Career Ruin: Homeschooling

When people tell me they want to stay home with their kids and they can't afford it, I want to yell at them about how when I was trying to write freelance and take care of the kids I had a babysitter refuse to come to the house because we had no food in the house. We had no food in the house because we had no money. I bought food on a day-to-day basis. That was me, affording to stay home with my kids and not work.

I must also admit that I ended up in a mental ward. Maybe from postpartum depression, but probably from the stress of being the sole breadwinner and a stay-at-home mom.

I am having flashbacks. Because I’m homeschooling nowboth boys. I never really believed I'd do this. When I launched my homeschooling blog I actually thought I was just exploring a trend. I thought I'd just write a little about how it's clear to me that there is about to be a homeschooling revolution.

But that's not what happened.

Because then I noticed how the US school system is really just the biggest babysitting institution in the world. My first clue, probably, was that I was dying to have my kids back in school so I could have my life back. What else can I do to get time alone? How else can I do some work? Work is very fun.

I love work. I love how people tell me how great I am when I am right. I love when I sell something and make a lot of money, when I create a great job for someone, when I give great career advice. Work is so rewarding. I get accolades and I get money. It's a toxic combination.

And kids at home without school is just impossible. There is no reward system. There is no announcement that the mom has done a good job. We don't even know what a good job is.

So in the middle of realizing that school is really just a babysitting service, I became militant. I realized that public school is like Social Security. There is no money to do what we are pretending we are aiming to do. We should just grow up and admit that we cannot have effective public schools for everyone. Just like we cannot have Social Security for everyone.

But parents in the middle class can have one parent working and one parent home with their kids.

I feel like I have no choice. Because while I was waiting for the kids to go back to school, I was reading. And, of course, now my homeschool site makes me a magnet for research about school. And the evidence is overwhelming that schools are not meeting the educational needs of children:

I challenge you to read these links and tell me you don't think homeschool would be better for your kids. And this is why I tell myself that I have to make homeschooling work.

Believe me. There is absolutely no evidence that middle class kids from college-educated parents should be sitting in a classroom. Find me some. Really. Put it in the comments. Because if I could have found some, my kids would be in a classroom today.

But you know what? I can't figure out how to get my work done and do homeschool too. I can't figure out: Should I work more to pay for more childcare so I can work more? I know I don't want the pressure of trying to have a big job and be a mom. I want to be a mom and I want to have an interesting job. And, I guess, I want to figure out how much more I have to work in order to pay for somehow getting a break from the kids.

I feel so bad writing that. A break from the kids. But that's what sending kids to school is. Giving the parents a break. So I guess I'm still doing that. I'm still planning to get some sort of break. I'm just not calling it school.

Last week, all I could think of for my break was shopping at Forever 21. And I am hopeful that maybe it counted as homeschooling, too.

 

 

 

Posted in Money, Parenting
531 comments on “Career Ruin: Homeschooling
  1. Nessa says:

    He he-that picture is hysterical. Educational, indeed.

  2. Nessa says:

    He he-that picture is hysterical. Educational, indeed.

  3. Mandi @ Life...Your Way says:

    Our solution to this problem was for my husband to stay-at-home with the kids. I love my work, and he didn’t love his, but homeschooling was non-negotiable for our family.

    So with him taking care of a couple meals a day, the dishes and a lot of the cleaning, plus playing with and helping the kids while I work, I’m able to do both.

    18 months in, and it’s working for us!

  4. Mandi @ Life...Your Way says:

    Our solution to this problem was for my husband to stay-at-home with the kids. I love my work, and he didn’t love his, but homeschooling was non-negotiable for our family.

    So with him taking care of a couple meals a day, the dishes and a lot of the cleaning, plus playing with and helping the kids while I work, I’m able to do both.

    18 months in, and it’s working for us!

  5. Anne says:

    Are any of the leaders you admire public school graduates?   I know plenty who are successful (measured in many ways) who are products of public school.   Human beings are resilient.

    One danger of the homeschooling trend is that it becomes just one more way that some women can hold ourselves to impossibly high standards.   And unlike the way we do this at work, add to this one the pressure of making sure your kid turns out okay without any help.  

    I’d also say that the “middle class” as we once knew it is a currently a pretty difficult juggle for many two income families.   I think that one parent staying home is more realistic for people at the way upper end of middle class, and beyond.

    • Anonymous says:

      Public school does not get the credit for the success of people like me and others.  Just because I endured the boredom and torture doesn’t mean it lead to my success any more than the other abuses I’ve suffered. 

      We shouldn’t send our kids to a place and give ourselves the excuse that humans are resilient.  Some are.  Others end up in mental wards, are victims of suicide ex. 

      • Melissa says:

        Thank you, anonymous. Everyone’s public school experience is different, but you did sum up very well how I feel about it. It seems to work best for small rural towns, and the groups of families who have had generations growing up there, probably some of the town’s founding families.
        A man who won Teacher of the Year (NYC) said he felt putting a bunch of kids that are the same age together socially was not a great system.

    • RotterWrites says:

      Public schools are way more overcrowded and underfunded than they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. At least in my area. I have a toddler now but I’m soon looking at choosing between public schools surrounded by 10 foot fences and with full time staffs of multiple security guards (just as much to keep the kids in as to keep the riff raff out), as well some of the lowest scores and highest percentage of behaviorally challenged students requiring personal attention in the state, or private school I’m not sure we can afford, or homeschooling. Not much of a choice.

      I am a product of public school and I turned out fine. And we are not wealthy by any definition at all. I would much rather work full time than homeschool. But not at my child’s expense. We have to consider all of the factors involved.

      • Anonymous says:

        I challenge your math. Overall US per capita spending on education is up 190% over the last 20 years on an inflation-adjusted basis. I bet this is no different in your community. The US federally-funded education scheme has used more and more money for worse and worse results for decades. Seriously, NYC spends more than $11K/student/year and yet somehow I believe that if someone handed me 25 random 3rd graders and $275K I could get better results.

  6. Stacy says:

    This post is exactly right. The only part that is not mentioned that I am weighing is the “shared experience” benefit of going to school.  Public school in the United States started as a way to bring together an immigrant population with diverse backgrounds and provide the next generation with a common experience.  I think there is still value in that…but maybe not enough.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stacy, first that is not at all why schools were started.  Compulsory schooling was started 1) To keep more people out of the work force 2) To produce compliant workers who were good at sitting in rows and not questioning authority who would help an industrial age society prosper. 

      School does not group children with varied backgrounds.  In school kids are grouped by date of manufacture, with those who share their geography, and are rarely culturally diverse.  If you want to read more on this look up Jonathan Kozol and apartheid education.  You can start with this article http://www.thenation.com/article/overcoming-apartheid

      If you believe there is value in exposing children to others with diverse backgrounds, home education provides terrific opportunity to do just that.  School does not.

      • redrock says:

        you make the invention of schools look like a bog evil conspiracy. What is discussed here in terms of homeschooling is to some degree a luxury problem: middle lass educated parents are and will be in the future the largest group considering and doing home schooling. In many other countries to be able to attend a school is considered a privilege. That does not make all schools great, not by a far cry, but it allowed to educate a large percentage of the population which would never have been possible otherwise. Being able to individualize, or even wish to individualize every aspect of a childs learning is a luxury. 
        And about the art of teaching: you can only teach well a subject you fully comprehend. Good teaching of a subject is not simply achieved by looking at a textbook together. It requires much more in-depth knowledge, and probably not all teachers bring this to the table, but many try and even succeed.

      • redrock says:

        you make the invention of schools look like a bog evil conspiracy. What is discussed here in terms of homeschooling is to some degree a luxury problem: middle lass educated parents are and will be in the future the largest group considering and doing home schooling. In many other countries to be able to attend a school is considered a privilege. That does not make all schools great, not by a far cry, but it allowed to educate a large percentage of the population which would never have been possible otherwise. Being able to individualize, or even wish to individualize every aspect of a childs learning is a luxury. 
        And about the art of teaching: you can only teach well a subject you fully comprehend. Good teaching of a subject is not simply achieved by looking at a textbook together. It requires much more in-depth knowledge, and probably not all teachers bring this to the table, but many try and even succeed.

    • Tingras says:

      Public school was started in colonial times for farmers’ sons to learn the basics of calculation, reading, and writing (during the winter months) so that they could be more successful and the country could grow in prosperity. It was a politically driven social program mostly spearheaded by Benjamin Franklin.

    • Zellie says:

      There are plenty of homeschoolers in college.  They can often spot each other by their enthusiasm for learning and individuality.  They have their own jokes about their shared experience of homeschooling and others’ humorous questions of them.

    • Zellie says:

      There are plenty of homeschoolers in college.  They can often spot each other by their enthusiasm for learning and individuality.  They have their own jokes about their shared experience of homeschooling and others’ humorous questions of them.

  7. Hillary13 says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this. We’re homeschooling. My husband runs a seasonal business and I work from home. It’s beyond crazy, but we’re trying to figure it all out. The ONLY reason I ever want to send the kids to school is for free babysitting.

    But that’s not really a good reason to institutionalize the kids.

    By the way we’re the should be middle class, but now lower class. You know the poor prople with iphones and dark chocolate. Though we’re looking for my career to grow and hubby to stay home and manage the home/homeschool.

  8. Alex Dogliotti says:

    I think what you’re sacrificing by not sending your kids to school (apart from your time and mental health) is standardization. I agree homeschooling could get your kids to be more successful than others – for a number of reasons related to innovation and creativity, however, what are the future costs (cultural, social etc…) of not having your kids adhere to school system standards? Will the benefits be higher than such costs? It’s important because your kids will be the ones to pay.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wait!  Why do we want learning that is standardized rather than customized to a child’s passions, talents, interests and abilities?  Parents who have chosen passion-driven learning over the dumbed down standardization and regurgitation fostered in schools have been thrilled with their adult children who grew up to be creative, entrepreneurial, critical thinkers, writers, movie makers etc. 

      If you want to read about what happens to kids who grew up without school, you can start with some that I’ve compiled here http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/01/profiles-of-adults-who-were-passion.html 

      I have met numerous adults who grew up without traditional schooling and they are grateful that they were not the standardized widgets the system likes to spit out.  These widgets today, btw are graduating college having a difficult time getting jobs because compliance and standardization aren’t the ingredients for success in a post-industrial world. 

      • Susan Hall says:

        I am thrilled with my adult son.  One of the benefits of home-schooling I think is that he wasn’t exposed to the drive to fit in, be part of the ‘in group’, be ‘popular’.  He has an innate ability to interact with and value all people regardless of social status born out of his own strong identity or sense of self.

        I home-schooled beginning after sixth grade using principals from the Sudbury Schools.  ‘Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling’ by New York State teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto was one of the books that convinced me that home-schooling was preferable to public education.  For the person who asked how to teach everything…chemistry, math, etc.  My son wanted to learn about auto mechanics and building a computer from scratch.  For the subjects that I wasn’t proficient in we found a class, a book, an online course, another adult.  He learned a lot hanging out at my local Union Hall for example.  Many community colleges accept home schoolers.  You don’t have to teach everything yourself.  This also resolves the issue of isolation.

        • Anonymous says:

          Susan, that makes a lot of sense.  People unfamiliar with home ed think it means the parents teach everything.  No!  The parent may teach some things, as they do regardless, but the reality is that people can pursue learning if given the freedom to do so.  It could be a formal face-to-face or online class.  It could also be passionate people connecting on doing something of interest.  It could be an apprenticeship and/or working some where.  There are so many options once we think outside of old-school constructs.

          The great thing about home ed kids is that they are free to do and engage with the world rather than being locked in a school building with children who just get to read about such things. 

        • Melissa says:

          Great post, thank you! My kindergartner was crying in bed last night because he’s not “cool”. I’ve been worried that I wouldn’t be able to do enough for him, even though I believe that home schooling or another option would be better than public school for him.

      • Susan Hall says:

        I am thrilled with my adult son.  One of the benefits of home-schooling I think is that he wasn’t exposed to the drive to fit in, be part of the ‘in group’, be ‘popular’.  He has an innate ability to interact with and value all people regardless of social status born out of his own strong identity or sense of self.

        I home-schooled beginning after sixth grade using principals from the Sudbury Schools.  ‘Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling’ by New York State teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto was one of the books that convinced me that home-schooling was preferable to public education.  For the person who asked how to teach everything…chemistry, math, etc.  My son wanted to learn about auto mechanics and building a computer from scratch.  For the subjects that I wasn’t proficient in we found a class, a book, an online course, another adult.  He learned a lot hanging out at my local Union Hall for example.  Many community colleges accept home schoolers.  You don’t have to teach everything yourself.  This also resolves the issue of isolation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wait!  Why do we want learning that is standardized rather than customized to a child’s passions, talents, interests and abilities?  Parents who have chosen passion-driven learning over the dumbed down standardization and regurgitation fostered in schools have been thrilled with their adult children who grew up to be creative, entrepreneurial, critical thinkers, writers, movie makers etc. 

      If you want to read about what happens to kids who grew up without school, you can start with some that I’ve compiled here http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/01/profiles-of-adults-who-were-passion.html 

      I have met numerous adults who grew up without traditional schooling and they are grateful that they were not the standardized widgets the system likes to spit out.  These widgets today, btw are graduating college having a difficult time getting jobs because compliance and standardization aren’t the ingredients for success in a post-industrial world. 

    • Elaine Hansen says:

      Alex - Curiosity here.  can you tell me more?  What are the “school system standards” the children won’t know how to adhere to? And why are they important to you? 

    • Lori says:

      homeschooling is *unstandardized* education – that’s it’s beauty.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, I don’t know. How about if women who choose motherhood, stick to game plan, which ought to be 110% dedication to raising their kids, not any career at all. This is what is wrong with society today.

    Everyone wants it all and our children are suffering because of this  mentality. Women have lost focus. It’s sad.

    Yes, I agree that the US school system is utilized for “babysitting” and ought not to be.

    Instead, women need to stay home to care for kids, while men go to work to support the family.

    Because women “want it all,” kids suffer, get babysat and wages are spread thin, which perpetuates the vicious cycle of kids raising themselves, badly. Thus putting mothers in the awful position to have to work, AND raise the kids, who become last on the list, after our accomplishments and income.

    It’s a shame and to blame for the desecration of our society.

    No one can have it all, yet because we are selfish, it is what it is.

    I’m sure to get a lot of flack for this comment. I am not saying women ought not to have careers, I am saying that women who want to be mothers, ought to consider the position they are putting their kids in by needing a “babysitter.”

    @gogorach
    http://gogorach.com

    • Tingras says:

      Your point is well taken, that in our current day and age we often feel driven to “have it all.” My only criticism is that you’re focusing on “women” rather than “parents.” PEOPLE want to have it all, not just women. And, it’s not necessarily a matter of selfishness, it’s a matter often of feeling trapped or not realizing what the alternatives are, which is why discussions like this are so important.

      Marriage/partnership takes a good deal of time, committment, effort, and the willingness to grow. There’s nothing guarenteed about it, and the conundrum that stay at home moms (or dads) often face is the dependence on someone else’s income. What happens if the primary breadwinner becomes ill,or leaves the relationship?

      If we can’t depend on social systems as a safety net, then we have to rely on ourselves. What that means on an individual basis is going to vary. 

    • Tingras says:

      Your point is well taken, that in our current day and age we often feel driven to “have it all.” My only criticism is that you’re focusing on “women” rather than “parents.” PEOPLE want to have it all, not just women. And, it’s not necessarily a matter of selfishness, it’s a matter often of feeling trapped or not realizing what the alternatives are, which is why discussions like this are so important.

      Marriage/partnership takes a good deal of time, committment, effort, and the willingness to grow. There’s nothing guarenteed about it, and the conundrum that stay at home moms (or dads) often face is the dependence on someone else’s income. What happens if the primary breadwinner becomes ill,or leaves the relationship?

      If we can’t depend on social systems as a safety net, then we have to rely on ourselves. What that means on an individual basis is going to vary. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, I do blame women, in a sense, especially the ones who “want it all” because they are typically the ones in charge of paying the bills and the wallets. If this was managed better, women would be able to stay home. For example, anyone who buys a latte every day, or goes out for dinner regularly is making the choice to earn/spend those dollars instead of saving and preparing for motherhood. It has become a societal problem, sure, but it began with the third wave of feminism.

        If it were up to me, I would set aside a fund for mothers and children who are left behind by dead beats. Also, people would be required to pass a test to prove that they are able and willing to manage the responsibility that is a child, before I’d allow them to procreate. I do not have children, by choice, because of my beliefs.

        No worries. I won’t ever be in charge, but I will be published and talking about this subject as often and loud as I can. All my best to you and yours! GGR

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, I do blame women, in a sense, especially the ones who “want it all” because they are typically the ones in charge of paying the bills and the wallets. If this was managed better, women would be able to stay home. For example, anyone who buys a latte every day, or goes out for dinner regularly is making the choice to earn/spend those dollars instead of saving and preparing for motherhood. It has become a societal problem, sure, but it began with the third wave of feminism.

        If it were up to me, I would set aside a fund for mothers and children who are left behind by dead beats. Also, people would be required to pass a test to prove that they are able and willing to manage the responsibility that is a child, before I’d allow them to procreate. I do not have children, by choice, because of my beliefs.

        No worries. I won’t ever be in charge, but I will be published and talking about this subject as often and loud as I can. All my best to you and yours! GGR

    • Nessa says:

      There are people who “want it all” on both ends of the gender divide. Don’t make this a problem about women. The antifeminist crap is a bit out of place here.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, actually, “the anti-feminist crap” is completely relevant because the home-schooling problem wouldn’t exist to begin with, if it were not for Penelope’s issue with managing her career and her kids, while making a decision whether to use the US School system for “babysitting.”

        • Nessa says:

          Yes, however, the anti-feminist stance gives the impression that the issue of career/family balance is a problem created by women and thus belonging to women. This idea is antiquated and out of place. 

          • Ron Coleman says:

            That’s good if you pretend that men and women are the same and fathers and mothers are the same.  They aren’t.  There are some fathers who are more nurturing than mothers and are better qualified to be primary caregivers.  But these are the exceptions to a rule of human experience to the contrary. And the old-style feminist concept that men and women are the same sex is nonsense.

            That does not mean this is a women’s problem or a woman’s failure if she can’t make it work.  These are joint challenges and responsibilities.  But with few exceptions, pretending that there is no difference between moms and dads in child-rearing does not help anyone meet these challenges honestly and productively.

          • Nessa says:

            Feminists do not think men and women are the same sex. Just equally capable. 

            Feminism is about choice. Women taking the same lifestyle choices that have previously been offered only to men, rather arbitrarily. I say arbitrarily because, as you said, some men are more nurturing, and some women are better breadwinners. Who takes the position of breadwinner should not have anything to do with their gender. And if kids are suffering from a lack of balance, it is the responsibility of both parents to fix it. It is not a female problem. 
            But I’m honestly a little tired of defending women’s choices today to a bunch of older men who wish we could go back to an older model. It’s never gonna happen, and I’m personally grateful to live in a society where I can go to work at my intellectually stimulating job and my husband can enjoy taking care of our son, which he does. I’ll be even more grateful when the whole world stops giving me grief about it. Women are not making any choices today that aren’t perfectly acceptable for men to take. 

        • vixapphire says:

          Note that the public schools would still be sucking eggs and barely-acceptable as babysitting wards even without your liberated-women bogeyman.  

          I’m failing to see the relevance of your point to this discussion.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, actually, “the anti-feminist crap” is completely relevant because the home-schooling problem wouldn’t exist to begin with, if it were not for Penelope’s issue with managing her career and her kids, while making a decision whether to use the US School system for “babysitting.”

    • Cathy0 says:

      Yes, those selfish, selfish women, going out to work, and causing the desecration of society. Shame on them.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not saying it’s selfish for women to work, I’m saying it is very selfish to want it all, when kids are the ones who suffer for consumerism and keeping up with the jones’.

        The desire and expectation that a career and kids is possible is the desecration of our society. It’s a tragedy.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not saying it’s selfish for women to work, I’m saying it is very selfish to want it all, when kids are the ones who suffer for consumerism and keeping up with the jones’.

        The desire and expectation that a career and kids is possible is the desecration of our society. It’s a tragedy.

    • Chloe says:

      This is an antiquated idea that fits well into an agrarian society or maybe the 1950s, but denies the economic realities of the world today.

      With the divorce rate so high, what you’ve proposed would put women in serious economic danger.

    • Karen says:

      This cuts both ways, my friend.  If you want adult humans to devote themselves to something, it needs to be something that other adult humans validate as necessary and worthy.  We pay a lot of bullshit lip service to motherhood in American but people don’t reliably open doors for me when I’m struggling with the double stroller.  People love to yap about what women need to do but examine your own life.  Do you go out of your way to support mothers in your community as mothers?  Do you babysit so your sister can go to the dentist?  Are you taking an older child to the park so that mom can get the nursing relationship established with her newborn?  Do you treat women with children as people who are working, or do you treat them as people who have removed themselves from real life?  People who work for pay embed themselves in a structure that validates them in millions of tiny ways that totally disappear when you stay home.  Women go to work for all kinds of good reasons.  It’s not enough to just say “go home and raise your kids.”  You have to say “go home and raise your kids AND I WILL BE THERE FOR YOU.”  But it’s so much easier to complain about other people’s selfishness.

    • Karen says:

      This cuts both ways, my friend.  If you want adult humans to devote themselves to something, it needs to be something that other adult humans validate as necessary and worthy.  We pay a lot of bullshit lip service to motherhood in American but people don’t reliably open doors for me when I’m struggling with the double stroller.  People love to yap about what women need to do but examine your own life.  Do you go out of your way to support mothers in your community as mothers?  Do you babysit so your sister can go to the dentist?  Are you taking an older child to the park so that mom can get the nursing relationship established with her newborn?  Do you treat women with children as people who are working, or do you treat them as people who have removed themselves from real life?  People who work for pay embed themselves in a structure that validates them in millions of tiny ways that totally disappear when you stay home.  Women go to work for all kinds of good reasons.  It’s not enough to just say “go home and raise your kids.”  You have to say “go home and raise your kids AND I WILL BE THERE FOR YOU.”  But it’s so much easier to complain about other people’s selfishness.

  10. Lori says:

    i do this. you have to invest some time in giving them that passion-based education you think is important. you have to help them figure out their interests and support them to become self-directed. you have to create an environment that allows them to be independent. once you’ve done that, they’ll spend most of the day operating under their own steam and you’ll have time to concentrate and work.

    this requires more time on your part as you get things rolling, but once you’re underway, you’re good.

    my husband and i envisioned hiring tutors and whatnot for our kids. we live 30 minutes from a university town; we figured we could hire a student for part of the day so we could work. it was totally unnecessary. once we figured out what the kids wanted to concentrate on and agreed on what else they needed, they quickly began to stay busy most of the day.

    when they were younger, they interrupted more with questions, etc., but once they hit around age 8, they were mostly self-sufficient. we don’t ignore them all day, but i can sit and concentrate for blocks of time and get my work done. we stack lessons and activities into a single day, which also helps. you can do it.

    • Tingras says:

      Lori,

      I realize that things vary from family to family, but I for one would love to hear from you what a “typical” day looks like for your and your family. Hearing this from other families that are successfully homeschooling would be great too. I think one of the most difficult things for people is getting started, but if we could see how it goes, then maybe more people could envision themselves doing the same thing. Would you mind?

      • Lori says:

        no problem.

        our sons have been hs’ed since they were very young. the bulk of their homeschooling is centered around self-chosen projects. they do math. we also sit down with them every year to talk about what area(s) we think they should learn more about – they usually choose these (e.g., one son said he thought he needed to learn more geography) but sometimes we tell them we think they need to study something in particular (for example, american history for one son who never covered it in his own reading).

        the math + non-project work takes my younger son less than an hour a day. my middle-school-age son is doing higher-level math so his work takes him a bit longer. they have the rest of the day to devote to their projects (these have been everything from geology to roman history to cooking to robotics) and their hobbies (which are numerous). they manage their own work and their own schedules. they’re allowed to watch tv/movies or play video games after 2 o’clock, but they usually spend most of their after-2:00 time doing other things. they’re both big readers. if they feel like it, though, they can binge on screen time. 

        we bunch up music lessons & similar into a single weekday. that’s the day we’ll go to the library and run errands.

        my husband and i both work at home. he tolerates interruptions better than i do so he helps the boys with their math when they have questions. i work all morning and for two or three hours after lunch, then i usually do things with the kids or hang out with them. i help them with whatever they need at lunch (we all have lunch together) or in the afternoons. we go hiking or swimming. they have friends over or go to a friend’s house. during the school year, we mark all the “teacher institute days” on our calendar and make a point to see school-attending friends then.

        the boys have summers “off” – they spend a lot of time outdoors and working on personal projects and hobbies. often, they choose something to focus on (for their self-chosen projects) based on something they did or learned about during the summer. we travel in the off-season, spring and fall. their summers are quite long. even so, both boys are way ahead of grade level.

        that’s our typical homeschooling/working life. as you can see, it’s pretty relaxing. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    “I challenge you to read these links and tell me you don't think
    homeschool would be better for your kids. And this is why I tell myself
    that I have to make homeschooling work.”

    Fine. I don’t think home schooling would be better for my kids.They need to be taught by educational *professionals*, not an amateur, which is what I am compared to almost all teachers. My parenthood does not not make me expert nor does it endow with their knowledge, experience, and training. Furthermore, I cannot possibly marshal the resources as affordably, efficiently, and effectively as my local school district can, does and will.

    Do not confuse my acceptance with those realities for defending the status quo. I am stating the obvious: Public education is the most *affordable* and *realistic* option I have to give my children, both of whom have specials needs, a chance at some semblance of normality. And if you think that’s aiming low, well, those of us who have been dealt that sh!tty hand know that you don’t have a f_cking clue.

    • Mrscindeed says:

      Ha ha ha ha….. You called the public school system efficient and effective….  Ha ha ha ha!!!

    • Cathy Earle says:

      I don’t know the hand you have been dealt, and I have confidence that you are making the best choices for your family. However, I must address one point: as a trained and professional educator, curriculum expert, and education writer myself, I can assure you that parents can be and often are just as good teachers as professionals. One of the best homeschool teachers I ever met was a woman who has dyslexia and was a very bad student herself. As a mom, she was energetic and caring and, while doing cool stuff with her kids, she got SO excited by things she’d never understood when she was a child, and books she’d never read back when she was doing poorly in school. Her sincere enthusiasm was infectious and didn’t just inspire her own kids, it inspired many other kids who knew her! 

      People who know things, however they learned them, and even people who are open to learning new things, can be great teachers. Of course some of these people get teacher training and diplomas and credentials. But not all of them, not by a long shot.

      Good luck with your challenges.

    • Barbara C. says:

      I hate to tell you this, but most of the teacher education training is about classroom management not actual teaching.  It’s a lot of meaningless hoops; that’s why I dropped out of my college’s teacher education program.  Sometimes “professional” teachers don’t know anymore about their subject than what their assigned textbook says (a problem school districts have found when they tried to switch textbooks or learning programs). 

      As long as I know my numbers and colors, I think I am fairly well qualified to teach them to my kids.  The same thing goes for basic addition, subtraction, etc.  I can read a history textbook to my kids as well as a teacher can, except I can take time to actually discuss what we read.  And if I’m not sure of a concept I can read a teacher’s manual as well as a “professional” can.

      If your children both have special needs, and you feel that your school is handling their education well I am happy for you.  However, I know lots of parents of special needs kids who turned to homeschooling specifically because the school was just babysitting instead of helping their kids overcome their special needs and get educated.

    • Gcweaver says:

      I hear such pain in your words. Special needs of two children throw a whole new dynamic into the mix. 

    • Mnonymous says:

      I’m not going to give you a hard time for sending your kids to p.s.
      I think many public schools and public education has come a long way in many areas since I went, they are more qualified -educators- than myself, and its amazing, some of the things they do and have the opportunity to do.
      It just isn’t right for every child, and there are many opportunities for those families, such as tutors and teacher led co op classes, etc.

  12. Sally says:

    First, bravo, you are so right about this. I was lucky to find a school for my son that was all about passion-based learning, free time, everything I would have done if I had home-schooled him, but even better. It cost us a fortune (and I am not exaggerating; we well may be living in a trailer very soon.) He went on to a more traditional (private) high school which was okay, but not nearly as good as the first school. The end result is that he is now in college in a program of individualized study, reading Vergil with his advisor, becoming a poet and a historian. He is having a very non-traditional education, and he is turning out to be an really self-directed, creative and smart kid, and much of that I attribute to his early education in that “iffy” school. If I did not have that choice, I agree that homeschooling is a better option than the babysitting I see going on in public school.

  13. Angela P says:

    Thank you for your candor and for sharing your experience, Penelope.  I find myself contemplating the exact same situation that you are facing right now, only with the added bonus of being recently separated from a 20 year marriage.  I have yet to check out your links  but I look forward to seeing any new information they present.  I’m an educational consultant, I specialize in 21st Century methodology which truly focuses on personalization with the use of technology.  While I consider this to be a benefit that could be utilized by the school and her teachers in particular, I find that they feel threatened.  It’s sad.  I’m battling with the decision of taking on the culture of teaching vs. educating in our failing K-12 school systems. There’s a big difference and unfortunately, the majority of schools and TEACHERS in the schools are either unfamiliar or unsure of those differences…..here’s what I mean:
    Definitions:teach  (tch)1. To impart knowledge or skill to: teaches children.2. To provide knowledge of; instruct in: teaches French.3. To condition to a certain action or frame of mind: teaching youngsters to be self-reliant.4. To cause to learn by example or experience: an accident that taught me a valuable lesson.5. To advocate or preach: teaches racial and religious tolerance.6. To carry on instruction on a regular basis in: taught high school for many years.

    ed·u·cate  (j-kt)1. To develop the innate capacities of, especially by schooling or instruction. 2. To provide with knowledge or training in a particular area or for a particular purpose3. To provide with information; inform: a campaign that educated the public about the dangers of smoking.4. To bring to an understanding or acceptance: hoped to educate the voters to the need for increased spending on public schools.5. To stimulate or develop the mental or moral growth of.6. To develop or refine (one’s taste or appreciation, for example).

    Such a significant difference and despite the vast amount of research our legislators, unions and other influencers are pouring more money into standardization.  Rather than creating an environment where the emphasis is on asking questions, they’re more comfortable with maintaining an environment where the focus is on memorizing answers to questions that have already been answered.  Instead of a enriching, questioning, engaged student, they’re creating an Industrial Age “widget” that can follow rules, maintain the status quo and stand in line with the others.  

    Forgive my rant, but this particular post really nailed a touchpoint for me.  Just sent emails requesting meetings with the Principal and Teacher before responding!  :)

    And for what it’s worth…..Penelope (aka Mom) you’re doing a great job…and you’re work is changing the lives of your children, as well as countless others.  Thank you!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dear Penelope, it can be done – I know, because I’m doing it. It’s taken me most of two years to figure out exactly how to do it, but it’s working now. I’d say the biggest things I’ve learned are (1) school, like everything else, is not a function of seat time, it’s a function of engagement and quality. So don’t think you have to have 6 hours of school a day; and (2) you can’t do work and school at the same time. It seems obvious, I know, but it’s amazing how it took me two years to finally get it. When it’s school time, it’s not work time, and vice versa. My son is a night person, so we do school at night, and I do work during the day while he has his down time. 

    Oh and one more thing I already knew, which I know you know, but which is especially applicable in home schooling: reading is basically everything. Hit the reading heavily (including audio books if your kids are audio learners). It trains the will and teaches attention and those are much more important in life than knowing what a present participle is and how to do stuff a calculator will do for you. Hang in there – you are doing the right thing. Everything you wrote about public schools is right on, and I know because I used to be an education policy consultant (and I’m a mom, of course). If you don’t already know about k-12.com, please look into it. They are actually a public school here in California and also in some other states. But even if they aren’t public in your state, their curriculum is really well done and engaging, and it helps give structure to home schooling.

    (People will criticize you and ask you when you’re going to put your kids back in “regular school” and that really does not taper off. I’m still getting asked that 2 years later.  But it’s only because their kids are in “regular school,” and if yours are doing something different because you don’t think regular school is good enough, what does that say about their choices?)

    • Blueshark says:

      “reading is basically everything. Hit the reading heavily (including audio books if your kids are audio learners). It trains the will and teaches attention and those are much more important in life than knowing what a present participle is and how to do stuff a calculator will do for you.”

      I respectfully disagree.  Reading is important but math is just as important, if not more so. To classify it merely as “stuff a calculator will do for you” is just ignorant. Math is about analytical skills and problem-solving ability.  It is what made this country one of the world’s leaders in science and technology (a distinction we are rapidly losing as our math skills decline).

      And posts like this summarize my whole problem with home schooling.  Is it theoretically better? Perhaps.  But most Americans I know are incapable of doing a long division problem, quake at the thought of a rate-time-distance problem, can’t do algrebra to save their lives and wouldn’t know a gerund if they tripped over it (and contra sterlingrose’s post grammar is important because it teaches the structure of language, and once the structure of language is understood it makes it vastly easier to learn other languages).

      And that’s just grade school material.  My friends are mostly upper middle-class profesionals but I’m pretty sure that not one of them is qualified to teach trigonometry, can do a proof in geometry, can balance a chemical equation, are confident of their ability to distinguish between a vertebrate and an invertebrate, or can teach even simple Newtonian physics.  Reading is important, certainly, but it’s not enough by itself and there’s much more to an education than reading books. This American belief that amateur teachers are automatically the equivalent of, or superior to, professional teachers who have mastered the material they teach, smacks to me of narcissism

      • Amy says:

        Today, while my homeschooled 16 year old high school junior was in her College Algebra class, I helped a group of public school graduate community college students do their math homework–on place value–which they found very confusing. 
        Homeschooling is not the one and only perfect option for education, but it can work.

        • Anonymous says:

          Last year my wife took a few classes at the local community college, and it was a very eye opening experience.  Not only is the public school system not producing graduates qualified to go on to college level work, requiring colleges to offer many remedial classes in math and English, but 90+% of the students were attending a college that is already heavily subsidized by the state (~ $20/unit) with the help of grants and student loans.  The attitude of many “students” is to do the absolute minimum necessary to obtain the financial aid money.  Result: only 52% get a two year certificate or transfer to a four year university program.

          • Michelle McCleod says:

            I used to file report cards at a university and that experience showed me that very few students are A students. The most common grade is a C.

            Maybe the problem is deeper than a grade or graduation rate. People are not motivated to excel and/or can’t, for whatever reason, improve performance.

            I really think we need to develop a variety of education approaches for the wide variety of learning styles. This has not yet been done as far as I can see.

            M

             

      • Lindsey says:

        and are most of these friends of your public school grads?  ;  )

      • Lindsey says:

        and are most of these friends of your public school grads?  ;  )

      • Barbara C. says:

        I agree that reading is the basis of everything, because once you can read and comprehend well then it opens the door for the study of science, mathematics, etc.  I disagree that the “stuff a calculator will do for you” is not important, though.  What are you going to do if you can’t find a calculator?  And what good is a calculator if you don’t understand what equation you need to plug into it.

        Sadly, that type of thinking is becoming pervasive in our public schools as I hear parents complaining about kids using calculators in elementary school.  This goes hand in hand with schools refusing to teach spelling because “everything has spell-check now”. 

        If your upper-middle class professional friend can’t tell the difference between an invertebrate and vertebrate isn’t that assumedly a failure of their education which was probably not in a homeschool environment?  And are they so ignorant that they can’t look up the difference in an encyclopedia and explain it to someone else?

        Until you get to the high school level, most teachers don’t have a subject specialization.  Elementary teachers have been trained in classroom management techniques and some child psychology in order to teach large groups of students which is much more difficult than teaching one or two.  And they have these things called “teachers manuals” that outline how to teach every subject step-by-step; I am certainly smart enough to do the same thing.  But by the time many homeschoolers hit the high school level, where more specialized teachers can be an asset, homeschooling parents often start outsourcing those specific subjects that they don’t feel up to handling…to colleges instead of high schools.

      • clb says:

        Interesting.  I just started homeschooling this year and within the first month the grammar book for my 4th grader taught us what gerunds, participles and infinitives were.  These were things that I had never learned as a public school student or a college grad.  And I graduated as valedictorian of my class. 

  15. Uj22222 says:

    It makes me feel so happy to read this!  I’ve long been saying that the public school system is little more than a state subsidized babysitting service that masquerades as an educational institution.  Public school teachers have all sorts of mechanisms by which they deflect the criticisms of anyone who calls the quality of their “education” in to question, but at the end of the day, you’re right: They do just need to “grow up” and accept that lowest-common-denominator-style “education” doesn’t actually educate! 

  16. Uj22222 says:

    It makes me feel so happy to read this!  I’ve long been saying that the public school system is little more than a state subsidized babysitting service that masquerades as an educational institution.  Public school teachers have all sorts of mechanisms by which they deflect the criticisms of anyone who calls the quality of their “education” in to question, but at the end of the day, you’re right: They do just need to “grow up” and accept that lowest-common-denominator-style “education” doesn’t actually educate! 

  17. Nancy says:

    I’m so glad I don’t live in the US. Why don’t you just raise your taxes so that you can pay for decent schools? Believe it or not, schools in other countries are good! It’s just a US thing to underfund everything and then say “we can’t afford it.”

    Also schools in other countries aren’t obsessed about testing or textbooks. Unstructured, exploratory, and experimental learning is part of school programming where I live.

    So the problem isn’t school itself — it’s the way your country treats schools (and kids). As a low priority. As a social problem that can be engineered away. As something for elected idiots to build their political careers on.

    Instead of fixing the problem, your people are stuck muddling through it for themselves. The costs to each person individually (in lost income, lost careers, lost mental health, female impoverishment, and a poorly educated work force) are far higher than the taxes you could have paid in the first place.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      The US actually has a pretty hefty tax for schools. But, more interesting than that is that the recent edition the Economist has an article titled “The Great Schools Revolution” (p. 23 — their articles are never online) which compares schooling on an international basis. 

      The first finding is that the amount of money governments throw at schools does not necessarily affect the rankings of that country’s school system.

      The second finding is that the best schools are in Asian countries where parents are very focused on test scores — which is how governments measure school effectiveness. 

      So unless you are writing from China, South Korea or Singapore, I think you’re throwing stones from a glass house. 

      Penelope

      • Tommi says:

        Hi Penelope,

        at least I can get to the article, http://www.economist.com/node/21529014. 

        In Finland we have been at the top of the PISA studies for a long time, but we’re still not sure our schools are really that good. Homeschooling is definitely not a trend here, though. Yet?

        • Alicia Fessenden says:

          Finland is a great example of a country that does an excellent job of educating children, does not have standardized tests, and gives teachers an enormous amount of autonomy since they trust their teachers because it is a highly competitive job (only 10% of applicants are accepted into teaching programs, and it is a very high-paying job). Totally the opposite of how we do things here.

          Penelope, I’m confused because you said in your post that test scores are not important, but now it sounds like you are praising countries that are pro-testing. Could you clarify?

        • Alicia Fessenden says:

          Finland is a great example of a country that does an excellent job of educating children, does not have standardized tests, and gives teachers an enormous amount of autonomy since they trust their teachers because it is a highly competitive job (only 10% of applicants are accepted into teaching programs, and it is a very high-paying job). Totally the opposite of how we do things here.

          Penelope, I’m confused because you said in your post that test scores are not important, but now it sounds like you are praising countries that are pro-testing. Could you clarify?

          • Penelope Trunk says:

            Test scores are how governments rate schools, and the issue in question is comparing schools on an international basis. 

            Penelope

          • Penelope Trunk says:

            Test scores are how governments rate schools, and the issue in question is comparing schools on an international basis. 

            Penelope

          • Anonymous says:

            To be fair, Penelope, you can’t just rate internationally by test scores without considering how much money each country throws down the rat-hole of education for each SAT point, or some such.

            We Amerikans waste $12,000 per pupil/student in only 9 months with abominable SAT results. I’d like to see the figures for Finland or, especially, Hong Kong. Now I hear that every student in Armenia is taught chess. Hell, you can hardly find an Amerikan woman who can spell chess let alone play it.

          • Skweekah says:

            It all depends on who does the schooling — and this included homeschooling. It’s all open to scrutiny, and there will be good and bad in both systems.

          • Kimberely Arana says:

            FWIW, I took her to mean it as an example of a faulty system/perspective: China has high tests scores and therefore the ‘best’ schools *because* they consider test results to be indicative of best schools. Anyone can learn what the teacher wants and regurgitate information, doesn’t mean they’ve truly gained knowledge. But I may be entirely missing the point. ;>

          • Eng101 says:

            I teach college freshman writing, and without fail every Chinese student has an incredibly hard time learning to think or write with their own ideas rather than regurgitating and frequently accidentally plagiarizing what they’ve read. It’s a huge cultural difference in thinking. And for what it’s worth, the Chinese students are very aware of it and eager to learn to think critically for the first time.

          • Gcweaver says:

            I totally agree. That is such a fallacy to believe that the Asian school systems are the best. 

          • Gcweaver says:

            I totally agree. That is such a fallacy to believe that the Asian school systems are the best. 

          • Skweekah says:

            Yeah, the system rewards people who have the best memories, not who have the most potential.

        • Mark Wiehenstroer says:

          Hi Tommi, an article why schools in Finland are at the top in PISA scoring -

          http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html?c=y&story=fullstory

        • Mark Wiehenstroer says:

          Hi Tommi, an article why schools in Finland are at the top in PISA scoring -

          http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html?c=y&story=fullstory

      • hsmom says:

        You are right. I grew up in Singapore and tutored kids who studied 12-14 hr a day. It was expected by their parents.  I am not a Tiger Mother, nor do I agree, but the fact is, if one does anything for the vast majority of their life, they will either learn it or do mad trying.

      • Gcweaver says:

        China, South Korea, and Singapore do NOT have the best schools. Lived in Asia. 

      • Gcweaver says:

        China, South Korea, and Singapore do NOT have the best schools. Lived in Asia. 

        • CY says:

          I don’t know how to define a “best school”, all I know (as a native Asian) is, the Asian way is definitely not the best.

          Asian put a lot (too much in fact) emphasis on test scores. As a results, most students become study machines. They can do well in school by memorizing everything.

          Then you produce people who lacks creativity, imagination, and have difficulties solving problems in real life (because it was not taught in school!).

          • Skweekah says:

            Very well thought out response. You are saying what many people think. Throw some “super students” into real life and they cant cope. Ive seen many computer masters/honours students not know how to troubleshoot PC problems! They know the buzz words but have no practical ability — EEEK!!!!!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        http://www.economist.com/node/21529014 for the economist article I think it goes online for non subscibers after a time (?). The comments on that article are worth reading too for anyone interested.

    • ResuMAYDAY says:

      Ha! What an American politician’s reply. Raise taxes!
      As most Americans will correctly tell you, that’s rarely the right answer.

      • Ginger says:

        DC public schools spend more money per student than most schools in the country, with miserable results.  There is an optimal level of money for schools, but the marginal return on more money isn’t a sure thing.

        • Sabinal says:

          people forget that the number one factor in a good education is initiative. Whether you are in a DC public school or that private Sidwell School for Friends that the Obama girls go to, you have to “want” to learn. No thing and no one can force you to have that passion.

          Think about it. I can guarantee 90% of you here on this board has a public education. Don’t you feel that you are educated? And most of us comes from a time when computers were fancy machines only in the principal’s office or NASA. But we learned about life, math, God (if you had relgion/philosophy class), music, etc.   No homeschooling, no private schools

    • Bill says:

      I agree.

      Penelope, maybe next time you can model some of those wares?

    • Brian K. says:

      Nancy, not sure what country you live in but an observation I’ve made over the years is the numbers of children educated in the US compared to other countries.  The US offers the same educational opportunities to all children, unlike many other countries who “qualify” children at an early age and place them in the tier of education suited to them.  I feel if we structured out system more along those lines we would be more successful.  The American dream is work hard and you can achieve success.  Success has many definitions and they aren’t all being a millionaire.  Make our kids learn to work hard from the beginning to get where they want to be.  Just my two cents worth.

      • Nessa says:

        “The US offers the same educational opportunities to all children…”

        The biggest joke I’ve ever heard.

        • Aaron Moore says:

          What a persuasive response.

          /sarc

        • Aaron Moore says:

          What a persuasive response.

          /sarc

          • Nessa says:

            I would try to persuade you, but Jonathan Kozol already wrote that book. Savage Inequalities. Unless you came from one of these schools offering such great educational opportunities, and thus, don’t read. 

          • teacherdude says:

            I have read Kozol, though not the particular book you mention.  The goal is to teach all children the same stuff the same way so that they are equal on the back nine.  It assumes that if everyone is provided the same opportunity they should all be successful but socioeconomic status crushes this notion.  There isn’t a snowballs chance that the kids in public schools in Princeton are dealing with the same circumstances that that the kids in Newark are.  And those circumstances affect every aspect of the educational environment.
            How do you fix the schools Kozol refers to? 
            I wrestle with disaffected students all the time.  They just don’t care sometimes for what I am teaching them.

        • SK says:

          I think what she means is that in the US we *try* to offer the same educational opportunities to all children.  I think she’s also saying that that’s not always a good idea, and that we should make a stronger effort to channel under-performing kids into trade schools and such where they can learn something productive.

          Instead, we keep (trying) to treat everyone as if they’re all exactly the same, willfully blind to all the kids falling by the wayside with no where else to go.

          If, in fact, that’s what she’s saying, I’m in full agreement.  Equal opportunities will never lead to equal results.  We need more productive avenues for kids who simply aren’t (at this point in their lives) college material.

          • Nessa says:

            To say that we try to offer the same educational opportunities to all children is naive and simply untrue. Our education system allocates funds based on reward– more funding goes to kids in higher performing schools. High performing schools are last places that need that money. If there will ever be a semblance of equality in this system it will be because it started allocating funds to raise education standards and performance, not to reward people in the richest districts.

          • Renee says:

            Um…no. Higher performing schools do not get more funding. Extra funding is allocated for special education, esl, and economically disadvantaged students. Schools that have a high percentage of those students qualify for even more funding under Title I. There may be some grants available for teacher merit pay based on school performance, but those are nearly always determined by the amount of improvement in test Higher performing schools and teachers are having a very hard time these days showing much growth. They have already ‘captured’ most of the capable students who used to be underachieving on standardized tests and are not having as much success getting their special populations to meet their goals. Counterintuitively, Title I schools are typically doing much better at that because they have learned how to get their special populations to over perform since they couldn’t simply ignore them like the high achieving schools could.

      • Nessa says:

        “The US offers the same educational opportunities to all children…”

        The biggest joke I’ve ever heard.

    • Brian K. says:

      Nancy, not sure what country you live in but an observation I’ve made over the years is the numbers of children educated in the US compared to other countries.  The US offers the same educational opportunities to all children, unlike many other countries who “qualify” children at an early age and place them in the tier of education suited to them.  I feel if we structured out system more along those lines we would be more successful.  The American dream is work hard and you can achieve success.  Success has many definitions and they aren’t all being a millionaire.  Make our kids learn to work hard from the beginning to get where they want to be.  Just my two cents worth.

    • hsmom says:

      Watch The Cartel and Waiting for Superman.

      thecartelmovie.com

    • Greg F says:

      Nancy,

      Where do you get the idea that the US schools are “underfunded”. The US spends more per student than any other country. And you know what? The private schools that spend half as much do a better job.

      • teacherdude says:

        Private schools can choose their students and s-can problem children.  Public schools are legally bound to keep criminals in the seat next to your child.  It is a crime.  It is a wast of money for sure and time as well.  Throw the bums out.  Period.

      • teacherdude says:

        Private schools can choose their students and s-can problem children.  Public schools are legally bound to keep criminals in the seat next to your child.  It is a crime.  It is a wast of money for sure and time as well.  Throw the bums out.  Period.

  18. Taylor@WiseFamilyLiving says:

    That picture is hilarious. And you are right in your article. I stay at home. My husband works. We are middle class. We are homeschooling our five year old. Partly because our public school is not good. Partly because our baby was diagnosed as deaf earlier in the year, and we can’t afford everything she is going to need and private school. I never thought I would homeschool. But it has turned out to be the best thing for all of us. There is no rushing. No PTA. No going to Target every other day to pick up a bag of beans or whatever to send to school. We get to do what we enjoy doing. Our life is so much easier. Even though there is not much of a break. I give you that. That part can be hard.

  19. Lauren says:

    Love the picture :)

    We’re a middle-class family w/a SAHD and 2 kids in public school, both of whom are doing great in that environment.  We live in a college town with a school system that is COMMITTED to improving public education for ALL of our children (yes, they do exist!).  Where public schools are strong, or even decent, I think the experience of collective education is important for kids to learn how to navigate “inside the box”.  The ones with a creative bent will also learn how to maneuver “outside the box”, but they need to know how society as a whole works in order to be able to figure out things like how to get paid for their creative work. Organized education also helps kids learn self-control and self-discipline by requiring them to do things they don’t enjoy – which I would argue is a necessary part of becoming an employable adult. 

    I would only homeschool my kids (or have hubby do so) if they were obviously NOT being well-served by the public school system. 

    • Barbara C. says:

      The problem is that society as a whole does not work how it does in schools.  The only other time in your life that you will be lumped in with people your own age is when you get put in the nursing home.  If you don’t like your job, you do have the option of seeking other employment while kids in school are just stuck.  Even in most jobs you don’t have every minute of your day regulated by others with people telling you when you are allowed to eat or go to the bathroom…unless you are in prison.

      You don’t think my homeschooled kids don’t still have to do things they don’t enjoy.  My 3rd-grader doesn’t enjoy subtraction but she still has to do it.  And self-discipline is even more important in the homeschool environment when you have television, internet, and the outdoors easily accessible at all times.

      And do schools really teach self-control and self-discipline?  In order to learn self-control don’t you have to have opportunities to control yourself?  It seems to me that all of the control in schools comes from outside of the kids.  The same goes for discipline.

    • Barbara C. says:

      The problem is that society as a whole does not work how it does in schools.  The only other time in your life that you will be lumped in with people your own age is when you get put in the nursing home.  If you don’t like your job, you do have the option of seeking other employment while kids in school are just stuck.  Even in most jobs you don’t have every minute of your day regulated by others with people telling you when you are allowed to eat or go to the bathroom…unless you are in prison.

      You don’t think my homeschooled kids don’t still have to do things they don’t enjoy.  My 3rd-grader doesn’t enjoy subtraction but she still has to do it.  And self-discipline is even more important in the homeschool environment when you have television, internet, and the outdoors easily accessible at all times.

      And do schools really teach self-control and self-discipline?  In order to learn self-control don’t you have to have opportunities to control yourself?  It seems to me that all of the control in schools comes from outside of the kids.  The same goes for discipline.

  20. Curtis says:

    Have you considered a homeschooling co-op where parents pool resources and maybe 1-2 days per week (or something) another parent who is really good at math or Spanish (for example) works with the kids from the co-op?  Maybe occaisionally have the working parent from the co-op take a day off and spend time with the kids?
     
    Just a thought.  Then the kids get something (time away from mom, time with peers, tutoring from and “expert”) and you get time to yourself (to work or do housework or relax or whatever).

  21. Curtis says:

    Have you considered a homeschooling co-op where parents pool resources and maybe 1-2 days per week (or something) another parent who is really good at math or Spanish (for example) works with the kids from the co-op?  Maybe occaisionally have the working parent from the co-op take a day off and spend time with the kids?
     
    Just a thought.  Then the kids get something (time away from mom, time with peers, tutoring from and “expert”) and you get time to yourself (to work or do housework or relax or whatever).

    • Lynnewhiteside says:

      collective education, great idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Students don’t need experts in order to learn. Some of the most famous people in American history were self-taught. Once kids learn to read (phonics) and do a little math, it’s all gravy. Truly. A language is a little different – granted. But am I as an adult not capable of learning a language that I want to also teach to my child?

    • Anonymous says:

      Students don’t need experts in order to learn. Some of the most famous people in American history were self-taught. Once kids learn to read (phonics) and do a little math, it’s all gravy. Truly. A language is a little different – granted. But am I as an adult not capable of learning a language that I want to also teach to my child?

  22. Rsbennett11 says:

    My father was a one room school teacher in the 50′s in North Dakota.  He taught he older kids and the older kids taught the younger ones.  It was simple and it worked.  Have you seen the “tests” for an 8th grade graduation from that time period?  Most PHD’s couldn’t pass them today.

    I disagree that it is all about the MONEY.  Public education as structured today will never have enough money.  Facts are that the highest graduation rates and lowest per pupil funding are in states such as North Dakota & Utah,   Lowest graduation rates and highest per pupil funding is Washington DC….

    • Kreuter Heidi says:

      My mother-in-law was schooled in Moorhead and often describes similar experiences with difficult expectations and tests.

  23. Rsbennett11 says:

    My father was a one room school teacher in the 50′s in North Dakota.  He taught he older kids and the older kids taught the younger ones.  It was simple and it worked.  Have you seen the “tests” for an 8th grade graduation from that time period?  Most PHD’s couldn’t pass them today.

    I disagree that it is all about the MONEY.  Public education as structured today will never have enough money.  Facts are that the highest graduation rates and lowest per pupil funding are in states such as North Dakota & Utah,   Lowest graduation rates and highest per pupil funding is Washington DC….

  24. Susanne says:

    School is not just about learning, it’s about teaching kids to be social. Kids need to be with other kids and not spend all day with one adult.

    • Sepideh says:

      This is a frequent critique of homeschooling by people who do not know what they are talking about.

      Home schoolers frequently have siblings.  They also have communities.  In addition to the after school activities that most kids are involved in, there are various day time programs specifically for home  schoolers.

      They are not limited to the artificial social structure of school that involves interacting with other children their own age which may exacerbate certain problems such as bullying.

    • Michael Fontaine says:

      Children no more need school to learn how to learn than they do to learn how to be social. Babies learn everything they need to know without the “benefit” of formal schooling, including in the “social” department. I agree with Sepideh–this is a frequent thought by people who have no idea what they are talking about.

    • Heidi says:

      No, I don’t think so.  Kids need to be taught manners, humans have always been social.

      My son is extremely social but lacks most skills needed to interact with other children and form bonds.  So, he does need some help learning those skills.  He’s going to need things slowed down from the pace of a school environment to practice and understand those skills.  Kinda like job training,huh?  I used to manage a coffee shop and we never threw a barista on the bar during a rush with all those intricate details before practicing in a quiet environment first.

      My daughter is also social and in addition was born empathetic and gazing deep into people’s eyes.  She has no problem forming bonds.

      I bring both kids to a singing circle where they have a blast and participate on their own level.  My daughter comes home filled with energy for hours while my son is extremely tired.  Both are happy, but one is an introvert and one an extrovert.

    • Heidi says:

      No, I don’t think so.  Kids need to be taught manners, humans have always been social.

      My son is extremely social but lacks most skills needed to interact with other children and form bonds.  So, he does need some help learning those skills.  He’s going to need things slowed down from the pace of a school environment to practice and understand those skills.  Kinda like job training,huh?  I used to manage a coffee shop and we never threw a barista on the bar during a rush with all those intricate details before practicing in a quiet environment first.

      My daughter is also social and in addition was born empathetic and gazing deep into people’s eyes.  She has no problem forming bonds.

      I bring both kids to a singing circle where they have a blast and participate on their own level.  My daughter comes home filled with energy for hours while my son is extremely tired.  Both are happy, but one is an introvert and one an extrovert.

      • Lori says:

        “My son is extremely social but lacks most skills needed to interact with
        other children and form bonds.  So, he does need some help learning
        those skills. He’s going to need things slowed down from the pace of a school environment to practice and understand those skills.”

        my sons learned social skills homeschooling while taking classes, being on sports teams, participating in clubs, playing with friends, and so on, and so on. homeschooling offers abundant opportunities for socializing.

        i’m surprised you would admit so readily that your child lacks social skills and you have no ability to help him acquire them. it isn’t hard. yet .. many people must struggle with it, just like you, because we run into kids with no manners in every restaurant and kids who have no ability to play with others at every playground.

        if you are hoping school will teach these things to your child, good luck. a good friend had to relocate her family to a new town because of the vicious teasing her 7th-grade daughter was receiving. the school did nothing. it wasn’t the daughter’s lack of social skills that was the problem – she immediately made friends at the new school. it was the poisonous atmosphere at the old school – which the administration and teachers, even though they were completely aware of it, couldn’t control.

        • Zellie says:

          Regular kids will naturally learn social skills by being in society with adult guidance, but kids with Asperger’s usually need specific help to learn.  Heidi’s saying her son needs a slower pace than the school would provide.  I think she means that she IS able to help him learn.

  25. Susanne says:

    School is not just about learning, it’s about teaching kids to be social. Kids need to be with other kids and not spend all day with one adult.

  26. Diana PrettyCoolShops says:

    I am a stay at home mom, and home school my 1st grader and Kindergartener. {they are in the other room doing math while I snatch a bit of computer time 8^}
    We use the K12 curriculum, which fortunately for us, is free!
    {cyber charter school, uses public school money -set aside for my kids- to fund their supplies} Each kid has their own computer {yeah, my 4 year old has a desktop with Windows 7 he has the best computer in the house!}, their own books and work books, science experiment and art supplies- everything!
    I cannot say enough good things about K12′s program.
    They go as fast {or as slow} as they need or want to on any given subject.
    {my kids are currently working one grade level ahead in math and language arts}
    The curriculum is set for you, and your children have teachers.

    Being able to afford me staying home, well yeah, it’s hard! But as a family we decided what to value more. My husband works 2 jobs, we have one car, we don’t eat out or go to movies or shop at the mall {sorry Forever 21, which on a total side note tangent, had many problems with sweat shop labor…. but I digress}
    Would I love a break from them? Well, yeah…..
    But the crap my 5 year old went through during his short lived school and school bus experience last year {he went to a brick and mortar school for 6 months} was heartbreaking!
    I never expected, ever, that I would homeschool, but it is working out so well for us!

  27. Brad says:

    Most parents can teach a young kid.  What about high school level chemistry, physics, geometry, pre-calculus, foreign languages, etc?

    • Doc says:

      What, you didn’t take that stuff in high school? I mean, it’s not rocket science. You get a book and you go through it together. Duh.

      • Brad says:

        Uh huh.  I’d like to see your average mom explain a proof of the Pythagorean theorem, even with a text book staring her in the face. 

        • Zellie says:

          I feel a little insulted by that remark.  When I was in high school, scheduling did not allow for me to get into a geometry class, so I studied independently from the text book as I sat in the back of an algebra class.  I took tests at the same schedule as the geometry class.  The teacher was available if I had questions, but the explanation is right on the page.  Discovery makes for more exciting learning.

          People who haven’t a lot of success with self-teaching underestimate their and others’ ability for meeting this kind of challenge.  It boils down to self-confidence and determination.  If a person believes it can be done and wants to do it, he can find a way to be successful. 

          • Brad says:

            And I got a perfect 36 on my math ACT.  But I’m not arrogant enough to assume I could have done that without qualified teachers.  Or that I could effectively teach my kid the entire high school curriculum.

          • Lisa Nielsen says:

            Tons of kids are learning math, science, and engineering through MITs free online classes and the open education resources movement.  When a person is motivated to learn something they can usually do just fine if given the resources to learn.  Additionally, with the wonder of the internet those who share a passion can connect, learn, and grow together.  This is called a personal learning network and those of us who have one find it to be much more effective than traditional teaching as a way to learn.

          • Lori says:

            Brad, my sons are incredibly proficient learners. They don’t have to learn everything from me or my husband. If there’s something they want to learn or need to learn that we can’t manage together, we simply find a class, a tutor, an online resource, a friend .. well .. there are so many ways to learn what you need to know. It’s a way of life. They’ll always know how to learn what they need to learn; they’re already so good at it.

          • Lori says:

            Brad, my sons are incredibly proficient learners. They don’t have to learn everything from me or my husband. If there’s something they want to learn or need to learn that we can’t manage together, we simply find a class, a tutor, an online resource, a friend .. well .. there are so many ways to learn what you need to know. It’s a way of life. They’ll always know how to learn what they need to learn; they’re already so good at it.

          • vixapphire says:

            No, dude, I beg to differ.  As established by the tone of your remarks, you are definitely arrogant enough.

          • vixapphire says:

            No, dude, I beg to differ.  As established by the tone of your remarks, you are definitely arrogant enough.

          • Brad says:

            And I got a perfect 36 on my math ACT.  But I’m not arrogant enough to assume I could have done that without qualified teachers.  Or that I could effectively teach my kid the entire high school curriculum.

          • Guest says:

            Even college kids are having to learn Calculus on their own, via textbook & online info, Zellie. (http://www.collegiatetimes.com/stories/18231/functional-tiny-minority-of-students-take-intro-math-classes-with-teachers-as-thousands-learn-via-computers) There are some tutors available at the Empo, but most folks I’ve heard from just gripe about the online version of that class, and wish they were in a real one. However, determined individuals are likely to do well and be successful in either environment.

        • Itsrtimedownhere says:

          does knowing the pythagorean theory make your life better?

        • Jessica Rudder says:

          Hi Brad,

          One common  misconception of homeschooling is that the only resources available are mom and/or dad.

          The reality of home schooling is quite different – especially for the educated parents that this blog post was directed at.

          For instance, in my family, my husband is a linguist and is fluent in 13 languages including Latin and Ancient Greek.  He also plays the piano at a level that prompted his piano teacher to encourage him to continue it professionally (which he decided not to do as he had other passions).  My dad has a degree in Chemistry and is amazing at teaching math.  His brother is a whiz at computer programming.  My sister and her husband are trained actors that actually make money doing it.  And me, well, I’m not a genius, but, I’ve derived the Pythagorean Theorem before (though years ago) and I know how to balance a checkbook and cook some amazing food and fly a single engine plane.

          If there’s anything that my kids want or need to learn that my husband and I can’t cover, we’ve got extended family, friends and grad students looking to pick up additional money that will fill in the gaps.

          Best,
          Jessica

          • Lisa Nielsen says:

            Jessica,

            These are great points.  I’d like to add another idea to your list.  I know the language of social media like which hashtags to use in Twitter about topics in which I have an interest.  When I want to learn something I connect with the people using those hashtags.  The thing I do next is ask if someone would like to skype with me or I ask a group if they’d like to connect with Google Hangout.  This is tremendously effective and opens up the world as your learning space.  

          • Brad says:

            Jessica,  I have no doubt that your kids are getting a terrific education.  But I have to believe yours is WAY above the average home schooling situation, which is what I was commenting on.  

          • Ron Coleman says:

            I think a family like yours is so exceptional, Jessica, that it goes far beyond the bounds of “educated parents.”  Which is great for you guys!  But not all that useful for most of us mere doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs.

          • Ron Coleman says:

            I think a family like yours is so exceptional, Jessica, that it goes far beyond the bounds of “educated parents.”  Which is great for you guys!  But not all that useful for most of us mere doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs.

        • Lisa Nielsen says:

           If the parent took it in school and didn’t get it, what makes you think teaching that way is effective? 

        • Anonymous says:

          Dude, there are tons of resources out there beyond the traditional classroom.  Ever seen Khan Academy online?  Or just Youtube’d Pythagorean theorem?  Mom doesn’t *have* to explain the proof of the Pythagorean theorem anymore. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Dude, there are tons of resources out there beyond the traditional classroom.  Ever seen Khan Academy online?  Or just Youtube’d Pythagorean theorem?  Mom doesn’t *have* to explain the proof of the Pythagorean theorem anymore. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Dude, there are tons of resources out there beyond the traditional classroom.  Ever seen Khan Academy online?  Or just Youtube’d Pythagorean theorem?  Mom doesn’t *have* to explain the proof of the Pythagorean theorem anymore. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Dude, there are tons of resources out there beyond the traditional classroom.  Ever seen Khan Academy online?  Or just Youtube’d Pythagorean theorem?  Mom doesn’t *have* to explain the proof of the Pythagorean theorem anymore. 

        • HKEN says:

          uh… I don’t know if I’m “your average mom” or not.  I went to public and private school.  I went to college, though I did not complete a degree program.

          My last day in a “real” classroom was about 25 years ago. 
          I could explain the Pythagorean theorem AND the quadratic formula.
          Now, I don’t think I would have been able to really understand how or why one would use the quadratic formula if my patient and kind brother-in-law (who is an engineer and actually uses this formula) hadn’t told me.
          I do, however, know how to perform an internet search, watch a tutorial online,  etc. 
          I know how to walk and drive, so a visit to the library to obtain information is also an option. 
          I’m in my 10th year of homeschooling, but I rarely have a textbook staring me in the face.  At least not one with big, scary problems I’ll never be able to solve like – gasp!- the PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM!! 
          Seriously?

          • Heidi says:

            I love this!! Way to break down the scary, scary skills!

            I know how to walk and drive, so a visit to the library to obtain information is also an option. 

          • Heidi says:

            I love this!! Way to break down the scary, scary skills!

            I know how to walk and drive, so a visit to the library to obtain information is also an option. 

          • Ron Coleman says:

            Driving to the library or asking your brother in law has nothing to do with “schooling.”  How can we presume to call ourselves teachers when we have to ask someone else why fundamental components of a basic math curriculum are even necessary?

          • Zellie says:

            It’s not an issue of whether we deserve the title “teacher” but whether the child learns.

          • Lori says:

            i don’t think teachers like to face the fact that hs’ers can hire their services a la carte. they, and anti-hs’ers in general, keep wanting to assert this idea that hs’ed children don’t have real teachers and their parents can’t possibly teach everything they need to know. that’s not how it works. an adult who wants to learn something takes a class, hires a tutor, learns it on their own, finds a mentor or a knowledgeable friend .. hs’ing works the same way. *you still have teachers.* teachers aren’t only available in public school.

          • Lori says:

            i don’t think teachers like to face the fact that hs’ers can hire their services a la carte. they, and anti-hs’ers in general, keep wanting to assert this idea that hs’ed children don’t have real teachers and their parents can’t possibly teach everything they need to know. that’s not how it works. an adult who wants to learn something takes a class, hires a tutor, learns it on their own, finds a mentor or a knowledgeable friend .. hs’ing works the same way. *you still have teachers.* teachers aren’t only available in public school.

          • Joy says:

            Most teachers I know are all for homeschooling, and plenty of homeschoolers I know are also teachers! In fact, my partner is about to become a high school physics/chemistry/math teacher.

            One of my public school teacher friends who is not homeschooling her own children told me she’s glad that people are homeschooling because it means fewer students in her overloaded classrooms.

          • Ron Coleman says:

            Driving to the library or asking your brother in law has nothing to do with “schooling.”  How can we presume to call ourselves teachers when we have to ask someone else why fundamental components of a basic math curriculum are even necessary?

        • Chloe says:

          The only problem with your argument is that if it is true then what about the part where the “average mom” probably went to public school. What does that tell you? You are arguing the regular parents’ own education was so poor that they probably can’t teach their children, but that we should continue to trust a system that couldn’t teach us in the first place.

      • Brad says:

        Uh huh.  I’d like to see your average mom explain a proof of the Pythagorean theorem, even with a text book staring her in the face. 

    • Doc says:

      What, you didn’t take that stuff in high school? I mean, it’s not rocket science. You get a book and you go through it together. Duh.

    • Zellie says:

      Deal with that when you get there.  Kids can learn from text books themselves, parents can co-op to teach a group their specialty, courses can be taken at community college, tutors can be hired, adult friends can share expertise.  Or as Doc says, do it together!

    • Chloe says:

      This isn’t as hard as you’d think. I purchased a terrific biology curriculum and a great microscope and you can order specimens to dissect. We even dissected a cat which is usually a college-level dissection. (I should add that biology was a personal strength so I felt very confident teaching it.)

      The other stuff you can outsource. The tutors I found were either teachers looking for some extra income or professionals in their fields. My kids got terrific individualized attention. Also, community colleges will allow teenagers if they meet certain criteria. Most serious homeschool kids start attending college around 16.

  28. Ckeller64 says:

    Yes, I remember the feelings you are describing so honestly, Penelope.

    Whomever said that it takes a while to find your groove was correct. After a while, you ALL get used to this method and then it runs more smoothly.

    I think you have to un-school before you can home school. Forget the sitting-still-in-the-desk pattern, the open-up-your-book pattern, the finish-the-worksheet pattern. Then you will evolve to developing and then following their passions.

    I remember being lonely at times, the only adult. I wanted other adults to talk to. Every SAHM feels that way.

    You must develop in yourself the ability to sit quietly (as in learning to meditate) and watch your sons for a while. Put out a tantalizing idea and see what they say about it. Then have them write (in a journal) about the idea and their own response; or have them illustrate the idea. Have them story-tell to their dad later today or on the weekend.

    I use Discovery News online for many tantalizing ideas. There was an Irish zombie story just last week . . .  As well, there is a satellite that is going to crash in a few days . . . 

    My kids liked to have The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe read to them at this age (7-8).

    The New York Times has an education section, designed for home-schooling.

    I purchased the SRA math education boxes/curriculum. But kitchen math, that is, measuring out ingredients in cooking/baking is very good as well–plus you get to eat in the end!

    Good luck
    Keep on keepin’ on.
    Your sons have one another for socialization purposes. Sometimes the “group” thing in school is negative socialization . . .
    Chris Keller

  29. Jana Bedley Miller says:

    You will be able to carve out time for yourself…..it will just take some planning. (And if all else fails, lock yourself in your room or put on a video for them.)
    -Start out with down time/room time in the afternoon. 1 hour of free reading (or play) on their own beds. Work up to 2 hours. This is totally doable and reasonable for elementary age kids. You could let your younger son play for part of the time.(independently of course) this is a great time for everyone to recharge. When my sons were in junior high and hitting growth spurts, they napped during down time. If they slept I didn’t make them “make-up” their reading time they had missed.-Work on finding curriculum that they can use independently. The most educated people are those who can teach themselves. With homeschooling, my goal was not to teach them everything but to teach them how to teach themselves. Reading is the primary way we learn as adults so that’s a great place to start. We like Sonlight and Aleks math. 

    -Fill their time with independence. One way to do this is  to teach them to do their own laundry. This shifts responsibility to them, makes your responsibilities less and fills some of their time with something they can feel good about. Kids feel great about themselves when they

    -Go to the library. We met friends at the library every Friday. The moms chatted while the kids had to entertain themselves. If you don’t like chatting with friends, do your computer work during this time. At first they won’t know what to do with 1-2 hours a the library and then after a couple weeks when they know you are serious about staying, they will explore and find cool things to do.

    -Give them packets of work at the start of the week or a daily checklist to complete. That puts the responsibility onto them to complete their work on their timeline. I told them I was available to help them during certain hours (you decide) and then after that they were responsible for figuring it out. That way schoolwork doesn’t drag on all day. I know this may sound harsh but I had one who was a huge procrastinator and I din’t want to be helping him at 8 o’clock at night. 

    Jana

  30. Dolores says:

    I don’t know not one parent who needs some time to themselves. Thank you for your honesty-I feel the same way. Although I live with the approach of enjoying each day, I have one day per week just for mommy time. It gives me something to look forward to after most of the week homeschooling my daughter.

  31. Cindy says:

    I just had to point out the MAIN reason why I send my kids to public school: so they can learn how to make friends, be likable, & gain social skills, which as you’ve said yourself is the deciding factor in why people are hired and promoted. I just don’t see those qualities in the kids I’ve met who are homeschooled. Not to mention, I think it’s important for them to learn that not everybody shares the same viewpoint as their parents. I don’t even agree with letting kids skip a grade – sure, get them extra tutoring on the side, but let them be “normal” kids and not ostracized like I see happen to “gifted & talented” kids!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Cindy, I’m calling your bluff.  I don’t think you know many home educated people because I know hundreds and they know hundreds and they are amazingly likeable with great social skills. Kate Fridkis who guest posts here is one such person.  Your statement is narrow-minded and offensive. 

      If you want to connect with and learn about people who had success without school, you can start with this post which features individuals who credit their success to home education http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/01/profiles-of-adults-who-were-passion.html

      I also don’t think you really know what home education is Cindy.  It sounds as though you think it’s sitting in the house listening to your parents all day.  It is not.  It is living and learning in the world and being exposed to real-world viewpoints. 

      To another of your points, why is it that you believe children should be grouped by date of manufacture?  They are not widgets.  They do not develop at the same rate. They do not have the same passions and interests.  There is an abundance of research showing the benefits of multi-aged learning. 

      Finally, for many of us who are exceptional, there is no virtue in being “normal.” Many parents and individuals take great pride in their differences.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cindy, I’m calling your bluff.  I don’t think you know many home educated people because I know hundreds and they know hundreds and they are amazingly likeable with great social skills. Kate Fridkis who guest posts here is one such person.  Your statement is narrow-minded and offensive. 

      If you want to connect with and learn about people who had success without school, you can start with this post which features individuals who credit their success to home education http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/01/profiles-of-adults-who-were-passion.html

      I also don’t think you really know what home education is Cindy.  It sounds as though you think it’s sitting in the house listening to your parents all day.  It is not.  It is living and learning in the world and being exposed to real-world viewpoints. 

      To another of your points, why is it that you believe children should be grouped by date of manufacture?  They are not widgets.  They do not develop at the same rate. They do not have the same passions and interests.  There is an abundance of research showing the benefits of multi-aged learning. 

      Finally, for many of us who are exceptional, there is no virtue in being “normal.” Many parents and individuals take great pride in their differences.

      • Illini2k says:

        I am calling your bluff.  There are people who are good at homeschooling, and people that aren’t.  People that are exceptional are called ‘outliers’ and can be treated as such, however that is a small segment of the population.   Through my job I spend plenty of time with both home, and public, school kids and frankly they are no different.  One set of parents feels superior to the others, but that is about it.

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree that there are people who are good or not good at both. We know that generally it is the fault of adults whether teachers or parents when children suffer such personality flaws. 

          The bluff I am calling is that Cindy knows many home schoolers and that they are not likeable and don’t have social skills as a result of that.

      • Illini2k says:

        I am calling your bluff.  There are people who are good at homeschooling, and people that aren’t.  People that are exceptional are called ‘outliers’ and can be treated as such, however that is a small segment of the population.   Through my job I spend plenty of time with both home, and public, school kids and frankly they are no different.  One set of parents feels superior to the others, but that is about it.

      • Cindy says:

        I apologize if my statement was offensive - but it could very well be narrow-minded, which goes back to my point about why I choose public school. I want my children exposed to many, many, many viewpoints and not just mine (which I realize you said is possible with home-schooling, but I haven’t witnessed it in my small sample size!)

    • Dolores says:

      To make friends, you can naturally socialize without sending your children to a public school. Children are ‘forced’ to socialize in a public school setting whereas children choosing who they would prefer to have as friends. Actually, homeschool are just as normal as so called brainwashed children in public schools. Children don’t need to be surrounded by others who are bullies and staff who are cruel to our children. So, I find that  you describe in your words, “let them be normal…” , what makes you think that homeschoolers/unschoolers are not normal?

      • Anonymous says:

        Dolores,
        Your comment reminds me of a quote.
        Socializing is fun.  Being socialized is not.

        What’s ironic is that in school there are tremendous limits on students ability to socialize and it’s often frown upon when done without explicit permission, at specific times.  What’s more likely to happen in school is that children are socialized to conform, not question authority, only speak when given permission and only learn what someone else thinks is important in the way they say.

    • Cathy Earle says:

      I agree with others who have stated that **many** homeschooled kids are likable and “normal,” whatever that means. There is a wide range of social skills seen in people who go to public schools, those who go to private schools, and homeschoolers, including unschoolers. This is in part because there are a wide variety of people who choose this sorts of educations, and they do so for a wide variety of reasons.

      I wonder how many people you have met who homeschooled/unschooled, and you didn’t know it. Unless you interview every shop clerk and waiter, every kid on your child’s dance or baseball team, every banker and college professor and pastry chef and – well, you get the idea – as to whether they homeschooled, I don’t think you really know how many homeschooled people you know, let alone how their social skills compare to people who went to schools.

    • Lori says:

      There’s nothing about homeschooling that indicates kids won’t be likable, have social skills, or be able to make friends. Homeschooled kids actually have more time to socialize, mix with a more diverse group of children and adults, and do more activities that require collaboration and team-building. They’ll be at the top of the hire heap. 

      Now, those über-fundamentalist kids who were chained to radiators, well, even the ones who are public-schooled are going to have a hard time. All that stress paste-eating…

  32. W Salazar says:

    may wife and I are former public school teachers (I accepted a staff position at a regional university) and knew that public school was not going to prepare our kids for the life we wanted them to have. I took a cut in pay… my wife stayed home… it was a major sacrifice… a homeschooling Co-op helped.  Homeschooling allows you a lot of flexibility once kids learn how to manage their time. Reading and reading well is the key. What is so cool about homeschooling is that you cover the material in half of the time and really maximize 5 fold your learning. How cool is that? Most importantly our kids didn’t get into the catty- popular culture, clickish behavior, bullying, and slow–pace instruction  – and the one size formula that that occurs in public schools. In defense of public schools, I will say this: As public schools take on more of the responsiblity of educating kids, parents relinquish that responsibility. A public school education is only part of the puzzle, parents still have to provide enrichment activities, trips to the library, museums, concens – meangingful activities that don’t cost a lot of money… and instill and reinforce whatever values they deem important. The caveat is this: Do you want your kids at age 30 to still be living with you? Because they weren’t prepared to make a life for themselves?

  33. Wendy Griffin Anderson says:

    I have held down a full-time job and homeschooled my kids for the last ten years because the public schools in my city pretty much suck, and as a single mom, I can’t afford private school. We’re now doing high school work. Still at home. And the kids are thriving. My boys stay with my mother while I’m at the office, and I realize that not everyone has that possibility. But really, there are a lot of single parents who home school and hold down jobs.It takes discipline and structure. It takes planning. You have to be willing to spend more time at the outset, instructing and coaching. But once the kids get the hang of it, you should be more free. Reading is key. Don’t be afraid of audiobooks (get the unabridged, non-dramatized versions if you can) — for my very active boys, they were a godsend. By age 12, they had “read” most of the classics (even Moby Dick!), without tears and fuss, and so non-stressfully that they have actually listened to them more than once. They have listened to The Jungle Books so often that they can quote huge stretches from memory! LOL!

    Choose your curriculum carefully. Be ready to alter it if it doesn’t fit your child. We’ve used a variety of approaches and curricula, including the reading-based and self-directed Robinson Curriculum, supplemented with a number of math, science, and foreign language materials.

    It can seem overwhelming at first. But set your own personal work aside for about four hours and focus on teaching your kids, and then turn your kids loose to play on that wonderful farm. Your kids will reap tremendous benefits (as you already know) and you will find your relationship with them improving beautifully. (And you might even brush up your own education … I did!)

    • Heidi says:

      We get audiobooks regularly now.  I myself often read and listen to a book as both are enjoyable.  I’m really excited after reading your post to look forward to longer audiobooks in a few years!

  34. Chloe says:

    The picture is just perfect. After awhile of homeschooling, you will start rationalizing that getting them to scrub the toilets and take out the trash is also homeschooling. It’s all homeschooling.

    I graduated two children from homeschooling. Yes, my career was ruined, but mostly because I became so obsessed with homeschooling them “right” that there wasn’t much left for me. Oh, and I was a religious nut. Being a religious nut takes a lot of energy and attention. Between homeschooling and being a religious nut, I didn’t have time for much of a career.

    But I’m not a nut anymore. Well, I’m not a religious nut anymore.

    After my years of absolute dedication and devotion to homeschooling, my daughter went and got married six month after graduating, and my son ran away from home to live on the streets of San Francisco so he could be a tortured musician. Hmmm. These are hardly the dreams a hs mom has for her little prodigies. 

    Before I started homeschooling, I read that book about they guy with his four boys and their goat farm, and all his kids went to Harvard or Yale or something. How come I didn’t get the same results?

    BUT, four years later?  They are now 21 and 22, and all I can say is that God works in mysterious ways. 

    My daughter and her husband are happy together. They started their own business and bought their first home last year. At 22! Who buys a home at 22 these days? She lives two miles away and she calls me everyday. She is grateful she’s not stuck with the huge debt her peers have for college degrees they can’t get jobs with. I still wish she’d gone to college so I could brag, but you can’t argue with success.

    My son decided that being homeless wasn’t as romantic as he thought it would be (He realized this after we turned off his cellphone. Being homeless without a cellphone just isn’t as cool I guess). Then he moved to San Diego, got a job at Starbucks, never asks for money, AND calls me twice a week .

    Sorry to ramble on, Penelope. I think you’re terrific and you do have an important career. Keeping me entertained and inspired has to be worth something.

    • GerriWithaG says:

      Maybe you can have a career now…your response to the post is VERY entertaining.  And so honest.  And it’s well written…I usually can’t concentrate long enough to read a long comment on a blog post, but I read yours and was completely engaged along the way.  Congrats on your kids finding their way…and congrats to you for raising healthy children!  It sounds to me you did splendidly with homeschooling!   

    • Vicky says:

      Chloe:  How did you recover from religion?  Religion scares the crap out of me.

      • Chloe says:

        The tough part was recovering from my religion without losing my faith altogether. Wounded people tend to become bitter people and lose their faith in everything. The real challenge of getting out of oppressive religious systems is keeping your sense of humor about it all and still trusting that somehow this is all good. And even if it isn’t, I want to think that it is because that’s what’s best for me.

        • Sabinal says:

          religion always gets a bad rap because of people…if you don’t want to go to church fine. But as a churchgoer myself, I like it very much, thank you.
          No religions aren’t perfect, but then neither are people.

        • Sabinal says:

          religion always gets a bad rap because of people…if you don’t want to go to church fine. But as a churchgoer myself, I like it very much, thank you.
          No religions aren’t perfect, but then neither are people.

        • hsmom says:

          When I decided to rebel in High School and become a beat-you-silly-with-my-three-Bible-versions-all-of-which-I-can-quote-chaper-and-verse Baptist (I was living in  a predominantly Muslim country at the time.) I told my wise and loving mother she was going to hell, because she was not “born again”. She told me I would get over it. I said, “you never get over God”… to which she replied, “no, but you do get over being stupid about him.”  God, Brad Pitt, George Clooney etc.  She was so right. You are not alone.  I just began my home school journey. I hope I do as well as you.

          My seven year old asked tonight, ” you did say college was MY choice right?”  PhD professor daddy…. ” yes. now go to sleep.”

          • Chloe says:

            roflol. “no, but you do get over being stupid…” roflol

            Those moms. Sometimes they actually do know a thing or two, don’t they?

        • hsmom says:

          When I decided to rebel in High School and become a beat-you-silly-with-my-three-Bible-versions-all-of-which-I-can-quote-chaper-and-verse Baptist (I was living in  a predominantly Muslim country at the time.) I told my wise and loving mother she was going to hell, because she was not “born again”. She told me I would get over it. I said, “you never get over God”… to which she replied, “no, but you do get over being stupid about him.”  God, Brad Pitt, George Clooney etc.  She was so right. You are not alone.  I just began my home school journey. I hope I do as well as you.

          My seven year old asked tonight, ” you did say college was MY choice right?”  PhD professor daddy…. ” yes. now go to sleep.”

        • John Higgins1990 says:

          “The real challenge of getting out of oppressive religious systems…”

          Oh so true.  The harshest words that Jesus spoke were against the religious leaders who turned God’s word into an oppressive system. 

    • SK says:

      By doing your honest best at the time, as wacky as it may now seem in retrospect, you gave your children the gift of Character.  Cheers to you and your family!  I think you will be enjoying many unexpected rewards for your efforts for the rest of your life.

      • Chloe says:

        Thank you. I’d like to think so. 

        I did not raise workers for the machine. But there was an unexpected cost that I failed to count at the time: Insecurity.

        The machine promises security (which it doesn’t actually provide–it just promises the illusion of it) and to raise children to live outside the machine can be very scary for the mom who really deep down just wants her children to be safe.

  35. brooklynchick says:

    I’m not a mom, but almost all my friends are, and I am a former teacher.  Please, please don’t feel bad about needing a break: “I feel so bad writing that.  A break from the kids.”  Let’s stop the madness!  The idea that a good mom who loves her kids wouldn’t need a break from them is INSANE! I agree with Anne: “One danger of the homeschooling trend is that it becomes just one more way that some women can hold ourselves to impossibly high standards.”  Penelope, please don’t get sucked into that.  

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Yeah. I totally agree. That’s why I think it’s important for me to sort of announce that I’m scaling back work. I don’t want anyone to think for a second that I can homeschool without having to do that. 

      I think too often women do not want to talk about the compromises they make. It feels somehow like a failing to have to make compromises. But I think we need less talk of compromises in general, philosophical terms, and more talk of women giving stuff up in concrete terms. It’s sort of like ending the airbrushing in print ads: The more clearly we see ourselves the better we feel about ourselves. Penelope

      • Cathy0 says:

        A little more on compromises…I see this primarily as a choice between putting your kids first or putting yourself first.
        “I challenge you to read these links and tell me you don't think homeschool would be better for your kids. And this is why I tell myself that I have to make homeschooling work.”
        These two sentences don’t logically follow. Homeschooling may be better for my kids. But it’s not better for me.
        Why do women feel they have to give up everything? Prioritise themselves last?
        School needs only to be ‘good enough’ – and when combined with a home environment that supports education – the kids will be fine.

        • Chloe says:

          Well, yes and no. At the end of our story, if we haven’t made ourselves a priority then our children will end up having to take care of us in our old, sick age and they may not feel like we were quite so selfless then. 

          • Cathy0 says:

            Chloe, we agree. I am saying mums should put themselves first. :)

          • Chloe says:

            Oops. I think I misread you. Sorry. That’s what comes from reading too fast. 

            We’ll have an equal society when the needs of mothers and the needs of children aren’t pitted against one another anymore. I don’t think I’ll see that day in my lifetime.

          • Chloe says:

            Oops. I think I misread you. Sorry. That’s what comes from reading too fast. 

            We’ll have an equal society when the needs of mothers and the needs of children aren’t pitted against one another anymore. I don’t think I’ll see that day in my lifetime.

          • Chloe says:

            Oops. I think I misread you. Sorry. That’s what comes from reading too fast. 

            We’ll have an equal society when the needs of mothers and the needs of children aren’t pitted against one another anymore. I don’t think I’ll see that day in my lifetime.

      • Chloe says:

        Every year when I get my Social Security report I see 10 BLANK YEARS where I didn’t make a penny. You can’t get more concrete than that. Luckily my marriage stayed intact or I’d be totally screwed, wouldn’t I? Even so, I’m feeling the pinch now as I look towards retirement and how many productive working years I have left. 

        I never thought that I was holding my sacrifices against my children until I threw them at my son.The worst thing I ever did as a mother was when I told him through hysterical tears, as he was heading off to live out his dream of living on the Haight, that I should have put him in daycare and went off and made money like all my friends did because then at least I’d have something to show for those ten years.Yep. I’m lucky he calls me at all.

      • Chloe says:

        Every year when I get my Social Security report I see 10 BLANK YEARS where I didn’t make a penny. You can’t get more concrete than that. Luckily my marriage stayed intact or I’d be totally screwed, wouldn’t I? Even so, I’m feeling the pinch now as I look towards retirement and how many productive working years I have left. 

        I never thought that I was holding my sacrifices against my children until I threw them at my son.The worst thing I ever did as a mother was when I told him through hysterical tears, as he was heading off to live out his dream of living on the Haight, that I should have put him in daycare and went off and made money like all my friends did because then at least I’d have something to show for those ten years.Yep. I’m lucky he calls me at all.

      • Beth says:

        100% agree, P.  If more women discuss compromises in concrete terms rather than being so competitive and saying (or at least fronting) that they “can do it all – ALL of the time” it only hurts the collective.  I have been searching for a champion to say, “it’s okay if you give up something for this, I am doing it too.”

        • Chloe says:

          Compromises have to be made. Make no mistake, it’s either career or kids for lots of women. Most women I’ve known aren’t careerists, they are workers. They work to support their families. Their career, as it were, is their family. But then I’ve never lived in NYC.

  36. brooklynchick says:

    Also, this site might be helpful if the boys are computer-inclined: http://powermylearning.com/

  37. brooklynchick says:

    Also, this site might be helpful if the boys are computer-inclined: http://powermylearning.com/

  38. Erika says:

    You’ve been mentioning this for a while, and now you’re fully doing it.  I’m still surprised. Reading this, it’s another thing for parents (especially moms) to feel guilty about.  That I put my kids in public school while I  go skipping off to work to enjoy my day, vs. staying at home with them to teach them to follow their passion (and everything else…).

    My kids challenge me.  They are can be defiant enough when I try to get them to do everyday tasks, I just can’t imagine myself teaching them too.

    I am ignorant when it comes to home schoolinbg — how you actually put together a curriculum (do you need to meet state requirements?  How do they “graduate”?).  For someone like me, I just can’t even see this working, although now I’m filled with doubt that my kids are getting short-changed.

  39. Erika says:

    You’ve been mentioning this for a while, and now you’re fully doing it.  I’m still surprised. Reading this, it’s another thing for parents (especially moms) to feel guilty about.  That I put my kids in public school while I  go skipping off to work to enjoy my day, vs. staying at home with them to teach them to follow their passion (and everything else…).

    My kids challenge me.  They are can be defiant enough when I try to get them to do everyday tasks, I just can’t imagine myself teaching them too.

    I am ignorant when it comes to home schoolinbg — how you actually put together a curriculum (do you need to meet state requirements?  How do they “graduate”?).  For someone like me, I just can’t even see this working, although now I’m filled with doubt that my kids are getting short-changed.

    • Beth says:

      Ditto!  I furiously researched what it would take to home school and if it was something I could pull off myself too. Now I am feeling guilty that I am shortchanging my daughter if I send her to public school and she’s still a toddler! 

  40. Lucas Reis says:

    What about “learning to live withother, different people”? That’s something you learn by doing in a school, and don’t learn homeschooling…

    Going to a school is not just about the contents of the class; it’s about learning to live in a society where not everybody loves you! ;)

    • Gleealee says:

      Why do you think hs kids dont deal with people that dont like them?My kids figure skate, dont everyone likes them. They do ballet, basketball, science classes, church classes. They know we live in a world that bas bullies and mean people.Dont need to sit in a classroom for 8 hours a day to learn those things!!

    • Lisa Nielsen says:

      Lucas Reis,
      Home educated kids learn to live with other, different people all the time because the are living in the real world rather than that of a manufactured, artificial school setting that is generally cut off from the world. 

      Additionally, in real life you get to have choice and input in those with whom you surround yourself.  The inability to do this in the school world is one of things that leads to bullying and is very unhealthy.

    • Chloe says:

      You might never have been bullied in school, but certainly you witnessed what happens to the “other, different people” who aren’t loved by everybody. The schoolyard is hardly the zen-like Kumbaya setting where everybody is learning, “Can’t we all just get along?” 

      • Lucas Reis says:

        Yeah, I know it. And, because life is not a “kumbaya setting” that I think the kid will learn more to live in a society if he is at school. 

        In real life there’s no mom around. There is bullying all the time. There’s conflict. Of course an average homeschooled kid will know math and english more than an average kid in school, but you can’t deny that the kid in school will know how to handle bullies and conflict better! 

        • Lucas Reis says:

          Oh, by the way, I loved the “kumbaya setting” expression! ;)

        • Chloe says:

          Lucas, I’m sorry, but I can deny it. Some people never get over that stuff. I lived in San Diego when a kid who was being horribly bullied showed up at school with a shotgun and blew several students and teachers away. His parents and teachers knew about the bullying but did nothing to stop it. He took matters into his own hands.

          My sister-in-law, to this day, has a horrible social anxiety disorder from being bullied in school. She’s 48 and a SCHOOL TEACHER! Being in school hasn’t cured her. The playground is not a panacea for social ills and social dysfunction. If it was, we’d all be cured by now.

          Homeschooling can be a good thing or a bad thing, but I don’t think it necessarily predicts social adeptness. My children are very well socialized, but they take after their father that way. They could have just as easily been like their aunt and no amount of public school would have changed that. 

          I’m guessing Penelope knows her kids best and understands their situation better than any of us. I admire her putting it out here for our scrutiny. She sure knows how to start a provocative conversation that runs and runs and runs. She’s got wicked blogging skilz, doesn’t she? And the skin of a rhino.

        • Zellie says:

          Lucas,
          In homeschooling groups it is common to have many children and their parents present.  When conflicts come up, the parent is there to guide his own child’s behavior if inappropriate as well as to help decide on appropriate problem-solving.  These lessons stay with the child as he matures, and he is gradually better equipped to handle such situations as bullies.

          Children are not mature enough to deal with these issues alone, and the number of adults in school is not large enough to help them.  When someone is overwhelmed beyond his coping abilities, it is no longer a learning experience.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I can agree that public schools are non-optimal, and I’ve noticed that educated parents are opting out, but home schooling is just one way they’re doing so.  Charter schools are as big a trend as homeschooling, and private schools get decent enrollment for a reason.

    My problem with the idea of homeschooling (doing it myself, or recommending it to others) is that I just don’t think that I’d be very good at it, and I think that most people are similar.  It takes years of study and practice to become an effective educator!

    Also: it seems like you should be talking more about the Montessori approach.  It’s not the right thing for all kids, but it’s in line with some of the things that you discuss, and there’s a whole infrastructure of educational materials that are the result of years of experience in what is most effective.

  42. Scot says:

    Sorry, don’t buy the whole home-school deal.  Great solution perhaps for kids living out in farm country away from public schools but that’s about it.  Don’t get me started on the shortcomings of our public schools but most teachers are awesome and can do a much better job at teaching than I can.  Homeschooling movement seems to be out me, me, me and my kid.  If all the well meaning homeschooling moms would volunteer at their kid’s school or scream at their local school board, then maybe we can make our schools better. 

    • Pattyboulder says:

      Yea Scot!  Thank you for recognizing that teachers are usually trying their hardest given their limited resources.  I am a public school teacher in a city where home-schooling is all the rage (tied to the large evangelical population…).  Every year we get kids who spent the past 3-4 years in homeschooling.  Forgive me for my blunt honesty, but usually these kids are strange birds: sullen, write at a 2nd grade level in high school, can’t do math to save their lives, EXTREMELY needy and don’t understand that they are no longer the center of the universe.  I feel badly for homeschooled kids – just because a parent has been to college doesn’t mean they know how/what to teach, plus their lack of social skills are going to hold them back in the adult world.  The truth hurts, but the sooner home school crowd gets this, the better their kids will be.  Please, save your kids from adult-centric, ego-boosting ideologies.  Your kids need to live life, not be sheltered from the world!

      • flynn says:

        I wonder how Penelope cherry picks to which comments she will respond. I think this thread is the most important listed. As an introvert living in an extroverts world, I would like to know what research exists evaluating the social education of home-schooled children. Excluding professional degrees that require verified educational certification (scientist, attorney, etc), I would argue that the ‘soft skills’ children learn through sustained interaction in a socially competitive environment better enable that child to succeed when they are thrust into those same environments later in life. Anyone who has worked in a company of at least 100 employees and especially a large company of 5000 or more can see how they are just an extension of a high-school environment. No matter your subject matter expertise, if you can’t connect, influence, show tolerance, accept criticism, use power, manage conflict, demonstrate confidence, be likeable and show a host of other social skills, you will not progress. Anyone who thinks advancement in this world is based usually on merit is kidding themselves.

        Despite Penelope’s own experience, most people in this world are not entrepreneurs. You can’t be a leader without followers, and most of the population is being educated to work for someone else some day.

        • Barbara C. says:

          flynn, you make several good points, the main one being that most of the population is being educated to work for someone else some day…and at a high school level.  Sadly, the current high school level is very dumbed-down from what it was fifty or sixty years ago.  One of the main reasons that parents choose homeschooling is that they aren’t content with their kids being another “cog” in the factory.  They want their kids to discern a vocation, not just be able to get a job.

          Most people in the world aren’t entrepreneurs, but maybe that’s because they’ve been so well-schooled.  Many of the most notable statesman (think Founding Fathers), inventors, and entrepeneurs in a America either dropped/flunked out of school or were privately tutored/homeschooled for the majority of their education (Franklin, Edison, Bill Gates).  I don’t necessarily expect my kids to be in the history books some day, but I want to give them every opportunity to develop into the best people they can be.

          As for research supporting homeschooling socially:  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/13/home-schooling-socialization-not-problem/   And if you read the work of Dr. Gordon Neufeld, one of his conclusions was that the less time that children spend with their peer group the better social skills and decision-making skills they have.  I mean do you learn how to swim better by someone dumping you in the deep end or by having an instructor teach you how step by step?  Kids in schools are effectively dumped in the deep end socially.  They are not watching adults interact with each other regularly, and they are often being talked AT by one adult at a time rather than being talked with.

          • Valerie says:

            That is a really good point, Barbara. Especially the last bit- “They are not watching adults interact with each other regularly, and they are often being talked AT by one adult at a time rather than being talked with.” Love that. 

          • flynn says:

            Barbara, I appreciate your response, but I’m not sure it invalidates anything I said. I did not suggest that being a follower = being a cog. Would you consider a Sr Vice President of a major corporation a follower; how about an Innovation Director; or a small business owner. There are probably millions of wonderful jobs in thousands of vocations that will not be held by entrepreneurs but wouldn’t be considered a ‘cog in a factory’. And you know who gets most of those jobs in this world, people with a mainstream (read high-school / college) education. If you choose to educate your children in a different environment, that’s your family’s decision. But what I find a lot in both this discussion forum and these kinds of stories in general is a significant inability of most folks to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Homeschooling might be right for one kind of family. Unschooling for another. Sudbury one. Public for another. If I had an extremely extroverted child, I would probably want them in an environment where they could learn to influence their peers. A self starter, perhaps Montessori. Who knows. But for every one of those awesome individuals you could mention who received an unconventional education and became a success, I could probably respond with a thousand who received a mainstream education and somehow became presidents, business leaders, inventors, etc. Having your kids in public schooling does not automatically mean they won’t develop into the best people they can be.

            Thanks for the research. Unfortunately, it seems to have much in common with Swiss cheese. For one, it’s based out of Canada and both studies were commissioned by Homeschooling organizations. For two, where are socioeconomics cross-referenced? And being engaged in social activities is hardly a comparison to managing a socially competitive environment. It’s that ‘competitive’ part that’s key. If your child winds up working for a company of any size, they are going to need to socially compete to progress. Their brilliant conceptualizing and free thinking they learned in home school won’t get them anywhere if the person they’re competing with for a promotion is taking their boss out for a beer and a game on a Saturday night. Does that mean a homeschooler doesn’t have these social skills? Absolutely not. But they sure better understand the majority of people who do have the educational and social background.

            And by the way, I think this entire story is really an illusion anyway. For my own part, I’d say that a successful education is probably not at all what mainstream society thinks it is, is really a lifelong pursuit, isn’t really a separate discipline but an element of our very nature that should enable other progress and is probably as diverse in learning style and interpretation as there are schools in the world.

          • flynn says:

            Barbara, I appreciate your response, but I’m not sure it invalidates anything I said. I did not suggest that being a follower = being a cog. Would you consider a Sr Vice President of a major corporation a follower; how about an Innovation Director; or a small business owner. There are probably millions of wonderful jobs in thousands of vocations that will not be held by entrepreneurs but wouldn’t be considered a ‘cog in a factory’. And you know who gets most of those jobs in this world, people with a mainstream (read high-school / college) education. If you choose to educate your children in a different environment, that’s your family’s decision. But what I find a lot in both this discussion forum and these kinds of stories in general is a significant inability of most folks to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Homeschooling might be right for one kind of family. Unschooling for another. Sudbury one. Public for another. If I had an extremely extroverted child, I would probably want them in an environment where they could learn to influence their peers. A self starter, perhaps Montessori. Who knows. But for every one of those awesome individuals you could mention who received an unconventional education and became a success, I could probably respond with a thousand who received a mainstream education and somehow became presidents, business leaders, inventors, etc. Having your kids in public schooling does not automatically mean they won’t develop into the best people they can be.

            Thanks for the research. Unfortunately, it seems to have much in common with Swiss cheese. For one, it’s based out of Canada and both studies were commissioned by Homeschooling organizations. For two, where are socioeconomics cross-referenced? And being engaged in social activities is hardly a comparison to managing a socially competitive environment. It’s that ‘competitive’ part that’s key. If your child winds up working for a company of any size, they are going to need to socially compete to progress. Their brilliant conceptualizing and free thinking they learned in home school won’t get them anywhere if the person they’re competing with for a promotion is taking their boss out for a beer and a game on a Saturday night. Does that mean a homeschooler doesn’t have these social skills? Absolutely not. But they sure better understand the majority of people who do have the educational and social background.

            And by the way, I think this entire story is really an illusion anyway. For my own part, I’d say that a successful education is probably not at all what mainstream society thinks it is, is really a lifelong pursuit, isn’t really a separate discipline but an element of our very nature that should enable other progress and is probably as diverse in learning style and interpretation as there are schools in the world.

        • Anonymous says:

          Both my home schooled children are in senior supervisory positions as a result of the social skills they were required to develop. Instead of being locked in with age group peers they were interacting with people of all age levels. Socialization occurs when you teach children how to interact with all age levels. Tossing them in with peers is no guarantee of anything.

          • flynn says:

            And you know who else is in senior supervisory positions, about a gazillion other people who did develop their social skills in a non-home schooled environment. Apparently being locked in with age group peers has turned out kind of well for millions of people leaders in this country. I won’t touch the notion that public school children are only socialized with their peers and not teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors, etc. And not tossing them in with peers is also no guarantee of anything. Maybe, just maybe, your home schooled children aren’t going to be any more successful (success meaning some ridiculous contemporary American version of consumption, happiness, status and income) than if they had been educated in a public school. But maybe you’re happier they weren’t. But this doesn’t invalidate my points – success, as described above, will generally in this country involve significant socially *competitive* skills and most people, the overwhelming majority, will work for someone else. When they do, they better have the appropriate skill set.

      • flynn says:

        I wonder how Penelope cherry picks to which comments she will respond. I think this thread is the most important listed. As an introvert living in an extroverts world, I would like to know what research exists evaluating the social education of home-schooled children. Excluding professional degrees that require verified educational certification (scientist, attorney, etc), I would argue that the ‘soft skills’ children learn through sustained interaction in a socially competitive environment better enable that child to succeed when they are thrust into those same environments later in life. Anyone who has worked in a company of at least 100 employees and especially a large company of 5000 or more can see how they are just an extension of a high-school environment. No matter your subject matter expertise, if you can’t connect, influence, show tolerance, accept criticism, use power, manage conflict, demonstrate confidence, be likeable and show a host of other social skills, you will not progress. Anyone who thinks advancement in this world is based usually on merit is kidding themselves.

        Despite Penelope’s own experience, most people in this world are not entrepreneurs. You can’t be a leader without followers, and most of the population is being educated to work for someone else some day.

      • bookworm says:

        It is not fair to judge all homeschoolers by the ones you have described above. Most successful homeschoolers would never consider enrolling their children in pubic school.

        • Pattyboulder says:

          Well, if the kids have to dodge bullets or encounter other crime, of course you wouldn’t want to put them in public schools.  Most schools are not that bad…give your kid a chance to experience diversity, communication…all that stuff flynn said!  Don’t mean to judge…just sharing my personal experience with MANY homeschooled kids. 

          • Brenda Ray Borchert says:

            My kids are IN the adult world and don’t need to be warehoused 6+ hours each day to learn how to be leaders, treat others well and make a positive difference in the lives of others.  They (at the tender ages of 11 & 6) volunteer, team captain and help the planning committee of our local cancer walk each year.  They are politically aware, compassionate and rather smart assets to our community.  We live in a diverse community to the extreme that we look odd here, they don’t need to be anywhere else to learn about other people groups. 

            I started teaching them soon after they were born:  how do get along in a new environment, how to talk, walk, perservere, be kind, work hard and more.  And frankly, teaching calculus to my 11yo at this point is really easy.

            My girls will be IN the world, making it a better place while all those highschoolers you speak so highly of are still being rude to each others and adults, cheating,  and slacking their way through to graduation.

          • Pattyboulder says:

            Snicker…you just sound bossy and controlling.  Like you want to mold your kids in the image of YOU and what YOU think is important…not letting them be themselves.  How are they going to learn to deal with rude people if they are busy thriving in the “perfect” world you’ve set up for them?

          • Barbara C. says:

            Well, duh, that’s what parents do.  They pass on the things they think are important.  All parents who care about their kids want to guide them and mold them.  Or are only “professional” teachers allowed to guide and mold young minds?  Scary. 

            If anything homeschoolers let their kids be themselves more than schools do.  I can tailor my kids education to their strengths, weaknesses, interests, personalities, and special needs better than a teacher in a classroom of 25 kids can.  Homeschooling parents of ADHD children have found methods of educating their kids without having to drug them into acting like zombies. 

            And guess what, my kids have still had to deal with rude people in their “sheltered” life…like the public schooled kids they play with that called them “gay” or the girl at gymnastics who kept saying mean things behind my oldest daughter’s back or the older kid at the play-ground who dumped sand on my five-year-old’s head.  There is no shortage of rude people in the world for my kids to encounter, but they aren’t stuck with the same rude people day after day and year after year with very little direct adult supervision or assistance.  Not to mention all of the conflict resolution my kids have to learn just to get along with each other every day.

          • Ron Coleman says:

            I guess if you’re teaching your kids calculus that’s a good retort to my earlier comment on math and science in home schooling.  On the other hand if he’s learning it at 11, home school or not, chances are he and his mom have a pretty good think going in terms of inborn talent.

            Plenty to be said for your approach, Brenda, given how well it seems to have worked for your family — especially how you’ve avoided having them ground down by the leveling effect of mass schooling.  This is probably not a prescription for most people, however.

          • Brenda Ray Borchert says:

            My kids are IN the adult world and don’t need to be warehoused 6+ hours each day to learn how to be leaders, treat others well and make a positive difference in the lives of others.  They (at the tender ages of 11 & 6) volunteer, team captain and help the planning committee of our local cancer walk each year.  They are politically aware, compassionate and rather smart assets to our community.  We live in a diverse community to the extreme that we look odd here, they don’t need to be anywhere else to learn about other people groups. 

            I started teaching them soon after they were born:  how do get along in a new environment, how to talk, walk, perservere, be kind, work hard and more.  And frankly, teaching calculus to my 11yo at this point is really easy.

            My girls will be IN the world, making it a better place while all those highschoolers you speak so highly of are still being rude to each others and adults, cheating,  and slacking their way through to graduation.

          • Brenda Ray Borchert says:

            My kids are IN the adult world and don’t need to be warehoused 6+ hours each day to learn how to be leaders, treat others well and make a positive difference in the lives of others.  They (at the tender ages of 11 & 6) volunteer, team captain and help the planning committee of our local cancer walk each year.  They are politically aware, compassionate and rather smart assets to our community.  We live in a diverse community to the extreme that we look odd here, they don’t need to be anywhere else to learn about other people groups. 

            I started teaching them soon after they were born:  how do get along in a new environment, how to talk, walk, perservere, be kind, work hard and more.  And frankly, teaching calculus to my 11yo at this point is really easy.

            My girls will be IN the world, making it a better place while all those highschoolers you speak so highly of are still being rude to each others and adults, cheating,  and slacking their way through to graduation.

          • Ryandkris says:

            I homeschool my children.  It is the best decision for our family.  Last year, we sent the kids to school to try it out.  Both kids made plenty of friends, made the honor roll, and had fun.  However, my son started asking to come home before Thanksgiving, and my daughter asked to come home in February.  Both kids enjoyed their experience at school, but they both preferred being home.  And I missed them.
            While we we didn’t have a bad experience with the schools, there were definitely shortcomings.  My son was right on track with reading and writing, but light years ahead in math and science.  My daughter was the opposite.  They both spent a significant amount of the day bored.  The public school system can’t accommodate for children ahead in one or two subjects.  With them at home, I can let them work at their own speed. 

            The other thing I noticed is actually about socialization.  I agree that children need to be exposed to diverse situations and to conflict.  They need to know how to handle peer pressure and bullying.  But you don’t teach a child to swim by throwing them into the middle of a lake and telling them to get to shore.  How do we expect our children to resolve conflict by throwing them into it and telling them to deal with it???  With homeschooling, I get the privilege of being around when their friends are with them.  When a conflict arises, I can help walk them through conflict resolution in a healthy way, rather than leaving them to figure it out (most likely in the wrong way) themselves.

            True, there are home schoolers who want to isolate themselves from the world.  However, that is not the case with the majority.  For example, we actually don’t have a single day of the week where we are home all day.  We are constantly interacting with others through sports, music, our home school group, church, and volunteering.  My children are exposed to people from all walks of life, not just their peers.  They are able to interact with people their own age, people older and people younger.  This is a valuable lesson at any age.

            Being a military family, home schooling is a great way to provide continuity in the kids’ education and a way that we can offer them some amount of stability.  It also helps them to make the transition a bit more smoothly, because they’re not thrown into a classroom with 20 new people all at the same time.

            I don’t think home schooling is right for everyone.  The wonderful thing about our educational system here in America is the right to choose how our children are educated.  As parents, we should evaluate our family’s needs and goals each year before deciding what course is best for us.  We have the freedom to choose.  We should make that choice only after carefully considering all the options with an open mind, and we should remember that this decision is a very personal one, and just because somebody else arrives at a different decision than you do, that doesn’t make them wrong.

      • Renee says:

        I’m a public school teacher, too, and I see the home school failures. However, I wouldn’t judge homeschooling based on them any more than I would judge the public school system solely based on its failures. Most of the formerly home schooled students in my school are yo-yo homeschoolers. They start out in the public system. Some time in elementary school when the parents have been called in for yet another conference either for their child’s disruptive behavior or lack of achievement, the parents yank them out of school, convinced they can do better. After a couple of years, boom, they’re back in the public system and have very little academic growth to show for their time away. 

        As others have said, the home school successes don’t usually show up in the public school system. Colleges are plenty happy to enroll them, though.

      • Ron Coleman says:

        It’s hard not to agree with this. You can ask a lot of questions about whether the social and socializing benefits of mass schooling are a good or a bad training for life, but the hard fact is that it is virtually inconceivable that anything like a majority of parents who are in a position to do the home schooling have the skills and resources to teach math or science — which are the “hard part” of school (unless, per the comment further up there, you’re dealing with Asian kids, etc., who have challenges with English and thinking outside the box, or both).

        • Moniquews says:

          Ron my husband and I are engineers.  We both learned science and math in high school (public) and even better in college.  We both help teach other home schooled kids.  I also had the privilege to re-learn chemistry from a home school parent while my eldest learned.  Woo boy!  She knew her stuff because she was passionate about it NOT because of her traditional education.  Anyone with the interest and drive can learn and share with others.

        • Ellen Volk Crain says:

          “Homeschooling” does not mean that children are taught only by their parents.  I live in the outskirts of the Twin Cities– not NYC or Chicago, and,off the top of my head, I can think of 4 or 5 different options for hiring out the teaching of high school math and science, despite the fact that I haven’t done any research yet (my kids are still elementary aged).  Based on my experience with other subjects, there are probably 5 times that number of options. (For the record, these options are not Creationist “science” either).

          Homeschooling is often a kind a la carte schooling.  Families do some subjects on their own, others in casual groups, and some in formal out-of-the-home settings.  The main difference is that parents have control– there’s no negotiating with the school to get your kids what you believe they need.  Oh, and you almost always have to pay for what you want.  

    • Karen says:

      HAHAHAHAHH I love this one.  Sorry, no.  I didn’t fuck up the schools, it’s not my job to make them better. 

      It’s not mom’s job to fix everyone’s problems and clean up everyone’s mess.  The idea that mothers of young children should be engaged in social activism and ALSO raising children and ALSO having a career?  You come and clean my house and maybe I’ll think about it.

  43. RRA says:

    Query: If you are dedicated enough to attempt to homeschool, it would stand to reason that you are dedicated enough to provide an enriching home life to your children when they are done with school for the day/week (assuming that the school is a safe place for them to be).

    • Someitguy says:

      Why waste my kids time?  How many years does it take learn to add and read?  Why create burnout in children?  Do you want to do more work after you put your 40?  Plus kids already get a ton of homework. 

      Since only 65% of graduates of High School are functional literates.  It stands to reason they are not the same. 

  44. Brooke says:

    OMG  Best post ever.

  45. Illini2k says:

    Penelope, I don’t have the exact reference, but didn’t you cite Harvard research a while ago, indicating that sending kids to day care was better than staying home.  And this is because of their exposure to social situations?  So wouldn’t the opposite be true in the case of home school? 
    Sure the public schools are less than they could be, but isn’t every public institution, by it’s very definition, ultimately going to result in mediocrity at best? Unless there is a dangerous situation for your child, home school is really just an opportunity for parents to control the environment around their children so that they can win. And maybe breeding 100% winners yields a fearless type of leadership that we need today.  I don’t know, but you are kidding yourself if you think the home school movement is about the kids, it’s about a subconscious move away from the 2 income family that has devastated our society and economy the past 30 years.  1 parent can stay home without the risk of being ‘unproductive’. 

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      The research I cited was the exact opposite. Look up Wikipedia – attachment theory. There is an insane amount of research to show that daycare is bad for kids under two. It’s just really unpopular to publish, so I guess it’s only on Wikipedia, and academic papers… and my blog :)

      Penelope

      • John Higgins1990 says:

        “Reactive attachment disorder”.  This is also a major issue when considering adoptions, especially from Eastern Europe or Russia.

  46. Nino says:

    “sole breadwinner” — not true. get your facts straight.

  47. Susan says:

    My 9th and 12th graders are taking pre-calculus, multivariable calculus, AP Spanish Literature,  Research & Experimentation (building a trebuchet), Chemistry, Computer Programming, and Latin, among other subjects.
    I have a PhD in Biophysics but the only one I could conceivably teach of these subjects is Computer Programming, and that too, probably not very well. Is the talk about homeschooling meant for elementary school-aged kids? Or is the point that you just don’t think kids need to learn all the stuff I listed above? But what if they love it, as mine do?

    • Lisa Nielsen says:

      Susan,
      Home school does not mean that mom teaches you everything.  At the high school level, many home schooled teens I know are taking classes in college either online or face-to-face if that is their interest.  Others are doing the stuff many kids in school are just reading about by doing things like apprenticeships or part time jobs. Some are writing for real and becoming published authors.  Others are using their creative skills to make and sell products.  One home educated young man I know was able to begin a successful music career. Additionally, in many states home ed students can participate in some school if that works for them. 

      The thing for people like me is that the school curriculum and the way schools think people learn didn’t work. I retained nothing that I learned from memorization and regurgitation.  So much of school is about meaningless assignments and tests.  I haven’t had to take a test in my real life in nearly 20 years.

      Home education is about following your passions and having the freedom to learn what you want in the way that works best for you.  If you are interested in learning how to do this, I wrote a free guide that you can download at http://www.scribd.com/doc/55366959/The-Teenagers-Guide-to-Opting-Out-Not-Dropping-Out-of-School

  48. Susan says:

    My 9th and 12th graders are taking pre-calculus, multivariable calculus, AP Spanish Literature,  Research & Experimentation (building a trebuchet), Chemistry, Computer Programming, and Latin, among other subjects.
    I have a PhD in Biophysics but the only one I could conceivably teach of these subjects is Computer Programming, and that too, probably not very well. Is the talk about homeschooling meant for elementary school-aged kids? Or is the point that you just don’t think kids need to learn all the stuff I listed above? But what if they love it, as mine do?

  49. Shandra says:

    I’d contemplated homeschooling when we had our first – and in fact had set up a freelance network to be ready to do that. I’d been an educational assistant in an elementary school and seen some of the down side, and thought I had the expertise and drive to do it.

    When he was almost 2, I realized I was going crazy. I missed building something with a team and not just getting brought on here and there. I missed the social aspects of work. I missed…me.

    At the same time a posting came up for a dream job. I got it, and then I freaked out – all my plans were flying out the window where family was concerned.

    We found a Montessori daycare/up to kindergarten school and I have to say I was absolutely humbled. Here’s what I’ve come to believe, and I just say it in case you reach this point. The difference, in part, is MASTERY. Teachers have mastered teaching, in such a way that they make decisions without consciously running through all the choices; when they’re breaking a problem down, they already have in their minds what way to try next if the first way doesn’t work. They know what’s coming. They know what fits together. They have tried to explain things badly 30 times before getting it right. They’ve put their hours in. A teacher with 5 years of experience has taught over 100 kids.

    As a parent, even with toddler it was burning me out to try to figure out what to do/try/introduce/explain/buy/etc. next. It was partly a personality thing, but also just a learning curve. And when we got into a school with excellent staff, my son did so many things I would never – even reading Montessori books or whatever – have thought of.

    He also learned from watching other kids learn, every day. Sure, homeschoolers can provide that with coops and soccer teams and all that. It’s just a lot of work, setting all that up, and takes money, and depending on driving time you may be sacrificing quality of life to commuting to all the homeschool things.

    Yes, at a school – any school; my son’s in public this year – there is wasted time and opportunity, a certain amount of shuffling around, etc. In homeschooling there is too – the amount of wrangling emotionally you and the kids do because you’re the parent, not the teacher, the chores, the having to “learn together”, the blind spots no one’s aware of and so on. The school is there to teach more or less to the middle, and it’s not as individualized, but there is a strength in that too. In some sense we all just pick our poison.

    My husband and I committed to public school this year, but we know it has limits, so we also committed to spending other family time and money on passions. We’re letting the school do some of the heavy lifting and then going deep on extra curriculars. That’s an alternative too, especially if you live where you can do that (4H there I guess; for us it’s music and a math club).

    Most importantly, maybe, our family functions this way. I don’t think it would function well homeschooling. If I’d wanted to be a teacher, I’d’ve become one. I love being a parent. Being the parent, the ultimate responsibility for education is mine, but I choose to outsource it to people who love to slowly plod through the steps of beginning algebra. I don’t. And that is okay; it is not my job to provide a PERFECT life for my kids, just a GOOD one.

    • Irengland says:

      Good post. Thank you for taking the time for a reasoned approach.

    • Penina S. Finger says:

      Speaking as someone who’s opted to homeschool, I really appreciate your post. You’ve got to do what works for you and your family — what brings happiness and strengthens bonds. It sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into your path and are reaping the benefits.

    • Christina says:

      This is a great post and shows how we must all try and fail before finding what works for our unique units of existence.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have struggled with the question of the necessity of having a master teacher, and that’s why I joined a group that teaches moms and kids at the same time. My child learned the English language just by being at home with me – I have confidence that I can learn alongside him or her. If I can teach my child how to learn (I use the Trivium method), then I feel I have taught him everything he needs to know.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have struggled with the question of the necessity of having a master teacher, and that’s why I joined a group that teaches moms and kids at the same time. My child learned the English language just by being at home with me – I have confidence that I can learn alongside him or her. If I can teach my child how to learn (I use the Trivium method), then I feel I have taught him everything he needs to know.

  50. Amanda says:

    I just keep thinking that the only people I know who homeschool (which inevitably makes me biased) are those who are afraid of letting their kids be exposed to other people’s value systems. I know my kids would be better served in a homeschool environment, but I also know that the education piece is not the only reason I send them to school. So I send them to school for 6 hours a day, go to work, then the rest of the the time – work with them on values and “real” learning. It’s the only possible way I can maintain my own sanity, feed the family, and educate the kids to understand life from outside of my own limited perspective.

    • guest says:

      This is a very, very important comment. 
      Although there are people who homeschool for other reasons — (Penelope, for example) — there are plenty of people “who are afraid of letting their kids be exposed to other people’s value systems.”

      Perfectly said. 

    • guest says:

      This is a very, very important comment. 
      Although there are people who homeschool for other reasons — (Penelope, for example) — there are plenty of people “who are afraid of letting their kids be exposed to other people’s value systems.”

      Perfectly said. 

    • guest says:

      This is a very, very important comment. 
      Although there are people who homeschool for other reasons — (Penelope, for example) — there are plenty of people “who are afraid of letting their kids be exposed to other people’s value systems.”

      Perfectly said. 

      • Ron Coleman says:

        It’s well said but it doesn’t say anything.  Is it inherently evil to be afraid of exposing your kids to “other people’s value systems”?  Is it inherently meritorious not to be?

        It’s too bad Chloe keeps distancing herself here from her former “religious nut” identity so no one thinks for a second God forbid that she’s still politically incorrect like that.  But the fact is that people who have religious beliefs, and many others who have certain non-negotiable principles by which they intend to raise their children, do and ought to have a lot of concern over what is regarded as not only permissible but mandatory “exposure” that public schools scoop out from the trough — or sewer — of “other people’s value systems.”

        That’s not to say that your kids can or should be protected from the big bad world forever. But there are a lot of choices about about when, where and how that the public school system makes today, often due to agendas that are political and not educational, that a very reasonable concerned parent could conclude are not worth the price of “free” schooling.

        • Chloe says:

          I wrote a reply to this with some good links, but maybe the links weren’t too popular or something.

          I’ll just say that there are religious nuts and there are people who love God and try to be moral and upstanding. I’m afraid that my boat tipped too far to the right for awhile. 

        • Chloe says:

          I wrote a reply to this with some good links, but maybe the links weren’t too popular or something.

          I’ll just say that there are religious nuts and there are people who love God and try to be moral and upstanding. I’m afraid that my boat tipped too far to the right for awhile. 

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Today only 38% of homeschool families say they do it for religious reasons. 

      And, frankly, you could make the argument that you expose kids to a wider range of ideas by educating them outside the school district. I mean, a school district is, by definition, a community organization and communities generally comprise a bunch of people who think the same way. Penelope

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Today only 38% of homeschool families say they do it for religious reasons. 

      And, frankly, you could make the argument that you expose kids to a wider range of ideas by educating them outside the school district. I mean, a school district is, by definition, a community organization and communities generally comprise a bunch of people who think the same way. Penelope

    • Chloe says:

      Even though I was a religious nut (note: was) I didn’t homeschool for religious reasons. I agree with you that there are people at the fringes who attempt to shield their children from everything trying to keep them holy. I think this is a misreading of the Bible, but anyway, most homeschooling families I knew were doing it for the educational reasons.

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