I started writing this blog to figure out if I should homeschool or not. It took me only about a month of blogging to realize that there is overwhelming agreement in the education reform movement that a customized education is best for kids. The issue with homeschooling is not whether it’s best for kids. The issue is whether or not parents can handle doing it.

I homeschool because it seemed to me that it was like breastfeeding: Of course it’s the best thing to do for the kids, it’s just difficult. So I told myself that even though I had no idea what I was doing, it’s clear to me that even starting with no idea what I’m doing is better than putting the kids in school.

There are a lot of ideas we have about school that, it turns out, are totally wrong, and learning these things gave me the strength to take my kids out of school.

1. Parents don’t need to be professional teachers. It turns out that homeschooled kids do as well on tests if their parents are teachers than if they are not teachers.

2. Test scores don’t matter.  The schools that are well funded enough to not need federal money do not teach to tests. They teach for grit and perseverence which are traits that matter in life. Of course it is intuitive that test scores don’t matter in life—we have known for decades that good grades don’t mean good careers.

3. Kids learn on their own. You already know that you learn what you want to learn. And of course kids have things they want to learn. Peter Gray is an education professor who writes a blog called Freedom to Learn. This blog really resonates with me. Lisa Nielsen is an New York City teacher and administrator, and on her blog, The Innovative Educator, she advocates letting kids decide what they want to learn. These people are part of the cacophony of educators saying that school actually gets in the way of kids learning.

4. Traditional school is a babysitting service for kids while parents work in factories. We didn’t need kids to sit in chairs all day when their parents farmed. But once the parents went to cities to work, there was no safe place for the kids to run free and learn. School saved kids from long days in factories. Other than that, there is no evidence that kids need to be in school all day in order to be good, productive, happy citizens.

5. Homeschoolers develop superior life skills to non-homeschoolers. The common criticisms of homeschooling are baseless – for example, socialization. (Do you even know what socialization means?) Colleges love accepting homsechoolers (even though college is probably a vapid goal to begin with.) And the initiative homeschoolers develop, since no one is telling them what to do, means they will outperform non-homeschoolers in the workplace.

This knowledge overwhelms me. I’d feel guilty sending my kids to school because I know there is no reason to do it. I knew I was using school as the best babysitting service in the whole world—which it is.

Once I took my kids out of school, I learned probably the most fundamental thing about education: it’s a joy to be home with the kids all day watching them grow and learn.

To be certain, it’s also hell. It’s wreaking havoc on my career. But really, kids always do that to moms.

And my day-to-day existence has very little alone time. For example, to get this post written, I had to tell my son twice to stop talking to me. Also, he read over my shoulder and said he didn’t know that I had no idea what I’m doing and then I had to stop and have the conversation, which is hopefully educational, about why it’s okay to try stuff when you have no idea what you’re doing. In fact, it’s important to try stuff in that exact situation.

I homeschool because it’s definitely right for my kids and my family. I want to spend time as a family learning together, eating three meals a day together, and having a relaxed, not-rushing-to-work-and-school lifestyle.

I figure out how to do it as I go along.

 

83 replies
  1. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    I can’t “Like” this post. I get a “feedburner error” both from home and from work.

  2. karelys
    karelys says:

    Your kids are sooo cute!

    I was thinking outloud yesterday when I was telling my husband how I need to get back to my cultural roots of what it means to be pregnant, give birth, and raise a family because otherwise I’ll go nuts.

    He listened intently, but I thought he was pretending. Which I was okay with. Then he says “I am glad I am not a woman to have to go through it all (balancing career and family) but I am sad that you are in that tight spot.”

    It warmed my heart and then I got to the conclusion that if I am going to go through all that then might as well push a little harder to spend good time with my kids and watch them grow. I just cringe at the thought of struggling to raise a family but not have the joy of watching them learn and grow and be together.

  3. Bobbi B
    Bobbi B says:

    Love this article. Sums up the truth. I started my blog (BobbisBargains.com) to help parents learn how to save money so that they could spend their time and money on what was really important to them. People would tell me that I was “lucky” that I could stay home and school my kids. I told them it wasn’t luck. I could make financial decisions in one hour that would make it impossible for me to stay home. I made life and financial choices that allowed me to not need a steady second income. I hope my blog helps your readers. Thanks for writing.

    • Michelle H
      Michelle H says:

      Bobby, I really appreciate your comment about how we make financial decisions based on how we want to live; not the other way around.

  4. Veronica Frantz
    Veronica Frantz says:

    I’ve been homeschooling my now 13 year old son, almost his whole life. We gave in to “peer” pressure once and tried school for 6 months – it was awful! Our son and family are happier when we are all together and on top of this, he will be “graduating” high school next year. He is a happy, polite, well-rounded and very socialized young man- much to the chagrin of anti homeschoolers:-). Keep up the good work!

  5. Carla Hinkle
    Carla Hinkle says:

    What I would like to see more of on this blog is some ideas on how to make individualized learning available for families who can’t (or don’t want to) homeschool their kids. Not middle or upper middle class families, for whom I’ve heard it argued just need to adjust financial priorities to have one parent stay home and teach the kids. I may or may not agree with that, but let’s just take it as a given.

    But what about other types of families, especially those who need two incomes? Blue collar families. Immigrant families, with various grasps on English and American culture and technology. Families without college educated parents.

    Because homeschool/individualized learning is an interesting idea for families who are financially comfortable and educated. But how do families not in those categories access the same benefits?

    I am not interested in homeschooling my kids. But I am interested in the theory of individualized learning, and how, if it is advantageous to kids, kids in lots of different life circumstances can access it.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think the core problem with deciding to do individualized learning plans AND send kids to school is that there’s not enough time in the day.

      Individualized learning requires a kid to have a lot of down time and freedom to figure out how he or she wants to spend their days.

      Physically being in school takes up most of the day, and most of a kid’s energy. And when the kid comes home, the kid has tons of school-related things to do in order to stick with the class.

      So adding onto all that another set of learning criteria seems really hard on the kids.

      That said, most of individualized learning is just leaving the kid alone. So if you gave the kid a lot of downtime after school, that would go a long way.

      And, I can’t help myself: This is why homeschooling doesn’t cost a lot of money – because kids are resourceful if you just give them space to learn on their own. I live in a rural part of Wisconsin and the homeschooling group that is closest to me has a list where they advertise things to sell. Money is so tight among this homeschooling group that people sell used binders to each other. I tell you this to let you know that there are many homeschoolers who don’t have a lot of money.

      Penelope

      • ChristineMM
        ChristineMM says:

        Hi Carla,
        I agree with Penelope. It is very hard to individualize learning in group settings. As an experienced homeschool mom, one who customizes, I struggled to keep 5 elementary grade boys happy when I was a Cub Scout leader. Simple tasks for requirements varied so much from kid to kid. Heck, some could barely read, so they were just all different.

        Some parents of schooled kids do more learning after hours, some call this ‘afterschooling’ and the book The Well Trained Mind has a chapter on that plus the rest of the book covers how to make a plan.

        However, I honestly don’t know how kids can have time to go to school, do school homework, do new lessons with Mom, and do normal extra-curriculars and have family time and sleep. So, I am torn about whether “afterschooling” is good for all schooled kids. It may be too much pushing, yet for other kids, they may get extra intellectual stimulation that they crave. Every kid is different.

        • Michelle H
          Michelle H says:

          Carla,
          I have been a single parent, been married with one income and now I work part time and home school my three elementary school children. When I was single I was also a full time student, completed my bachelors degree in Education using financial aid. Then when I remarried we were dirt poor (30k and at times less) with 4 children. While we did accrue some debt during those hard times it was well worth the sacrifice and indeed that is what it was. I think it boils down to priority which then you have to evaluate what you believe. I hope Carla you are able to get clarity on what is best for your family!

    • Susan
      Susan says:

      We have found Montessori education to be a good alternative to homeschooling for our kids. The classrooms are set up in a non-traditional way and are totally centred around the needs of the child. Each child learns at his or her own pace and level and pretty much all learning is individualised.

  6. Grace
    Grace says:

    I hesitated a lot about leaving a comment because you’ve obviously already made up your mind. But you have also said that you don’t enjoy homeschooling (even that it’s ruining your life), and that you are only doing it because it’s the right thing to do. However, your conviction that it’s the right thing seems to be based on incomplete information.

    So I thought I would contribute my opinion (which is that homeschooling is a bad idea in most cases). After all, it’s your blog and you can always delete my comment if it’s irritating!

    1. It’s not surprising that credentials don’t matter for parents, because they don’t matter for teachers either (though experience matters quite a bit, a point in teachers’ favor). However, just because credentials don’t matter doesn’t mean teachers (credentialed or not) are all the same. There are HUGE differences in teachers’ effectiveness and skill levels, and these differences matter a lot to students’ success. Parents are not exempt from this truth just because they are parents.

    2. Absolutely true. So how do you teach grit? It’s not clear, but it seems to involve understanding that one’s results depend on one’s efforts, and keeping at a task even if it’s unpleasant or difficult. Formal school requires children to keep on (often dull or hard) task; unless children are very bright (and often even then, at least after 5th grade or so), grades have a very strong relationship to the effort expended. Homeschooling does not do as good a job in these areas, precisely because children can avoid unpleasant tasks (since they decide what to do), and because there are no grades (and thus it’s harder to have an objective measurement of one’s efforts).

    3. Humans have a natural aversion to working hard, which is only surmounted by extensive training. This is true even when the task is enjoyable (see here: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/what-do-we-do-with-our-leisure-time-what-trul). Yet almost everything worthwhile requires a LOT of hard (often unpleasant) work. Allowing children to learn only what they want to learn is likely to end in a bunch of dilettantes who don’t really understand anything. This is why conventional education does not allow children to specialize until their late teens.

    4. Your history is just wrong. School exists because jobs in a modern society require 1. intelligent workers with 2. certain basic skills (literacy, basic math, etc.). School actually makes people smarter (it adds points to your IQ for every year you attend). A stupid population is fine when almost everyone does manual labor; but factory work generally requires some skill (and of course in modern society cognitive demands are higher still). The factory owners didn’t encourage schooling for benevolent reasons.

    5. I cannot speak to this. However, my impression of homeschoolers is that they tend to be arrogant and have an incorrect valuation of their own abilities. This may be because human children are designed to develop their self-image (assessment of strengths and weaknesses) and social identity in a group setting (of other children), to the point that parents have little influence on their children’s life outcomes by the time school begins. (Have you read Judith Rich Harris’ work?) School-aged children in traditional societies don’t spend much time with adults; they spend it with each other, learning to measure themselves against their peers. Traditional school, while imperfect, does mimic this process; homeschooling, where children spend most of their time with adults in a one-on-one context, does not.

    Finally, homeschooling seems developmentally inappropriate for older children, who are supposed to be moving out into the world independently (and having their own adventures without their parents). Staying at home with small children (who need the stability of a consistent attachment figure) is really not comparable at all.

    I think you might want to reconsider. Maybe private school in Madison would be a better fit, since you go there so much anyway?

    • Stevan Boyd
      Stevan Boyd says:

      Your sincerity is genuinely appreciated but I cannot imagine a worse fate than handing my kids over to the government. I have yet to find one thing that government does that is effective or efficient. I have worked two jobs for most of my kids’ lives in order to keep them in a private school. If homeschooling were an option for us, we’d do it.

  7. catesfolly
    catesfolly says:

    Grace,

    I invite you to consider that your opinion is also based on incomplete information about homeschooling as well as about schooling.

    You make a number of assertions, none of which are backed by reference to research. The blog link noting that high school kids who spend all day at school would rather lie in front of the television at the end of a long day or week isn’t really evidence that humans don’t like to work hard.

    My son who is homeschooled works intently all day long. He is working at things of his choosing but they are not “easy” or “passive” things. He shows a great deal of perseverance and focus in his work. Do you have evidence that humans have a natural aversion to working hard? I think humans have a natural inclination to pursue their interests and passions when allowed to and will tend to show a great deal of energy and persistence in that pursuit.

    If you spoke with homeschooling teens you would hear a wide range of stories but the idea that they not moving into the world independently and without their parents isn’t true of the homeschooled teens I know. They are doing internships, they are coaching gymnastics, they are working in community theater, they are taking college courses, they are spending time with friends, AND they are many of them closer to their parents and siblings than your average schooled teenager, but that doesn’t make that closeness developmentally inappropriate. They are often moving into the world in much more adult ways than their peers in school because they have weekday time available to do that.

    Do you have any evidence at all that homeschooled kids are more arrogant than schooled kids? The homeschooled kids I know are the ones who make eye contact with adults, who speak to kids and adults with interest and curiosity, who participate in multi-age conversations in a way that many schooled kids I know don’t. I have a lot of regular contact with homeschooled kids and they don’t fit your impressions. Many of them also move in and out of the school system over the course of their childhoods, or attend classes part time, and most do just fine moving between homeschooling and conventional schooling.

    The point about the kind of homeschooling Penelope and others here are talking about is that it doesn’t require the parent to be an expert. It requires the parent to be a supportive facilitator and resource person for the child’s own self-directed learning.

    A great deal has been written about this kind of learning from John Holt to Alfie Kohn to Carl Rogers to Peter Gray and many many others. Were you interested, you could pull together a reading list that would give you alternate views on every one of your opinions.

    Even Maria Montessori and all the people who have developed her teaching method in schools since would disagree with many of your points above (about the necessity of grades and that people are not inherently self-motivated). The people who developed the very successful Reggio schools in Italy and now here in the US would disagree with you about the importance of grades and the lack of inherent motivation in humans. They also agree with (and have written about) the fairly well documented history of how public schooling developed here and in other countries to provide a semi-educated, semi-literate, industrial work force. You can assert that that history is wrong but you might do so by reference to something.

    Exercising your mind increases IQ. Schools may sometimes do that. Homeschooling does as well. Studies of self-directed learning (like Sudbury Valley schools) and homeschooling show that those kids are at least as prepared as conventionally schooled kids to pursue careers of their choosing and that they are successful in doing so. (If you go to the Sudbury Valley School website you will find many books and articles published of longitudinal studies of kids pursuing self-directed learning and their outcomes on a wide range of measures as adults).

    You may not like the idea of homeschooling or student-led learning, but it doesn’t sound to me like it’s based on a whole lot of evidence about what those things actually are.

    • Grace
      Grace says:

      Catesfolly,

      The point of the link was that hard work is absolutely gratifying and makes people happy once they are doing it. However, getting yourself to start doing it is immensely difficult. Thus, most people will take the easy path, even though this reduces their overall happiness.

      The wise person therefore designs various systems to compel herself to engage in harder but ultimately more satisfying activities. One of these systems is formal education (since then you are compelled to show up and learn at a particular time); it’s comparable to hiring a personal trainer or joining a gym to force yourself to exercise. Penelope has written elsewhere about how self-disciplined people are actually just good at creating systems for themselves: what she doesn’t seem to realize is that learning (anything mentally challenging and thus worthwhile) is no different.

      Learning is deeply enjoyable (at least for me) but it’s also hard work and usually requires a lot of (often dull) repetition. Only practice will make you good at something (10,000 hours is a number that’s often tossed around). It does children a disservice to pretend otherwise. They need to know that good things come only with great effort, and that this process is worthwhile but often not fun in the moment.

      Public schooling absolutely developed to create a semi-educated industrial workforce (as opposed to an uneducated rural peasantry). It was NOT developed to “babysit” (Penelope’s version). On that we seem to be in agreement.

      There is a TON of research on the fact that attending school (even sub-par school) increases IQ. Here’s a link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200107/iq-the-test or you can just use Google Scholar.

      Some links for you:
      On why practice is so important: http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=search.displayRecord&uid=1993-40718-001

      On the usefulness of imposing deadlines on oneself, with real consequences:
      http://pss.sagepub.com/content/13/3/219.short

      On why you should create systems for yourself if you want to get anything done: http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/05/the-only-way-to-get-important.html

      On why developing self control is so important: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0022-3506.2004.00263.x/abstract?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=

      On the importance of a good teacher: http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/value_added.pdf

      • Kristin
        Kristin says:

        That’s interesting that you would bring up the babysitting aspect. I distinctly remember being in high school, and actually writing a journal entry describing how i felt high school was merely a babysitting institution. It was so boring for me! And it was not hard work. I never did work until the night before a presentation or test, then aced the test. Homework was monotony except for when I had the good fortune of having a good teacher. Of course I forgot most of it. So requiring a child to go to school does not in itself set him/her up for learning. It takes a real interest and applicability towards real situations that results in learning. Interest and applicability can easily be achieved in a homeschooling environment. Yes, you do need repetition, but that is achieved at home when the child loves a task so much they do it over and over again. I do agree that schools would be much more effective with good teachers, but there are just too many bad ones out there and getting one bad teacher sets you up for a year of wasted time. That’s too big a price to pay. It is a shame you haven’t witnessed a child volunteering to work hard for something he/she believes in or loves to do. I see it on a regular basis and it is heartwarming. Where I have difficulty with my son (who currently attends school) is he always wants to do projects at home — chemistry, robotics, electrical stuff. He picked up my old Calculus book the other day and with happiness all over his face he demanded that I go over it with him (he is 8). A lot of this stuff he needs help with since it is above his level and I wish I could spend the time to do it. But I work full time and am either too tired or have no extra time so we often miss the learning opportunity. Given the opportunity, my son would choose experiments over TV most days.

    • Grace
      Grace says:

      Catesfolly,

      The point of the link was that hard work is absolutely gratifying and makes people happy once they are doing it. However, getting yourself to start doing it is immensely difficult. Thus, most people will take the easy path, even though this reduces their overall happiness.

      The wise person therefore designs various systems to compel herself to engage in harder but ultimately more satisfying activities. One of these systems is formal education (since then you are compelled to show up and learn at a particular time); it’s comparable to hiring a personal trainer or joining a gym to force yourself to exercise. Penelope has written elsewhere about how self-disciplined people are actually just good at creating systems for themselves: what she doesn’t seem to realize is that learning (anything mentally challenging and thus worthwhile) is no different.

      Learning is deeply enjoyable (at least for me) but it’s also hard work and usually requires a lot of (often dull) repetition. Only practice will make you good at something (10,000 hours is a number that’s often tossed around). It does children a disservice to pretend otherwise. They need to know that good things come only with great effort, and that this process is worthwhile but often not fun in the moment.

      Public schooling absolutely developed to create a semi-educated industrial workforce (as opposed to an uneducated rural peasantry). It was NOT developed to “babysit” (Penelope’s version). On that we seem to be in agreement.

      There is a TON of research on the fact that attending school (even sub-par school) increases IQ. Here’s a link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200107/iq-the-test or you can just use Google Scholar.

      Some links for you:
      On why practice is so important: http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=search.displayRecord&uid=1993-40718-001

      On the usefulness of imposing deadlines on oneself, with real consequences:
      http://pss.sagepub.com/content/13/3/219.short

      On why you should create systems for yourself if you want to get anything done: http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/05/the-only-way-to-get-important.html

      On why developing self control is so important: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0022-3506.2004.00263.x/abstract?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=

      On the importance of a good teacher: http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/value_added.pdf

  8. T
    T says:

    “5. This may be because human children are designed to develop their self-image (assessment of strengths and weaknesses) and social identity in a group setting (of other children), to the point that parents have little influence on their children’s life outcomes by the time school begins. (Have you read Judith Rich Harris’ work?) School-aged children in traditional societies don’t spend much time with adults; they spend it with each other, learning to measure themselves against their peers. Traditional school, while imperfect, does mimic this process; homeschooling, where children spend most of their time with adults in a one-on-one context, does not.”

    Actually thanks for bringing this up as Judith’s work gives more reason to homeschool children. If children are influenced more by their peers than by adults, sending a child to school is very risky business which is proved by all the bullying, apathy, sex and violence in school.

    There are highly questionable and detrimental peer influences in school that a child shouldn’t be exposed to especially if they’re more influenced by the peers than the teachers/adults.

    A homeschooled family can choose the children that the homeschooled child is surrounded with, and consequently influenced heavily by.

    Homeschooling gives a major advantage.

    • Grace
      Grace says:

      I absolutely agree carefully selecting your child’s peer group is essential. This is really what it means to send your child to a “good school”: their peers are from functional, relatively educated families. I would absolutely move or even borrow money to make sure my child went to a good school (my parents did both).

      However, since parents can select the school their child attends (by moving districts, going private, etc.), I don’t see why this is an argument for homeschooling. If anything, attending a school gives a parent MORE options, since a ready-made peer group will already exist there (and the parent must just select the one they like); a homeschooler must create their own peer group, which is very difficult (and will rely largely on proximity/availability, rather than careful selection).

      Also, it’s the rare homeschooler who spends six hours+/day surrounded by peers (as any typical schoolchild does).

  9. T
    T says:

    “Also, it’s the rare homeschooler who spends six hours+/day surrounded by peers (as any typical schoolchild does).”

    The six hours of time spent with peers in school is equivalent to less homeschool social time..maybe an hour. It is not enough to be “surrounded” by people, but are you connecting and interacting with them? Do you feel accepted and loved by them? Are you able to be your real self with them? At school?

    In school the children are not getting quality social time with their peers. They often feel ostracized by a majority of them. They sit at desks being instructed by the teacher predominantly. They often get reprimanded for socializing…ironically. Their free social time at school consists of lunch time and short snippets throughout the day. But this time is rushed and superficial, and doesn’t consist of free, energetic play or time to construct honest, genuine relationships built on love, trust, sharing…relationships in school usually consist of who’s wearing the coolest clothes, has the coolest electronics, what boy is cutest…

    Sometimes this fact of superficiality is only apparent when you get older when you realize what real relationships are made up of.

    Worse still, not only are most peer relationships superficial in school, social relationships are usually destroyed between the adult and child relationship in school. Homeschool children do not have the same attitude toward adults as public school children generally do.

    I often see young public school children idealize adults (not a good thing), and older public school children shun adults (not a good thing either).

    School is too risky when it comes to peer influence. Recently at a school in a very high scale town right down the road from me, a boy walked into the lunchroom and opened fire. He said, “am I cool now?” He was the victim of bullying. This is how his peers were influencing him.

    Furthermore, where is the alone time in school. A child is perpetually surrounded by children, perpetually being instructed what to do. When do they have time to ponder, be bored, instruct themselves, create, daydream, be active, and to basically fashion a self?

    I like the idea of kids being around other children but in a relaxed community setting with all age groups, everyone working together. Like the Native American lifestyle. That is a healthy environment. Public school is not.
    Homeschooling a child mimics the natural environment for a child moreso than public school. It isn’t perfect, but it’s the closest thing.

  10. educator
    educator says:

    I like what you had to say about socialization. Today teachers are the biggest influx into the home school venue, and one of the reasons they give is socialization. They say the class sizes are so large, that kids are taught to behave like robots.

  11. Zu
    Zu says:

    I like how similar are the Fat Acceptance and the Homeschooling online communities:

    1. diets don’t work= Schools don’t work
    2. Let your body be itself = Let the children teach themselves
    3. Health at every size = oops, no
    equivalent here. It’s homeschooling or bust!

  12. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I like the analogy of homeschooling to breastfeeding. I breastfed both kids for longer than many do, but not as long as I probably should have. I stayed home with both kids for longer than many do, but not as long as I could have. I chose to stop breastfeeding and return to work when I did for the same reasons–I had felt like the balance between what was best for them, and what was best for “us,” had been reached. I know that line is different for everyone, but for me, homeschooling is too far on the other side of that balance line. That is different than saying homeschooling isn’t the best thing for a child–because I think it very well may be. So good job!

  13. Cassie
    Cassie says:

    T, if class sizes are the problem than why not work toward fixing that for the good of all? I agree class sizes are too large in many areas, but am not sure I’m ready to throw in the towel on all public schools. Some, yes perhaps, but a good many are doing quite well and just need more help. Perhaps co-op schools or something like that would be another answer. My son did Montessori preschool and it was great academically but turned him into a very self centered child concerned only of his own feelings. It has taken a couple of years of public school to teach him to get along better and think of others. Am I perfectly happy with public school, no, but there are drawbacks to all choices. I for one don’t want to have to worry about having enough binders so my child can learn easily enough for one. I like the idea of more family time and connection to what children are learning, but I’m not sure homeschooling is the only way to achieve this.

    • T
      T says:

      “T, if class sizes are the problem than why not work toward fixing that for the good of all? I agree class sizes are too large in many areas, but am not sure I’m ready to throw in the towel on all public schools. Some, yes perhaps, but a good many are doing quite well and just need more help. Perhaps co-op schools or something like that would be another answer. My son did Montessori preschool and it was great academically but turned him into a very self centered child concerned only of his own feelings. It has taken a couple of years of public school to teach him to get along better and think of others. Am I perfectly happy with public school, no, but there are drawbacks to all choices. I for one don’t want to have to worry about having enough binders so my child can learn easily enough for one. I like the idea of more family time and connection to what children are learning, but I’m not sure homeschooling is the only way to achieve this.”

      Class size is only one of the many problems with school. Public school is an outdated, obsolete institution and in my opinion it needs to go the way of slavery in the United States. It oppresses children, it oppresses parents (to think that they aren’t even capable of raising their own children adequately), and oppresses society.

      With public library in every town; access to the internet for even the poor; technological “tutors” available; and knowledge of every sort accessible to all with little effort, public school is an antiquated institution that only prepares children to take orders, be superficial, not think for themselves, basically to work in a factory line. It doesn’t nurture creativity, free thinking, uniqueness, deep thought or love.

      There is nothing mysterious and so important about the knowledge in public school that it needs this institution to teach it and 12+ years of a child’s life to learn it. The information taught in public school is actually quite basic stuff and can be learned anywhere easily. Public school likes to keep this facade that it is necessary for children if they are going to learn, but it is not. This is the biggest myth of our time.

      With all the violence and troubled children in schools, these children, these “prisoners”, are calling out to us. Are we going to listen to THEM? They don’t want smaller class sizes.

      “My son did Montessori preschool and it was great academically but turned him into a very self centered child concerned only of his own feelings.”

      This is actually a natural “stage” that children go through and most eventually grow out of it.

  14. Bec Oakley
    Bec Oakley says:

    Thank you, I actually find these ‘why I did it’ posts even more helpful than the ‘how I did it’ ones. For me, deciding to homeschool was the hard part – all the agonizing over whether it’s the right thing to do, reading all the research and weighing up the benefits. When all I really needed to do was listen to the very loud and persistent voice in my head screaming JUST DO IT ALREADY!

    Today is the last day of school for my kids, and I feel nothing but relief. Relief that I’m finally doing what feels right, relief that I made the decision and relief that it’s over.

    Of course I have a zillion questions – how do you provide structure for autistic kids when you unschool, for example – but as you say Penelope, I’ll figure it out as I go along.

  15. Bec Oakley
    Bec Oakley says:

    I should add that this is not our first go at homeschooling (which is how I know that making the decision was harder than actually doing it!)

  16. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’ll add to #4.
    The following quote by Shimon Waronker (Founder of the New American Academy (elementary school in Brooklyn)) – “The American education model was actually copied from the 18th-century Prussian model designed to create docile subjects and factory workers.” – comes from a NYT article ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/opinion/brooks-the-relationship-school.html ) by David Brooks. So I guess we can blame our current education system on the Prussians or even the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (Address to the German nation). Maybe Horace Mann or the rest of the people who went to Europe, got their Phd, and came back to the U.S. to fill influential roles in academia and government … in the 1800’s. Maybe we should blame ourselves for essentially not changing our educational model. There’s no time like the present.

  17. Andria
    Andria says:

    This conversation is so important. I have two sons, ages 5 and 7. And I’m pregnant with my 3rd son. I plan on homeschooling the 3rd, but currently am dealing with an ex-husband regarding my first two boys, who will fight me on the home school front. This perhaps would be an interesting conversation for parents who are divorced, when one insists on schools and the other knows better.

    Nonetheless, when my firstborn was a baby, I knew instinctively that I wanted to raise him on a farm. I felt his days needed to involve tractors in some way :-). He’s a boy, after all. There was a beautiful Waldorf School in upstate NY where we lived at the time, and their curriculum included farming on their Bio-Dynamic Farm.

    As a former middle school French teacher, prior to having children, I had always secretly wanted to make goat cheese. I’m a Capricorn too, so this goat thing is pretty real. Then I became a raw vegan and dropped the whole cheese thing, though being pregnant again has me craving and eating cheese after 5 years of not having any.

    So my point, funny how well we know our kids. Homeschooling is about knowing your kids, knowing your own soul, and what it is here for, and that of your children. We came here to be together as a family, this is a very important point to make about homeschooling families. It’s not so much a religious aspect for us as it is a general viewpoint of why we had kids and how we intend to raise them, as part of our lives, as a part of our community. Too many children are segregated all day from their parents. I find it very sad. My children are forced to be away from me now by their father. It is a very difficult situation. They are being forced to be schooled in a manner which I know is not beneficial for them long term. My empathy and time is often working with other single mothers in this area.

    While I work on the Un-curriculum for the school I plan on building, and while I gestate here with baby #3 who thank God will be homeschooled, I am enjoying your blog and meeting other women who are taking a stand for their children.

    Thank you for putting your heart and soul out there for others to read. Your boys are going to be very very grateful for you one day.

    Blessings,

  18. ChristineMM
    ChristineMM says:

    Hi Penelope, Enjoyed your post here. However test scores do matter in the homeschool high school years for most college bound kids. I used to unschool and was very relaxed but now that I have a 9th grader wanna-be engineer he has to buckle down and learn XYZ topics plus take certain tests. Sadly many “good” colleges require even MORE testing for homeschoolers compared to schooled kids. I have had to abandon some of our alternative education ways to help my son do what he wants with his life.

  19. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    While I imagine this option is inaccessible in rural Wisconsin, I’m surprised you never discuss alternative educations.
    I attended a Waldorf School (based on Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy). It gave me the chance to make friends among my peers (before college) as well as providing an extremely interactive environment teaching skills, like formal calligraphy and paper making (just for example), that would likely be difficult for individual parents to provide their children. Of course, Waldorf doesn’t teach to a test, only loosely observes a grading system and is dedicated to learning rather than teaching. I would be very interested to know your thoughts on a method of education that is both structured as well as family and community oriented.

    • Trenton
      Trenton says:

      “It gave me the chance to make friends among my peers (before college) as well as providing an extremely interactive environment teaching skills, like formal calligraphy and paper making (just for example), that would likely be difficult for individual parents to provide their children. Of course, Waldorf doesn’t teach to a test, only loosely observes a grading system and is dedicated to learning rather than teaching. I would be very interested to know your thoughts on a method of education that is both structured as well as family and community oriented.”

      Although Waldorf School is a step up from a traditional public school, it is still school. It still denies its pupils complete freedom. It forces a child to be inside away from nature on a beautiful day, and forces a child to do a certain something (such as calligraphy) when they would rather do something else (such as reading or hiking). Essentially, it denies a child the chance to follow their own inner compass; to follow their dreams and passions.

      • Danielle
        Danielle says:

        Actually Trenton, Waldorf encourages as much outdoor activities as possible, including hiking, gardening and the general freedom to run around outside as much as possible. It also encourages as much freedom as possible, while encorporating learning into craft, art and game activities. While it is of course structured, that is not always a negative, as adults we are often forced to live in a social structure that can be rigid & inflexible. I don’t believe any person living in modern society is ever completely free.
        I am not trying to create an argument against homeschooling. Only trying to present an alternative. Of course there will always be benefits to homeschooling that no school can match, but there are positive school experiences that have benefits homeschooling cannot match. I highly recommend some research regarding Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies, they might even help one become a better homeschooling parent.

  20. Trenton
    Trenton says:

    Structured usually is a negative if it is not the individual structuring it themselves, but someone else imposing their structure on another. Humans who live with rigidness and inflexibility usually are not happy individuals. Our brains crave flexibility and non-rigidness. And leisure. So do our bodies. Our whole souls crave them. Children need them. To bloom to their full capacity, they need to be free.

    School, by any name, will always holds a child down.

  21. Trenton
    Trenton says:

    Additionally, I strongly believe that as adults we should learn how to live from children moreso than the other way around.

  22. Laura
    Laura says:

    I’ve been saving this post in my reader until I had time to come back and say thanks. I’m going to bookmark this post and revisit it when I forget why the hell I decided to live my life without alone time (something very important to me). Thanks for the reminder.

  23. Ian H
    Ian H says:

    While your children are at an age where your knowledge exceeds theirs, do you consider what will happen when you, as their teacher, have to teach them something that you don’t know as much about? I, for instance, would be terrified to have to teach my kids how to do calculus, a subject which I know literally nothing about.

    • Kristin
      Kristin says:

      There are many options for this, one of which is tutoring or online education. Or even the boys can teach it to themselves if they are interested. I learned FORTRAN on my own (computer programming). It works for the right minid. Or, if the child has advanced to the point of wanting to learn calculus, they can enroll in a college course. Options gallore!

      • Jana Miller
        Jana Miller says:

        There’s also the Khan academy, online videos that are free and teach everything. I enrolled my high schooler in some community college math classes. It was a great solution for him.
        Jana

    • T.J.
      T.J. says:

      Well, what do YOU do when you want to learn something that you didn’t learn in school? Do you throw up your hands and say, “Oh, well; I guess that was just not for me to learn,” or do you have options?

      I was “taught” all manner of classes in school (and even some in college) by instructors who didn’t know the subject very well. They basically read the textbook and then gave us the canned reading comprehension-type quizzes that came with the textbook.

      There are tons of options for DIY educators for the more difficult disciplines. They can hire a tutor, enroll in a co-op, take dual-credit at a community college, or buckle down and learn the material together as a family. Some providers of homeschool curriculum sell online classes. Some public school districts allow home-educated students to “part-time” and take a certain number of courses per semester. There are also mostly self-taught programs like the Robinson Curriculum, which, if you think about it, is not that different from how learning is supposed to happen at the college level. Blah, blah, blah–you get the idea.

      I think home school is a bit of a mislabel in most cases because it conjures up images of kids who never leave the kitchen and never talk to anyone other than their parents.

  24. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Not going to school is not an option for my 5 year old son – he has special needs that I am not equiped to help him with. He has a receptive-communicative language disorder, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder and is especially impaired in the area of social skills. My school district has Special Ed resource specialists, speech therapists, play therapy sessions, Occupational/Physical therapists and inclusion classrooms. I could never afford all of that out of my own pocket.

    Additionally, there is an informal network of other parents of ASD/SPD/ADHD kids that I can get support from. I am lucky that my school is in a wealthy neighborhood with progressive-minded parents who are geniuses at fundraising to cover budget gaps. Perhaps when my son is older, homeschooling might be a better option. For now, public school is the best place for him.

    As someone who was diagnosed with SPD at the age of 11 back in 1979, I agree that homeschooling might have been a good option for me – if I had been born to a different set of parents. My severely depressed and chronically angry mother would have sucked at it; my dad could have been great at it if he didn’t have to hold down a job. I did briefly go to an alternate school for kids with learning differences and it was awesome. It was also far more expensive than my blue-collar parents could have afforded.

  25. christinemm
    christinemm says:

    Michelle, yours is case where “homeschooling doesn’t work for everyone” both what you said about your own childhood and your mother as well as your 5 year old.
    I also had a mother who would never have been able to homeschool me.
    Regarding your child I would advise if things are not good enough in public school to push for private school paid for by the town/city, get legal counsel if you need it. I know too many kids with too many specialized needs (on Autism spectrum) that were not getting the services their IEP promised, year after year, so they pushed & got free tuition at a specialized school who indeed was trained and set up to help kids on the Autism Spectrum (and many have multiple diagnosises that complicate it all).

  26. Dana
    Dana says:

    Penelope, You’re seriously making me think about homeschooling my two children. But I’m conflicted. I live in Fairfax County, Va. One of the wealthiest counties in the nation with the one of the best if not best public education in the country. But I know what they’re teaching in the schools is antiquated and a honor student now a days is a just a glorified child encyclopedia. But this area is very expensive to live in and many, almost ALL families here require both the mom and dad to work. So having one parent stay home to teach the kids is not an option (we fall in this category). What would you do in my shoes?

    Thanks!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer says:

      We live in Nassau County, a NYC suburb, in arguably one of the best school districts in the entire country. We moved to this expensive area for the schools and it required that both my husband and I work. Like you, we grappled with difficult questions, especially since we had already bought a home when homeschooling entered our thoughts. But, in the end, we decided that I will work part-time and we will homeschool our children. It’s a big financial cut for us and we regret moving here; but the price of keeping our kids in the school system, even if it’s the “best” in the country, was too high for us. On the upside, because of the schools, buying a home here was probably a wise investment if we ever do choose to sell years down the road.

  27. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I’ve thought quite a bit about testing lately since reading this post and this recent post at onlineuniversities.com ( http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2012/05/the-next-generation-of-testing-%E2%80%93-no-testing-at-all/ ). I’ve come to the conclusion that testing does matter. It’s not that testing can really determine the extent of what an individual knows about a subject, future success in a career, or the effectiveness of the instructor even though that’s how it’s being used. Testing matters because people make it matter. Test results will determine college placement for the student. Testing is so ingrained in our society it is mind boggling. It’s used as a quantitative measure to motivate and advance students through their academic career.
    I don’t think testing, in and of itself, is BS. I just think the way testing is used in educational institutions is BS. Testing as a tool for education has become over used and relied upon far too often. I think of the lie detector test as a metaphor. It’s a useful tool when properly used by an expert to perhaps gain more insight into a case but it’s results can’t be admitted as evidence in the courtroom. It’s one tool of many in a crime scene investigation. It’s not the determining factor in a case but it can be damning. Its’ results may even lead you astray. Tests in the classroom (or anywhere else for that matter) can be helpful to the student because they communicate to the student an instructor’s expectations. An unschooler may not pay much attention to these tests per se other than to be aware of course content. The article link above mentions the gamification of education. It’s a good start but there’s much more that needs to be done. It’s hard to beat homeschooling when the environment is right and it’s done properly. If you believe a business will be successful because it can pivot to market conditions and address them at a moment’s notice then you should believe in homeschooling because the same sort of thing is happening as you mold a child’s mind to their needs rather than one dictated by a curriculum and tests.

  28. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    I am so glad to have found this blog. My husband just asked me what I have been so engrossed in for the last hour (as I have been reading post after post). I feel like I have found a kindred spirit (a few actually, based on the comments). I am also what I call a reluctant homeschooler. I don’t feel like I was called to it and I am not religious, so in that I find I offer from other homeschoolers I’ve run across. I have chosen to homeschool my son (and later my daughters when they get older), because I agree that public schools in America are broken – irreparable. My son sat in a third grade classroom this year and was not challenged. Not once. He scored great on his state standardized tests – perfect scores in two sections and advanced proficiency in the other two, and that’s because he is smart and can basically memorize anything he reads or hears. What I call his “success” is achievement without education. He achieved, but he really hasn’t been educated. He can tell you what a swamp is (because it’s a test question) but not where to find one or what animals live there. I just discovered last week (since we just began homeschooling) that he can’t write a paragraph. Why? Because after asking some teachers, they only teach writing in fifth and eighth grades because those are the years writing is on the state test.
    So, what to do? Homeschool. I taught in the public school system for over ten years and never thought I’d find myself here, but basically I value my son too much to subject him to even another minute of wasting his mind in the public school classroom. The more I read about homeschooling,the more excited I am becoming, but like I said it’s not something I ever thought I’d do, but the stakes are way too high to not give him the education he deserves. I’m not even going to get into why I think public schools in America are broken (since I agree with everything that’s already been posted) but I will tell you, as a teacher and a parent and a former administrator, people who think any public school cares more about kids than test scores are fooling themselves. Again, so glad I found this blog!

  29. Amy De Rosa
    Amy De Rosa says:

    I came across your blog and found this post interesting, but if you’re presenting points 1-5 as ideas you agree with, I’d have to take issue.

    Point 4 – I sent my kids to school and I wasn’t out working in a factory. I didn’t need a babysitter. I sent my kids to school because it was the best choice in my situation.

    Point 5 – Home-schooled kids develop ‘superior, life skills? That may be true, but so do a lot of other kids. Yes, there are colleges that love home-schoolers and there are also about 3,000 other colleges and universities that love accepting non-home-schooled kids.

    Point 2 – My kids’ school had testing, yet the teachers weren’t consumed with teaching to the test. That may be true of most public school education, but it doesn’t apply to private schools necessarily. And, test scores do matter in certain situations. Test performance is still used for ranking in many professions. Test performance is still used for admission to many colleges. Test performance is used in a driving test! I don’t see anything inherently wrong in testing. It’s how it’s used or abused.

    You say that home-schooling is clearly better for kids, that the issue is whether the parents can handle it. But that’s only half the story. Parents make decisions about how to educate their children based on what’s best for their kids AND for their entire family. Further, I see no reason why home-schooling is necessarily better for kids. Anecdotally, at least, I could give you several examples of home-schooling fiascos.

    I often find with homeschoolers that they feel there are two ways to educate children– that one way is the homeschooling way and the other way is the wrong way. It’s a subtle note but quite palpable among the homeschoolers I know. You would fit in well with the homeschoolers I know.

    • Adam
      Adam says:

      A one on one education is better. Period. Most homeschoolers do extensive research on public schools (more than the average person) and also have their own experiences, and often times their childrens too, to go by. Consequently, they choose to eschew the system because of all the knowledge they have attained. They are educated.

      The average person sends their children to school without much thought, only because it’s what everyone else does.

      The public school system is a system built on oppression of children. This is why you will find that most who eschew this system will think it is the wrong way. How can oppression (especially systematic and group oppression) of children ever be right?

      And if you don’t think it’s an oppressive environment, you try being in it (in the child’s role) five days a week for eight hours, and for 12 years. Most adults would not stand for most of it if it were done to them.

  30. Amy De Rosa
    Amy De Rosa says:

    To Adam: To say that homeschoolers do more research on public schools than the average person is a preposterous claim. Your experience must not include large metropolitan areas where there are a lot of kids and not enough good public schools. The average urban parent is excessively vigilant about researching schools and very knowledgeable.

    The public school system does not exist to oppress children. It exists to mold a certain outcome—-just the way a homeschooling curriculum does by the way. The problem with the public school system is that it’s a one-size-has-to-fit-all system. It’s directed at the middle chunk of the bell curve and everyone else is on their own. In addition, public schools breed complacency because the government has a monopoly on the system. There’s no competition. Add in the teachers unions who are more worried about their pensions than about kids learning and the public schools are, in general, a recipe for disaster. Lastly, I know of no public school where the day is 8 hours long. You’d have to pay the janitors and teachers too much. And probably serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well.

    • Adam
      Adam says:

      Most homeschool parents not only research public schools more extensively, the history and such, but also they research the learning process and how it is best implemented for human beings. Most homeschoolers simply do their “homework” and this is the exact reason why they forgo the public school.

      If everyone where as equally educated, there would be very few children in public school. But because most are happy to remain ignorant, public schools in the contemporary fashion persist to be packed full of “prisoners.”

      “The average urban parent is excessively vigilant about researching schools and very knowledgeable.”

      I’d like to know if any of them have insisted on sitting in for at least a full day of their children’s classes, more ideally a whole week, or even more, perhaps not consecutively, but that might not be realistic. A chance to analyze what really goes on and determine if the child should attend. I’m betting 0 of these “excessively vigilant” parents actually do this. Most adults could not get through a full day of school because of it’s oppressive, humiliating, boring, prison-like and condescending feature, to only mention a few.

      Regardless if it “exists” to oppress children, the fact is that it does oppress children. What are we going to do about it? The best bet right now is to free the child and let he or she learn without this relatively new institution.

      The high school here is eight hours.

  31. ChristineMM
    ChristineMM says:

    Full day kindergarten bus pick up is 8am they get off the bust at 4:10pm. That is 8 hours of a child’s life. Okay so not the entire time is “in the classroom”. In fact the lining up to get to the bus starts over 30 minutes before school is dismissed. That is my former town in CT. When comparing homeschooling to school I think it’s fair to count the bus ride to and from as part of the “school day”.

    Public school is 13 years, don’t forget Kindergarten.

    And while we’re at it, there is preschool which nearly everyone uses, in CT they start at 2 not 3. So school is actually 14 or 15 years long before they are college-age.

    Some daycares for babies call it school and the caregivers are called “teachers” and I mean for babies, one year olds, 2’s, 3’s.

    My personal opinion is public school is so big that it is no longer about a certain narrow mission statement but the process in and of itself has taken on a life of its own and now is this big “thing”.

    The benefit of a private school is that the enrollment is limited, you have to apply and meet certain requirements, and they have smaller staff who control the goals and aims, so everyone is in alignment to achieve the goal of what is happening in that school. (Of course the ideals of a private school are a moot point if the family cannot afford it which is the position I have been in, in years past. So many people I know homeschool as they can’t afford private school.)

    Public school is so gigantic, and towns are under both state and federal pressures that I ask who is really in charge? With trying to meet the needs of a huge variety of kids (learning challenges, medical problems, emotional problems, and anything else), it is really hard. I don’t know how they do it to be honest. Due to all these things I think that public school is a crap-shoot.

    I have a hard enough time homeschooling two kids. I can’t imagine teaching a class-ful of kids. Leading Cub Scouts with a wide variety group of kids was hard so I just cannot imagine teaching school. My hat goes off to the great teachers out there.

    We have homeschooled since birth but who knows when and if my kids will wind up in public school. They are in grades 10 and 7 right now.

  32. Enya
    Enya says:

    How do I ‘homeschool’ if I am a single parent with a very young child, and need to work outside the home to be stable financially? This is considering the fact that I want to homeschool.

    • Shawna
      Shawna says:

      Enya-\

      I”m also a single parent homeschooling my child. It is hard but I am doing it!

      I took my child out of school without telling the father. I knew it would create all sorts of problems so I did this quietly. It saved my child but was well worth it. I believe if you cant stand up for your own child—no one will.

      Once you have children, you have to put them first. Their interests and well being –at the expense of whatever relationship you are in.

      You are building their foundation for life. It will make you strong. You will grow together.

      Good luck
      S :)

  33. T.
    T. says:

    Enya,

    I am a single parent, too. Two things were never an option to me: working outside of the home, and sending my child to public school. So I made each work.

    It was really tough, but I started my own business from home and now I support the two of us and we homeschool. There are so many legitimate careers from home if you search for them. Just remember, anything is possible.

    Also, be sure to cut down on expenses, so you need to bring in less money. I eliminated my landline and now just use the free Google phone and a free cellphone, among many other things to cut expenses.

    Best wishes!

    • Enya
      Enya says:

      Thank you, T! Yes this is an option and great that you made it work. But it is somewhat of a necessity to me to work outside. I am introverted and will get nowhere in life if I stay at home. In career, am in middle management, and have to be seen and heard if I have to make any impact at all on my team.

      And the kid being social right now makes me feel as if I am somehow curbing her growth..

      Hmm probably I might not have a solution….

  34. T.
    T. says:

    You’re welcome, Enya. I am also introverted, and I am highly independent. I can not work under anyone or live by someone else’s schedule.

    You can make social work for both you and your child when a parent doesn’t work outside of the home and a child doesn’t attend daycare/public school. Millions of homeschoolers make it work and have kind, smart, social children!

    I’ll use us as an example:

    Because I work at home and make my own hours, we have the luxury of being out at various hours going to homeschool programs, hikes, and museums, etc, in other words, being social in the real world.

    We meet with a homeschool group every Friday for a hike or other fun activity.

    Every Wed. we go to a homeschool PE.

    My sister also homeschools, so five days a week we meet up with her family to work on a survival activity program together. She lives near a ton of children, so my daughter plays with these children five days a week for a few hours and consequently has made lifelong friends.

    We attend monthly homeschool programs at museums.

    We go to library events and storytimes and other classes.

    We always have a volunteer job going. We just ended one that lasted a year and was once a week. Now we are starting another one which is monthly (museum docent).

    We find inventive and creative ways to get out there and to socialize!

    There are so many outlets for social such as girl scouts, volunteer jobs when they get older, attending playgrounds during school hour playground time, homeschool groups (start one if there’s not one in your area), family, museums, libraries, playgroups, classes, etc.

    I will tell you this: My daughter was surrounded predominantly by adults up until she was around seven or eight, and in hindsight I am grateful we did this. She was able to build good morals, values and integrity in those years from the older people around her.

    When she started to spend a lot of time with other children (public schooled children), she encountered bad behavior that surprised her, such as, snobbiness, lying, cliques, stealing, harsh language, etc. But because she had built a good foundation in her early years, she was able to see this behavior as wrong and not become influenced, or take on the behavior herself.

    My point from this is that other children are not the best influences for social, when a child is young especially. Children need to socialize with ALL ages. They don’t learn right and wrong from children their own age, they learn this from people older than them.

  35. T.
    T. says:

    Enya,

    Also, I knew a homeschool mom who worked outside of the home and she would drop her son off at the library for the day as she worked. He was older. The librarians would keep an eye on him. This is what worked for them. This isn’t what I would want to do, but more power to them for being creative.

    Get creative, you can also find a way that works for you and your daughter!

  36. Margaret Sayers
    Margaret Sayers says:

    As a child and adolescent psychologist, I am frequently asked what I think about homeschooling. In a nutshell, I say that I believe that it is absolutely the right or the wrong thing for any given child and any given parent. Nothing could be better when it is the absolutely right thing for a particular child AND his/her particular parent(s). Seems like you and your family are a winning combination. Good luck!

  37. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    This part here was beautiful:

    “and then I had to stop and have the conversation, which is hopefully educational, about why it’s okay to try stuff when you have no idea what you’re doing. In fact, it’s important to try stuff in that exact situation.”

    Thank you : )

  38. Filipinamumof3boys
    Filipinamumof3boys says:

    I am starting to love all your posts. I don’t quite know how I stumbled upon your blog, I was just searching for a good read… but your writing is by far the one I can relate to the most. We have different cultures but I feel like I’m reading my own situation when I read your blog. I just started writing my own blog as an outlet of all my thoughts because I have no support system at the moment and I don’t want to go crazy and take it out on my kids. I’m so glad to find someone I can relate to.

  39. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Wow this post really speaks to me. I just stumbled upon your blog today. I’m a former marketing professional who is now home with 3 (soon to be 4 kids) in the greater Bay Area of CA. My oldest son just began public school kindergarten and I’m really questioning what the hell we are doing. Just the drop-off process takes 30+ minutes. :/

    Your blog speaks to me, can’t wait to read more. Thank you!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for the comment, Lisa. Your comment reminds me that the kindergarten drop-off was the beginning of the end for me, now that I think about it. I couldn’t stand how long it took and how chaotic it was, so I hired someone to do it. Then I was like, oh, I should hire someone to do the BS homework, and I should hire someone to go to the sing-along since my kid doesn’t even know the songs. And then I was like, it’s a full-time job to deal with school. What am I doing??????

      Penelope

  40. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    So much of K is teaching behavior and routines. All of which can be done at home in the course of your day. All the parents are expected to volunteer at school (in our area) so that just adds to the time commitment.

    I didn’t homeschool K because it wasn’t on my radar at all but now I wish I had. I had my sons 21 months apart and k gave me the break I needed. But I think it was only a perceived break.

  41. AP
    AP says:

    Thanks, I needed to read this today. It’s been a long week of homeschool and it’s only Tuesday! I tend to stress out about whether or not my children are staying on pace with their peers (they went to a private school for a few years) but I forget to see how much they love to read and investigate and explore. I’m surrounded by a lot of people whose children are babysat by the system….and I see it’s not working but some days I need a homeschool mom to lay it out on the table and remind me why we decided to homeschool. Thanks:)

  42. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    Thank you so much for this blog! I just happened upon it when I have just recently lost my job (that I didn’t really want anyway, but I took). I want to homeschool my sons so desperately. I love my 7YO’s private school, and my 4YO is in a three day a week private school, but my heart yearns to homeschool and work from home.

    I’m just nervous about finding income as a single parent. I love that you said on one of your posts, you’ll find a way when you know there’s no other way. I want to do freelance writing, I’m considering working my Mary Kay business full-time, I don’t know. I’ve considered tutoring as I was once an English teacher and an administrator and I have my M.ED.

    But, what I do know is I hate the “rush and move” that seems to happen with going to school. I cannot afford my son’s private school next month and I’m so sad to see his love for engineering begin to diminsh. Anyway, I’m rambling. Ha! I just found this blog at the exact moment of my cognitive ramblings. LOL Keep up the good work!

  43. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    One of the reasons we downsized was that I needed to be able to work and homeschool. I had been thinking about doing this since they were about 2, but like you I had no idea how it would work. Kindergarten is about rules and behaviors and I prefer ours to a complete strangers. I do not use a curriculum, but do use tools to see how they are doing much like the Action Adademy in Austin. They will begin next year attending a wonderful homeschool Montessori based enrichment class one morning a week that involves lots of music, art, hiking in nature etc. I think you have to make your experience match your personality and then your internal conflict seems to get quiet again and you will do well – much like breastfeeding – everyone’s experience is there own. Lucky kids you have – the best way is never the easy way!

  44. Bettyjo
    Bettyjo says:

    I find the article and the comments very interesting, especially because I have been helping my daughter observe private kindergartens for her just turned 5 year old son. As a former teacher, I am a fan of John Holt. The junior high school where I taught was a “good” school, but I think the bright kids and self motivated kids learned despite the school and the others were left behind depsite teachers good intentions.
    However in regard to your comments about financial choices and “selling things” you do have to have things to sell and not every parent can homeschool their children. In my daughters’ case she is truly a single parent; there is no family money and in our society there is no way to live without some income. And I believe that some 2 parent incomes do not allow one parent to stay home. I also believe that some parents are not temermentally equiped to stay home with their children all day,
    What I find disturbing is that American schools are in such horrible shape. The school district where my daughter would send her son has an average score of “2” on a great schools score of 10. Even some of the Montesori schools we visited were very controlling while pretending that children had free choice. I don’t know what we as a society can do but it is clear that not everyone can home school ( and some parents should not!) and our school system in many cases is failing our children. My grandson is a perfect example of John Holt’s description of learning. He takes it apart, he figures out how is works, he may put it back together or make a story where individual parts of the whole talk or sing to each other. He builds things with blocks, with his food, with rocks. He loves animals, rocks, flowers, stars. And even though I think he is so smart and special, I think he is a typical child, filled with the fascination of learning. Its just too bad that we can’t have schooling for every child which builds on this. P.S. My grandson will be attending a Montesori school where there is individualized learning in a safe, beautiful and clean environment with gardening, music, caring teachers and racial diversity.

    • Kate
      Kate says:

      Thank you, Bettyjo, for raising these questions about what is best for others and for society as a whole, not just our own children. Some people who homeschool may be low-income, but of course that’s always relative to the local cost of living, right? Some parents have to work full-time (or more) just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. And some parents would truly do more harm than good if they tried to homeschool their kids. If public schools aren’t working, WE have to fix them. Don’t forget – “the government” is us.

  45. Helen
    Helen says:

    I am currently considering homeschooling my third daughter. And I have really appreciated the intelligent responses on this blog. First up, I feel a need to point out that I am an atheist, (a lot of the reading I have done as lead me to think that a large portion of homeschool families are very religious).
    Reading the responses there is one common comment that I have to address – this idea that school will somehow tempt your child in to all sorts if evil behaviours (drug, sex etc..) and that homeschooling is the way to have a good relationship. My two eldest daughters (16 & 18), attend school and are great kids, to assume that your kids cannot make a decision themselves when faced with temptation is really doing them a disservice. They are stronger and more resilient than you think. I don’t want my kids by my side 24/7 and I don’t want to protect them too much, because I know they can protect themselves and because I trust them. Also I am hear to talk to, and they do talk, not because I have kept them close, or try to be a friend, but because they know they will be listened to. I have talked to them about my I decision about homeschooling their little sister, and they have offered initial critism, but have also listened and understood. I didn’t need to homeschool them to achieve maturity, or resilience, or avoidance of drugs or casual sex. They are open minded, compassionate people, who take personal responsilibilty for their decisions.
    So why consider homeschooling kid no. 3??? Well, daughter number 3 is most likely an aspie. As is my dad, my husband, nephew… Her anxiety levels when it comes to school are through the roof! And I am pretty sure there isn’t any bullying going on (And trust me, we have had to deal bullying!). Her grades are slipping each year, she is too exhausted at the end of the day to complete homework. It just feels like school isn’t working for her at all. Yet she is very bright and keen to learn (not a genius, within the norm), I think that maybe a homeschool environment could work for her as she could cover the subjects, and then work on socialisation separately, without the anxiety that attending school seems to produce. My husband (aspie too), is surprisingly happy to consider homeschooling, his own anxiety in the 70s was “treated” with anti-psychotics!. She is also nagging me to home school her… So, I feel very torn, and am reading as much as I can about the pros and cons.
    Anyway, thanks for the post and responses, lots of food for thought.

  46. Stacie
    Stacie says:

    “Once I took my kids out of school, I learned probably the most fundamental thing about education: it’s a joy to be home with the kids all day watching them grow and learn.”

    Yes! This is what I’ve always loved about being a mom and now I feel like I get to keep enjoying it past toddlerhood.

    I also have very little “me time” but connecting with and enjoying my kids is so worth it! I’m sure I’ll leave more of a balance over time but just 5 months since I pulled my kids out if school and I’m still SO glad we made that move.

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