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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?

Fear.

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.

Comments

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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: http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/05/homeschoolers-driven-by-fear-and-so.html.

    • 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 :)

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. http://houseofwilkens.blogspot.com/2012/02/our-homeschooling-schedule.html

    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

  14. 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?"

  15. 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.

  16. 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 (http://mother-mel.blogspot.com/2011/11/40-reasons-why-i-homeschool-my-children.html) 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!!!

  24. 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?

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. Sane Woman says:

    Presumptuous drivel. Click bait.

  31. 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….

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