Homeschool Reflections Call Out

If you have ever been a homeschooler, I want your story.

Any discussion of homeschooling seems to become extremely polarized* almost inevitably. When I was a child, I only ever heard good things about homeschooling – and my parents and the other parents around them would not consider that there could be any downsides or drawbacks to homeschooling. At the same time, there are also those who are opposed to homeschooling who refuse to consider that there could be any positive aspects to homeschooling either. This sort of polarization isn’t good, and it doesn’t make for a healthy discussion.

I would like to cut through the polarization and provide some real experiences. If you are now an adult and were homeschooled for any length of time, I invite you to submit your story. If you were – or are – a homeschool parent, I invite you to share your story as well. My only requirement is that your submission be real and honest, and not simply a propaganda piece in a polarization war.

Each submission should be between 500 and 1000 words and should touch on both academics and socialization. Please email me your submissions at lovejoyfeminism (at) gmail (dot) com.

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* I’ll admit it. I have at times contributed to this polarization. I’ve said some pretty harsh things about homeschooling. After questioning so much of how my parents raised me, it’s easy to feel like I should go to the opposite extreme from my parents on issues like this, but that’s too simplistic. Nothing is completely black and white. I’m planning to write a two part series on homeschooling in which I lay out what I see as its pros and its cons. I did have some good experiences being homeschooled, but I also have some serious critiques of homeschooling and I plan to put my own children in public school. More on this later.

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.

  • Caitlin

    I explored advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling quite a bit on a blog I kept during the two years I homeschooled a highschooler. If you are interested, the blog is here: http://badhomeschooler.tumblr.com/

    I cite quite a bit of information that I learned by reading LJF :-)

  • Anonymouse

    Caitlin, are you me?!? I read your blog, and your most current post is exactly what I’m going through; I started homeschooling my child in high school because he needed more academic acceleration than the public school could give, and the private schools near me are religious and definitely not there for academics (to quote one headmaster: “We focus on CHARACTER, not book-learning”). This year my child will graduate with a high school diploma from an accredited online high school *and* an Associate’s from the state college. I’m a reluctant homeschooler, and have found it very difficult to homeschool for academics in a community that homeschools so their children will never have to hear any idea that’s brainwashed into them by the church.

  • Skjaere

    I was home schooled full time in 8th grade, and part time in 9th and 10th. I’d been having problems with bullying at my middle school (both by my peers and by teachers, WTF?!), and when my mother asked me if I wanted to try home schooling, I jumped at the chance. It sounded almost too good to be true. I could choose my own reading lists and projects? Sign me up!

    We were not a terribly religious family by any definition at that point. We attended the Episcopal church a block from our house because it was closest, and I had a lot of friends who went there. Our home school curriculum was not based on conservative politics either. We did things like visiting the local Nation Park and helping them plant seedlings. We went whale watching. I researched my family tree as a history project. We also got together with other home schooling for Latin classes (our parents let us choose what language we wanted to take, and that was it), and they all fell more into the hippie home schooler mold than the religious as well.

    I was lucky to have two educated parents, and a mother who was able to stay home and teach my sister and me. My dad was a math and science teacher at the local high school, and my mother had majored in English, so we have most of our major bases covered right there. I also took some correspondence courses through the University of Nebraska, did a year a our local community college through the Running Start programme, and then went to the high school full time my senior year. My transcript was a confusing mish-mash by then, and it was pretty much impossible to calculate my GPA, but I did well on the SAT and was accepted to some wonderful colleges. I still feel pretty good about my home school experience.

  • Mattie Chatham

    Blahh. My sister should contribute–she and I got flamed on FB by our dad when she started listing off problems with VA’s religious exemption laws. I had the “good” experience with homeschooling, because I was the first, because I’m a self-starter, and because I like reading. She, however, got seriously neglected.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Encourage her to participate!

      And I think as you point out that one thing people forget is how much the experience varies. I just read an article elsewhere insisting that homeschoolers are all academic overachiever, are never socially isolated, etc. And all I could think was, I know homeschoolers who were failed academically, and I know homeschoolers who were socially isolated. Would I say that all homeschoolers are failed academically and socially isolated? No! But unless an article like the one I was reading can admit that this does happne, I absolutely can’t take it seriously. Every kid is different. Every parent is different. My goodness, parents even change over time, or have different loads of work at different times!

      • CLDG

        That happened within my own family – #1 (me) and #2 only homeschooled here and there and did next to nothing at those times because my parents’ life was in turmoil at the time, but succeeded in Christian schools. Later when they were homeschooling exclusively, one younger sibling took charge of her own program and excelled while another drifted, and that happened to varying degrees with the others, though I was out of the family by then so I didn’t witness it up close. But we all had the advantage of innate smarts and well-educated parents, frankly.

        I knew some stereotypically awkward homeschoolers, though most seem to be well-socialized within the subculture, but have a harder time interacting out of it. My (currently homeschooling) sister says: “Show me a weird kid and I’ll show you weird parents,” meaning it isn’t the homeschooling that does it, and I guess that’s true, although at least going to school gives a kid a chance to see other ways to be.

  • Anonymouse

    At least in my state, homeschoolers do not have to take any standardized tests. When you read about homeschoolers blowing away the competition in these tests, remember that the only homeschoolers who take these tests are the ones whose parents wanted them to–that is, most likely the ones who are college bound and are being taught academically.

  • Attackfish

    Does it count if you are taught by a teacher at home that is sent by the school district because you were too sick to make it to school? (Not for weeks, mind, for more than a year.)

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Actually, I think yours would make a rather interesting story and perspective!

      • Attackfish

        Sent mine

  • Emily

    I’m in!

  • http://standardspicywhatnot.blogspot.com/ Nome

    This blogger is a young adult artist that was homeschooled… she does not write about it often but I find her very articulate and honest about it when she does. http://gingerhaze.tumblr.com/ I’ve seen both done bad (public.private/home) and both good. It is so true that there is so much variety you can’t say ALL this or ALL that. Although there are so many thing I like about the idea of homeschooling I don’t feel I would be a good homeschool teacher at this point in my life…and I even have a teaching degree. I am open to it depending on how my children do in school. Our local schools are good and the two oldest seem to really enjoy it at this point.

  • Rilian

    I was homeschooled when I was 16, and I wish I had been homeschooled forever. Actually unschooled. Then I started college when I was 17. School serves one interesting function, which is to expose you to topics that might interest you, but school isn’t the only or best way to do that. Once I quit school, I was glad that I could now spend as much or as little time on anything as I wanted. I hated how I didn’t get to keep working on things I liked, because more crap was always coming up. I hate that about college too.

    • http://www.americannaussie.katyannewilson.com Katy-Anne

      The problem with that is that we need to learn to work at things we don’t like.

      • Rilian

        No, we don’t. We only need to do the things we personally feel a need to do. So that might involve doing something I don’t like in itself because it will help me do something else that I do want to do; but that’s my choice, and your choice for you, and no one should force anyone else to “learn” anything, ever.

      • Rilian

        Also, the problem I was expressing was that I didn’t get to spend more time on the things that interested me. I kind of doubt you meant to say that it’s a good thing to not get to investigate something that interests you.

  • Ursula L

    One thing I’ve noticed in homeschooling discussions is that they’re very much focused on whether homeschooling, in the abstract, is better or worse for kids. What I don’t see as much discussion of is whether homeschooling is good for the parent or parents (usually the mother) who is doing the homeschooling. Does the parent enjoy it? Are they good at it? Is there something else that they would be better off doing?

    Even if homeschooling is ideal for a child, and the available parent(s) is technically competent at it, I doubt it is a good choice if it leaves the parent unhappy.

    • http://www.americannaussie.katyannewilson.com Katy-Anne

      I love this Ursula! :)

    • ArachneS

      Thank you for bringing this up!

      Came from a home schooling family, and despite all the questions and urges from family members, I will not home school. I can’t stand it. I have bouts of depression, and even when I don’t, being cooped up at home makes learning frustrating and tiresome for everyone involved.

  • Rae

    I’ve been homeschooled, and had a year of public school, and a very brief private school experience. There were parts I liked, parts I didn’t like, and one major thing that’s still affecting me today, so I’ll definitely send it in!

  • ArachneS

    I’d like to contribute to this one. When would you prefer to have submissions in by? (Just so I have an idea of how to organize my time, I have a toddler and a kindergartner)

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      No specific time. I still have a bunch of purity rings posts, and besides, I’ll publish ones that come in later as they come in – there’s no deadline. :-)

  • Dawn

    Ever think of adding a subset on parents that send their kids to Christian schools? My mom didn’t home school for a number of reasons, one being both of my parents had cancer during my school years, so I was sent to Christian schools instead. I even got switched around roughly every 2 years due to issues with beliefs. My dad was Lutheran, mom was Charismatic/Pentecostal. Oh the fun that ensued .

  • http://www.americannaussie.katyannewilson.com Katy-Anne

    It’s because I was homeschooled that I know it’s a terrible thing to do to a child. :)

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Then write a reflection for me! And you can post it on your blog too!

  • http://Love,Joy,Feminism Northstar

    Ok, sent you mine!


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