parents. Ok, I KNOW it’s the parents. They just aren’t interested in spending that time with their kid, and want a break from their kids, they want someone else to do it. Though how school is considered a break is beyond me because there is so much sh*t you have to do when your kids go to school. Get up early, make sure they do their homework when they come home, evening sports practices (coz during the day they are at school) omg…what a nightmare!!! But, as a former lactation consultant (too busy unschooling my last 2 kids right now) I believe breastfeeding is for every baby…it’s just getting it thru to the moms who want to have a break from the baby (they very one they have been waiting 9 months to have in their arms…love the irony there) that the investment in time and hard work to get nursing started will pay off. (This said by a mom who nursed all 3 of her kids past the age of 5…take that TIME magazine!).

  39. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I used to feel the same way as you…..8 years ago when we began our homeschool experience. Honestly, I identify a lot with the place you are right now, and I shared many of the same convictions–the world is our curriculum, if people would just do the hard work of being around children they COULD homeschool, schools are an out-dated model, socialization within schools is a myth etc…

    However, after these 8 years of homeschooling, I have seen a HUGE range of homeschooling quality in the metropolitan, highly educated area we live. I have seen a very small few outstanding examples of kids being homeschooled to college, and I have seen some horrible failures, particularly in the realm of literacy. At this stage, I am not so convinced that homeschooling is for everyone. It could be for everyone if there was appropriate interventions for learning disabilities/ mental health/ neurological differences and if there was financial support concomitantly because it IS expensive (I am a Ph.D. scientist and I have not worked for 8 years…that is a massive loss of family income, and the resources, including lessons/ tutoring are about 9K for two kids).

  40. Mrs. Searching
    Mrs. Searching says:

    Let me preface this by saying that I have tremendous respect for what you have been through, and your tenacity at sticking to what you knew was best for your family. Having been myself at a point where the only thing keeping my from suicide was my unwillingness to leave my kids with any of the available family members, I think I can at least partially relate to where you are coming from.

    That said, I must respectfully disagree. You made the decision that you believed was best, and that is your right. Had you made a different decision, like many other moms in your situation do, that would have also been your right, and not subject to criticism from outsiders. Homeschooling may be best for every child, just like breastfeeding is. But you must assume a certain amount of commitment and ability on the part of the mother in order to make that statement. And while more may lack the willingness than the ability, there are a few who lack the ability.

    My aunt tried very hard to breastfeed, and wept bitterly when the doctors told her that her milk had tested without any nutritional value and she would have to use formula if my cousin was to survive. He was dying; all she could do with breastfeeding was hydrate him. Maybe a different doctor, or a lactation consultant (this was many years ago) could have helped her do something about her milk, I don’t know. But I know she did all she could with the situation she had.

    Likewise, I come from homeschooling parents who gave us an excellent education. Our other skills are sorely lacking, but that is because they believed it was healthy for us to be isolated from “the world” (i.e., everyone else. We had home church too). My husband, however, came from homeschooling parents who were completely incompetent to teach their children, and his brothers’ education is a disgrace. He was the “rebel” who pursued through outside means whatever his mother did not teach adequately, and she scorns him for that. She could have done better if she had not been mentally unstable and abusive. But she didn’t. And her children would have been better off in public school.

    Homeschooling and breastfeeding my be best for every child; but a family is more than the children.

    I have chosen to put my children in school for now, because we live in a 500 sq. ft. cabin and my active boys need outside interaction. Plus my claustrophobia severely impedes my ability to handle frustration in that environment. This is what I believe is best for them right now. My goal is to change that eventually, and it helps that we live in our state’s top-rated school district. If we lived in the city, I would choose to keep them home instead and deal with that set of problems. Each parent has to weigh their own personal situation and make whatever decision they believe is the best FOR THE CHILDREN. And no one else should criticize.

  41. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    Its really not for everyone – not always because they can’t, but because they don’t want to! I would rather a child be in school than with an angry, resentful homeschooling parent. We don’t gain anything by insisting that everyone should homeschool.

  42. betty
    betty says:

    I heard someone say that if you really want to do something nothing can stop you, and if you don’t want to you’ll find an excuse not to. I think that pretty much sums it up.

    • sumer
      sumer says:

      Wow, you are so right!

      Man you should go give that speech to people in wheel chairs with a broken spine. They want to walk really badly.

      Or maybe you should go to a local middle school and tell a kid with acne if he tries really hard he can make it go away and then he wouldn’t be made fun of every day.

      Oh I know!….. you should go to a cancer center and tell your “good news” gospel to the sick and dying. If only they knew they just aren’t trying hard enough.

      (Obviously, i am being very sarcastic)

      Oh and by the way…. you’re a piece of #*+! (No sarcasm)

  43. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    So happy I found your blog, right on New Year’s Day even! You have given me some great thoughts to begin my new year homeschooling, (now in my 6th year) and breastfeeding (my 6th child-he turns 1 this week!) I’ve been breastfeeding for a total of 9 1/2 years now! It is terribly difficult some days, but I know these are the best ways for my kids! It is in this daily dying to myself that I find Christ and strength to carry on!

  44. Jenni Parr
    Jenni Parr says:

    Penelope, please provide a link to a credible recommendation for breastfeeding for 2 years. Thanks!

  45. gayathri chittiappa
    gayathri chittiappa says:

    I find it strange that you say ‘ Wikipedia, of all places, comes right out and says that all the research …’ .

    Wikipedia does not say things – it is not like the NYT or the Economist that has a stance (at least often) I could go and change that Wikipedia post and then ‘Wikipedia would say’ : something different. If nobody disagrees or nobody cares enough to disagree -that is what that entry will be left as. So just because that is on there in Wikipedia – doesn’t make it correct.

    So choose another source to say why it is indisputable.

    I am not saying the fact is not indisputable.

  46. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I don’t think it’s a lie to say that homeschooling isn’t right for everyone. I also don’t think it’s classist. I think it’s realistic. Not every family is set up for the demands of homeschooling, and not every parent-child relationship meshes in a way that would make homeschooling successful. If being around your kids all day long makes you bonkers, homeschooling is not for you (and it doesn’t make you a bad parent, either … I love my kids; I homeschool two of them. They are bright, interesting, *talkative* children, and I sometimes want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head to escape the constant chatter). If your child hates homeschooling, homeschooling is not for you (one of my children is in school because homeschooling simply was not working for that child). Yes, the schools are not good in general. But dedicated parents who are committed to making sure their child gets a good education can make sure that happens. Not every school is a complete loss and not every schooled child is lost.

  47. Anna
    Anna says:

    I think we should stop giving our opinion on what’s best for everyone else’s kids and worry about our own families and kids. I for one homeschool my daughter because it is the right thing for us. I also was only able to breastfeed her for about a month, for various reasons I won’t get into, and it worked out just fine for us too. She is a healthy, beautiful intelligent girl. And this is not so because I followed society’s and the authority’s recommendations on what I should do with her. I am a fit mother and I decide what I should do with my kids.
    I honestly don’t care if there is a recommendation to breastfeed for 2 years, the people that came up with that recommendation are not raising my daughter, I am.
    It’s ok to look for advice and opinions on parenting, but ultimately it is up to the parents to pick what is right for their children.

  48. Priswell
    Priswell says:

    I think homeschooling is a terrific idea, and we homeschooled our son from preK-12. He got his diploma from our own private school, registered in the State of California under the Private School Affidavit.

    But as much as I have confidence in homeschooling, I do believe that “not everyone can homeschool”. Sometimes not being able to homeschool is because of having too many other responsibilities. It’s unfair to tell a single mom with 3 children that “if you just try hard enough, you can homeschool.”

    There are also a few parents out there that I think should go out of their way to *not* homeschool. No amount of hard work or good intentions can fill the in what’s needed to do the job.

    That said, I also believe that in some cases, more people could homeschool, if they wanted. But you can’t conscript homeschooling parents. They have to do it because they want to, because their circumstances allow for it, and they can see how to make it work.

    Usually, non-homeschooling parents are very intimidated by homeschooling parents because they think it’s a statement saying that they are not good enough parents. So, my usual response to those intimidated moms that I encounter is, “The most important thing that determines successful education are parents that are interested in their children’s educational welfare.”

    Most parent’s are interested in their children’s educational welfare, and the social disaster is (usually) averted.

  49. Homeschooled
    Homeschooled says:

    Just to be real about it: Homeschooling isn’t right for everyone because many parents are neither capable nor sufficiently willing to teach. Others are working too hard just to survive. Not everyone has the luxury (yes, I just called it a luxury. Classist? Maybe.) to intimately guide their own children through the coursework. Others choose to spend their available time on their own interests instead of on their children. Still others are either literally or figuratively children themselves.

    No, homeschooling isn’t right for everyone. And despite having been homeschooled from 4th grade through high school myself, I don’t flinch at saying I don’t think my own parents were sufficiently prepared for it.

  50. Lynne Santamaria
    Lynne Santamaria says:

    Homeschooling is not for everyone. Of course it is not. Home schooling is for people who want to homeschool, and they usually do so out of strong and compelling convictions. People often look at us as strange and some people actually resent us, because they feel their local schools don’t get our support through ADA, manpower or they feel we have “opted out” so that we should exist on the fringe of the community. I have even met adults who are hostile toward the idea of homeschooling. Definitely I would say, that, “it is not for them.” I do believe it is a matter of choice. My sons and I volunteer as math tutors for public schools, usually we work with failing math students who are usually lower income and typically come from immigrant parents. I often think that all those kids would thrive homeschooling. Too many kid fall through the cracks in regular schools, it really is so sad, because many of those students later define themselves by the idea of what they have been told they can’t do.

  51. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    The mental health issues are my concern. I have PTSD and depression and I parent two children (ages 2 and 4) alone 5 days a week and have some relief when my husband is home. I breast fed both my kids despite being constantly triggered and having flashbacks of my childhood sexual abuse.I’m still nursing my 2 year old… I was woken up on average 10 times a night by both children for over a year (the first time) and 18 months for the second. I nursed through a horrid pregnancy which I had to take high doses diclectin until I delivered. I am worn down and feel I am no good to them most of the time. I am often angry and despite my no spanking peaceful parenting philosophy I am pushed to the brink and yell at least once a week. I am very unhappy. How can you say that my kids will be better off with me than in school, where at least they will be learning and not watching netflix for hours a day?

  52. Auraylia
    Auraylia says:

    thats NOT a lie.thats simply the my family homeschooling is NOT right for us.we live on a alaskan goldmine and we NEVER leave the house in the winter outside of grocery shopping.we have no mother only a overprotective crippled miner dad who cannot control his temper.that my friends is a real family that homeschool is simply not the right choice have to realize that not every family is a mom dad living in the suburbs of virginia or whereverthefuck with cookie cutter lives.

  53. Christine T
    Christine T says:

    John Muir, one of America’s most famous environmentalists, was homeschooled on the farm by his mother. He taught himself Latin and Greek and then went on to college at the age of 22. Before he even went to college, a no name school in Wisconsin, he was an insanely talented engineer/inventor because he built stuff on the farm. This was before there were fancy textbooks on math and engineering. But even college in the mid 1800’s was not the same as it is now. The woman who got him into the university was the Dean’s wife which later become his mentor. This further proves that learning is best transmitted on an individualized level. The purpose of knowledge is the transmission of information from one generation to the next to ultimately make the world a better place. But now education is primarily to “school children on how to become hyperconsumers” later on in life. To exist in a world created by marketers. FYI, the info on John Muir was from a PBS documentary.

  54. christen
    christen says:

    Umm…you are awesome*** for posting this! I really appreciate your transparency. The sacrifices for doing the right thing when society doesn’t understand or accept, not to mention the financial sacrifice. We have been there and ASHAMED, but pressed through!!! Thanks for sharing your story!

  55. Sarah B.
    Sarah B. says:

    I was homeschooled 2nd through 12th grade, back in the dark ages when home schooling was reserved for “those kids” who didn’t fit anywhere else in the schooling continuum. It was the best thing my mom could have done for me. We had our incredibly tough days when we got into arguments, but we had more great days than awful.

    I grew up to (ironically) become a teacher. I’ve taught at public schools and private schools. I’ve also taught students who were homeschooled and gracious me… homeschooling is most definitely NOT for every kid, nor is it for every parent.

    i realized in teaching former homeschooled students how good I had it as a homeschooler! I just took it for granted that my mom actually taught me, invested in me, poured herself into my schooling and gave me something of value. Something that transcended “schooling” in the traditional sense.

    The breastfeeding comparison doesn’t work in this case. Women’s bodies are uniquely created for the job of life giving and life sustaining. Period. Teaching our children is most definitely our biggest and highest calling as parents. To be the primary teachers of our kids. BUT- how this works itself out is not always best expressed through “homeschooling”.

  56. sumer
    sumer says:

    I have a suggestion….

    How bout we let people live there lives the way they want to?

    Maybe people tell you they cant home school because they feel you judging them….which you so obviously are.

    My sister tried homeschooling two girls with two toddlers at home, four in all. She had extreme. PPD and a malnourished infant. She was sick for two years and was put on uppers and downers and she became anorexic for the second time in her life and contemplated suicide many many times. Since sending her children back to school she has been diagnosed with bipolar 2. I support her 100% because the school system they are in is a good one and the girls were so excited to back to school!

    So yeah, homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Cause personally I would rather have my sister alive. And i would like her to be happy, healthy and whole. Parenting does NOT mean sacrificing 100% of yourself. Parents are people too! They have fears, insecurities, hurts, scars, and feelings! Parents are not robots.

    And on breastfeeding….
    My mother was only 21 when she had me. Nurses in the hospital, against her wishes, kept giving me a bottle. Even her own mother did it. Without any guidance or support she didn’t know how to breast feed so her nipples cracked and bled. It was excruciating for her. I’m overweight, deal with depression, anxiety, major migraines and I’m scared that I’m also bipolar. My grandmother was as well. Maybe its because i wasn’t breastfed, maybe its because i was vaccinated, or maybe its because i was given too much steroids as a baby,from too many ear infections.
    Either way, i don’t blame my mother and i don’t hate my life. I will be just fine. I was an A-B student, graduated with honors and I’m a singer, voice coach, photographer and artist. Public school, the worst one in Mississippi, did not ruin me. My sister is a writer and an artist. Her four girls are bright, happy and healthy; she only breastfed for 3months each.

    Also, my mom tried to home school me once and she couldn’t do it. I was unmotivated as a depressed teen and she had her hands full helping my dad at the church, where people were seriously trying to ruin my family. A woman called my sister a whore in the church foyer! Ultimately i was put back in school and had to repeat the 10th grade.

    Now I don’t know what world some of you live in but I have no clue how you think someone can home school and work full time. What are the kids doing while you’re at work? At daycare? Isn’t that school? And I am pretty sure they don’t let 12 year olds in daycare. Not to mention, if you work full time and then teach kids when you’re done working, then when do you have time to relax?…unwind?…enjoy life? A stressed out and unhappy person can teach someone NOTHING!

    Now lets talk about real life for people who live in the real world,aren’t gluttons for punishment and who don’t have a 401k to cash in. There are single moms that have to work, and they have to work two jobs. When they get off work they barely have time to cook dinner. What about people who dropped out of high school? What about people with dyslexia or learning disabilities? Its more common than we realize. What about people with bipolar, HDHD, and extreme depression? These people have a hard time just managing themselves. Oh and there is always this question…how is what other people do any of your business!?

    Not to mention the millions of jobs that are created by education.

    Yes I believe our public education system is flawed but that doesn’t mean that it is evil and people shouldn’t be judged because they put their kids there.

    The best thing for you to do is whats best for you and your family…and let others do the same.

  57. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    I’d really really like to put to rest that breastfeeding is the healthiest and best for your baby. I COULD NOT breastfeed for medical reasons. My babies had formula. My children are normal, healthy (each only had one ear infection) are normal developmentally both physically and mentally (in fact two are on honor roll), are well adjusted and a damn site better than some other kids who I know, for a fact, were breast fed. So, I’m sick of seeing that breast feeding is best. Good nutrition is best. Get a mom who drinks and does drugs (or meds) and breast feeds and you get bad breast milk. Buy your formula from the dollar store? Bad formula. Breast feeding is NOT all that.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Kathy, there is no medical debate about that breastmilk is better for a baby than formula. I think what you are saying is that some mothers do not have a choice, and that their kids are fine, and that is true, too. But that doesn’t change that all things considered, if you have a choice, you should choose breastmilk. Both ideas can be true at the same time.

      Moms who could not breastfeed do not need to feel attacked that medical research shows breastmilk is a better choice. The research is a moot point for moms that didn’t have a choice.


  58. Sheila Roberts
    Sheila Roberts says:

    I love homeschooling and I believe it has brought our family closer, and it has been educationally satisfying, but I don’t think everyone should do it. This is not based on class but on personality. I am not talking about impatient people or even ignorant people. Some people are just cruel and angry and I think their kids are better off in school. Most of the time when people say “I could never do that,” I think that they just don’t want to, but occasionally I think, “Good, you shouldn’t.”

  59. Mike
    Mike says:

    Actually, homeschooling ISN’T for everyone. I was homeschooled as a kid and hated it. I would’ve rather gone to regular school. More interaction with other kids, you learn to deal with certain social issues/problems, and you get out of the house more. That is just me, though, and I acknowledge many people may feel different. So saying something is “best for society” is very ignorant. No one knows what is best for society, because we all have different values, opinions, and expectations. So no, homeschooling isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t for me. =P

    • David Emeron
      David Emeron says:

      It has, however, made you much more articulate than the average public schooler, I dare say.

      Still, I wonder how you can claim you “would have” liked something you did not experience better than something you did.

      The “real life” argument is also rather a false construct. On the surface it seems to make sense, but if I were a more sarcastic sort I might have suggested right at the start that I agree with you completely, because preparation for “real life” is very important. And just like public school, in real life they will separate us into groups according to our birth year and then move us from room to room every 55 minutes. I know that is what my life is like now. (not)

  60. David Emeron
    David Emeron says:

    Classicism–or any other marxist term–is not an accurate description of the reason why people say that homeschooling is not for everyone.

    Still, your point is well taken. Home schooling is for everyone or anyone in the sense that anyone can do it regardless of circumstances and obtain a superior result.

    People say homeschooling is not for everyone simply out of a desire to be polite to those who choose not to do so. It is a disarming thing to say. We say such things in order to avoid a sense that we are bullying others into doing what we choose to do. If we did that, we would be closer to the “C” word, regardless of whether such jargoneering promulgates false constructs or not.

  61. Candace
    Candace says:

    Very interesting posting. I have often said “homeschooling is not for everyone” in a different sense, nothing that has to do with class. I honestly do believe homeschooling is not for everyone. I also believe that the public school system is far from what it should be. I take myself as an example: I was in public school until junior high, then in 10th grade I finished my education via online private school. I can honestly say, homeschooling was the greatest option for me. My public school experience was terrible, my teachers hated me (For no given reason, I might add. I always made A’s, I was several grades above my reading level, and was a quiet child who never disrupted class. Why they all hated me, I’ll never know) and I hated school. I was always the daydreaming child, sometimes off in my own little world(Still am), and I didn’t conform to their teaching style. The principal even once said that I would “never amount to anything” in life. The reason I am telling you this is because homeschooling allowed me to learn the way I needed to, where public school simply said I was “too stupid to do anything”. Having started college at 15 and graduating high school early with honors, I can honestly say that I proved public school wrong. Getting to my main point, though homeschooling was the best thing for me I have known homeschooling families who struggled, didn’t actually learn, and later had problems in college simply because the parent was incompetent. So when I say “homeschooling isn’t for everyone”, I’m saying some parents are not cut out to teach their children.

  62. lizzi
    lizzi says:

    i am a sophomore in high school. i am doing my sophomore project on homeschooling vs public school. i interviewed three different homeschooling parents. each one said its not for everyone. Its not a lie either. homeschooling isnt for everyone, everyone is different. public school isnt for everyone either. homeschool parents are not saying they are “special” because they homeschool. being a homeschool parent is very challenging. you, wouold nit be a very good homeschool parent! you should not have had children if you didnt have enough money to take care of yourself. your children are better off with out you cause you are crazy and shouldnt have had a child in the first place. you just went on a rant about your life. now for people who felt they didnt get a good education at their school, why put your kids in that same school. as a mother you should want what is best for the child. now you wouldnt be a good homeschool mom because your crazy and dont know what your talking about, your not devoted to homeschool your child or children. mothers who homeschool have a plan. and they dont force their child to stay in homeschooling either, they do what the child wants, if they think its best. children who love being in big crowds would love to be in a public school. children who have social issues would be better off in a place where they feel safe and comfortable. there is my thought….

    • Amy C
      Amy C says:

      Lizzi, I agree that a parent should take into consideration the child’s needs before making a decision to home school or not home school. This is why I am home schooling my daughter but not my son this year. It’s about a parent’s relationship with the child, not only what the parent wants to do/not do, nor is it only about what the child wants. But before you judge a mom and say her children are “better off without her” or tell a woman she “should not have children” if she did not have enough money to take care of them, I suggest you get married, become a mother yourself, figure out how to make a marriage work out and then you can appreciate the decisions parents face before you form your opinions. As the old sayings go, “no one is perfect, everybody makes mistakes” and “hindsight is 20/20.”

      • Charlotte Quevedo
        Charlotte Quevedo says:

        I agree with what you are saying but if she would have stated her point differently she would have had one. If a family can be happier doing things an alternative way then it may be the better option. It does not make this author a bad mother. What does concern me though is that as I stated in my own comment below, it is not always best to homeschool or practice AP. My son with autism is aggressive. For that reason while my daughter was a baby I put him in school. Likewise if he has a meltdown I have to isolate him because otherwise he will attack my daughter and me.

        • Charlotte Quevedo
          Charlotte Quevedo says:

          Oh and before you get started, no my son was not aggressive before we had our second child.

  63. Amy C
    Amy C says:

    There is what people “should do” and there is what people actually do. I think most people know inside what is best for their kid, but without accountability, they don’t follow through on what they believe but rather, mope around with guilt friending people who make them feel better about their own fear/laziness. Most people don’t like change and are too afraid to go against the tide.

    Home schooling is one of those things, as is breastfeeding. I’ve met numerous moms who neither breastfed nor home school and they’re the first to say (defensively), “it’s right for you, but not for me.” End of discussion. (They probably aren’t the type to read your blog either.)

    So it’s not that we home schoolers wish to lie. We simply are too tired to go against the lie people are telling themselves already. I personally never tell anyone that home school is not right for everyone. I simply do not address it at all. I say, “I’m home schooling my children and it’s working out great.” If they get defensive, that’s their problem. If they are interested, I’ll be happy to share. Everyone makes his/her choices. I do what I do, you do what you do. I don’t try to change anyone.

  64. Mel
    Mel says:

    Really? I realize this article is a couple of years old, but I hope you’ve changed your opinion since then.

    I went to public school all my life, and while I do wish I could have been homeschooled, no, it wasn’t and isn’t “for everyone”. My parents had too much on their plate to be able to homeschool me, and even if public school was not the best environment for me, there are many beautiful teachers I never would have met had it not been for attending public school and opportunities I may or may not have had. My parents did nothing wrong by sending me to public school and I learned very well there, in spite of some of the skewed things about it.

    I believe homeschooling can be wonderful when it can be done well, but it’s extremely unfair to say that it’s arrogant to say that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Public school may not be the best school system, but I doubt it’s always the worst. And a homeschool environment can be a horrible environment, too.

  65. Veggal
    Veggal says:

    I disagree with this comparison. In fact, I tend to think that the lies people say about breastfeeding are similar to the lies they say about public school. People don’t want to have to admit that they endured a lot of heartache, pain, and stress, when now there is no proof that it was better.
    Many of us adults were formula fed and I don’t see studies that prove those who are chronically ill have a weak immune system because they were formula fed.
    As far as what you went through vs. what I went through. After my baby winded up back in the hospital due to dehydration a week after she was born. I decided that it wasn’t good for her to be lacking nutrition for the sake of trying to get what many told me was better nutrition. I also chose my sanity over breastfeeding because I did think it was better for the overall health of my family. I chose to get sleep, save my otherwise good marriage, and not throw myself out a window (yes I think I could have done that) so that I could be there for my children in every other way. I bonded by letting them sleep in my bed, and cuddling on the couch to the point I had to wash a dish to use it, and I still give them a lot of hugs and kisses. On the other hand I was poor but chose to file bankruptcy and downsize my family of 5 to a 2-bedroom home rather than having a 2-parent working household because I know that being there for my children is more important. I never look back and think that breastfeeding might have been better, because I can see that my children are happy and healthy.

  66. Charlotte Quevedo
    Charlotte Quevedo says:

    I am a homeschooler myself and a firm believer in it. However the idea that all parents can homeschool is simply not true. Because of the fact that I breastfed and wore my daughter, my older son with autism literally started charging at us when she was a baby. He would come and try to hit her with me right next to them. Being that she nursed so much and he was so aggressive, his only alternative to going to school would have been to be stuck in his bedroom until it was time to eat. So yes in theory I could have homeschooled him, but it was not the better option. Now that my dd is bigger, even my husband thinks I am crazy to want to take my aggressive, wandering son out of school. But I am…because now it is the best thing. He eats three meals at home instead of 1.2 meals during the school year, and he sleeps ten hours. Therefore he is going to behave better at home.

    For the record he was breastfed and worn in a sling and he is still aggressive and he still has autism.

    • Charlotte Quevedo
      Charlotte Quevedo says:

      And before anyone says “oh you should have known,” my son was actually not aggressive until my daughter was a baby and he only started his first round of self injury when I was pregnant. We chose to have another child because he was doing so well we thought a sibling would be great for him. It turned out to be what seemed like a bad decision but I am sure in the long run it will work out.

  67. Cami
    Cami says:

    This was an interesting debate. I personally think anytime you try to declare an absolute you will always be wrong. There is an exception to every rule, but as a rule you are not the exception. There are moms who try to say something is the “right” way and then there are the moms that try to find an excuse for everything good and practical because they don’t want to make the sacrifice. Breastfeeding is good. Homeschooling is good. Formula was a wise invention so that babies would not be starved if breast milk was not made available. Likewise Public Schools were a wise invention to make sure every child at least has a chance at a basic education provided one is not otherwise available to them. Formula has its place. Public Schools have their place. The problem arises when we try to take minimums and describe them as the new normal standard. Just because one can stay alive and occasionaly thrive off of the minimums does not mean this should be set as the standard. Children are meant to be born into families and families ARE meant to teach, love, nurture, inspire, discipline, and raise children. Sometimes kids don’t have families or functioning ones. Public entities help those kids.

  68. Kelly KC
    Kelly KC says:

    Educated, married suburban wife/mom of two kids who attend an outside-the-home preschool/daycare here.
    I’m sorry, but homeschooling is NOT for everyone. Financially, we do have the option to homeschool our kids and maintain an upper-middle-class lifestyle on my husband’s salary alone.

    Tactically, I absolutely do not have the necessary patience, personality, or foothold in this community (we are new-ish) to give the kids what they need academically and socially, if we were to homeschool.

    That’s not “classism”, that’s “what works best for our family.”

    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      You are missing her point… your decision to not homeschool is based on YOU not your kids.

      A baby will always be better off with breast milk, period. It’s medical fact.

      The same way children are always better off with individual teaching that a teacher in a classroom no matter how good she is can not give. It’s just common sense.

      And by the way, you DO have what it takes in you… it might make you grow in ways you don’t really want to, but you do have the potential to homeschool your children. You CAN do it, you have to choose it’s what you want more than not wanting it. And no it’s not easy, but nothing that worthwhile is ever easy.

  69. Charlotte Quevedo
    Charlotte Quevedo says:

    Some ppl should not homeschool. My neighborhood is a different culture, they are so programmed to cleanliness that they do not buy toys, they lock them up or severely restrict them. They leave under age children at home and restrict their children from eating anything with fat or protein for fear of obesity. They do not read to their kids in their language or ours. The only thing that matters to them is house cleaning.

    • Kelly KC
      Kelly KC says:

      Why have you not contacted Child Services if you’re aware of this situation? It sounds like there are lot of undernourished, neglected kids in your neighborhood. (The toys and reading are choices, albeit not ones I would make.) But the leaving small children home alone… :(

      I’m not being a jerk. I’m concerned for those children if you’re not making that up.

  70. Emily
    Emily says:

    When I first read this article, I agreed with it wholeheartedly.

    Then my dads health took a dive and my whole family had to move in with my parents to take care of my dad because my mom couldn’t. I continued to homeschool my kids for the rest of the year, but I was failing. I simply could not do it.

    So, I quit. And my kids are thriving in public school-doing far better and working far harder than they did for me.

    It isn’t for everyone because not everyone will be able to. It was very hard when it was my only job. It became nearly impossible when I tacked on caretaker on there.

  71. kat
    kat says:

    what is your (anyones) take on part homeschool? I love so many aspects of homeschool, but I find that I am gravitating towards doing some kind of program where my kids do 2-3 days at a private school, and the rest homeschool (these programs are designed for homeschoolers). Here is what I have noticed about some homeschooling families that I perhaps want to avoid in my own life (and this isn’t just a story I heard, this is spending several hours consistently in their home observing how they do homeschool)
    #1- constantly with my children- don’t get me wrong, i love being a mother and I am super thankful to be at home, but I don’t like that it has become ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ that I cherish my free time at Target at 10pm- I want a little more time to pursue some other things, not necessarily have a full time career.
    #2- Interruptions- I noticed that because different children are doing different activities, they end at different times and are moving around, this can be distracting to learning
    #3 Learning with other children same age- I have seen many times where a child gets stuck on a problem, and of course the only person to go to is mom, who is busy doing something else sometimes, this seems like it could be frustrating- i remember taking comfort in school when our table had a project, we could ask each other, and we were encouraged to do so.

    I am a huge fan of HS- hands down it gives the freedom for parents to nurture the child’s education no way a public or even private school could. But these are my challenges- has anybody gone the part time route? THoughts? Thank you

    • Dawn
      Dawn says:

      #1 Simply put, put your kids first because you are the adult. Find ways for you get some time to recharge yes but I really don’t understand this idea that it’s bad to be around your kids all the time. Why have we as a society come to that point? We should cherish that time and not look for ways to limit it.

      #2 in the real world are people all doing the same thing? No they aren’t so homeschooling teaches kids to work with the distractions of someone doing something else. And as the other person said schools have plenty of these anyway so school isn’t a solution for this.

      #3 I have 4 kids, 3 are school age and yes this happens several times each day. First let’s look at the real world, when you have a question for your boss or co-worker are you always able to ask it right away or do you have to sometimes set what you were doing aside and work on something else? Or course you have to sometimes set it aside. So have to wait to get the help needed prepares them better for real life. Second what I have done to make sure my kids don’t disappear for an hour because I was working with someone else is they have the list of stuff they need to do that day and I have things they can do that are kind of busy work, but they are things that are geared towards them as individuals, what they enjoy and what they want to learn about.

      Also my kids work on projects together all the time and the range from 12 down to 3 (the 3 year old is the one that’s not school age but does activities with us sometimes.)

      • kat
        kat says:

        Dawn, You see, I kind of disagree…i Do think its not necessarily beneficial for either parent or child to be around each other ALL the time- yes, I believe the majority of the time, especially when they are young. Does one want to be around their spouse all the time? A particular friend? Their work? Absolutely not, its about balance. My personal opinion is that the standard for ‘recharging your batteries’ in our american culture, is very inadequate, but we somehow see doing everything for our children as beneficial for them- other countries (developed and un) do not hold this view- im not saying that we should just all the sudden become like other countries, but it certainly gives a fresh perspective on how you don’t have to be tired, always talking about baby stuff, and always around your children. I also believe we have a skewed view of how ‘proper education’ sets a person up for being happy and successful in life.

        Sarah, I appreciate your encouragement about it being a season- i think about this all the time, and i think I am working on soaking it in, and also being okay with the reality that you DONT enjoy every moment being at home with your kids, in fact, its mostly guts, no glory. Nevertheless, kids are still a blessing.

        And just one more thing, I am a blogger too, and I learned that if you want to generate a lot of traffic and comments, write something controversial! I am going to try this…lol.

  72. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    1. When your kids are little, you are with them all the time. This is a season in your life that will pass. I do remember the frustration of constantly being with my kids when they were 2-7 years old. Sometimes it felt stifling. Now that they are 13 and 12, I have plenty of time to myself, and I would not trade those years when I was always with them for anything.

    2. Schools are full of interruptions. If you think two or three kids milling about is distracting, imagine a classroom of 20. Someone is always coughing, sneezing, whispering, asking to go to the bathroom, asking the teacher for help, laughing, acting up, etc. Learning to work with distraction is part of life. Assuming you have more than one room in your house, send a kid who is having trouble concentrating (or one who is creating distraction) to another room.

    3. Learning with children of the same age was one of my absolute least favorite things about school. The perspective of other same-age is kids so limited. One of the best parts about homeschooling is the ability to learn from a wide range of people. If one of my kids has a question and I can’t attend to it right now, they can either skip it and move on or they can switch to another assignment until I can help them.

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