The modern homeschool movement began in the United States in the late 1970s; today, several million American children are being homeschooled. Parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons – religion, a child with special needs, a desire for a better education – and the outcome is similarly variable – some homeschooled children excel while others fail miserably. In the Homeschool Reflections project, young adults who were homeschooled as children share their stories.
Homeschooling is a very polarized subject. It seems like everything we hear about homeschooling is either overwhelmingly positive – homeschooled children are academically way ahead of their peers! – or overwhelming negative – homeschooled children have huge socialization problems! The Homeschool Reflections project seeks to cut through the propaganda and share actual experiences. Some of these stories are more positive and others are more negative, but all attempt to provide some balance to an often polarized issue.
I have asked the respondents in this series to be analytical and to discuss both the pros and cons of their experiences, but I have not censored what they have written. My posting these stories should not be construed as endorsement the opinions expressed therein. To read more about my views on homeschooling, click here.
If you would like to participate in this project, email me at lovejoyfeminism (at) gmail (dot) com.
I’ve been following your comments on homeschooling with avid interest. As a homeschooling parent, I was most interested — and terrified — by the anger I saw from young adults who had been homeschooled. … In our case, we were reluctant homeschoolers, pushed into it because public school didn’t want to deal with the inconvenience caused by my girls’ potentially lethal peanut allergy.
I am slowly stepping away from the idea that homeschooling is the only way, though I’ll admit it’s still a pretty tough idea for me to shake at times. I am not at all unhappy with how my parents handled my schooling. … However, I can now see from my peers that homeschooling is not the only way to get a good education, and I know that if I were to try it, I would not be my mom. … I can now say with confidence that I think the Vision Forum et. al. people are wrong and that their ideology is ridiculous, and for some reason that’s a pretty sweet victory to me.
I’m rather ambivalent towards homeschooling. On the one hand, so much of the movement as it exists today is dominated by people whose political views I strongly disagree with. On the other, my experience was, on the whole, quite positive, and I think there are enough problems with the American public school system to make homeschooling quite an appealing option for people in this country. Part of the reason homeschooling went rather well for me, I think, is that I was pulled out of school for non-religious reasons.
I was home schooled full time in eighth grade, and part time in ninth and tenth. Up until that time, I had been enrolled in our local public schools, where my dad was a teacher. 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!
I was “homeschooled” (and I’m not sure I am comfortable calling it that) for absolutely non-ideological reasons, and in fact, there was only ever a brief time during my schooling in which I was not enrolled in public school. I was born with a severe immune disease, and along with making me extremely prone to infection, it also causes me to have seizures, narcolepsy, fainting spells, asthma, and circulatory problems, all of which grow worse when my body is run down.
I once shocked my Rhetoric for Writers class, in junior year of college, when I let slip that I was a homeschooled pastor’s kid. A guy sitting near me paid me what I considered the highest compliment: “Wow, I never would’ve guessed. You’re so…normal.” In many ways, I was. I was part of a homeschooling family, but not the stereotype: I wore shorts, my brothers all went to public highschool, and I could hold a conversation just fine, thank you.
My homeschool experience is all at one remove. Several friends were homeschooled, as were some of the girls I worked with in Girl Guides. I have nothing against the idea in general, especially not for the younger grades. I know a lot of people who thrived academically through being homeschooled. I have two worries in general: academically I’m not sure that it’s good for special cases, and the socialization aspect will often be an issue.
“My parents didn’t set out to homeschool. The fluke of my birthdate put me either the youngest or the oldest of my class, and after being the youngest in kindergarten my parents decided to homeschool for a year before first grade. That year went so well that they homeschooled for another, then another, reevaluating each year. … First, I want to point out some social-location factors that positively frame my homeschooling experience.”
“The local Christian school was too expensive, the nearest private school too far away, the public school too depraved, and the Catholic school too, well, Catholic. So when I was six years old and legally required to be enrolled in some kind of formal education, my parents decided to homeschool. Up through about sixth grade or so, this was a good experience. … Junior high school was when my social life died.”
“I was homeschooled in a Christian home from 8th grade on because I was mercilessly teased in 7th grade (tortured is probably not too harsh a word to use on the subject.) It was that period of time where I was just beginning puberty and I was having all kinds of issues with my sexual orientation and gender identity so I’m not really going to get too much into it suffice to serve as backdrop. … It wasn’t until after college that I realized some glaring issues.”
For additional thoughts on homeschooling, see the homeschooling section of the Raised Quiverfull Panel. See also the thoughts on homeschooling offered by each of the individual Raised Quiverfull Project participants.