The Worst Reason to Homeschool

The Worst Reason to Homeschool

Six years ago, after I became a mother for the first time, I began getting to know other mothers in the community where we lived.

A few of these seasoned moms homeschooled their kids. Back then, I didn’t know anything about homeschooling. Like many, I thought it seemed just a little…different. Odd. Strange.

Most of the time when I overheard these women talking about their educational choice, and why they were doing it, the reasons seemed to have one thing in common.

Can you guess what it was?


It wasn’t always spelled out like that. Sometimes it sounded more like this:

  • Have you seen the state of public schools recently?
  • My kids might get involved with the wrong crowd.
  • My kids might be influenced in a negative way.
  • My kids might be teased and bullied.
  • My kids might be abused.
  • You never know when they’ll be another school shooting.
  • My kids might not get the attention they need.

Fear. It’s a bad motivator and a worse master. It’s not strong enough to see you through the long haul of homeschooling–the ups, the downs, the daily challenges. (By the way, fear is also the worst reason to send your kids to traditional school–as in the fear of homeschooling and taking full responsibility for your kids’ education.)

Fear is just simply bad news.

At times I could see the point behind what these homeschooling friends were saying. But I didn’t want to make decisions in my life based on fear. I decided to look into homeschooling, to see if it had anything else to offer.

And then I was blown away.

Why had no one ever told me about how incredible this could be? How it could offer such a unique and amazing education for my children? Forget fear, this was plain and simple a wonderful opportunity–an adventure we could embark on as a family.

I made a list of my own motivations. Why was our family doing this?

Here are some of the reasons:

  • Belief that individualized education is better than institutionalized education
  • Freedom for our children to progress at their own pace, without being labeled as either slow or gifted
  • Freedom for our children to pursue their own passions and interests and enjoy “self-directed” learning
  • Belief that this is what God wants for our family at this time
  • Freedom to bring an international focus to our family’s education
  • Belief that thinking independently is of greater value than learning to “perform,” and a more valuable skill to have in the “real world”
  • Promotes a strong sense of family relationships, provides enough time for individualized attention for all the children
  • As a mother, no one is more committed to my children’s success than I am.

I wrote this list so I could focus on homeschooling’s benefits, its opportunities, its blessings.

I wrote it to reread on difficult days–days when I question, days when I doubt.

Days when I fear.

Our children’s emotions feed off the atmosphere we create in our home. If we create a culture of fear, we feed them fear. If we create a culture of confidence, we feed them confidence.

Which do you want to provide the nourishment for their souls?

I recently came across this quote in the excellent book, Simplicity Parenting. The words, by journalist Ellen Goodman, ring so true that I find myself considering them regularly:

“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.”

May we have the courage to banish fear from the doorways of our minds, our hearts, and our home schools.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. love this – I’m definitely bookmarking this and pulling it out on OUR bad days. This is our first year homeschooling, and we’re really enjoying the student-led aspect of it!

  2. What a great post!!! It is definitely going in my link it pile. So often it is fear that sends folks crashing and burning when they discover their fears were unfounded!!! Of course our kids could be happy in the right school and of course they would get an education and make friends but that isn’t the reason for homeschooling, when you can see your children thrive on love and attention all day, when you know that you are the only one patient enough to sit with the beginner reader that just isn’t beginning, or let your inventor create from recycling all day and call it “technology school.” I know that my kids aren’t getting the perfect education – they wouldn’t get that in school either… and I know some days are really not the best, they wouldn’t be in school either, and some days we don’t cover everything, they wouldn’t in school either. But my kids are getting the very best education that we can give them in the very best environment for them to learn and discover, because we really believe that their education is our responsibility and the time we spend with our kids now is an investment in their lives enabling them to be creative and caring, contributing and committed adults one day.

    • Veronica White says:

      Loved this post. I am considering homeschooling, in fact very excited about it but at the same time I am scared to death I wont do a good enough job. I am pretty certain I will be great at it, no one loves them more than I do.

  3. Erin @sweethomeAL says:

    Thank you much for this post. I really needed to hear this at this point in our journey. First official year homeschooling 5yr son & have 2 daughters 2yrs & 7 months. Never a dull moment.

  4. Lovely post. Just lovely. I think it also taps into another ‘thing’ that homeschooling parents have to deal with – coming up with ‘excuses’ for why you do it. People expect you to say you have problems with the local schools, or the school system in general etc. I wrote a post about why we were choosing to home educate when we first started last year, and it pretty much boils down to – because we want to.
    As I said in that post:
    ‘At the end of the day I am not worried – I know we have made the right choice, and what is more, as it is a choice to do something we want to do rather than something we should do or have to do, it is a positive one. ‘
    That is the vibe I got from your article. So thank-you: for bolstering me :) but for also pointing out that for many people, choosing to educate our children at home is not always about reacting to negatives but is often about choosing to embrace positives.
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  5. lovely post andsomething i agree with :) i am doing homeschooling- just started and its fun and interesting and needs commitment. i can onkly do it for a few years as school is obligatory and homeschooling against the law here

  6. I don’t believe it’s neccessarily fear. I think a lot of the feelings motivating those questions may be fear, but there’s also another possibility: Wisdom. If you observe the public schools in your area, state, or country lacking the safety, education standards, or behavior standards you would expect, then of course, keeping them home to homeschool would be a WISE thing to do. Wise parents keep their children AWAY from situations they believe are dangerous.
    The reasons you stated are huge motivating factors for me to homeschool. I went to public school for all but one year, and I’m well aware of what is going on in many of the schools in this country through the news. Wisdom has led me to be aware of and judge the situation for what it is, and I often spread the web addresses around to parents who should know what’s happening. This is not fear, but vigilance. Protect yourself, and protect your children.
    That isn’t to say that I don’t recognize the golden opportunity that homeschooling is. As bad as public schools can be, homeschools can be amazing. For all the reasons that public schools are undesirable, homeschools can be wonderful. Recognizing how terrible things can get doesn’t prevent us from making the lives of our children great.

    • The word “dangerous” is a key one in your post. If your public schools are actually dangerous, then it is wise to keep your children out of them. The public schools in our area are not dangerous. They just don’t offer the same advantages as homeschooling.

      I grew up in a small town and went to both a private Christian school and a public school (for high school). The public schools were not dangerous. My parents wanted me to have a different kind of education, though. One that offered both textbook and spiritual learning. It was good for me to have that solid foundation. It was also great for me to have the opportunity to attend public school which was much more similar to what I experienced in college.

      I’ve found that one of the most challenging things as a parent is to create a foundation and not a bubble and having the wisdom to know the difference.

      • I honestly don’t believe the danger of public schools is isolated or restricted. From what I’ve read and seen, it is the rule and not the exception. So much goes on in public schools that we never even hear about. I’ve read news stories from across this country that would curl anyone’s toes. About everything from kindegartners on up to high schoolers. This environment isn’t restricted to the schools either. It reaches out into our neighborhoods and our streets. There’s an intersection 5 minutes from my house where someone was murdered a few months ago, and I live in a decent, middle-class neighborhood. In a world like ours, a bubble is one of the best things to provide children, and “sheltered” is one of the best things they could be. From inside the bubble, learning about the world’s dangers from a safe place is the proper way to deal with it. Not a “sink or swim” attitude, relying on the fact that nothing bad has happened in the area before.

        • It’s probably fair to say we have a difference in opinion on parenting and that’s okay. :-)

        • I’m not judging here, because you sound like the vast majority of the parents that I know. But, I’m here to tell you that it’s not dangerous out there, or not anymore than it was when we were kids and a heck of a lot less dangerous than many places in the world. Safety is an ILLUSION – being so safe as to prevent any harm at all is its own danger! Kids need to learn how to deal with life, real life, just not the one where there are never any skinned knees. At some point, your kids are going to have to leave and be on their own… at at that point, they need to know how to deal with life as it is, not as we’d like it to be. Should we work to keep our kids safe? Of course. Seat belts and bike helmets are great things! Should we worry about the insanely remote chance of kidnapping or murder to the point where we prevent our kids from playing outside with pals or going to the neighborhood park with their friends? No. That is doing something far worse than the murderers or molesters do – it is taking away their childhood. I want my little girl to be confident and capable of handling herself in any situation – to know what to do and not freak out when it happens. THAT is to me what preparing my child for her future is, not keeping her so sheltered in the little bubble that the world overwhelms her. What happens when she goes to college? My husband is a professor at a large state university… and college kids today simply do not know how to deal with life. They’re expected to go from protected bubble kid to full on adult in a matter of days… and many do not make the transition well.

          I’m not the only one thinking this…

          Take a deep breath. Enjoy life and let your kids enjoy their childhood! There is nothing more scary than fear itself…

          • Except that woman sends a single-digit-aged kid around on the city subway with no adult along for the ride.

            There’s not keeping your kids in a bubble, and then there’s being unbelievably foolish. Full-grown women are assaulted and full-grown men mugged on those trains all the time. What makes anyone think the kids will be left alone?

            If she knew the difference between proper parental protection and the bubble, it’d be one thing. Plainly she doesn’t.

        • My dad was career Navy and over about a six-year span, he was deployed on the USS Nimitz. We didn’t have a ton of income and couldn’t live in base housing for part of that time, so my stepmother started working graveyard shift at a motel so she could be home in case the school called during the day. This meant she was asleep during the day on weekends and during the summer. (I don’t actually think this part was wise of her, because it meant we had half the supervision we were supposed to have, and I was 11 and my brother 7 when my dad deployed. But never mind.)

          She had an ingenious solution to the whole problem of us being able to go out and play. She let us do it, but we had to check in with her every half-hour. If we failed to check in on time, that was it and we were in for the day.

          Someone living in a safe neighborhood or one with a moderate danger level (as in, you don’t have gangs or drive-by shootings) could try something like this. The kids would still get unstructured time outside, you wouldn’t be hovering over them, and you’d still know if something went wrong.

          It’s not a matter of EITHER keep your kids in a bubble OR become guilty of criminal neglect. There are other options along that spectrum.

        • Four years, not six years. I thought about it again. Plainly I have not had enough caffeine yet today. :(

    • I agree with your comment whole-heartedly.

      The dangers of public schools are not only physical either. Even if you live in a “safe” area, you still should protect your kids from mental and emotional influences and dangers.

    • I completely agree with your comments. Of course there are many reasons why we choose to homeschool. I don’t think there is anything wrong with admitting that some of those reasons lie with the state of today’s society and educational system. There are situations in which it would be downright irresponsible not to “fear” for your children. Does that mean that every school is horrible? Of course not. However we must be realistic. I went to public school and loved it! I had a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, I know the system has changed and things would be very different now for my five year old. This is not me being paranoid. I come from a family of educators. So many things happen that no one ever hears about. Many times it is because the school principal is too preoccupied with making their school look good on paper. They don’t want to draw negative attention to the school. They prefer to make pretend horrible things are not happening within their walls. To think that these things would never happen within your community is naïve.

      That being said, I do wholeheartedly believe that homeschooling is not just a way to educate- it is a way of life. “Traditional” schooling may be an excellent option to for many families. It is just no longer an option for our family. We love homeschooling in every respect.
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  7. Kristen says:

    Love this! Can I admit that I am afraid of both homeschooling and public school? I see benefits and drawbacks to both and really wish there was a way to combine the two.

    • Yep, you can admit that Kristen. I wrote this article, but there are still days when I’m scared as all get out. 😉 It’s all about courageously pursuing what you believe is best for your family.

  8. Great post. Mine is out of fear quite honestly. I have 5 children, one about to graduate..yay! I have nothing against public schools. I went to one, I have 3 others in one now. But our 10 year has high functioning autism and daily living skills are what is important to us to become a functioning member of society.

    Education is not a one size fits all. He has a individualized educational plan but it’s still not the way I believe he learns.

    We have alot to think about and this helped me. Thanks

  9. Great insight Jamie! I believe ‘fear’ can be such a common motivation among well-meaning parents and they don’t find the inspiration and positive philosophy of an alternate method of education that can transform their focus into offering children a totally different approach to learning which can far outweigh what the traditional school setting has to offer. Good thoughts… also the interesting to think about the other side of fear when we doubt homeschooling because we are afraid of it not ‘being enough’ for them. Love this post! thanks for all you do on simplehomeschool… I’m always grateful to learn & read more!

  10. Jessica Y says:

    I think it probably is best to have some healthy “fear” about some things. Unfounded fears are foolish. Worrying about everything that “might” or “possibly could, maybe happen” is foolish. Not leaving your small children home alone because you are “afraid” they might get hurt, not letting them play unattended in the street because you are “afraid” they might get hit by a car are good fears. So, similarly, not sending your children to a public or certain private school because you don’t want them to see things that “vex their souls” on a daily basis or will absorb attitudes that WILL be harmful to them in the long run is a healthy “fear”. I do agree that you need positive reasons as well, but not all negative reasons are bad. Maybe calling them concerns would be more apt.

  11. Love this. Totally agreed!

    I am just starting the Homeschooling journey, officially in the fall, for First Grade. I have met many HSers and Christian-schoolers who are so fearful of their children being “stained” by the world. While we absolutely must protect our children, I don’t think that HSing or Christian school is the only way, nor should your main motivation for HSing or Christian school be to play “keep away”.

    Wrote a similar post a few weeks back:

    Great idea to have your reasons written out to go back to!

  12. Love this post Jamie! I find many people assume we homeschool because of things we don’t like about the public school system — I think a lot of us have probably encountered that, “Oh, you must homeschool because you hate the school system …”

    But actually, we just love homeschooling. We love seeing our children learning every day. We like just being together!

    • “But actually, we just love homeschooling. We love seeing our children learning every day. We like just being together!”

      Yes, Kara! That’s it.

  13. I enjoyed this article. The public schools in my area are great so unless my 10 month old shows signs of being a late bloomer or slow learner, I will probably not be doing any homeschooling. But I like to keep my options open. I am a big believer in not making decisions based on fear. Unless I am about to get hit by a bus :)
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  14. Thanks for your insight. I think a good motto is this: Don’t take counsel from our fears.

  15. Great post. Even though I am homeschooling my daughter, I have taught public middle school for 17 years and continue to teach part-time. Recently on one of the HS boards I belong to a mother said she didn’t want her son to be forced to sit next to drug addicts in the public middle school, so they homeschooled. Please. Yes, there are dangerous areas in this country, and the schools in those neighborhoods may be dangerous, too, but public schools are not filled with drug pushers and murderers. I chose to homeschool my daughter because it suited her needs, and I feel that I can give her the kind of education she requires, which the public system cannot. However, my son is still in public school, because it suits his needs right now. You are right to examine the positive benefits homeschooling can bring, because there are so , so many.

  16. I agree that the best reasons to HS are because of all the positive aspects of HSing instead of the negative aspects of SOTH (school outside the home). The biggest reason we HS is because it is quite simply a wonderful way of life for us!

    That said, I do think Laura has a point. Saying that those parents are ruled by fear is a bit unfair. Bullies, unsafe conditions, bad messages and administrators that push test scores above what’s best for children are all very real concerns in even the “best” schools (and among my friends in the Twin Cities area, every one claims that her child’s school has been deemed “best”). I went to “good” schools and what I went through definitely had an effect on my decision to HS. Listening to what was going on in our good, safe, well respected, small town elementary school was also a factor.

    We should always make choices based on reaching for the good instead of running from the bad, so I definitely agree with your post! Just thought I’d pipe in with that too. :)
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    • I completely agree, Alicia! We all face the same battles, often on a daily basis, and have to choose from which perspective to focus on. I think it is part of our job to consider what is going on in schools and then make a decision out of joy and confidence.

  17. SoCalLynn says:

    I knew what you were going to say before I even clicked over! I’m currently preparing to give a talk about home schooling to our pre-school moms group at church and this is one of the points I want to address with them. Don’t home school out of fear, but out of a desire to please God by discipling your children and providing them with the best opportunities and the best teacher in the world, their mom!

  18. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

    I was easily driven by fear at the start of our HS process – fear of what others might think when I tell them we are homeschooling (I taught at two of the oldest, most respected boys’ schools in the country before having children and am surrounded by family members who work in the education system)

    Now, my response to why we homeschool is that we have chosen to take on/deal with the challenges of homeschooling rather than the challenges of school. And although, as many have mentioned, every day is not perfectly calm and productive I am peaceful and very happy with our decision!

  19. Simply one of your BEST.POSTS.EVER! XO, ;0)
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  20. Stephanie says:

    I have to confess that after reading your list of reasons not to homeschool, fear was probably the driving force that brought us to homeschooling our little ones. I don’t think that I ever identified that until now. But, I can with confidence say that fear isn’t what would hold me to homeschooling. The time I have spent with my kids in our first year has been amazing! I think that is proof that God works all things for the good and I am thankful for His faithfulness even in my weakness.

  21. Jamie,
    Great post and plenty of food for thought. I have sat with similar moms who have or had fears about violence, drugs, peer pressure, bullying, drinking, etc. I wouldn’t say it was actually FEAR that made them choose to homeschool, but a healthy concern about the reality of what exists in all school settings at some level. Alongside discussing the negative aspects of an institutional school setting we always come back to the positive benefits of homeschooling. Most of the homeschooling parents I’ve met over the last 13 years of our homeschooling journey have been led to homeschool for reasons that fit their child/ children and support the kind of family life they want to live. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and FAITH to homeschool your children and some fear and doubt is normal… It just shouldn’t rule the roost!


  22. Jamie,
    Great post and plenty of food for thought. I have sat with similar moms who have or had fears about violence, drugs, peer pressure, bullying, drinking, etc. I wouldn’t say it was actually FEAR alone that made them choose to homeschool, but a healthy concern about the reality of what exists in all school settings at some level. Alongside discussing the negative aspects of an institutional school setting we always come back to the positive benefits of homeschooling. Most of the homeschooling parents I’ve met over the last 13 years of our homeschooling journey have been led to homeschool for reasons that fit their child/ children and support the kind of family life they want to live. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and FAITH to homeschool your children and some fear and doubt is normal… It just shouldn’t rule the roost!


  23. I love this, list of reasons why she home schools! I think it’s beneficial to make that list and revisit it on the “hard” days when things just aren’t going as planned or when family or outside forces push extra hard. To remember the why for our own families! *smile*

    We love the freedom home schooling brings and the rate at which children can grow in all different areas of their lives. The main goal we have in our home is that they grow up to fear the Lord and fallow Him with all that they are and have within!
    Thanks for sharing this with all of us. I appriciate it. Not to mention being interested in why others not only choose to but continue home schooling their blessings from the Lord. Grow in God with us. Sincerely, Mommy of two little blessings & so much more!

  24. Great post! I am thinking I should make a list, so I can look at it on our bad days. A major reason I started homeschooling was out of fear.
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    • I think making your own list is a great idea, Jenny. And I think fear knocks on all of our doors–at times we all allow him entry. But each day is a new day!

  25. Thank you Jamie. I have been thinking about homeschooling and fear has been a motivator. Yet my desire to spend more time with my daughter and give her a free-er, more individual education motivates me more, helping her to have a desire to learn more than learn what will be tested in our state.
    Right now I’m being motivated more by a fear of not making it financially if I should quit my job or go down to working part-time. We have debts to pay off that will take a few years. :-( So I am torn. My full-time job is paying for her to go to a Montessori pre-school right now, so I at least feel good about that.

  26. I really love your list of benefits.

    When we started out more than 12 years ago, I just followed my heart. It came with the rest of my parenting decisions, but I always maintained that “nothing is cast in stone”. Homeschooling was our choice made with faith and conviction.

    With just 3 years of schooling left for my eldest, I have never had 1 day of homeschooling tainted by fear. Even as I look to my high schooler’s future, I trust the Lord to lead and guide us.

    I’m grateful almost daily for the loving, intimate, inspiring, fun, learning journey our family is on together!

    • “With just 3 years of schooling left for my eldest, I have never had 1 day of homeschooling tainted by fear.”

      What an amazing thing to be able to say Nadene!

      • What I really meant to say is that my homeschooling choices were not motivated by fear … but motherhood and parenting is full of uncertainties, insecurities, anxieties and … fear. I often parent on my knees!
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  27. Great thoughts! I just reposted this, even though I am a public school graduate with a teaching degree who plans (as of now) to send my kids to a great charter school in our area. The things you have expressed here should absolutely inform parents’ attitudes about education, no matter what educational arena they choose!@

  28. Such fantastic words! My husband and I have been talking a lot lately about how fear (and it’s sibling, guilt) are simply poor motivators for…just about everything. And yet they are so often how we are motivated ourselves and how we motivate others! When people ask us about homeschooling, I honestly don’t even bring the local public schools up because they really weren’t a major factor in our decision. We wanted what was best for our family and, at this point, this is it! Thanks so much for the reminder : )
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  29. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!!!!!

  30. In my 21 years of homeschooling, I have seen many people motivated by fear. But, that is true about many things in life. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power of love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7). When we are convinced that homeschooling is best for us and our family, it becomes a joy, despite the rough days!

  31. You are so right on. Fear has become such a central motivator in our society that often I don’t think people realize how negatively it can impact your decision-making and your happiness. I am always hearing people talk about being afraid of something or other.
    I personally used to be a fearful person and it kept me from enjoying a rich life. Then, a few years ago, something happened that made me look at my life and realize fear was holding me back. My motto became “What I fear is what I need to confront head on.” Funny thing is, my life has never been better since. I have done things I only dreamed of, made friends I always wanted, and found the career path that would make me truly happy.
    I am not surprised to see people homeschooling out of fear. Avoiding it is always the easiest way. It’s people like you who see the joy and adventure of homeschooling that should be the inspiration for others.
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  32. I’m a speech-language pathologist in a public school and have seen the good, bad and ugly of home schooled kids. Those that are doing it and doing it well and those whose students are entered and pulled out of school repeatedly. I have a student now who has been pulled out to “homeschool” for the third time and she is only in first grade. She is behind in all areas not because of low cognitive abilities but because of lack of consistent instruction. I have the utmost respect for parents who are teaching God’s principals, organized, consistent and serious about their children’s education. During the Summer I homeschool my girls and teaching at home or in a school setting is serious job.

  33. Michelle says:

    Beautiful, simple, graceful. Thank you for sharing.

  34. I totally get what you’re saying here. At the same time, I don’t always view fear in the negative. I have a healthy fear of God. It isn’t a morbid fear, it’s a dread at the thought of displeasing him. I DO have fear at the thought of another person having too much authority over my kids. I also feared that my babies would be harmed in hospitals, so I chose homebirth. Of course there are MANY reasons why I choose both of those paths. But a little healthy fear is not a bad thing. (It’s why we buckle up and buy insurance.) :-)
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  35. Brenda B. says:

    I work in a public school, and yet I am a huge advocate for homeschooling. When (if) I have my own kids, I hope to be able to homeschool them. Like you said, it has nothing to do with fear, or that public schools are “bad,” only that homeschooling, in most cases, is better. Even one on one, there is only so much you can do in a public school. I was talking to a homeschooling mom today who mentioned that she bakes bread EVERY DAY with her three homeschooled children (ages 5, 6, and 7)–what better way to teach math and science? Public school is a necessity because not every parent has the skills, resources, or desire to homeschool, but when it comes time, I’d rather homeschool my kids.

  36. Thank you for these kind words of reason as our family struggles with the decision of whether or not to homeschool. Fear was definitely a motivating factor, but you have shown that there is so much more to focus on.

  37. Easy to fall into fear, especially since we live in a society where is is pushed upon us constantly thru the media. I have added this post to my page. Good stuff Jamie
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  38. I actually never considered homeschooling for my kids, but now I might
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  39. Good topic. I do believe that the driving force behind one’s reasoning to homeschool will become a factor of whether you succeed or not.

    My two sons were homeschooled from K-12th grade. It was a very challenging process, but it got better the simpler the process got.

    We received negative feedback or just plain indifference a lot of the time. Not much encouragement from others, but I knew in my heart of heart that this is what God wanted me to do. Being that I had a negative school experience myself. Plus, my husband was not always on the same page.

    So I had to come from the approach that I was supporting my sons with something that I didn’t get, and truly needed. In other words. it had to come from Love, and that attitude helped to see us through until the end.

    They are mature and capable adults — out there in the work force. The whole experience has enriched our lives in so many ways.

  40. Loved this… really good insights. I love you reasons – it is like you read my own heart and were able to focus it for me and put it into words! thank you!

  41. Stefani says:

    I love one of your reasons to homeschool was this: Belief that thinking independently is of greater value than learning to “perform,” and a more valuable skill to have in the “real world”

    This has been one of my concerns for our son who has been public and private schooled and is now going into 5th grade. He’s very competitive and know that the quality of his work isn’t what it could be because he’s trying to finsih faster or he allows himself to feel immense pressure to keep up with the kid next to him.

  42. This is a thoughtful and interesting post. It is useful to have an arsenal of “reasons” for our homeschool decision, since we are challenged about it by nearly everyone we meet–family, friend, and stranger alike. I do agree that the answer is more effective when it is framed as a positive choice rather than a reactive choice.

    However, I think it is very wise to bear in mind the “fears” that you mention. Fear is a rational response to a real threat that truly exists. Fear prompts appropriate action, and that is why God gave us this instinct. Just as an example, I was physically and verbally abused within inches of suicide for most of my middle school years. Multiple appeals to school authorities yielded nothing. The only reason I did not follow through with ending my life was that I believed that it would be a “sin.” I know that my case is extreme. However, fear of physical safety is a small thing compared to fear of emotional and spiritual safety. When my daughter was in public school, I could NOT get her to write “Merry Christmas” on our family cards that we were about to mail. The reason she gave was that “we might offend someone if we mention Christ.” She learned that in school. Mind you, these cards were going to our family and friends, not the synagogue down the street. In another episode, I found her wrapping scarfs on her head so she could look Muslim like she learned in school. They had lessons on important religious holidays, Learning about Ramadan and Diwali and Hannukuh, explaining the religious meanings… but for Christianity they talked about “Santa Claus.” I felt that this was genuinely biased.
    This is beside all the “public school value system” of wearing Hollister or A&F, valuing how “hot” you look instead of how kind you are, and talking about the latest installation of “gossip girl.” So yes, I do “fear” these things, and I have taken rational and appropriate action.

  43. So true, and I hate when other people think we are homeschooling from a place of fear — that we want to keep our children from ever experiencing difficulties, that we want to avoid a certain kind of person, etc.

    We try to let people know how wonderful this life and learning is, but often their minds are shut too tight against it.
    Lori’s latest post: whenever you want to achieve

  44. i love this! thank you for the great insight.
    Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site’s latest post: How To Parent The “Right” Way and Baby Sleep Tips by Brenda Nixon

  45. This has really encouraged me, thanks :)

  46. I am a Master Goldsmith of 41 years and my interests are broad and my reading of articles and books exceeds 3 hours a day. My daughter is homeschooling my grand children and she is doing a great job of it. It doesn’t hurt that they are all naturally intelligent kids. There are many good things about home schooling but there is one very big flaw to it as I am lead to believe. It isolates the children from larger numbers of kids and teachers. This I feel especially in their later years can be quite a detriment to the child’s ability to succeed in the world at large as they have no real daily references or experiences with this world we live in. They live in a kind of bubble. Not saying it isn’t a nice bubble, but an isolated bubble for sure. One that doesn’t take into consideration that they will be handicapped later in life because they have no real world experiences out side of the limited input of that of family and church. I love my daughter very much and I love my grand children tremendously. I wish I could be convinced that home schooling is better for them. For now in their formative years I think it might be best for them at home. But later is it good for them not to go to schooll and learn to live with others, a lot more others? Bigger tribes have always done better than smaller tribes. Same for towns and countries. I hope that I am wrong in this analysis but I feel I am too right. But I have seen what has happend with children that are too sheltered from the life they will ultimatly someday they will live. It is not so rosey in most cases. This is just my opinion, a well educated, fact based opinion. One I have learned through a life of 58 years.
    May God guide you and may you and your kids be blessed. I hope
    You find a way to integrate your children into our world so families of their own will have little trouble integrating into theirs mew worlds when they leave home and are forced into having to live in the real world on their own.

  47. I LOVE this post! Thanks!
    karen Loe’s latest post: I Wanna Stay Home

  48. One thing I noticed was the mom who mentioned her children had to check in every half hour. To me that is way too sheltering. That means you cannot go more than 15 minutes from your house.
    I notice almost all of the posters are women, so maybe I can provide a slightly different view of the safety issue. I feel very LUCKY to have grown up in a neighborhood with a lot of boys that were all within a view years of my age. There were between 10 to 15 of us that hung our regularly together and I cannot be happier that my parents let us basically “roam free” when school was done or on the weekends. Sure, we got into trouble at times (mostly from about the age of 13 to 16), even had encounters with the police as we got older (mostly for stupid things, like climbing on the roof of a local school…but we also stole at times, vandalized, etc.) but the freedom to play and use our imaginations (the woodforts and treehouses we built, games we created for ourselves, etc.) cannot be taken back and I don’t know how much it can be replicated in public school OR in a home school environment, as both are controlled.
    You can fear or not fear – or you can overcome your fear. Bullying can be experienced in school for example, but it can ALSO be experienced outside of school, when playing with other kids, so are you going to prevent your kids from playing unobserved? I know my mom often worried when we were gone from home all day but I guess she learned to overcome it for the sake of giving us freedom.
    Personally, I went to public school and public school is definitely NOT in most cases about getting people to think independently, but I doubt most homeschool does this either. Maybe all my time playing led me to be an independent thinker, I don’t know….some of the boys I played with I would not necessarily call independent thinkers today, so maybe it came to me naturally. Reading philosophy, psychology, sociology and studying comparative religions and art more than anything else will get one to think independently…though if you are a person of faith I could understand how exploring too widely might be uncomfortable (and this is precisely why I question how much real independence of thought is nurtured by Christian homeschoolers).
    I see public school as having good and bad sides, like anything. I am not married and do not have kids but would like to find a lady one day who is willing to put up with me and raise kids with me. I think I will send my kids to public school, but I will arm them with the knowledge to view public school as just one expression of human society and not the whole thing. When my kids are home I will let them roam…hopefully they will be able to find other kids to roam with; though it seems increasingly fewer parents are willing to let their kids roam, sadly.

  49. Wow what a great perspective. It\’s really true, I hear so many people talk about homeschooling in the context of getting away from something else, or their only choice given their circumstances. Only occasionally do you hear of someone truly embracing homeschooling for the positives of homeschooling and not accompanied by the negatives of something else. I think it is important to be positive in life and make choices based on that view. Well done.
    Homeschooling Hub’s latest post: More Reasons to Homeschool Children

  50. You make some great points here. One of my favorite sayings is, “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. And lo, no one was there.” We definitely need to focus more on the positive reasons for homeschooling and less on the negatives.
    Susan’s latest post: Comment on Beef Up Your Homeschool Library With an E-reader by Susan Brown

  51. I think all of your reasons are exactly why I’m homeschooling. :)
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: Using Storytelling and Puppet Shows in Homeschool

  52. Jennifer says:

    Excellent post! I had a LOT of fear when I started homeschooling…. but, like you, I didn’t want fear to direct my decisions. I wish I could say that I instilled confidence in my older kids, but truthfully, we’ve had to all work through a lot of fear and now that they are adults, I see that this is still true for them. Thankfully, though, I can see in my younger children a big difference….. finally….. freedom! I hope other parents will learn early on to not let fear rule in their decisions for educating their children, no matter where they decide to do this.

  53. Kerry Wick says:

    I had thought about homeschooling even before my kids were born, but when the time came, I chickened out and took the easy street. By the time my daughter was going into third grade and my son into first…I had already at times felt I was letting them down and myself getting left out of the most important parts of their lives. Then the teacher assignments came for the next year. My daughter had gotten a teacher of whom I did not approve, and they told me that I couldn’t switch her. That lit a fire in me. My daughters education and I can’t choose who teaches her? Well the homeschooling fire lit back on again too, and while on the phone with the Principal to boot, lol I told her if I can’t choose then I will pull both of my kids and I will homeschool them. She didn’t like that, of course not they would lose money to their school. Well we did and I think it was the best choice I ever made. I’m not perfect, but at least i’m trying. And my compensation for it is being there with my kids when they have that “aha moment” When the light turns on and they understand. I don’t think I chose to homeschool out of fear, I think I chose it because it just felt right. We as parents need to take responsibility for those that we bring into this world, to teach them and nurture them.

  54. Wow! Good word, Jamie. Thank you. Fear is not our motivator, but it is what has disturbed me about the motivations of many other homeschool families I know. We LOVE the flexibility and diversity that homeschooling affords for our family!

  55. Well stated. Sometimes people DON’T homeschool because of fear. They fear that they won’t do enough, won’t have enough money, won’t be able to stand being around their kids, won’t be able to teach them what they need to know, won’t have the approval of family members, etc. Whatever we do we need to stand on our convictions and not let anything change that.
    Heidi’s latest post: The Well Planned Day

  56. I think that all of the reasons you listed, the fear based ones and the more positively worded ones are all valid reasons to homeschool. It is how we look at the reasons that makes the difference. For instance, one of the reasons we homeschool is to keep our children from the bad influences they would encounter in a brick and mortar school, but we do it to protect our children, not because we have a fear of it. The same can be said of most of the reasons you listed. They can all be looked at positively or negatively, from a perspective of fear or confidence in doing what is best for our children.

    • Agreed. Let’s not pre-judge why these mom’s decided to home educate their children, or consider ourselves better than because we have a different perspective. God gave us a brain – it isn’t fear when we use it – sometimes it is just common sense.

    • I totally agree with you, Tracy! I thought to myself I read through the author’s reasons to homeschool and her friends’ reasons that many were basically the same reason, one just spun in a positive light and the other in a negative. Let’s not forget that we make a lot of good parenting decisions based on healthy fears, such as not letting a child play near a busy street and not letting them go into a public restroom alone when they are too young. I also read this article recently that I think helps with this discussion:

    • Tracy I could have written your reply – it was exactly what was in my head. I have fear – but I do not see it as negative. It does not control me, it SERVES me. I homeschool for many other reasons, but my very real and valid feeling of fear allows me to be AWARE and aids me in protecting my children. And I am grateful for it! No shame here :)

    • I was thinking the same. The “fear” reasons listed are also valid reasons: concern about the state of public schools, having no say over who/what surrounds your young children for 8+ hours per day, etc. In my opinion the actual worst reason I’ve seen people homeschool is that their children are struggling with social issues they, personally, need work on, and instead of working on them the parentes just pull them out and isolate them.

  57. michelle says:

    For the first 4.5 years of my sons life I knew I wanted to homeschool him and the reasons were for all the wonderful reasons you posted about. Then as he was approaching age 5 all those beautiful reasons drained from my brain and fear rushed in. Now he is turning six and as the new (and our first- official) home school year is approaching, I am even more scared BUT your post was a great reminder of where I need to return to. Thank you!

  58. Your reasons for homeschooling sound like sugar coated reason based in fear. It’s ok to say the public school are failing our children. For God sake the. Asia for these schools were formed to provide the industrial revolution with an obedient and punctual workforce. The whole concept of education weds to evolve (oops sorry to use the E word) to be compatible with our world today. I homeschooled for two years and wished it could have been longer. It was an awesome experience for both teacher and student.

  59. Elisabeth Wood says:

    Just wanted to add my thoughts that I posted on FB for your consideration. I think enjoyment is wonderful and fear can be motivational, but today I would have quit homeschooling were it not for conviction, which is *fear* in the proper perspective: fear of the Lord.

  60. I have never considered this, but you are very right. Many do homeschool out of fear and nothing works well under those circumstances.
    Savannah@HammockTracks’s latest post: Got Electricity?

  61. I don’t think fear is a bad reason to start homeschooling. What parent doesn’t fear for their kids? We should be fearful of the things that go on in public schools-some of them are horrendous. Fear can be the reason we stay safe. Fear is not a bad thing. Letting it rule your life is the thing we should stay away from. I have to disagree with you on this one. Some of the Not To reasons you listed are the very reasons we chose to homeschool. That was 9 years ago. We do not live in fear in our daily lives and our reasons for homeschooling have morphed to fit our family. People start homeschooling for all kinds of reasons-each individual to their families.

  62. I just finished homeschooling kinder for my first child. It was an awesome experience…She started in public school and then I pulled her for reasons that are more than what I should write here but I will say that a COUPLE of them were based on fear. I am planning on continuing on to 1st grade with her and starting kinder with her sister next year. I REALLY appreciate this post because I think now I will re-examine what/why I am choosing to continue homeschooling my oldest into 1st grade. This time with less emotional and more thoughtful processing. Thanks for the challenge and thanks for the post.


    I love finding more and more families who don’t homeschool out of fear. It’s so refreshing. The link above explains the whys of home schooling for us (more toward the bottom of the post). Only thing I’m kinda sad about is that all my closest friends don’t do it, so our lifestyles will probably seem more and more different as the years go on. Have you found this to be true for your family? Have your core friends changed just because of availability based on education?

    -lana w
    Lana Wilkens’s latest post: 2 pendulums

  64. I can’t tell you how much these words are resonating with me. I feel like I need to just let them in, let them bounce and dance and ease around my head for a long while. Our son is not yet three, and we’re strongly considering homeschooling, for a hundred joyful reasons, but I am not yet at peace about it, for a number of reason — but this post really hits on one of them: I have become very afraid of a public school system that “teaches to the test” and have it in my head that if we send him to public school, this is all he will have. I don’t think this is a good enough reason to decide on homeschooling, and you’ve really articulated so well why.
    Lisa’s latest post: "Yes?"

  65. Sometimes we need to have a healthy fear of the outside influences that can prey on our children. I homeschooled my kids, but one wanted to go to school with her friends. I told her okay, as long as she did well and I didn’t see any changes in her personality (level of respectfulness, etc). Two years at middle school and she did fine. One year at high school and I pulled her home. I did not like who she was making friends with (only 5% of the kids in her high school came from her Jr. High), many of her teachers (extremely liberal, anti-Christian agenda), the principal and pretty much everything in general. She has now graduated and at her homeschool graduation ceremony gave a speech and thanked her father and me for loving her enough to bring her back home and take her out of a bad situation. Fear should not be the only reason to homeschool, but it can plan into a parents decision.

  66. I think clarifying to yourself as to why you homeschool is probably one of the most important activities you can do. I made my own list ( and I have read and re-read my list especially when things aren’t easy – which is most days.
    I also know that by writing my list, it made it a lot easier to talk to others (especially critical others) who questioned by decision. It solidified my own understanding.
    Melanie Grant’s latest post: Unusual Father’s Day Gifts

  67. fishing mama says:

    I started to homeschool because the Lord called me to. Before walking in obedience i wrestled with the decision based on your fear list reasons. Ultimately i think you need both when making a thoughtful decision. However only God’s leading and grace will see you through the day to day. The neccessary consistency to do this life work. I am now completely inspired to see and promote my kids to dream bigger than their surroundings, their limitations, people’s opinions or their fears. Dream big for the glory of God alone. They are our arrows but Jesus Christ is their real teacher. He teaches them and us as parents that He builds His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. Our kids are HIS warriors in homeschool training. This journey is so much bigger than us.

  68. Thank you SO much for this, I am dealing with fear – I am FULL OF IT!! So my eldest 2 are in school out of practical circumstance and now I’m sending them because they absolutely love it BECAUSE I was creating a culture of fear by having them at home – not all the time, but it was a reason to homeschool that I had not yet faced. Now I’m facing it and your article is immensley helpful. Many thanks!

  69. Excellent point! Though my initial reason to homeschool was a specific calling, today it is summed up in the word you used several times in this article. It is not fear but freedom! FREEDOM! I can’t exclaim it enough. There is such freedom in home schooling. after starting to home school 20 years ago, I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
    Kingdom Life & Blessings
    Machelle’s latest post: Christmas Decorations Put Away

  70. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the reminder!! I’ve been home schooling for over 23 years now with no break. I often feel like I need one, but with our last being only 9, adopted from China, I want her to have the same advantages her siblings had. So, I will keep at it. I do love teaching her.

  71. I thought you made a really good point. I have to admit, fear is what made me afraid of doing homeschool. I think it’s just as bad not do homeschooling for the same reason.

  72. Wow. Thanks! This post is amazing. I copied a bunch of your reasons and added some more of my own reasons to make my own list to look at on those hard days!
    Also, that quote from Ellen Goodman has been on my fridge for a couple years. I try to live by that.

  73. Colleen Woodcock says:

    I think the best reason to home school the one that is going to keep you in the game, the one that is going to ground you not to quit is to realize God calls you to do this it is not right to shrug our responsibility unto someone else. All the other reasons are great but each one of them will not keep you at it, conviction of it being the only way the only right way according to God is what will never let you quit, even when its harder then you ever imagined. So many times I want to give up but knowing its what I must do I plug on because God called me to it and will equip me to do it!!!

  74. Your list sounds a lot like mine. Fear was never a motivator. The fact that my children could learn the way they needed to–at their own pace–was the biggest. Love your post!
    Beth’s latest post: How Do You Start?

  75. Love this! We homeschool because we CAN! My husband owns a funeral home and there are times when he’s never home on weekends or we decide to take a vacation (normally involving education) when he’s not busy if he’s busy on weekends but can go on field trips or spend extra time at home during the week, then we do lessons on Saturday and enjoy the family time we have when we can get it. Public school parents hate my reasoning. They always ask me f t is for one of the above reasons. When I say we homeschool because we CAN, it’s just not a good enough answer for them. This goes to show that those people don’t understand what we do and why.

    • And as an addition to my post, j think it’s pertinent for my kids to fully grasp a concept on their own time before moving on. Each child learns differently. Plus if we are going to be visiting a civil war site, we are going to study that section before we go. Our trip to Hawaii was preceded by a lot of history lessons as is our trip to Vicksburg coming up.

  76. I agree and was worried we were homeschooling out of fear. I was reading a book at the time that talked about making so that statements and here is why we homeschool.
    We are homeschooling our kids so that, we can be the biggest influence in their lives.
    We desire to be the biggest influence in their lives so that, they have a Christian Worldview
    We desire they have a Christian Worldview so that, they follow hard after Christ all the days of their life.
    We desire they follow hard after Christ so that,
    they serve others and desire to share Christ with their part of the world, whenever and wherever that may be.

    My husband was homeschooled out of fear, so it was very important to me that we break that cycle, I hear it in my in-laws comments about schooling our kids or the public schools etc. They are supportive, but are having to learn that there are new reasons and ways to homeschool now.

  77. Although I am a Christian, I have to take issue with the 4th reason the author gave for homeschooling. Don’t get me wrong, even though I sent my daughter to public school, I heartily agree that the rest of her reasons for homeschooling are beyond valid. I just think it’s awfully presumptuous to presume to know what, if anything, God thinks about the state of the public school system in your area. I’m not saying God may not have an opinion, but unless you are having conversations with God on a level heretofore only known to Moses & a few others, I doubt you KNOW what God thinks about your public schools. YOU may know and have a strong opinion; more power to you…yay for home schooling.

  78. Chris Barnes says:

    I think you are labeling Fear into too tight of a corner. Fear is a natural and HEALTHY response that keeps us from doing really stupid things. Don’t climb over that fence at the zoo, else the lion might eat you. At the base of that logic is a well grounded fear.

    I think the argument you are trying to make is that irrational or unreasonable fear is a bad basis for homeschooling. Unfortunately, the examples you have are neither irrational nor unreasonable. The fact is, there is FAR more reality in the examples you gave than the world wants to admit.

  79. Kathryn Pearson says:

    I was at a big conference this week. One of the booths I stopped at to see what their “info” was all about, was truthfully, Fear. It was a political organization, Christian-based (I am a strong Christian, but this was completely anti-everyone-else and trying to band together to keep them “down”), and I just said, after looking at their pamphlets, “No thanks. I thought this was something else. There is no room for fear or hate in my home.” And walked away. So sad that it was manned by young adults, probably no older than 20 years old. This means they have been raised in a culture of fear and “othering”. Homeschooling is brave and ideally we should approach education fearlessly and approach others fearlessly, even if they are different from us (if we don’t, we become the bully we didn’t want our children to encounter at public school). Thanks for your good reminder not to be driven by fear. Rather, be driven by love. Everything is going to be ok.

    Also, to be clear, yes. Fear is a gift. Every child (and adult) should read, “The Gift of Fear”. We are truly wired to run away from danger and dangerous people – but have been trained to be “nice” instead of listening to our gut. Get it at the library! Gift it to your teens! Don’t let anyone go to college without reading that book. :) Fear can save your life, but can also lead to anger, hate, suffering, if not carefully checked.

  80. Sane Woman says:

    Presumptuous drivel. Click bait.

  81. Many people who have taken their children out of public school have not done so out of fearing something on that list might happen, but facing the reality that those things DID happen! My older son was bullied and teased constantly and I kept hoping things would get better, but they didn’t. My younger son is special needs and non-verbal and although I cannot provide proof, I am 99% sure he was being abused by someone. Because he needs so much help at school, planting a listening device on him would not work. He was also being bullied by another special needs child, but since, well, he had special needs, there wasn’t much they could do to discipline him and they didn’t have the resources to keep my son and the other boy separate (or so they said).
    As for the other so-called “fears” on the list, they are all very real. How can a child learn when they wonder if that loud noise from the hallway is just someone dropping something or a classmate getting slaughtered?
    There are all kinds of reasons to homeschool and not to homeschool. It is up to parents to use the wisdom God gave them to make the best choice for their children and for their family. I don’t think we should be judging other parents even if the reason they homeschool, or not, seems inappropriate to us.

    • krisztina says:

      I totally agree with you, the reasons for those fears are real, and then all the reasons that the lady who writes this blog listed, I really do not understand why do we always need to demonize, belittle somebody or their position to lift our own position..yes, all of those mothers homeschool out of fear, but look at me, I know why we should homeschool our kids, therfore I’m superior to them….

  82. What a wonderful post! Fear happens to all of us regarding decisions to educate or provide care for our child. My comment will be a little different because my child
    isn’t ready for traditional schooling (public, private, or homeschool kindergarten) just yet!
    My son just turned 3 years. There is A LOT of pressure to put him in pre-school, but we couldn’t find a pre-school that clicked for us. So, we decided to keep him in his home daycare where he can be with his 2-year old friend and help with the four babies who are there. It’s perfect for him bcause it’s giving him freedom. He can help the babies, do something with his playmate, or find something to do independently. He’s not pigeon-holed into mandatory block time or mandatory creative play. At pre-school, he would be forced to stay with the other 3’s, which wouldn’t be very fun. He loves people of all ages, and I don’t think he’d enjoy not being able to mingle with 2’s, 4’s, and 5’s.
    We took him to a BBQ this weekend, and he had no problem hanging out with the other kids, who were all school-aged.

    I’m not sure if I’ll homeschool him. I like a small Catholic school near our house. It’s gotten rave reviews from conservative parents, so it’s a start. It’s not that I’m afraid of what could happen when he hits the upper grades, it’s what I know could very well happen! But, small steps.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know your post reached someone who might not be your target audience.

  83. Beautiful! Yes…this is so true! I started with an attitude of fear last year. That same fear made me question whether or not I should send my children back into the public school. And then a funny, marvelous thing happened. I fell in love with homeschooling. My children fell in love with it. They thrived after a challenging year. Schedules and concepts clicked into place. My oldest grew fascinated with science and history. Reading became a portal to new worlds. New adventures! Now we can’t imagine anything else. We love learning. I love teaching :)

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