6 homeschooling misconceptions erased

6 homeschooling misconceptions erased
The following is a guest post by Laura Grace Weldon, author of Free Range Learning.

A note from Jamie: This post wins the award for longest article ever published on this blog, but I found all of Laura’s words so insightful and worth including. I hope you’ll take the time to read it and be encouraged!

I never planned to homeschool. I am the daughter, niece, and granddaughter of excellent public school teachers. I cheerfully volunteered in my children’s classrooms and worked on parent committees. I believed in doing my best to change a flawed system from within.

Yet I kept seeing school wasn’t a good fit for my children. Our four-year-old already knew how to read, but had to practice sight words in preschool anyway. Our sweet but inattentive second-grader was deemed a good candidate for Ritalin by his teacher.

Our fifth-grader could do college level work, but due to cuts in the gifted program had to follow grade-level curriculum along with the rest of her class. Our freshman was an honors student but detested school, not only the hours of homework but the trial of dealing with a few teens who were harassing him.

We became homeschoolers overnight when those teens pulled a gun on my oldest in the school hallway, telling him he wouldn’t live to see the end of the day. School officials, who had done nothing to ease the harassment, didn’t even call the police.

The next morning every reason I had to avoid homeschooling stared me in the face. So did my kids. They were eager to learn on their own terms.

Here are a few of the misconceptions homeschooling erased for me.

1. Education that counts happens in school.

airplane

My kids were growing up in an enriching home. We read aloud every day and enjoyed wide-ranging conversations. We went to parks, museums, and plays. But I was raised to believe that formal education is something separate and measurable.

Still, I saw that my kids learned most eagerly when filled with the aliveness we call curiosity. That’s true of all of us: learning sticks when we’re interested. When we’re not, much of what we learn tends to become inaccessible after the grade is earned.

Hard as it is to believe, studies show that that shallow thinking is actually related to higher test scores. (Maybe we acknowledge this reality when we prepare kids for tests by saying, “Don’t overthink it.”)

When we’re curious we not only retain what we learn, we’re also inspired to pursue the interconnected directions it leads us. I saw this the summer before we began homeschooling.

My eight-year-old, the one who barely paid attention in school, was playing with balsa airplanes brought to a picnic by a family friend who piloted his own plane. Other kids gave up after the planes broke, but my son worked to fashion the pieces into newly workable aircraft. This gentleman showed him a few modifications and the unlikely looking planes flew.

After that my son was on a quest. He loaded up on books at each library visit, telling us about Bernoulli’s principle, aviation history, and experimental aircraft. He begged for balsa to make models of his own design, which became more sophisticated as he overcame earlier mistakes.

The next time we met up with this friend, my son was offered a ride on his Cessna. That was the highlight of his summer. His interest in planes eventually waned, but not the knowledge he gained. He’d taught himself history, science, math, and more importantly, shown himself just how capable he was.

His pursuit is what researcher Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, calls a growth mindset. It’s the understanding that achievement comes from purposeful engagement, that talent and smarts are not fixed traits but are developed through persistence.

A growth mindset is linked to resilience and accomplishment throughout life. That’s education that counts!

2. Kids have to follow grade-level standards.

Dandelion Sisters

I once thought homeschoolers had to follow conventional school standards. You know what I mean–if it’s second grade it’s time to learn about ancient Rome, multiplication, and adverbs. For my family, an overly schoolish approach never made sense. I can give dozens of reasons, but here’s one that springs to mind.

Kids develop unevenly. They may be way ahead in reading and struggle in math, able to make up imaginative stories but not coordinated enough to easily to write or type them. If they don’t advance evenly in school, quite a bit of attention is focused on where they’re lacking (extra help, easier and more repetitive work, labels, poor grades).

But outside of school it’s easy to emphasize their strengths while other areas are mastered gradually without ever being considered “deficiencies.” This has a basis in current research which shows that children are remarkably good at self-regulating. They’re cued to ignore information that’s too simple or too complex, but instead are drawn to learn from situations that offer the right amount of challenge.

For example, it’s well known in the homeschooling community that many kids aren’t ready to read at five or six. Some aren’t ready until they’re several years older. In school that’s a crisis, because every subject is taught using reading. The child who can’t read not only grows disheartened, he also feels stigmatized.

But as a homeschooler he remains immersed in a learning-rich lifestyle whether he reads or not because homeschooling is infinitely adaptable. Stories abound of homeschooled children who move quickly move from non-reading to zipping through Harry Potter books once they’re ready.

A recent study showed that homeschooled children whose parents don’t push them to learn to read, but instead emphasize the joy of reading, end up with kids who are avid readers no matter if these kids started reading early or late.

In our family, we found our kids eagerly accomplished far more in a whole range of subjects over time. “Grade-level” expectations were, to us, limitations. 

3. The parent has to be teacher/coach/principal.

Cute child boy playing with frog

Being a mother to my children has always been richly rewarding (okay, maybe not in the colicky phase). I didn’t want to take on other roles. Turns out I didn’t have to. We found homeschooling to be an immediate stress reduction. My kids got enough sleep, woke rested, and don’t have to rush through the day.

Instead they had ample time for conversation, reading, indulging in art projects and experiments, finding the answers to questions, and going on adventures. Our lives were guided by fascination, not bells. Much less control on my part was required.

I find that our cultural emphasis on adult-led activities is somewhat counterproductive. We assume children benefit from the newest educational toys and electronics, coached sports, lots of lessons, and other adult-designed, adult-led endeavors. Well-intentioned parents work hard to provide their children with these advantages although there’s limited evidence that all this effort has value.

We do this because we believe that learning stems from instruction. By that logic the more avenues of adult-directed learning, the more children will benefit. But studies show that a child’s innate drive to creatively solve problems is actually impeded when adults provide direct instruction.

This experience is repeated thousands of times a year in a child’s life, teaching her to look to authorities for solutions, and is known to shape more linear, less innovative thinking.

Research also shows that a child’s natural motivation tends to diminish in adult-led activities. Unless they’ve been raised on a steady diet of ready-made entertainment, children are naturally drawn to free play and discovery-based learning. They make up games, daydream, pretend, and launch their own projects–freely seeking out adults for resources and guidance when necessary. They are naturally drawn to achieve mastery.

My kids have shown me how motivated self-direction can kick into high gear in the teen years. They’ve earned their own money by shoveling stalls, which they spent to buy and restore a vintage car, go on a month-long backpacking trip, and build a bedroom-sized recording studio.

And they have stick-to-it-iveness–devoting years to pursuits like a bagpipe band, wildlife rehabilitation, farming, and their own intensive scholarship. Homeschooling has helped us foster a young person’s growing need for independence while providing useful guidance.

4. I can’t afford to provide a decent education.

US Army 51698 The Corps' Eastman Lake, volunteers celebrate National Public Lands Day with park improvement projects
Like many new homeschoolers, I thought I’d have to replicate everything from music class to chemistry lab. I knew I’d never have the time, energy, or money.

But we quickly discovered that the community around us is filled with people eager to impart skills and knowledge to the next generation, almost always for free.

They’re found at ethnic centers, museums, libraries, colleges, churches, service organizations, plus clubs like those for rock hounds, ham radio enthusiasts, and astronomy buffs. My children’s lives have been illuminated by spending time with biologists, potters, engineers, geologists, entrepreneurs, archaeologists, organic farmers, model railroaders, meteorologists—the list could take up this page.

People seem honored when asked to share a little of what they know. It’s sad that young people are customarily segregated from adults doing fascinating things right in their own communities, especially in the teen years when they so desperately want role models.

We’ve also gotten together with fellow homeschoolers for countless field trips, enrichment programs, game days, clubs, and learning co-op classes.

My kids have re-enacted Shakespearean duels, toured factories, sheared sheep, raced sailboats, learned chemistry from a Ph.D chemist, debated Constitutional challenges, competed in robotics tournaments, built a hovercraft of their own design, calculated the position of the stars, played with world-class musicians, and spent an afternoon with an astronaut after winning a science contest. All free or practically free.

When certain subjects got really challenging we easily bartered with an expert or found a community college class to cover it. And we’ve saved thousands by relying on the remarkable resources of our library system.

Sure, I envy those homeschooling families who learn while bike riding in Ecuador or rambling through European castles. But I realize my kids haven’t missed anything despite my penny pinching, especially since studies indicate two-thirds of school kids say they’re bored in class.

Deep scholarship and hands-on learning are simply another homeschooling perk.

5. Homeschooling will deprive my kids of friends.

1962-1

I realized the school day isn’t really set up for socializing, although we’d come to rely on school as a source of same-age friendship.

Sadly, according to Beyond the Classroom by Laurence Steinberg, less than five percent of school kids belong to peer groups that value academic achievement–while pressure from prevailing peers steer young people toward underachievement.

And it turns out studies show homeschooled children have better social skills and fewer behavior problems than their demographically matched schooled peers.

Homeschooling families also tend to be more active in the community. Initially it took me a while to get used to homeschool gatherings where kids hung out with a wide range of ages and abilities. Sure, they’re kids and not beacons of perfection, but I was pleased to see so much overall good cheer.

As for friends, my kids kept many of their school friends. They also made more as we widened our circle of acquaintances. Many of their new friends were around the same age but some were decades older, bringing perspectives shaped by widely varying experiences. They offered my children a route to maturity they couldn’t have found in school amongst kids similar to themselves.

Their friends include a Scottish gentleman in his 70′s, a group of automotive restoration enthusiasts, a wildlife rehabilitator in her 60′s, fellow backpackers, people with differing physical challenges, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, Wiccans–well, you get the idea.

These friendships happened because they had the time to stretch in all sorts of interesting directions.

6. Homeschooling is an experiment.

Brothers in arms in a field
Like any other parent, I’m driven to provide my children with the essential ingredients that lead to lifelong happiness and success. Late at night, unable to sleep, I’ve entertained my share of doubts.

What if homeschooling will limit their chances? I finally realized I was looking at it from too narrow a perspective.

Schooling is the experiment. For 99 percent of all our time on earth, the human race never conceived of this institution.

Our species nurtured children close to extended family, within the rich educational milieu of the community, trusting that young people would grow into responsible adulthood. Worked like a charm for eons.

Taking my kids out of school liberated them from the test-heavy approach of today’s schools, one that actually has nothing to do with adult success.

Instead of spending over 1,200 hours each year in school, they could devote time to what more directly builds happiness as well as future success. Things like innovation, hands-on learning, and meaningful responsibility.

That doesn’t mean I lost all my doubts. Some days (all right, months) I worried. It’s hard to unlearn a mindset.

But now all four of my kids are in college or launched into careers.

I sat at a recent dinner with my family, appreciating our closeness. My kids take on challenges with grace, react with droll wit even under pressure, and haven’t lost their zest for learning. We laughed as their lively conversation covered Norse mythology, caddisfly pheromones, zeppelin history, and lines from new movies.

I’m not sure how much I can credit to homeschooling, but I know it’s given my kids freedom to explore their own possibilities.

And that’s more than enough.

What homeschooling misconceptions have you struggled with and how did you overcome them?

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. She lives on a small farm with her family and is slow at work on her next book, Subversive Cooking. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com.

Comments

  1. Charmaine says:

    Wow, Laura, awesome post! I’ve seen a lot of posts about homeschooling myths and misconceptions but this is by far the best thought-out and researched. Will def go back and check out the articles you’ve linked to when I have more time.
    PS – Love your book too!
    - Charmaine

  2. Dawn says:

    What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing it. We made the decision to homeschool overnight as well. I thought our bullying incident was extreme. It was nothing compared to your son’s experience. I am so glad we made the leap. We start our 15th year in a few weeks.
    Blessings, Dawn

  3. Thank you Laura. I loved this all over. I am currently conducting an experiement with my 6 year old daughter, in not teaching her to read. She’s very bright, and very language-oriented and we read a lot around here. I know that were she in traditional school, she’d be reading by now. But I am curious about what her mind wants to master at this age, given freedom, knowing that reading will come when she’s ready.
    Rachel @ 6512 and growing’s latest post: sunshine

  4. Angel says:

    this is one of my favorite guests posts you have ever had. Thank you so much for posting

  5. Jen says:

    Wow. Very powerful post! We started homeschooling overnight – my son was bullied in his gifted class by some very clever bullies and the school just wouldn’t catch on. Then one day an incident happened and I knew we couldn’t send them back (he and his sister were in the same class and she was also victimized). We had chosen a charter school for the following year but they didn’t take kids part way through the year so we were kind of stuck for a few months. I figured it would be a fun extended summer and that I would be screaming for the school to take them come the fall. I was wrong! I am loving homeschooling but I am struggling with almost every point in your post. I am insecure about letting them lead their own learning (we are currently enrolled in an online school and we all pretty much hate the grind of having to complete the lessons). I actually posted about it yesterday on my blog – when I let them do what they want they do amazing, cool things…they are so creative and they love learning. But its so hard to let go of that security blanket of “normal” school. I am torn between fearing that I will stifle their innate desire to learn by keeping up with the curriculum and fearing that, by letting go of the curriculum I will somehow ruin them or make their lives more difficult come time for college and careers. Your post was very inspiring! Thank you.
    Jen’s latest post: Homeschool or online school at home?

    • Jen, letting go of what you call the security blanket of “normal” schooling is a process. Don’t let others judge that process for you. I devote many pages in my book to how that process looks and feels.

      I will tell you a story about curricula that we think kids are supposed to know. My daughter absolutely rejected any formulaic materials. She wanted to learn what she was interested in, when she was interested. So she didn’t learn, say, to diagram the parts of a plant at the age of seven, and then go over that material again in more detail by learning about photosynthesis at the age of nine. She read a lot, explored, played, and dived into her interests. I found it strange when she became obsessed with forensic science around the age of 12. My little vegetarian daughter asked for a fetal pig and a scalpel set for Christmas, and dissected it. I photographed it for her portfolio. She conducted an experiment on a muskrat— I dutifully photographed that process too. She ordered all sorts of books from the library, and when she had questions she wrote to the authors. One wrote back telling her that her question was far more detailed than he was accustomed to getting from his graduate students. She even asked for materials to learn Latin so she’d understand science terms better. Her interest in forensics waned, but of course no learning is ever wasted. She started college without ever having taken a chemistry course or any lab science. She chose to major in biology and many of her classmates were premed, most with years of AP science courses behind them. I was, frankly, terrified that she’d be left behind. Instead she picked up anything she needed to know from the early weeks of “review” for other students. And unlike her schooled peers, she was eager, engaged, and not turned off by learning. She got straight A’s. She’s a recent graduate and now works in a job she adores, field research in a nature preserve.
      Laura Grace Weldon’s latest post: Homeschool Worries: Erased With Research & Experience

      • Carmella Taylor says:

        Hi Laura,
        I’m one year into homeschooling our 14 year old. She has a struggle in Math, and was falling behind more so every year since 3rd grade. Also, the “drama” she spoke of and being made fun of for her “beliefs” at school (even at a Christian school) made us decide she needed to be home. I’m struggling with the “normal” public school “classes/lessons” to be completed, subjects to master, etc. Pressure on myself to make sure she gets all the necessary learning before college (or so my husband is concerned about this); making sure she’s motivated to “get” what she’s studying; etc.
        It’s hard for me to help her because I’m pretty much a “free spirit” type person myself and tend to be a spontaneous person also! lol! It drives my husband crazy thinking about “how” I’m gonna help her “learn”……..it’s frustrating too for me because I’m scared……that I won’t pick what’s most beneficial for her, or what’s gonna help her to learn the way she needs to learn. I don’t read all the books or articles I’ve seen suggested. It gets very blurred in my mind. So :) I’m not sure what I’m actually asking, lol! Hope you understand where I’m at, at least. My daughter is a very talented, gifted, girl. Avid reader, writes short novels in her spare time, musically inclined (but not settled on a certain instrument yet). Not self-motivated. Unless it’s something of interest. Firmly stands on what she believes (kinda like her mother! lol). What do you suggest that I do. Or where to go? The curriculum “Switched on School House” was recommended, but I’m not sure of it. ?????
        Thanks,
        Carmella

        • I’ve been right where you are now Carmella. When I started homeschooling I steered away all sorts of free spiritedness in the effort to do everything possible “right.” Initially I thought that what was right was the school way—-meaning that I wanted to impart information and skills almost entirely in subjects and methods of my choosing. My oldest was a teen. He politely went along with my efforts while I gradually learned to minimize our formal schooling while maximizing depth and mastery in a whole range of areas that my kids helped me choose. Worked well for us.

          If you’re set on using a curriculum, I know some people love Oak Meadow all ages, teens included. Some love the umbrella school concept, often with a teacher or adviser to oversee a self-designed curriculum based on the student’s interests, like Clonlara Homeshool.

          Even though you’re worried about helping your daughter learn, success is more closely linked to character traits than to subjects studied. It sounds like she’s already a talented, able, and conscientious young woman.
          Laura Grace Weldon’s latest post: The Dart Collection

  6. Jessica says:

    This post was definitely worth the read! I actually only have a baby girl at present so schooling is a long way off, however I am finding myself more and more intrigued by homeschooling. I love the freedom and flexibility it offers and the love of learning it develops. I’m actually British and home-schooling does not seem to be as popular over here and on the small island where I live people would think me rather odd and pretty much crazy for even considering educating my children this way. Like Jen, my concerns are mainly for the future and how they transition into the college years. Although I have read many successful homeschool-college transition stories this week which is helping win me over! I just want to be sure I won’t limit my children in anyway by being the one who facilitates their education. Great post though, I will save this one for later so I can check out all the links!
    Jessica’s latest post: Give nature a home

  7. Karen says:

    What a great post. Thank you!! I always look forward to the articles on this blog!! It has given me a ton to think about as we move into our second year of homeschooling. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  8. Faigie says:

    I feel so jealous of your children when I read how they are learning. The truth is that the graduate school I went to believes in education the way you do but there are precious few schools that really allow the kids to learn that way. The few schools that do, basically need you to take a second mortgage on their homes to afford it. I hope your children appreciate how lucky they are.

  9. Julie says:

    One of my favorite posts!!!
    Julie’s latest post: homeschooling: a story about change.

  10. Fantastic post! We’re just getting our feet wet this year in homeschooling our oldest for preschool. This post makes me excited about the days ahead!
    Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas’s latest post: Grain-Free/Gluten-Free Baking (eCookbook Review and Recipe)

  11. Anna says:

    “Schooling is the experiment. For 99 percent of all our time on earth, the human race never conceived of this institution.”

    Listen, I’ve been homeschooling for almost a decade, I know all the arguments, and I KNOW that school is a modern invention, but this was just crystal clear to me. Experiment. Nuts. It shows how very, very good their experiment works, if within six generations or so, everyone believes that school is the only functional way to learn. That’s scary.

  12. Allison says:

    This is such a wonderful post! We are getting ready to start Kindergarten with my first child year I have felt so overwhelmed trying to figure out how to put everything together, especially with her resistance to reading, but you have definitely give me some things to think on a new perspective as well. Thank you!

  13. Holli says:

    I could say “Thank you” a million times and it wouldn’t feel like enough. This article was touching and inspiring at a time when it was very needed.
    I try not to have the ‘doubts’ but they do show up especially after yet another round of questions from ‘well meaning’ family members.
    So again, Thank you.

  14. Kaylie says:

    As a homeschooled kid who attended public school for a big chunk of time and then jumped back to homeschooling/independent study, the biggest misconception I faced about being homeschooled was that I’d be socially awkward. I’ve always been much more adept at communicating than my peers were, and was always inclusive of everyone, so I made friends easily. The same goes for most of the home-schooled folks that I know.

  15. Shannon says:

    This post was just what I needed! As my oldest gets nearer to High school age (and subsequently college age) I start to have more doubts about whether I am preparing her properly for the “real world”. This article calmed my soul and helped me refocus. I will keep it close to read it again. Thank you!

  16. Emmie says:

    This is such an amazing post, thank you. We are just beginning to home school our 9th grader and will likely be home schooling our daughter who is now only 2. This is so very encouraging to read and I know I will re-read it if I start getting too “school-ish” in the process.
    Emmie’s latest post: Exploring

  17. Michelle says:

    We are beginning our homeschool journey this year. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. It spoke to my overwhelmed mama’s heart!

  18. Tonya says:

    What a well written article! Thank you. So very encouraging as we head into a new year!

  19. Beth says:

    I really enjoyed this article & am left with new thoughts to mull over. Thanks!

  20. Sara says:

    Great post. Although as a second-generation homeschooler (eldest of four homeschooled kids and now mother of two) I have 100% confidence that homeschooling works and always meant to be a homeschooler, I still appreciate your well-articulated explanation of these common myths. Thank you!
    Sara’s latest post: Our week in camp

  21. Lee Traister says:

    Thank you for this post. Great to hear from someone whose kids are all grown up now.

  22. Annie says:

    Oh, my gosh, I love this post so much. I might just print it off and post it somewhere I can read it every day. We’ve been homeschooling for ten years, and there are days that are wonderful and days when I’m quite sure I’ve screwed the kids up for life. Your article describes all of the reasons I wanted to homeschool, but sometimes forget – and it’s when I forget these things that I struggle the most. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

  23. Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been homeschooling for many years and have been dealing with my public school conditioning for all of them. I enjoyed your post. And, I’ve been writing about my own struggles with misconceptions – public schooling and homeschooling – at http://liveandlearnca.blogspot.com/
    Diane’s latest post: The Game of Concentration

  24. Emily says:

    I really appreciated this post, and will save this for future reading for sure! Very compelling points. However, I really would love to know, are there good reasons to NOT do homeschool? Or are there ways in which school does provide some benefits? I understand all the points listed here, but what if there isn’t the kind of community you talked about, with resources available, such as with other homeschooling families? We live overseas and in the country we live in there isn’t such a community. Most people are in schools and one of the main reasons we want our kids to attend school here is to have a good grasp of the local language and to meet local friends. But even if we were living the US, I would consider being at school as a good way to be “salt and light” to those around us. Any thoughts on that? I’m really trying to grapple with this. And also, I feel that it’s not always easy to determine whether a child is really not ready to learn something such as reading, or is the child refusing out of fear, laziness, or whatever? My son is 5 and I’m teaching him reading now, at first he didn’t really want to, but I decided to gently keep going and persisting, and now halfway through the book I’m using he’s doing wonderfully and he is personally excited about the progress he has made! So in a way that “push” helped. I’ve seen similar things happen at his school where previously he was reluctant to try something (at home), but when his teacher encouraged him and when he saw other classmates enjoying it (like painting or crafts which he never liked to do at home), he started trying more and more and would end up proudly bringing home his masterpieces and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Anyway, these are just some things I’m pondering! Thanks again for your insight and wise words!

    • Whether living overseas without other homeschoolers around, or in an area where there are plenty of homeschooling groups, I think it’s enriching to widen one’s network to include being engaged in community groups, volunteering, and simply being neighborly. Who we are and where we are each minute, we can still be “salt and light.” That said, I know there are some decisions we grapple with that don’t have clear answers. To homeschool or not to homeschool is one of them. You may want to read some blogs of families who homeschool in parts of the world where that’s rare to get a different perspective. For example, check out
      Jimmie’s Collage http://jimmiescollage.com/misc/expat-homeschool-mom-in-china-series/
      Homeschooling Middle East http://homeschoolingmiddleeast.wordpress.com/

      As for determining whether a child needs a little push to overcome resistance, I think that’s very specific to the child and the circumstances. It’s always been important to me to avoid pushing my kids but I know full well that getting two of my four kids to try something new involved some effort, and then they loved the experience. As for pushing learning, I was less likely to do that, using more of a carrot than stick approach. Again, it’s specific to the circumstances. I’ll take piano lessons as an example. I took them for years, practiced every day, and never rose past a minimum level of proficiency. It was just something I had to do before I was allowed to go out and play. My son, the musician, resisted piano lessons, but picked up a guitar and taught himself to play and compose. He also asked for bagpipe lessons and performed with a large bagpipe band for years. He practiced guitar and bagpipe in spurts, sometimes for hours at a time and sometimes not for days on end. Just yesterday I talked to a friend who complained that she’d come home from a performance when she was five years old and picked out the theme song on the piano. Her parents were thrilled to find she had an aptitude and got her lessons right away, complete with mandatory daily practice. Although she was brimming with talent she hated it. I asked what she thought might have made the difference. She said she wanted time to play, really “play” with music. Plunk around on the piano, sing, dance, all on her own. She said she was sure she’d have started begging for lessons in a year or two and THEN would have been ready. Again, those situations are what worked/didn’t work for specific individuals. You have to use your own intuition.
      Laura Grace Weldon’s latest post: Homeschool Worries: Erased With Research & Experience

      • Kate Day says:

        I was taught at home and music was a large part of our life. All five of us learned an instrument, four received music scholarships. My mom’s attitude and approach? Just about what you’ve described. Or pretty close to what I have now started doing with my own children and describe here: http://www.likentolife.blogspot.com/2013/04/mommy-come-play-part-2.html?m=1

        We weren’t always consistent, but worked hard and if we weren’t loving it and seeing purpose in it, she was willing and ready to throw in the towel (and she did for a year with me). It was more a tool to build our relationship together than anything else. She was always there with us or available and happy to help when we wanted even in our college years. As a result we all love music and choose to use it in our lives and it remains a relationship-building tool with my siblings and now my children.

  25. Franziska says:

    Wonderful post and awesome writing. There are so many things I love about homeschooling but the opportunity to let kids learn unevenly is definitely high on my list :-)
    Franziska’s latest post: Are We Home Yet?

  26. Pam says:

    This is a great post. I have a question however, how does one become connected to a community that does not offer itself up. I would love for my grandson to have some of the same opportunities that you wrote about for your children and I know they must exist, but being a little bit of a hermit myself, it is difficult to find the outgoing people who are willing in this area to spend time with children unless they pay admission fees to all sorts of things.

  27. Frances Vaughn says:

    I am a grandmother of four children. One of my Daughters-in-heart is homeschooling. How marvelous it is to read your comments about your experiences, sharing ideas, offering each other support, even asking for help with challenges you face!
    You all are fabulous! Keep it up!!!

  28. healthybratt says:

    *I can’t afford to stay home.

    I think this is one that many people have difficulties with in this modern “2-income” age, and my husband struggled with this as well until he saw the money that we were saving. We only have one car, which means only one car payment ($200-$600/month), only gas for one person to drive to work ($200-$500/month), no daycare expense (before & after school) ($200-$500/month), no insurance for the second car ($40-$100/month), no new tires for the second car ($100-$500/year). We also decided we didn’t really need cable TV ($20-$200/,month) or a cell phone for everybody in the house ($20-$200/month). I have learned over the years many ways to save money on toiletries and groceries (i spend about $500 less a month since i started staying home), and what about all of those “lunches, snacks, and beverages” the average person throws down on each day on their way to, and while at work ($1-$10 daily for Starbucks/$5-$20 daily for lunch). i spend so much when i was working on these kinds of things that i no longer spend. there’s also no fees for enrollment ($200 per kid/year), no need for school wardrobe purchases every year (who knows anymore $300 per kid/year), no school supplies expense (we gather these when needed on sale), no gym clothes or special shoes for the gym floor. you get the idea. after staying home for the first year, i even found a job that i could do from home. it’s a small paycheck, but it’s all gravy because i don’t have to spend it on any of the things mentioned above.

    i also save money on the doctor bill (and gas to get to and from) because my kids aren’t getting sick all the time from the germ factory or from eating crappy processed food all the time, but that’s another story.

  29. Catherine says:

    Excellent post! Far from being too long, it was well thought out, well cited, and well crafted.

  30. Alan Dundas says:

    Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” This is a large part of what is wrong with modern education. Filling the mind with facts, without guidance on practical application.Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” This is a large part of what is wrong with modern education. Filling the mind with facts, without guidance on practical application.

  31. Elmarie Hyman says:

    Hi,
    I just wanted to write to let you know how much I always enjoy your articles! Thanks for writing and sharing. I often repost it on my business website for Learn Beyond The Book. Happy Homeschooling!

  32. Nita says:

    Boy oh boy is this pretty much my story too! However, I do work outside the home as does my husband and we homeschool. It’s been an adventure, but we’ve had to be creative in pulling this off. Also, the more I’ve been at this, the more people I’ve met that are doing the same thing in wild and creative ways. http://homeschoolandwork.blogspot.com
    Nita’s latest post: Summer School for Homeschoolers

  33. Steph says:

    “Hard as it is to believe, studies show that that shallow thinking is actually related to higher test scores. (Maybe we acknowledge this reality when we prepare kids for tests by saying, “Don’t overthink it.”)”
    All of my siblings and I were homeschooled through 8th grade and then went to public high school. We had to learn how to take multiple choice and true/false tests “correctly” because we often disagreed with the “right” answer. As an example, when taking a driver test, my sister had to answer the question “It is never okay to break traffic laws.” They wanted “true” for an answer (and that’s what she put) but she couldn’t stop thinking of all the different times it could be necessary to break a traffic law in order to save a life.
    Steph’s latest post: My Favorite Things: Baby Edition

  34. Tina Moller says:

    My biggest reason to homeschool was simply to spend more time with my children. Between Guides, Scouts, Taekwondo, gymnastics, soccer, art, swimming, skating, & drama classes (I’m probably missing a couple more but you get the idea); if my children attended public school on top of this every week, I’d never see them. What I find bewildering is when parents’ say that they can’t wait for their children to go back to school after holidays or even a weekend.
    Violence and abuse in school by students and faculty were also factors in our choosing to homeschool. My friend’s 8-year old son was stabbed to death by a fellow schoolmate when he tried to break up a fight. I was wondering, did the school or your family take any action to prevent the child who pulled a gun on your oldest from doing it again, or worse? Do you know what has happened to this child in the years following?

    • Horrifying beyond words to hear about the your friend’s eight-year-old who was killed for trying to break up a fight. Horrifying.

      You asked if the school or my family tried to take action. I explain that a bit in the link, early in the article. (Here it is again: http://www.wired.com/geekmom/2012/12/school-violence-homeschooling/). What I didn’t explain at length is that at the time is that my job was teaching non-violence and conflict resolution TO SCHOOL SYSTEMS. I offered this to our entire system, for free. They weren’t interested. They said it wasn’t necessary. They discounted every sign of violence in front of them. The kids who were harassing my son were immigrants and the ethnic/religious tensions in the community were intense. I proposed a community discussion with religious leaders of all denominations. School officials and the mayor again poo-poohed the need for any such thing. There were active gang fights on school grounds that included adults coming from surrounding communities, but still the people in charge would do nothing. As for our family, my son continued to be harassed somewhat after leaving school. Bottles were thrown at our car when we were at a gas station. Our home was broken in to. Our problems died down before we moved away, less than a year later. I don’t know what happened to the young men who caused him problems. I’d like to think they have grown out of their anger. I hope that’s true. I wish their school had been more willing to hear their cries for help.
      Laura Grace Weldon’s latest post: Homeschool Worries: Erased With Research & Experience

  35. mrs lisa says:

    Thank you for posting this.. sure is what I have already experienced..
    odd to me how SO many criticize HSing & NEVER do I do that to them..
    (UNLESS they start it ! :-) I’m not known for being submissive.
    I also don’t care ONE min. if my kids grow up to work for someone else. AKA attend college.. I would rather they were led to do what God Desires for them.. if they included college , ok.. if not.. no biggie :-)

  36. educator says:

    This is an excellent article. I also liked that she gave links for validation.
    educator’s latest post: Educational Tips And Sources That Inspire

  37. Caren Green says:

    What a great post! I can’t convey how much I love it.

  38. Niki says:

    I enjoyed this post a lot, however, I was hoping to see one of the myths listed as: “You’ll never have any time to yourself if you HS” because that is one of my biggest worries! I know, totally selfish. But that, and just not being organized enough to teach our three (6, 4 and 2) are my concerns. Do you have any advice for me? I have been kind of thinking that I would like my kids to experience the school atmosphere for primary school, in order to learn what school is and understand the structure, etc. And then, I would feel that we could make the decision together as to whether Hs-ing was the road to choose in later years.
    Like one of the other moms who commented, I am living overseas and HS-ing is unheard of here, and there is also no such thing as gun or knife violence in the schools…yet. I’m sure bullying is common, however. If we moved back to our country (Canada) one day, then I would feel more inclined to hs for sure.
    Have you ever written a post on what an average day or even week in the life of a HS family looks like?
    Thank you! I really appreciate all the effort and research you put into this article!

  39. Eric Stark says:

    I really enjoyed your article. I also recommend “The Teenage Liberation Handbook”for any one with a kid 10&up. This article reminded me of one of the great things that happened with my oldest home schooler. She will frequently refer to knowing someone from “high school” and it may be a 50 year old engineer, a 72 year old retired doctor or a 30 year old software developer. Her study hall was the local coffee shop and she quickly befriended many of her unsuspecting (i.e. they did not know they were in class!) counter mates and never hesitated to access their specialized skills and knowledge when they were willing to share. Thanks to this experience she is well socialized and can get comfortable in most any group or gathering.

  40. Debbie says:

    Great post! I love hearing the success stories and that those moms had doubts too! I am just pulling my kids from public school, they are going into 5th and 6th grades! I am anxious, and excited. I have no idea what I’m doing-but in my gut I now it’s right. Thank you for this bit of reassurance.

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