Where are the blogs with posts about homeschool drama? How can homeschool be as sunny as it appears on homeschooling blogs? It seems inevitable that these are some under-reported conflicts in homschooling families:

  • Men who think their wives are too scattered to homeschool but are scared to say so.
  • Moms who are insanely bored teaching addition but the kid can’t learn it on his own.
  • Moms who would rather be at the gym than at piano lessons.

Why don’t we hear about personal drama that must accompany such a huge commitment as homeschooling?

Where are the blogs about homeschool angst, turmoil and failure?

Or maybe there is just a general gap in honest writing like that because social media overemphasizes happiness.

This is a guest post by Lisa Nielsen. She is in charge of technology and teacher training for the New York City public schools, and she is the author of  the book Teaching Generation Text. None of the opinions in this post reflect the views, opinions, or endorsement of her employer. 

I’ve been a public school educator for more than a decade, but when parents ask for my advice, I sometimes suggest they leave school. (In fact I published a guide to help teens opt out of school.)

Education reform is happening today, but it’s slow. Parents need to do what is in the best interest of their children, right now.  For some this means working hard with a school to adapt to meet a child’s needs. (I outline a plan for this in Fix the School, Not the Child.)  But many schools are rigid and don’t believe students are entitled to a customized learning experience. It is at this point I suggest parents consider leaving school behind and empowering their children with the freedom to learn what they want in the way that is best for them.

Here are ten reasons why leaving school behind may be the best way for children to find success and happiness.

1. Learning is customized not standardized

  • In school learning in standardized to what someone else says is best.
  • At home learning is customized to what the child and parent feel is best.

2. Associate with those you enjoy rather than those who share your birth year

3. Freedom to learn with their tools

  • In school students are often banned from using they tools they love to learn with — such as a cell phone.
  • At home children can learn with the tools they choose.  For many children technology open doors that schools slam shut.

4. Socialize with those who share your passions not just your zip code

  • In school students have little opportunity to socialize and even when they do it is generally confined to those with whom they’ve been grouped with by year and geography.
  • At home children have the opportunity to socialize and make global connections with others of any age who share their talents, passions, and interests.

5. Do work you value

6. Don’t just read about doing stuff.  Do it!

  • In school students are forced to sit at desks all day reading and answering questions about stuff other people do.
  • At home children don’t need to spend their time reading and writing about what other people do.  They can go do stuff.

7. Travel when you want

  • In school they tell you when to go on vacation and families hop off to crowded destinations together.
  • At home families can decide when travelling works best for them and also get better rates.

8. You are more than a number

9. Real life measures are better than bubble tests

  • In school we measure students success with bubble tests and response to prompts.
  • At home we measure success by what children accomplish that matters to them.  Some teens like Leah Miller have developed their own personal success plan (see hers here).  She sets her goals and then assesses her success in meeting them.

10. Independence is valued over dependence

  • In school students are dependent on others to tell them what to do and when.  They spend their time as compliant workers and are discouraged from questioning authority.
  • At home children are encouraged to explore, discover, and develop their own passions and talents and given the freedom to work deeply in these areas. They know how to learn independently because they are interested, not because they are told to do something.

I am passionate about helping children learn innovatively.  Home education is a great option to consider for many parents.  For more ideas about learning innovatively you can visit The Innovative Educator blog.

While cleaning out my youngest son’s clothing drawers,  I found a shirt he got last year in kindergarten. On the front it says, “I love school.”

I put the shirt in the throw-out pile.

When I asked my son what he thinks about staying home with me instead of going to school, I expected him to say something like, “What would we do?” or “Could I play my DS all day?” but instead he said, “Miss first grade? I can’t miss first grade. Everyone is going to first grade. That’s why I had graduation!”

School indoctrinates kids that school is good. It’s like any organized religion. It’s just that the federal testing guidelines are god.

What if all the parents who are telling me to homeschool are actually more uninspired teachers than the uninspired schools they are supposedly rejecting? Bruno Bettleheim told millions of parents how to raise their kids all while he himself was a child abuser. There is no watchdog when it comes to homeschoolers. There is only the cacophany of parents dissing the schools for failing to reach goals the parents may or may not reach themselves.

My friend Lisa Nielsen just put a post on her blog full of resources directed at me: a to do list to start homeschooling. Except she calls it home education. She says I should use that word on my blog but not in the titles, because homeschooling is better SEO. It comforts me that she shows this practicality in the midst of presenting material for the homeschooling idealist.

I scrolled through the list and I can tell there is no way I’m going to avoid reading everything on it. I compulsively read everything when I teach myself something totally new.

I have a son who shows aptitude for programming but I need to learn more to show him more. And, can I teach my kids history by doing it through literature? And have you read this book, Molly Bannaky? It’s lovely, and my boys asked questions about the slave in the book for a week. I cried when I read it. Maybe I had PMS but I think I would have cried anyway.

So I have to read Lisa’s list. And it’s a test, really. Because if I really believe in lifelong learning, and I really believe in self-directed learning, then I believe I can do this. I can become an expert on educational theories. I have to be. How else can I reject them?