Question 1: Why and when did your parents originally decide to homeschool? Did their reasons for homeschooling change over time?
My family knew nothing about homeschooling until we met the esteemed, Bill Gothard. Then, when Mama fell in love with every word that dripped off his tongue, she viewed his homeschooling program as the only program worth belonging to. Little did I know this would be a huge blessing in my life. I considered it a curse at the time, as you will soon see.
In 1992, Bill Gothard required the board of the Advanced Training Institute to approve families that desired to enter into his homeschooling program. This made sense because, according to his program’s strict standards, their could be no bad apples. Thus, my family received scrutiny from the board due to our horrible evil condition of being seven children with a single mother. Gasp! We were eternally marred by divorce. The board required a bunch of signatures to vouch for us as being good people and worth their time. Then, they required us to get our father’s approval. My dad would have nothing of it. He knew how abusive and horrid Mama was to us and didn’t want her to have complete control of our lives 24/7. The board rejected our application.
I wept. I was twelve.
My mother never attempted again and, instead, wore the badge of a martyr for the cause – whatever cause that was. From that day forward, all the Mama approved “testimonies” we had to recite in front of church people made some mention of how our father stopped us from homeschooling.
I heard the stories so many times as I was growing up, the reasons for my parents’ decision to pull me out of public school halfway through first grade and start to homeschool me. I heard how I cried every day when my mom dropped me off at school. I heard how I was bored in class because I had learned to read at age three, long before going to kindergarten. I heard how my teacher was wasting classroom time on political issues by having the class write a letter about saving some whales. I heard how the teacher hurt my feelings badly by insulting my quiet speaking voice during a presentation. I heard how I had the problem boy as my seatmate because I was the best behaved student. I never thought to question my mom’s narrative; school was certainly a terrible place for me, based on her stories.
As a former elementary school teacher, my mom knew that she could give me a more personalized education than I would get in a classroom of 30 other students. While helping me get ahead academically, she would also be able to protect me from worldly and liberal influences.
Unfortunately, after many years of countering criticism and being surrounded by other like-minded Christian homeschoolers, my mom lost the ability to objectively evaluate whether homeschooling was still working for our family. By then, our identity as homeschoolers was inseparable from our spiritual, political, and family identity; failure was not an option.
My parents originally decided to homeschool for purely practical reasons, and they only planned on doing it for a year. But that first year went so well they did another, and another. Meanwhile, they began reading Christian homeschool literature, attending Christian homeschool conferences, etc. By the time I was ten my parents were homeschooling us because they believed that the public schools brainwashed children into “secular humanism” and turned children into unthinking robots, and because they believed, based on Deuteronomy 6, that it was the responsibility of the parents, and not the state or anyone else, to educate their children. Homeschooling had moved from being a practical and temporary option to being a lifestyle.
My parents said that they always wanted to homeschool us kids. I as the oldest have never seen a public school from inside. My Dad was convinced that public schools were filled with sin (sex and drugs) and that they enforced certain “agendas” on the students. It got worse over time, my Dad thinking that all the bad things in America are rooted in the pro-gay pro-choice pro-everything ungodly schools.
As I mentioned before, my parents always planned to homeschool. They felt that they, and no one else, were responsible for their children’s education (referencing Deuteronomy 6:7). Education is inseparable from faith, in their minds, and this was something they believed was a responsibility and a calling from God.
Originally, I remember my Dad talking about choosing homeschooling because he had hated being in school. He had always felt as if he had been held back and had never fit in well with the other kids. My parents saw an article about homeschooling in the newspaper and decided to try it. As time went on there were more reasons, such as protecting us from the disbelief and propaganda in the schools, and keeping us girls safe from unsupervised interactions with men/boys. I remember them talking about how we would waste so much time in school, learning stuff that we would never need for life, whereas if we were at home we could learn about caring for children and cooking and cleaning, all things my mom had felt inexperienced in when she started her family.
My dad had serious problems in school as a kid. He was very intelligent and found the structure of school to be oppressive and a hindrance. When my parents first heard about homeschooling they were very excited to have found an alternative. My dad wanted us to have academic freedom, and my mom wanted us to be safe from the world. Their goals converged over time.
My mother decided to homeschool me because I was terrified of school. I was in kindergarten for three months in a room with an aging, unsympathetic teacher and a bunch of rowdy boys who bullied me. I was a sensitive child, and couldn’t handle it. I had insomnia, horrible nightmares, anxiety attacks, random fits of crying, and was generally miserable. I was also a gifted child who had known how to read for three years and was bored to death by the lessons we were doing. My mother (prudently, I think) decided to take me out of school for a year and let me mature a little bit before being put back in that environment. Then my mother met a fundamentalist and hit it off with her (as I hit it off with her son, Sven) and we were sucked into that family’s church. Once we were part of the Christian Patriarchy movement, my mother’s reasons for homeschooling me changed from getting me a head start academically and letting my social skills catch up to protecting me from worldly influences.
Question 2: Briefly describe your experience being homeschooled, including the amount of interaction you had with other homeschoolers or non-homeschoolers (socialization) and what sorts of textbooks or homeschool program your family used (academics).
Not being homeschooled, I have no experience with it at all. But, we churched exclusively with homeschoolers. We never had friends outside of this church and, if we did, were banned from them immediately. Homeschooling was God’s plan for everyone and public school was the evil spawn of Satan’s semi-eternal plan. We socialized with only these homeschoolers and, even though we went to government schools for our whole schooling career, we told everyone we were missionaries there and they believed the lie.
Regarding academics, my mom was very careful in planning our curriculum for each year; she never became overly reliant on one source or publisher. Almost all the materials that she chose were promoting a conservative Christian worldview, such as our history, literature, and science materials from A Beka and Bob Jones. For math, we used Saxon. From my observation, she prepared a much more academic and structured education for us than many other homeschooling families seemed capable of.
In terms of socialization, when I was young, we had regular activities with other local homeschoolers such a weekly park days, monthly roller-skating days, and occasional field trips. We also participated in some community-based activities such as gymnastics. But as I got older, there were fewer homeschooled kids my age, and our participation in outside activities started to decrease.
As I reached my teens, my parents bought into Reb Bradley’s idea that teenage rebellion was a recent American trend due to indulgent parenting and peer pressure. So, for most of my teen years, my main opportunity for social interaction came once a week at church. However, it wasn’t much of an opportunity because I wasn’t allowed to join a youth group at our churches (and later, our homeschooling church Hope Chapel didn’t even allow a youth group to exist). At my high school graduation ceremony, which was attended by hundreds of local homeschooling families, I had only briefly met one of the other 12 graduates before.
I was involved in a number of homeschool groups, though which varied by year. We had a circle of other like-minded homeschool families that we associated with regularly, and that, combined with at least one homeschool co-op a year and also a weekly Bible club, is where we got the majority of our socialization. This meant that literally all of my socialization took place with people who shared my parents’ beliefs, and I was never exposed to people who believed anything different.
As for academics, my mother used a hybrid approach with us, choosing different textbooks for each subject. We did apologia for science, for instance. Our history and science curricula were religious while our math and grammar curricula were not.
From K-8, mom was pretty good at making sure to work with us one-on-one. Especially early on, there were a lot of hands-on activities, and the education I received during my elementary school years was really pretty top-notch. This hands-on and one-on-one approach began to change during the last couple years of this period as we worked more independently, but even then mom made sure to at least supervise our work. Once we reached high school, we studied on our own full time. Mom would give us the textbooks to complete at the beginning of the year, and then we’d give them back at the end of the year. For a few subjects, like languages, we sometimes (though not always) had tutors.
I hated school more than anything. I mean, when I was really small and the others weren’t old enough for school yet (many of them weren’t born yet!), it was nice that my mom would spend so much time with me and it was fun, I enjoyed learning something. But the older I got and the more kids my Mom had to tutor, the less fun I had. My Mom had little time for each individual kid and at some point, I guess it was when I was 12, 13, I felt like it wasn’t so important what I had to study, it was more important to help the smaller ones do their studies. My Mom had some tougher pregnancies as well, which put her out of the picture for weeks and months. Those were the times where I was the one responsible for teaching the others. I basically didn’t do much myself since I also had the house to manage and the smaller kids to look after. It was horrible, trying to keep the toddlers satisfied while cleaning and cooking and at the same time looking after the boys who were just screaming and not concentrating.
At one point, once I turned 14, scientific studies lost their importance. My Dad felt it would do no good to teach a girl too much science. So the kitchen became my classroom and, even though I could already manage a house better than most 20 year olds, my Mom made me her fellow “help-meet.” I tried to get in some more math and that, but I didn’t get far. When I was 16 I realized that I wasn’t going to get any sort of degree anyway. My Dad didn’t want me to take SATs – not that I would’ve passed them anyway – and so I settled on studying the “important” things with some other women we knew – sewing, flower arranging. I also read a lot of the P/QF books that were coming out – the Ludy books, Harris, Pride, Pearl and so on. My Dad was torn. At some point, he wanted us to be smarter than kids from public schools and I think that somewhere he hoped I would have finished high school earlier than most people do, but then again, he took pride in the fact that his daughters were so “biblical.” I never quite understood what he wanted us to do.
We didn’t have much contact with other homeschoolers. We went to conventions where we met mostly other Christian homeschoolers, but never many who lived close enough to actually have vivid contact with them. Having friends wasn’t as important anyway, your siblings were supposed to be your best friends.
Since my mother was such a great fan of Mary Pride, Pride’s books on homeschooling were her major resource on how to structure the classes as well as which textbooks to use. We tried out different curricula and different systems, but online-learning wasn’t our major way of studying. I guess we were just too many kids and had too little money to buy the technical necessities for that.
My dad once said with some disdain that homeschoolers who participated in homeschool co-ops and group classes were “faux-schoolers.” However, we did have some small group classes for extracurriculars and I took French and art from local women who taught classes in their homes. Our family friends were almost always other Christian homeschoolers, and we were fairly well-socialized [albeit primarily within that demographic]. When we took ballet or gymnastics or martial arts, we made friends with the other kids and didn’t seem to have any socialization issues beyond general pop culture ignorance.
Early on we had a consistent schedule each day, I usually did handwriting reading and math, I remember enjoying different school projects we tried. When I was aged 7-9 we periodically attended a homeschool co-op where we participated in an arts and music program, we were also part of a conservative homeschoool girls club called “Keepers at Home” which I enjoyed. As there were more and more children involved, things got less consistent. The older kids were expected to cover much of their work on there own in independent study. We did not have much interaction outside the home when I was in my teens. I don’t remember having a consistent curriculum. My mom tried many different ones, and sometimes we would start and stop different programs in one year.
My parents used a very eclectic curriculum. They used different systems for different subjects. One year, my mom tried out a series that covered all the main subjects in one massive book. That year we read a lot and made fun science projects. I learned a lot that year. But the more kids my mom had, the less involved she became in our school work. By the time I was 11, I was completely responsible for my own education. I would create my own schedules and do my very best to stick to it. Every week or so I would update my mom on how I was doing. It is very hard to be self-motivated when you are so young. Especially while being required to do so much house work. I never really completed any of my goals, and was constantly lagging behind. During my second year of high school we joined a homeschool co-op at our church that met once a week. I probably accomplished more academically in the two years we were involved with co-op than at any other time.
My mother tried out a lot of different curricula with me. We started out using Bob Jones, Abeka, Rod and Staff, and others I can’t remember. I hated all of them. They were boring and their religious message was painfully overt. Eventually we settled on Sonlight, which both of us liked for academic content and for the creativity of their approach. I generally did my school work in the morning, finished up at noon and went outside to play. I saw other children 3-4 times a week at church, homeschool meetups, visits between stay-at-home moms, field trips and days at the park. I’m an introvert, so I never felt like going a day or two without another child around was a hardship. I read for pleasure, did creative writing of my own, and generally entertained myself. When I got to college, I needed remedial math and never went beyond geometry and algebra II. My verbal skills were always off the charts, however, from all of my writing and reading.
Question 3: What do you see as the pros and cons of having been homeschooled? Do you feel that your homeschool experience prepared you well socially? Academically?
Homeschooling is right for some people and very wrong for others. Many people see homeschooling as the opportunity for indoctrination of their children. Others see it as the only path to educating their child, with the child having failed all other alternatives. I like the latter reason for opting for homeschooling. But, the fact is, most people that homeschool do it for strictly religious reasons.
My wife, Kristine sat on a homeschool board for a few years and witnessed the split of the homeschool group in that region of the country. What was the split over? Academics? Nope. Whether or not it was the right thing to require a statement of faith for a family to join the group. The “yea’s” won the day and the detractors had to leave. The detractors were a much smaller group and yet, when anything was to be done academically with tutors or extra classes taught by experts, it was this group that organized it. The “statement of faith” group was simply satisfied to have a sermon with a gym day.
That explains my view of academics in some homeschooling to a ‘t’. On a side note, my wife has gone back to school and has seen that her parents were miserable teachers. Miserable. Her writing competency was at the 6th grade level, as was her math.
For my family, the strength of homeschooling was in having our education tailored to our needs, giving my siblings and me the ability to do some subjects more quickly or slowly as necessary. One weakness, however, was that we didn’t have much internal motivation to perform for a parent rather than a teacher, so we did the minimum required and didn’t get challenged. For my brother and me, our enjoyment of reading gave us very high reading comprehension, so we ended up very well prepared for college classes despite doing most of our schoolwork independently. My sister has a much different personality and learning style, and she struggled much more with the experience of being homeschooled. She began to thrive academically when she was put in Christian school for high school.
Socially, all three of us were at a disadvantage from homeschooling, although my brother had the easiest time because he regularly hung out with other guys in his Christian homeschooling Boy Scout troop. In my case, I had only one friend from age 10-12, and then no friends again until I was 17. In my teens, I was terrified of social interaction to the point of trembling and feeling sick to my stomach, and I often wrote in my journal that I wanted to run away from society and become a hermit. I used to cry myself to sleep at night quite often, occasionally trying to get my mom to notice my tears by sniffing juuuust loud enough for her to hear as she walked by my door. When she came in to ask why I was crying, I would say something like, “I don’t have any friends” or “I don’t know how to talk to people.” In the morning, life would proceed as usual, quiet and empty.
The social effects of homeschooling are with me even today. First, I can still feel significant social anxiety in even the most non-threatening situations. I am particularly at a loss in group settings full of new people. What do I say? When do I say it? Whom do I say it to? How/when do I end a conversation? Even in a circle setting, when it’s my turn to say my name, my blood pressure skyrockets. Second, in the whole world, there is no place and no group of people where I feel like I belong. It’s like I was raised in a different culture, with the distinct difference that I can never go “home” to it. I’m permanently a foreigner; interacting in this foreign culture takes a lot of attention and effort. I’ve tried to catch up on the culture I missed…to watch the movies, to listen to the music, to see pictures of the clothing styles…but it will never mean to me what it means to you. People always use cultural references and nostalgia as a way to build community and connections between people; for me, they create distance and remind me how different I am inside.
Homeschooling did not prepare me well socially at all. I only had experience socializing with other people just like me, and had no idea how to handle myself around those who were different or in large crowds. Furthermore, when I went to college I found that I had a huge cultural disconnect with my peers to the extent that I almost couldn’t understand them. It took a long time for me to adjust, and in some ways I still feel like a cultural outsider.
As for academics, homeschooling served me pretty well. There were some holes in my education – while I read voraciously, I never actually had a literature course, for example – and some miseducation that I had to undo later – much of what I’d been taught about American history and about evolutionary science was wrong – but I nevertheless excelled in college. I think this was because my parents gave me a love of learning, taught me to think critically, and educated me well in the basics. That said, homeschooling has not worked as well for some of my younger siblings. I think that I had the benefit of having a fairly independent and motivated learning style, which allowed homeschooling to work well for me academically. Homeschooling has not served as well for those of my siblings who would do well having the challenge of other students or who really need the presence of an actual teacher.
Well, I do think homeschooling can work if done right, but it just didn’t work for us. Not that my parents were intellectually incapable of teaching us, it’s just that they never used much of a curriculum other than my Dad’s personal opinion. So my big con is that I didn’t actually learn things you need to know in order to get higher education. Academically I wasn’t prepared to live in the ‘real world’ at all. A big part of our girl’s education was “homemaking,” where Mom taught us stuff like knitting and cleaning and cooking and all that stereotypical stuff. We were discouraged from studying things like math and science simply because my Dad believed it would put the wrong ideas into the girl’s minds – going out, getting an education, work, do a man’s job. At some point I think he wanted to keep us dumb so that we wouldn’t even have the chance to think about the situation we’re in. Make sure we do what we’re best at – being homemakers.
I think the social aspect of being home schooled is overrated. I can imagine that you might be just as socially prepared if it’s done right, but then again, coming from the P/QF background, I was in no way socially “normal”. The only people we ever had contact with were other fundamentalist homeschoolers and every family kept to themselves, so there wasn’t much going on. If I was different than I am the aspect of helping my younger siblings with their school would’ve certainly been positive, but then again I was so clueless about the things we had to learn myself that it was a huge fright to explain things to them. It just cost me a lot of energy to get through the day.
For school, we used Sonlight Curriculum, Rod & Staff, Beautiful Feet, Gileskirk, Apologia Science, and Alpha Omega LifePacs. I think I suffered in math due to lack of good teaching, but I was largely prepared for college because I taught myself how to learn on my own and how to manage my time. The point was not to ace the test–the point was to gain an education. And I thrived in college because of this mindset.
While I don’t necessarily endorse the specific curricula my parents chose for me, I feel that I came out with a real passion for learning and a delight in education. A con of this big-family lifestyle and homeschooling was that we didn’t get a lot of one-on-one tutoring unless we were seriously failing a subject. We were all expected to figure out how to follow the textbook and do the work of using it to teach ourselves. Mom was often too busy or tired to give specific attention to questions we had, and dad wasn’t ever available to help with homework unless it was for an intervention. For example: my sophomore year of high school, I read classics all day and drew and painted instead of doing my assigned schoolwork, and my parents found out after I’d “lost” three months of school by doing this. My dad stepped in and gave me a talk about using my time wisely and priorities, and then left the details of fixing this issue up to my mom.
I really loved the early years of getting my schoolwork done in the morning hours and then spending hours outdoors. I feel that homeschooling can give the freedom to explore topics that each child finds interesting. I feel that there are gaps in my education academically — I had very little science and history and no biology or geography. At some point education can be limited by the parent’s limitations. I have also found that many of the things I was taught were inaccurate, such as being told that we never went to the moon, I actually did not hear that there were multiple moon landings until recently, and even then I was sure that was a lie until I looked it up for myself.
Socially I feel like I was very limited, I still have a difficult time make friends today, or maybe more accurately I have a hard time believing that anyone actually wants to be my friend. There are many experiences that I haven’t had, so sometimes conversation can be awkward, because my upbringing was so different.
I am sure homeschooling could work very well if there were only a few children, and if the mother was very organized and had good support. This was not the case in my family. We had little to no structure, and until later, zero social interaction with other people. Homeschooling was a struggle for me, and it still plagues me today. I never made it past remedial arithmetic and am struggling to catch up in college. My reading and writing skills are excellent, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’ve always loved to read and write, so I never found it hard to learn. I think there are situations in which homeschooling could be good, but in my case it was not.
When I was a teenager, I did have serious social anxiety. It coincided with the depression and poor body image I developed after puberty. Since my church didn’t allow me to do anything about my looks (no makeup, no hiding my zits, no filling in my sparse eyebrows, no trimming my hair, no wearing fitted clothes) I was mostly very self-conscious and ashamed of my appearance. I also was the target of a lot of hostility from boys at Christian camps I went to, and the girls thought I was too weird and ignored me.
Now I consider myself 100% normal and confident. I can start up conversations with strangers. I know how to handle myself in a group of my peers, and I’m frequently the one starting up the loud music and cracking open the beer. I think I’m actually pretty fun to be around. I’m comfortable public speaking. This all came about through an excruciating five years of training myself to get over my social anxieties, however. I actually think going to public school would have made it worse, since I would have been faced every day with people I thought were normal and I would have been a serious loser with my baggy denim skirts and frizzy mane. By the time I got to college, I was already transitioning to listening to normal music, wearing tighter clothes, and trimming my hair. By my sophomore year, I was wearing jeans and makeup.
Question 4: Do you perceive of your academic or social abilities differently today than you did when you were being homeschooled?
I had the best of both worlds. I went to public school and had many friends who were home taught. I can relate to both. Had I been homeschooled, I would have thought that everyone who thought differently than me was to be ostracized.
Definitely! As a teen, I put the blame on myself for my lack of social skills, and I felt happy to be safe at home. I believed that kids would probably just pick on me for my Christian faith and my awkwardness if I were at public school. Now, in hindsight, I believe that more continuous socialization starting in my younger years would have prevented my social anxiety and awkwardness from getting so out of hand. Although I likely would have been shy even in public school, at least I would have had a couple friends and learned coping mechanisms for relating to others.
Academically, I realize now that I missed the opportunity to learn critical thinking and respect for different opinions during my youth. All our homeschooling materials presented a consistent Christian worldview, and my family’s opinions were never challenged. As a result, even into my early twenties, I believed that people who didn’t share my worldview were either deceived or in rebellion against God.
Absolutely yes. When I was homeschooled I used to laugh at the socialization question. I thought I was perfectly socialized, no problem whatsoever. It was only later that I realized how wrong I was about that. As for academics, I used to swear by homeschooling as the cause of my academic success until someone pointed out to me that, with my parents’ emphasis on education, I would almost certainly have also excelled if I had been sent to public school. That really made me think, because it was so true. Many of my close friends in college had been sent to public school, but because their parents valued education and were involved, they were academically just as prepared, and often more so, as I was. Academically, I now think what matters more is the parents’ emphasis on education and involvement in their children’s learning, not whether children are home schooled, private schooled, or public schooled.
I considered myself well-prepared for the longest time. When all you’re looking at for your life is being married, raising kids and being a good wife, you don’t need chemistry, you don’t need real friends. You’re not supposed to share private stuff anyway, that leads to gossiping faster than you believe. And after all men want to be the heroes, they want to be admired. A woman smart enough to go to college would just make any man feel stupid, she might question him and that’s something you want to avoid. If he can explain things to her, he’ll feel strong, admired and respected. Yes, I can say I felt like I was going to be a good housewife and I still believe that this was true – I would’ve been well-prepared for that.
Now that I depend on my education to live, I feel every day just how much I don’t know and how much harder things are for me. I will do well in school for weeks and suddenly I’m hit with something that I lack basic knowledge of, and I’ll have to start from scratch to get it. Especially in math, I don’t think I could have even helped my husband with finances if I stayed with my family… Here’s a confession: I can’t calculate. I mean, I couldn’t do the easiest calculations and I’m having major issues even today. A good example would be the multiplications. I still need to use my fingers, and it takes me very long to answer. (And no, I have been tested, I do not have any calculation disorders. I just can’t do it.)
I think I could be “a math person” if I had been adequately equipped in primary school to master the concepts. (Also, in homeschool circles, the gender divide between maths and sciences, and arts and humanities seems to be more pronounced.)
As for social abilities, I find that I am coming around to be more like the person I was before puberty and before I was paralyzed with fear over modesty teachings and gender role mandates. I am more myself and more comfortable socially, as a result.
At the time I felt that homeschooling was superior academically, but I felt that I was not smart enough to capitalize on that. I struggled to stick with my self-taught subjects in high school and though I had many interests I did not get to explore many of them. I felt like this was my fault for not pushing myself harder somehow. Socially, I felt very lonely growing up, but I protested to anyone who would listen that homeschoolers were perfectly socialized! I went to violin lessons after all, and I could interact with other people just fine!
Back then I thought that I was about 100 times smarter than every other kid on the planet. My parents taught us that kids in public schools were being brainwashed, that they were dumb, and that their parents didn’t love them. I treated all “public-schoolers” with disdain and pity. It wasn’t until later that I realized how very wrong I was. Not only were other kids more socially comfortable than I was, they were better at math, and knew facts about history, anatomy, and science that I had never heard. It was shocking and I felt like I had been lied to.
I am much more confident in my intelligence and ability to use my creativity to make meaningful contributions to society. Although it was not homeschooling precisely that undermined my confidence, my church damaged my vision of myself severely. Homeschooling simply made me unaware of my potential. Since I was so depressed in high school, I think that going to public school would have made the problem worse because I would have had bad grades. Homeschooling gave me a very flexible timeframe for my lessons and kept me from giving up on myself. When I got to college and found that I performed well, it blew my mind. I was preoccupied with figuring out the limits of my intelligence, so I pushed myself to the max and graduated summa cum laude. It was amazing to finally realize that I wasn’t stupid or awkward or insignificant.
Question 5: Do you plan to homeschool/are you homeschooling your children? Why or why not? If you do plan to homeschool, in what ways will you/do you do it differently from your parents?
We tried for two years and were miserable failures. Not only did we discover we had no life outside of child rearing and schooling and feeding and changing diapers and blah blah blah, but we discovered that you cannot fit a child into a cookie cutter teaching style. My wife had a very distinct teaching style and it worked admirably on our first daughter and yet failed completely on the next two. We put them in public school and they flourished – all of them. And they have friends now. Friends with different perspectives. And they are living and breathing and…they haven’t sacrificed a baby to the devil yet.
That was a bit of tongue and cheek and yet, not so much. We have been warned that our children will be ruined. At least now, I can blame it on the teachers and wash my hands of all responsibility.
I believe that there are good reasons to homeschool, as long as parents try to compensate for the inherent weaknesses of homeschooling (lack of socialization, too much monitoring and control by parents, difficulty teaching more advanced subjects, etc.). Personally, I will not consider homeschooling unless I feel we have exhausted every other option; if I homeschool, it will be temporary and my children will participate in non-homeschooling activities as much as possible.
I do not plan to homeschool my children. It’s not that I don’t think I could do well by them academically – I know I could – but rather that I want them to have the socialization experience I never had. I want them to learn how to handle playground politics, to have teachers who aren’t me, and to have the opportunity to be involved in band, or soccer, or chess club. I want her to have the chance to be normal that I never had. I plan to be very involved in their education, of course, and were there to be some huge issue, I could see homeschooling temporarily.
I will never homeschool my children. If I stay in Germany I don’t have a choice anyway since homeschooling isn’t an option here. If I go back to the U.S., I just don’t think I would enjoy doing it.
I reserve the right to change my mind on this, but: I tentatively plan to homeschool. My husband has a vision for the possibilities that open up for a thorough and tailored education when a student has more freedom and one-on-one attention. I benefitted from this myself, and am really glad I had the opportunities I had as a homeschooler to study more thoroughly certain things which caught my attention.
That said, I would like to avoid the pitfalls which my family experienced: homeschooling isn’t an identity or a calling–we’ll do it if it’s the best option available. We’ll re-evaluate the decision to homeschool for each child, each year. I also will be very open to co-op classes and collaborative learning opportunities. And finally, I need to be very careful to avoid letting myself get burned out and becoming depressed (like my mom did a time or two). My husband is heartily in favor of this and wants to be really involved in teaching our kids (unlike my dad), and this excites me.
At this point, no. Our oldest child is going to Kindergarten this fall. Both my spouse and I feel that homeschooling puts a huge amount of control into the parent’s hands, we both want more community and input and interaction for our kids. I want my children to have a variety of experiences and idea they encounter. I am still nervous about putting my kids in school, because I have literally no experience in that area, so I wonder how I will be able to help them with any problems they may encounter. I still toy with the idea of taking them all out for a year of traveling someday when they are older.
I do not plan to homeschool my potential future children for a number of reasons. First, I do not plan to be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t leave the house for years of my life, and I know I would lose it if I ever went back to that. I have a lot to offer the world, and I do not plan to closet myself away in the home. Secondly, I want to be a mother to my children. I do not want to taint that relationship by also being their teacher, their supervisor, their principal, and their surrogate friend. I want my children to have a broader frame of reference than just my own. I want them to have other role models and examples besides myself. I also just don’t think I’m cut out to be a teacher.
I would never homeschool a child past elementary school, because I would want my child to have experiences that bind generations together. I want my child to listen to popular music, wear shorts, hang out at the beach, swear and play sports. I want my child to go to prom and graduate in a big pompous ceremony. I want my child to have friends of all genders, races and sexualities. I want my child to have expert teachers.
I would consider homeschooling a very sensitive child for the first year or two, and I would thoroughly check out any school (public or private) that was within reach before enrolling. My child would probably have a more balanced homeschool education than I did, since my partner is into math and science and those are my weak points.
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Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the religious right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving fundamentalist and evangelical religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the problems with the “purity culture,” the intricacies of conservative and religious right politics, and the importance of feminism. Her blog is Love, Joy, Feminism
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce