Worthwhile Reads: Homeschool Neglect

There’s an Alternet article by Kristin Rawls called “Who’s Minding the Children? Educational Neglect and the Homeschool Movement.” It’s worth a look.

Interestingly, Rawls differentiates between “educational neglect” and an “overly politicized education with huge gaps, for example, in American history, evolution or sexuality.” While the former doesn’t describe my homeschool experience at all, the latter fits it to a T.

A Letter from Jesus and Living in Fear
The Latest Threat to Homeschooling---a Citizenship Test
Homeschooling Parents Dismiss Alumni Voices Again
HSLDA on those "Radically Atheistic" Public Schools
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • anotherone

    My story parallels many of those told in that article. My parents had too many kids and too few resources to properly educate us. I loved to read, so I got a decent self-education in the humanities, but science was non-existent, and we got very little math education. Everything I did after 4th or 5th grade was on my own, fit in between hours of exhausting childcare, cooking, and housework.

    The typical pattern for many of the years I was in school was that my mom would cobble together various used textbooks and used workbooks from whatever sources were cheapest, and they would always come in late. What can I say, she was exhausted, depressed, dirt poor, and had tons of kids; ordering school books fell pretty far down on the priority list. When they came in October or November she’d give them to us older kids and tell us to do them. She’d check back in January or so and have a two-hour scream fest over us not being where we were supposed to be, and then we’d slip back into the pattern of not really doing school. To her credit, she did work with each of us when we were young to teach us to read well. My dad was uninvolved.

    On the bright side, my parents’ being overwhelmed meant that they couldn’t/didn’t supervise my reading habits very much, so I read tons of stuff that gave me a broader view of the world. My younger siblings fared better in the sense that my parents had more time to educate them once the endless stream of babies tapered off, but that also gave my parents much more time to be thought police.

  • anotherone

    To be fair, I know a bunch of homeschooling families whose children have gotten stellar educations, even when factoring parental bias. Concern about academics is pretty far down my list of problems with homeschooling, and like the guy said in the article, the statistics simply aren’t there to broadly criticize homeschooling based on academics.

  • AztecQueen2000

    Two points of irony here:
    1. I’m homeschooling my kids to ensure that they do get a broad base of American history, evolution and sexuality. The only alternative would be sending them to a religious girls’ school where most of the teachers have a year of post-high-school education at the most and are killing time until they get married. Or, they’re working off their own kids’ tuition bills. (I once had a twelve-year-old visit my house. She opted for Beginner Books –Dr. Seuss–rather than more age-appropriate fare).
    2. I dropped out at 16 to homeschool myself. In college, I became a remedial writing tutor. None of my students had been homeschooled. Fully one-quarter had been placed in remedial writing after taking Advanced Placement English! (I later went on to graduate with a 3.78 GPA and break a 2000 on the GRE–at the ripe old age of 19.)

  • seditiosus

    As far as I’m concerned, an “overly politicized education with huge gaps, for example, in American history, evolution or sexuality” IS educational neglect. This is an issue I have strong feelings about, because depriving children of education means depriving them of a future.

  • Cynthia

    “Kids have rights too, and one of them is the right to an education appropriate to their age and ability.”

    Inarguable, but my question is who decides what is appropriate to their age and ability? The state? The feds? The education ‘complex’? There isn’t a clear consensus on what education is appropriate, as she seems to think there is. And there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that works. So who decides what is right for a specific child?

    We’ve been talking about a national standard for years now. All we’ve gotten out of it is more testing. At one point, my children were taking three standardized tests each year. That’s 1 week for the test and almost a complete semester to prepare for it. So, I have kids who fill in the bubble really well. (I’ll disclose here that they all test really well, too. They get great scores.)

    At one point, my oldest developed some issues that meant he could no longer attend school. We started homebound, went private and ended up in homeschool. We don’t use any specific cirriculum, we mix in lots of things and I play to his strengths. That means in math, he’s behind, but in language, he far exceeds his peers. So, who decides where he is inappropriate? Or wrong?

    I agree that some/many people who claim to be homeschooling are not. I have no firm figures on this. And I also agree that many homeschooling parents are worried about govt intruding into what they see as personal decisions. If it was 6 months ago, I would have said those parents were being paranoid.

    However, in a world where AZ is considering a bill to force women to tell their employers what birth control they use (so the employer doesn’t have to pay for sinful behavior), where an anti abortion fool is running well for the pres nomination and where we are once again calling women sluts for having sex, I can’t really say they are unreasonable.

    So, I agree with Ms. Rawls that we need to enforce the rules we have now. And if you can get states to do that, I think you will find that the problem is the evanglical christians, who seem to think returning to the 1800′s would be of great benefit to all people (and by that I mean males). That is where the problem originates.

    Please forgive the length of this reponse. I guess you hit a nerve!

  • ArachneS

    My family had both the neglect and the highly politicized education with gaps, if you can imagine it. When we were homeschooled in the younger years we were given a bunch of books and lesson plans and expected to get them done on our own. The curriculum was very conservative. My parents would do the same as anotherones’…. finally ask about how school work was going well into the school year and then yell at us for not keeping on it.

    They did put us in a strict catholic school when I was in 1st grade, 3rd grade, and when I went to 7th and 8th grade. In both 1st and 3rd grade mom pulled us out before the end of the school year because they clashed with the politics of the school. In 7th grade I had to go back a grade because I had not learned enough in home school. I was still behind the other kids even after I was held back and struggled to catch up the first couple months of 7th grade. My parents were pretty uninvolved by then.

    After those two years, mom pulled us out again(there were only 3 of us left in school by then) and we went back to homeschooling for good which ended up being no school at all. When I was 17 I enrolled myself in an English and Math class at the community college nearby as a “dual enrolled” student. After that I got my GED, there was no other way to graduate.

    Whenever I hear home schooling extolled by others as something “anyone can do” I can’t help but contradict them. My parents should have never home schooled. And even when it was abundantly clear that it had not worked out for us kids education-wise, my parents did not give up the idea. Because they didn’t home school us to give a better education, they did it to keep us from getting what they considered the “wrong” kind of education.

  • Mattir

    I homeschool my kids, and I’m sure they have gaps in their education. Dyslexic son has the most attrocious (but fonetical and thus understandable) spelling on the planet, and they’re catching up on math at the moment after we’ve struggled with a variety of math curricula – Khan Academy and recommendations for math blogs from the Pharyngula Horde have captured their imagination. On the other hand, they understand what logical fallacies are, have accurate sex education, have a fantastic grasp of US and world history, and have a pretty good foundation in the sciences. They’re both well read, although Dyslexic Son has gotten that way through books on tape. So sure, I’m defensive about homeschooling. No reasonable parent should ever be anything but concerned about whether their kid is receiving an adequate education.

    On the other hand, I also work as a professional nature educator, so I see loads of public and private school kids and am under no illusions about what official educational institutions are delivering. I routinely get “god did it” as an answer to why animals might have protective coloration, I’ve even had kids text their parents to get them picked up from camp because I was talking about evolution. I have a coworker, also a professional naturalist, who went through 13 years of public school in a fairly affluent DC suburb, has a BS in wildlife biology from a well-respected public university, and believes the world is 6000 years old and that there is no common ancestor for penguins and pandas. Religious memes are astonishingly persistent if they can resist that much real education.

    I’m sure homeschooling fails many kids, but I’m not sure that the conventional education system fails a smaller percentage of its students, and more official oversight probably wouldn’t solve the problem, since the problem results partly from serious cultural problems having to do with how we privilege religion. In my state, religious private schools are exempt from *any* curriculum content requirements!) and with how the individuals doing the oversight understand education (a reviewer once told me she didn’t think we’d found marine fossils in West Virginia because “it’s too far from the ocean” and then insisted that I had to show workbooks for my kids’ language arts class instead of just writing samples and a 50-book reading list including Orwell, Pinker and Dawkins. I’m sure if I’d walked in with a bunch of A-Beka workbooks, I’d have sailed through the review…

    • anotherone

      “I’m sure homeschooling fails many kids, but I’m not sure that the conventional education system fails a smaller percentage of its students, and more official oversight probably wouldn’t solve the problem, since the problem results partly from serious cultural problems having to do with how we privilege religion.”


      I had a terrible homeschooling experience and it would take the most extreme, apocalyptic scenario to make me consider homeschooling my kids. My kids are all in public school, and I’m a big supporter of public education.

      Nonetheless, I agree completely with the above, except in addition to “how we privilege religion” I would add “how we value education,” and “how we deal with issues of poverty.”

      I was an academically neglected homeschooler, but every week I go to my kids’ school and volunteer during reading time, and it’s patently obvious that a quarter to a third of the children in my younger child’s class are very behind reasonable levels in reading (I’m guessing math and science too, but I don’t volunteer for that, so I don’t have first hand experience). It’s not really the teacher’s fault–she’s dedicated and talented, and many of the children, including my own, are receiving a good education. But the other children are crippled by broader life circumstances that do not equip them to take advantage of the educational opportunities present at school. It has little to do with religion, and a lot to do with poverty and deeply problematic cultural systems.

      Academic neglect certainly isn’t unique to homeschoolers–it’s pervasive across our society. And there are all kinds of cultural systems that entrap children. Sadly, some of them are worse than the fundamentalist Christian patriarchy that I grew up in, even if my loathing for that particular subculture sometimes makes me not want to admit it.

  • Darlene

    I homeschool, my teen is currently a sophomore. He read On The Origin of Species after watching the Dover trial, because he asked for the book and wanted to understand evolution as completely as possible, and so started at the beginning, ending with Coyne’s WEIT. That was 8th grade.

    He can’t, however, do well on a reading comp test. He had vision problems when young and still in public school–problems the school didn’t notice, didn’t test for, and didn’t accommodate. They stuck him in remedial classes, made him feel like a failure, and almost destroyed his love of books. When I pulled him out in 4th grade, he didn’t have to read a single thing for months. I read aloud to him, we had his vision issues corrected, and he reads adult books with excellent understanding. He hates those reading comp tests though. So that oversight–it would completely miss who he is. It would ignore that his math scores are 5+ years ahead; that he weekly helps out at our local elementary school helping 2nd graders boost their reading skills; that he has a strong sense of justice; that he finds racism abhorrent and sexism almost incomprehensible and considers himself a Pastafarian. It doesn’t test for compassion, or knowing how to budget money, plan a weekly menu, shop smartly, cook a complete and nutritious lunch and dinner–and that he’s been expertly using the big kitchen knives since he was 9.

    They don’t test for his ownership over his own education, his enjoyment of learning new things, the way something new catches his interest until he has to explore it. It doesn’t show that he hangs with adults and has meaningful conversations with them, that our adult friend’s enjoy him and enjoy talking to him. That he is responsible and level-headed enough that our friend’s asked him to babysit their kids. That he started his own business at 9 (Poop Patrol: I’ll take crap from anyone!) and made flyers and went door-to-door in the neighborhood.

    Oversight will see that he is an awful speller and a not-great test taker who thinks reading comp passages are boring and ask the wrong questions. Oversight won’t see that, even though he’s not perfect, he’d have been destroyed in public school–he had no self-respect when he was there, he’d been made fun of so much he had no friends and didn’t trust new kids to be nice to him. Educational neglect? Yes, when he was in public school. Both of them, because we switched hoping for better outcomes that never came. Educational neglect? Half of public school graduates require some remedial classes before college–those are vastly larger numbers than the small subgroup of úber-religious fundamentalists. Who could just start a private school and put their kids in there and still avoid oversight. But, yes, penalize those parents who do care about their child’s education, and care enough to often give up a second income and free school, who give up things so they can buy books and computers and software to fully educate their child based on individual needs, individual learning styles.

    I volunteer with gifted kids, and so many parents Homeschool because the gifted kid gets ignored. Schools think they’ll be fine doing the same boring thing over and over, and the kid tunes out. I actually know someone who was arrested because her 1st grader got ahead in his math book after the teacher asked the mother to “stop him from learning so fast because it makes it harder to teach the class”. The teacher swore out a warrant for endangering the welfare of a child and this mother was handcuffed and brought to jail. The judge threw the whole thing out…but still. That’s the teacher who I should trust more than myself? Gifted kids are routinely ignored and pushed aside. I’ve sat in IEP meetings with principals who say that advancing a gifted child with an IQ over 130 would–are you ready?–hurt the feelings of the other children in the classroom. Educational neglect?

    Look, all education has gaps. There is no way to learn everything about everything to a depth that eliminates every gap. And since you can easily pass a test and promptly forget everything you learned in class once it stops being relevant, I’m not sure doing well in a class actually means something significant. I passed three years of Spanish without remembering a thing, but technically I didn’t have gaps? That’s more neglectful in my view; and it was a waste of time and resources–both the school’s and mine. But that is somehow the system homeschoolers are supposed to be like, instead of finding meaning and relevance and creating learning around that.

    Someone asked me what I wanted my kid to be when he grew up, and I answered “I want him to be healthy and happy; to have a career he can be passionate about and provides enough money to meet his needs and some of his wants; to have hobbies that keep him engaged in things slightly outside his comfort zone; and to find love with the person(s) of his choice and have children and family (as he defines it) if he so desires.”

    There is no oversight in the world that tests for that…

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    I was about to write a long-winded “essay” about how it was good that I got homeschooled for some reasons, and bad for others, but looking back at my years of homeschooling and seriously thinking about it… no, it was bad.

    Yes, being able to be challenged was a good thing, but I simply was not. I had shitty science lessons (under the auspices of Creation Science) with no physics, chemistry, or decent biology. I never got decent math or english lessons. About the only good thing was history, and that was because my father (a published military historian) was doing the lessons.

    I’m smart, but I think if I had been public schooled, I may have been smarter… or dead. I was relentlessly bullied, and there’s the chance I would’ve been so tortured I would’ve killed myself. I guess that’s the kind of thing my mother had to think about when she pulled me out of school.

  • Rilian

    The latter fits government school to a T, too.

  • Mattir

    I think one of the things homeschooling does best is teach people to value education. So for those of you with gaps in your education, I offer the Mattir Family Homeschool motto:

    If you’re not learning, you’re probably dead.

    If you feel like your education in literature, science, math, art history, music, or typing skills was lacking, procure a good intro-level college textbooks on the topic and have at it. I see so many kids in my work as a naturalist who have checked out of education by the time they’re nine or ten years old, and it’s appallingly sad. It’s made me add some corrective philosophy to my summer camp programs – I talk about the above motto and tell the kids that learning is, bar none, the single most pleasurable thing that humans do, and slide some decent modeling of curiosity and “I don’t know, let’s find out” into my discussions with the kids.

    I never read Crime and Punishment in school, or had a grasp of the elegance of arithmetic patterns, or knew anything at all about art history. I didn’t learn to yodel. I didn’t know much about geology or paleontology. I’ve learned about all of these things in the last 10 years.

    Sometimes I think that homeschooling is inherently subversive of the authoritarian message parents are trying to convey by homeschooling. You’re teaching kids, in extreme violation of societal norms, that they can learn without formal schools. Even if you don’t teach them about evolution or the history of the nude in art, or whatever, you are teaching them that societal norms can and should be challenged, and it’s impossible to prevent people from extending this to the norms of the evangelical world – I certainly know plenty of adults who were homeschooled (including you, Katherine!) who seem to have acquired fantastic insight into the power of cultural norms and the ability of the individual to resist them.

    Also, for the record, there are plenty of people who should not homeschool their kids, but generally the issue is the quality of the parent-child relationship, NOT the educational program per se. My parents homeschooled my younger brother, and he’s never recovered. I recently reamed out an older neighbor who said she thought about reporting my parents for neglect and “felt terrible” about what was done to him – I did not make said neighbor feel any better about her nagging guilt. But I homeschool my kids, in the same physical location, even, and my kids are completely different from my brother – happy, curious, not beaten or neglected or (I suspect) molested by neighbors, able to go to Reason Rally or Skepticon and hold their own, arm wrestle with JT Eberhard in a bar late at night, talk with PZ Myers without babbling, ask interesting questions, and generally thrive. The difference is that I’ve done a boatload of work on learning to be a good parent and a sane adult, and I view homeschooling as a job rather than something that just happens.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      While this is all true, I just want to point out that this same love for learning and life as a constant education can take place even if a kid is in public school. I really think that in some ways it’s the parents that make the difference rather than the mode of education – if the parents make learning an all-the-time thing and value education, the kid will get a good education and grow up to be intellectually curious. If the parents don’t place any value on education or put anything into it, whatever method of education they use the child will do less well. I plan to public school my children because I want them to have the socialization I never got, but I certainly don’t plan to leave their education completely up to the teachers and not enrich it and encourage their studies.

      • Mattir

        Libby Anne, I greatly respect your opinion, but as a parent, non-practicing child psychologist, and nature educator, I think you may be quite horrified by the nature of the socialization offered by public (or private, for that matter) schools and the extreme difficulty of countering the “education is imposed from outside and to be resisted” message that can seep through.

        Every family is different, and homeschooling is definitely not for everyone. But I am astonished at how I, as a fairly far left, atheist feminist Jew, find myself in some agreement with some of the evangelical homeschoolers I run into about the problems with youth culture in our society and how the education system feeds those problems. We disagree about the solution to those problems and just about everything else, but we see the same problems.

      • http://freethoughtblogs.com/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I have no problem agreeing to disagree. It’s just that I’ve met too many people who WERE well served by the public school system, who are well-rounded, sociable, intelligent adults engaging in life-long learning and only have good things to say of their public school experiences, to be “horrified by the nature of socialization” or be afraid of the difficulty of countering the “education comes from above” message. My kids aren’t school aged yet, so I suppose only time will tell what experiences they have in school. And again, I was myself homeschooled and involved in co-ops and activities and enrichment things, etc, so it’s not like I don’t know that homeschooling can “work” or produce intellectually curious children. I just know that after weighing the pros and cons that I see to homeschooling and the pros and cons to public schooling, my plan is to put my children in public school.

        I think our disagreement may in part stem from the fact that different people have different priorities, and assign different levels of value to things.

      • Mattir

        Obviously it greatly depends on the kid you have and the schools you have access to. Sort of like everything else in life…

      • Beth

        I cringe when people talk about socialization as an objection to homeschooling. Schools are not designed to socialize children; it’s not even a stated goal or purpose of schools. The social structure of schools is unlike that of all other institutions in our society, with prisons being the closest facsimile.

        Paraphrasing, John Holt, founder of the unschooling movement, if there were no other reason to remove a child from school, the socialization they receive there would be reason enough to do so.

  • anotherone

    Mattir, I think you’re right about there being a subversive aspect to homeschooling that can have positive effects on the psyche (to the dismay of authoritarian parents whose children decide to subvert culture in other ways). In college I found myself very attracted to the punk rock/hard core scene. In retrospect I believe I was attracted to it in part because going against the grain of societal norms was an integral part of punk subculture, just as it was a feature of my homeschooling life. Of course, my parents were beyond appalled. *That* wasn’t the kind of against-the-grain thinking they were trying to promote. ;)

    • Rosa

      Families can do subversive stuff and value noncomformity regardless of schooling choice – the difference is, a kid who has a family and a school has two chances at a positive experience. A kid who only has their family only has one chance. You can have good or bad school experiences, and good or bad family experiences, but the kid who is homeschooled by parents who don’t value their individuality and education has no place to go that might.

      • anotherone

        Very true. I completely agree.

  • Tracey

    Darlene writes:”Gifted kids are routinely ignored and pushed aside. I’ve sat in IEP meetings with principals who say that advancing a gifted child with an IQ over 130 would–are you ready?–hurt the feelings of the other children in the classroom. Educational neglect?”

    That was exactly our problem. The principal actually said to me, “Your child *aces* the standardized testing, *what more do you WANT?!?*”. How about a child with a fair and appropriate education? If my child was learning-disabled, the school would be tripping over itself to supply extra services and a one-on-one aide to pass the No Child Left Untested tests…but because my child is capable, he’s doomed to boredom?

    Our local community college has been very open to homeschoolers, so my child splits time between college-level Calculus and Physics classes at the CC and online, accredited private high school. Is that an option for you? My child does fine with online “read these books and write an essay” classes, but prefers lab and other hands-on classes at a brick-and-mortar school with a fully-stocked lab.

    • mae

      that sounds like a great thing with your community college. I’m also torn about how I’m going to educate my child through high school (I currently have them in public schools but they’re in elementary school right now). I don’t believe most high schools in our country are doing a great job-and I think the environments can become abusive and unnecesarily controlling of the children who are just becoming adults, but I think community colleges are an excellent resource that are often overlooked by good parents who want to provide a good education for their children. I think the college environment is far more healthy mentally and conducive to learning than any high school that I’ve either attended or heard about from my friends.

    • kisekileia

      Good for you! I had a decent high school education because my public school offered the International Baccalaureate program, but even in public school gifted classes, my elementary and middle school experiences were full of frustration, bullying, and feeling incredibly constrained by the lack of challenging curriculum. Also, I was a twice-exceptional kid, with disabilities as well as giftedness, and the school system didn’t deal with the disabilities at all. I’m not sure how homeschooling would have worked out for me–my mother was really bad at dealing with my ADHD and is unwilling to accept the ideas that would let her get better at it, and that would have been even more of a problem with homeschooling–but I think it’s the best option for a lot of gifted and disabled kids. I do think that, in spite of the issues with my mother, there were a couple of years when I should have been pulled out of public school due to the lack of an appropriate educational placement for me and due to bullying. I still wish I had had the chance to do a radically accelerated curriculum like I should have been able to.

  • Tracey

    P.S. in contrast to the snark about “government schools”; a factor in my choice to homeschool is that the public schools in my area have become full-time “Jesus camp” because of some activist fundy parents.

  • Mattir

    For anyone interested in adopting a homeschooler attitude while using conventional schools for one’s kids, I offer these suggestions:

    The Learning Coach Approach, by Linda Dobson (no relation, AFAIK, to *that* Dobson)

    Carschooling – things one can do to make all the horrid driving time way more productive and fun

    Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas (or enrichment ideas, whatever)

    Guerrilla Learning – subtitled “How to Give Your Kids A Real Education With or Without School

  • Audacity

    My husband home schooled our three daughters as a stay-at-home dad. It is extremely difficult to do this if you are not religious as most of the home school groups and curricula (in our experience) are based around conservative Christian beliefs. My husband, as a non-theist, found this limiting but got very creative in putting together a curriculum for our children. Our reasons for schooling our children ourselves were based our children’s individual educational needs and the overall flexibility we desired with regard to our schedules. We had found we were spending additional time on lessons after school and throughout the summer so we decided to do it ourselves.

    I had a very good career that provided for all our financial needs but I realize not every parent is in this situation. We were fortunate to have a choice. Even with plenty of financial and educational resources, I was painfully aware of the stigma under which we lived since we were assumed to be either religious zealots or extremists of some sort. We were neither and it was a lonely place at times.

    Even though my children pass mandated state assessment tests, there were things we missed. Home schooling, like public school, provides no guarantee that children will be successful. It is simply another option. One of my children decided to go to public HS to get her diploma, one sought her GED and the youngest is in an online HS currently.

  • http://www.ringaroundthephonics.com/ educator

    Statistics show that home schooled children out perform public school children on the ACT, and in college. So the facts indicate that home school families are doing a better job.

    Why? We use to have the best education in the world. That is when teachers and parents ran the schools. But the more these responsibilities are released to the Federal Government, the worse the system becomes. If we want to do the same thing to the home educated children, just release government regulation lose on them. After all, who cares more about the kids.

    Home School Legal Defense Association Statistics

    Teachers forced To Use Inferior Curriculum

    • Mattir

      Somehow I don’t think HSLDA stats are really going to convince anyone here. They don’t even convince me, and I’ve homeschooled my fantastic Spawns for 10 years now.

    • mae

      the problem with those “statistics” is they’re probably taken on children who have had parents who focused on their education. MANY MANY homeschoolers do not. Including my own parents and my younger brothers.

      My little brother did horrible on the ACT when he took it. My parents don’t UNDERSTAND these tests, my parents don’t UNDERSTAND how to study (well my mom doesn’t, she has a high school degree, my dad has a bachelors but was non-involved in our homeschool education).

      I had a chemistry professor in undergrad who homeschooled his children with his wife. Their FOUR children, WOULD have been a part of those statistics. Their children were those psycho kids who won spelling bees and could probably out-perform most college graduates on a test by the time they were 9. But THOSE kids aren’t a good representative sample of the many MANY children who NEVER take the ACT, and NEVER attempt to go to college.

      I have four cousins who were homeschooled and raised similar to me who never attempted college. Two are “missionaries” now, and the one guy sends out newsletters through YWAM and it initially looked like a 10 year old was writing them because the grammar and sentence structure was so atrocious. He got married, and his newsletters improved ten-fold….. The other one flunked out of college and then went onto ministry. A third got a job that didn’t require a college education. Only 1 out of the 4 just completed a masters degree and excelled in higher education. Two of them NEVER took an ACT. THOSE KIDS and my little brothers will NEVER make it into those collected statistics. Volunteer statistics are NEVER an accurate sample pooling.

  • mae

    I was homeschooled until high school, I’m extremely grateful that I went to a small christian high school for those two years, I think it prepared me better for college. But even the highschool was non-challenging for me, as there were only 13 kids in my class (and we were the “bigger” class at that time) and I realize now they had teachers who were NON-experts in their field teaching subjects they had very limited knowledge in. I got an EXCELLENT science teacher there, and for that I’m very grateful.

    I didn’t graduate however, because my mother was ill, and I missed several months of school my sophmore year while I was at home caring for younger siblings who did not attend school, and essentially running my home, which was my responsibility as the oldest daughter at home.

    I would have went back to the small school, but I was rescued by an older brother who was already in college, he brought me over and had me tested at the local community community college, and helped me with a fafsa and I started college full time at the age of 17 instead.

    My younger siblings were not as fortunate. They were never enrolled in the small Christian school, they “graduate” homeschool with probably less than a sixth grade math education, and were unable to write a decent paper.

    one reason colleges might not see these homeschool products (I saw that in one of the above comments, that as a remedial tutor in college, that person NEVER got homeschoolers) is because they don’t GO TO COLLEGE all the time. My one younger brother overcame his fear of college, and has attended now, going through over a year and a half of remedial math courses. He fared well in English comp after some assistance, and he’s excelling at sociology, phsychology and chemistry. But his math was SORELY neglected by my parents, and my older brother and I have helped him learn how to write a paper. My other younger brother flunked out of college, and now works full time at a fastfood restaurant hoping he can give college another try again sometime in the future.

    I don’t believe non-college educated parents CAN teach high school level math, for one thing, they’ve FORGOTTEN how to do it with not using it for 20 years. If you’re not doing it everyday, you’re not going to be able to teach your child this stuff without taking the time to re-learn it all yourself. And with 9 other kids to take care of in a quiverfull home, it’d be REALLY hard to re-learn it all and it its incredibly time-consuming. MOST people can’t teach themselves that stuff.

    Also, I’d say all my siblings and I have had to struggle with social anxiety, learning how to talk to people as adults! Learning how to be forward, not be shy, and not be AFRAID of the world in general. Its been a long time for me, and my younger brothers are still trying to get over this. Its horrible. My children are already more brave, social and self-confident than me, and I’m happy to see that!

  • Cynthia

    “The difference is that I’ve done a boatload of work on learning to be a good parent and a sane adult, and I view homeschooling as a job rather than something that just happens.”

    THAT, right there, is why some succeed and some fail. You cannot be a good teacher if you do nothing to prepare for it.

    And, in response to Mae’s comment, sometimes you go to 12 yrs of public school and still can’t write a paper or do math well. Just attending and passing doesn’t mean you can do something, it just means you can pass the test. It took me years to be able to do those things and I graduated with good grades from public school.

    Social anxiety didn’t pass me by either. I wish! So, I guess it comes back to working to overcome your shortcomings and finding your strengths. Homeschool works for some, not for others – and not everyone can do it.

    That said, I’m glad to live in a state that doesn’t require me to meet with an overseer. I have resources to tap if needed, but I don’t have to listen to jesus people tell me that fossils are not possible here…

  • Comrade Svilova

    I’m one of those unschoolers who was very passionate about my concerns about “government schools” and found solidarity with many on the religious right regarding resistance to homeschooling legislation, so it’s really interesting to learn how much I didn’t know about how my own experience as a homeschooler/unschooler didn’t necessarily reflect every young person’s experience. Of course, I knew that some of my homeschooling friends were being ridiculously under-served by their religious curricula, but I wasn’t as aware of the problem as I have become from reading your posts.

    I will still probably homeschool/unschool my own children, at least as long as they are interested in following that educational path; however, I’m definitely less averse to regulation of homeschooling. For one thing, regulating homeschoolers similarly to children in public schools could create more solidarity in the general push to make ALL of our children’s educations less test-based. As it stands, public school parents and homeschooling parents who recognize the problems with NCLB and other test-based educational approaches are unable to work in unison towards better conditions for all students.

    Unfortunately, as several comments above noted, many religious parents are working in the public schools to extend religious educational approaches to all children. I can’t help but feel that at the base of this problem is religion, rather than homeschooling. However, since outlawing religion is not an appropriate (or effective) step, more dialogue between homeschooling families and the public schools will hopefully help both homeschooling families and children in the public schools.

  • Red

    There are ways of neglecting kids other than their education.

    My first boyfriend was home schooled and had been part of a big home school co-op for most of his life. He used to describe the different types of parents who choose home schooling, and why they chose it. He said that every home school co-op had “that one family” who had chosen home schooling because they abused or neglected their kids, and knew that teachers in the public school would call DCFS on them.

    That isn’t to say that home schooling is bad. I’ve known many people who had a great experience with it. This is just to say that educational neglect isn’t the *only* thing we should watch out for.