Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Writing Monday’s post and reading through the comments (which are fascinating, by the way) this week started me thinking about some of the more philosophical reasons not to homeschool.
Here are a few:
- Homeschooling won’t work for the masses; it’s an exclusive lifestyle for the privileged.
- Homeschooling won’t work for me because I’m a single parent.
- I would love to homeschool, but our family can’t afford it; I have to work.
I don’t think that everyone should homeschool or that everyone should want to homeschool. But it saddens me to think of those who may want to homeschool and aren’t able to.
At the same time many homeschooling families make sacrifices in a variety of ways to make this lifestyle work. And yet we know most of us live such a privileged lifestyle in comparison with the rest of the world. Clearly this is not a cut and dry issue.
So my question today is this: Do you think homeschooling is an exclusive, out-of-reach lifestyle? Have you ever found yourself in difficult circumstances, financial or otherwise–did you manage to continue homeschooling or did you decide to put your kids into a traditional school?
The only rule about discussion is the same rule you have in your home: Be kind and show respect. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts!
I don’t think it is as I know homeschooling families with low incomes and/or a single parent. I think it depends on where you’re prepared to make sacrifices. Most of the mothers I know who have told me they have to work actually really want to work, or don’t want to give up the other things working allows them such as luxuries and holidays.
In some countries homeschooling is actually the more affordable option as it is so expensive to send a child to school either in fees or travel cost.
I’m going to second what Jemma said. I think anything is doable if you want it bad enough. For the first ten years of my parenting (five with school age children) ours was a one-income family. Money was super tight, but we were willing to give up stuff for me to be home with our kids. We knew that the “cost” of working (childcare, travel, clothes, etc) would deplete any real income from doing otherwise.
In the last five years I’ve worked part-time from home, at first to pay down our debt, and now to allow us some wiggle room in the budget. And again, it’s sacrifices. I don’t have “hobbies” like shopping or scrapbooking, like I once did. Thankfully, my job is enjoyable that it is my hobby that pays.
I think not knowing you have options is more of a hindrance than anything else. I think folks just assume homeschooling takes enormous amounts of patience and a PhD. Having been a public school teacher, I don’t think you need to have either. LOL
I do agree with the other comments because I think it is about priorities and what really matters to you in your life, but I don’t think it is about something as simple as giving up hobbies and other “luxuries”. I am work out of the home full-time and my spouse is working part-time as a teacher. We choose to send our daughter, and will send our youngest daughter to public school, as well. We live in Northern California which is extremely high cost of living where the mortgage payments are the same as rent payments. We “choose” to live here because family is here, as well as jobs, and it is safe and accepting of our family therefore creating a life that is how we want to raise our girls. Yes we could choose to move somewhere cheaper, further away from a loving support network, and not safe and accepting of our family, in order to home school our children the way we would love to, but we would give up so much else that is important for us, not luxuries or hobbies. We choose to supplement and provide our children with many opportunities that we know they don’t receive in school, but there are many things the school provides to them that we cannot provide at home such as diversity, opportunities to learn from other adults in ways we cannot teach (she goes to a public charter art school), and gaining an independent self apart from us that is amazing to watch her do.
As much as I would love to foster and create a home school environment at home for our girls it is unfortunately not possible for us to have all that we do by living here and create this, as well.
You know Chrissy, if in my day, when I began our little family, there were charter schools like the one you mentioned I think I would have tried it out. We live in Juneau, Alaska and the elementary schools seem to do great things and I have met some incredible teachers. I have toyed with the thought of sending my first grader. But I think I’d miss him to much and he wants to stay home with his family too.
Now that my oldest is 14 years old I am so grateful we homeschooled though. Tons of reasons but the top one is are relationship. With all three boys. I’m not sure if our relations ship would have been the same if I had not been home. But there are ways to work around that like what you are doing.
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Chrissy said: ” there are many things the school provides to them that we cannot provide at home such as diversity, opportunities to learn from other adults in ways we cannot teach …, and gaining an independent self apart from us …”
I don’t want to get off on a tangent, but I just had to throw in my thoughts. I think many would be surprised to find how much diversity, opportunity to learn from other adults, and personal independence are available in homeschooling! Most homeschoolers are in co-ops or enrichment programs, take lessons and classes, and have big social circles. I just want to point out that this list of pro’s is not exclusive to public school. It just takes a little more effort when you’re homeshooling.
God bless. 🙂
I know some WONDERFUL frugal families who homeschool. Homeschooling is truly a lifestyle and not just an educational choice.
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I choose to both homeschool and to send my kids to public school. They are getting a great education at school. And, I choose to supplement their education at home. My husband and I are both engineers and very capable of teaching them. But, the fact is that I want all of their subjects taught by individuals that are passionate about the material. And, I can’t generate that kind of passion for certain subjects.
My biggest issues with families homeschooling is that some families do not have the education to really homeschool. Then, they depend upon others to teach their children that they really have no idea if their children are getting a good education or not. Now, I realize that just because someone has their degree and their teaching certificate does not guarantee that they will be a good teacher. It is just a starting point.
For my own family, it’s not a choice that I wanted to make. I don’t think that my children would have had a great educational experience with me. I’m not very patient, and my children like to push the behavior buttons. I’m also very much trying to push my children to be independent and gone from our home with college comes. I didn’t sign up to be a lifelong co-habitator with my children. Tough – I know. But, it’s important to me that my children see themselves as separate from us and as their own independent people. I don’t see homeschool as being consistent with that vision for my children.
Overall – it’s great for some folks. It just wasn’t for us. I’m amazing and impressed by the folks that pull it off well. I’m sad for those kids that really lost out because of a parent’s insistence to homeschool (I have personal experience with this), and the children will have a tougher time in life because of it. As I’ve told others, as parents, we can only make the best decisions we can at the time, and then we wait to see how those decisions play out.
Congratulations on being able to make homeschooling work for you. May you and your child have all the successes in the world.
You critique homeschool parents who utilize other teachers for some subjects because, “they depend upon others to teach their children that they really have no idea if their children are getting a good education or not.” As a former public school teacher, I can tell you that is what happens every day in even the “best” of public schools. However, with homeschooling parents who choose to use outside resources for some classes, we don’t just plunk them into the nearest option and let them be. Hardly. In fact, we do heavy research so, actually, we know very well who is teaching our kids and what they’re teaching when we outsource for some things.
I know you’re trying to be nice, but your compliments seem back-handed. You just need to know that your one or two experiences with families you deem “inadequate” for homeschooling doesn’t mean that’s anything close to the norm. Also, you are judging even those families by your standards – but it’s not your family so you have no right to do that. I am actually highly educated as well, but that is not what makes me qualified to homeschool; rather, it’s a passion for my children, to insure that they have the best possible, holistic experience. Learning is more than textbooks and tests, and we who homeschool do everything we can to help our kids maximize their God-given gifts and talents.
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Marianne said: “My biggest issues with families homeschooling is that some families do not have the education to really homeschool.”
Because they were public schooled themselves? 🙂
I’m just trying to be silly.
Actually, I have what most would consider a very solid public school and university education. However, now that I am homeschooling, I am getting the classical, rigorous education I never received through institutionalized learning, and my joy and passion for learning are having amazing results with my children. As I truly seek to give my children a broad and deep education, I am finally receiving myself the education that I never knew I did not have.
Sitting through years of class is not an education.
Do I agree that some parents lack the passion for homeschool? Sure. And I have seen a few families where it was obvious that homeschool had failed a child. But compared to the percentage of children failed by public education, homeschool is pretty rad.
“and compared to the percentage of children failed by public education, homeschool is pretty rad.” so so so true!
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Love your comments, Laura. I, too, received a good education both through public school, college, and grad school; yet I learn new things with my sons every single day, because either 1. I wasn’t taught this stuff in public school or 2. I don’t remember it anymore. I think the heart is the main issue in parents who homeschool (or any parents, for that matter). If they want to teach their kids well, they will seek out whatever support and resources they need to do a good job. No kid receives a perfect education. And no parent is thrilled about every subject they have to teach.
My husband works in a public elementary school, and that’s one of the reasons we homeschool: he’s seen first-hand how the system works and how easily it can fail kids.
Also, I disagree with one of the above comments that homeschooling parents don’t raise independent children. I plan to do my job to prepare my kids to leave home when they are 18-20. I don’t believe homeschooling causes kids to live with their parents as adults. I think it depends on what the parents allow. I have personal experience with 30-something adults who live with their parents (rent-free), despite having been to school from preschool through college. Raising independent kids requires more than just sending them out of the house to school. At home my kids are learning to clean up their own messes. When they’re older, they’ll learn how to make meals, clean bathrooms, make a budget, and all the other responsibilities and tools they need to leave home and live on their own – as opposed to those first-year college students who don’t know how to do their own laundry, bake cookies, or clean a toilet because they were often at school when those chores were done and their parents didn’t teach them how to take care of themselves.
And about whether homeschooling is for people who are well-off financially: as I said, my husband works in a public school. That is our only source of income. We have a small house, one car, and live more simply than most, and we are loving life. I wouldn’t trade my family/home life for anything. The relationships built are so worth any sacrifices we make.
So well put, Laura, I just blogged about something like this a few days ago – talking about how I am getting the chemistry lessons I never got just reading about chemistry to my 4 year old from a library book (hey, he seems interested, so far be it from me to not just go with it at this age). I can only imagine what I will learn when he is old enough to really get into actual curriculum. My post is Debunking the Myths of Child Led Learning, at http://www.maggieorganizingchaos.blogspot.com, if you are interested!
I should add … while I am secular, I have found great solace and resources amongst numerous quality Christian homeschool bloggers. I generally feel out of place with all the God Bless you’s, but really – it is no different than Namaste’ – it is good will, and there is no more common denominator than having passion for one’s children!
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I really believe that you can do almost anything if you really want it. We have always lived off of one very small income, we’ve trusted the Lord to meet our needs so many times, and he has beyond our expectations – my husband is also an incredibly hard working man – that helps!
I think that the principles of living a frugal, simply lifestyle and by together deciding the priorities for your family, you will see whether or not you can home school. A friend of mine was very clear that her house, mortgage payments, and a “wealthy” lifestyle was the priority so she and her husband both worked full time, sent their kids to school and employed a nanny.
We have different priorities, so my house is not decorated wonderfully, we live of a small income, and we make a roast chicken last 3 meals! But we really believed that me at home was the best way, so we make it work.
I’m not trying to say that home-schoolers are the only ones who value their families, but I am saying that if you really want it, and genuinely think it is the best, it is rare that you couldn’t find a way to make it work.
AMEN and AMEN!
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This echos my thoughts exactly! Very well said!
Absolutely agree Beth. Wonderfully said!
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“…If you really want it, and genuinely think it is the best, it is rare that you couldn’t find a way to make it work.”
Amen and amen!
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Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
Thanks for challenging some of the common assumptions about homeschooling. I have friends who would like to homeschool, but they quit before they get started because they assume, for one reason or another, that it could never work for their family.
Laura Vanderkam (author of 168 Hours and the new All the Money in the World) has been blogging recently about working mothers who are homeschooling their kids. Her writings explore time usage and priorities, and she’s finding more and more families today who are making the homeschooling thing happen while both parents are working. (I wish she’d write more often about this fascinating topic!)
I second what Jessica said above: anything is possible if you want it badly enough.
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I don’t think it is just about money. One of the parents in a local home ed group here is a single mother of two young boys. Due to the way benefits work here, she has to go back to work because now they are ‘school’ age she won’t be getting benefits to stay home and look after them. She doesn’t have the resources to look after them during the day, and she doesn’t have family or a network to do it either, so she will probably have to let them go to school. Because if she tries to find a job that also allows her to spend the majority of the boys waking hours with them, how does she pay someone to mind them when she is working? And no, she can’t set up a home enterprise or telecommute – those kinds of job are just not that available in the current climate.
I know I am very lucky to be in a situation where our family can live off one income and I can stay home to educate our son, and my husband does his best to be part of that process when he is home. And I know a lot of families could do it if they were willing (and here in the UK we don’t have to pay stupid amounts for health cover, so there is not even that excuse here). But actually I do think that the way the current ‘system’ of our society is set up, it is something almost unachievable for some.
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there are definitely a lot of cases where it would be impossible to homeschool and I feel so privileged (yes we are privileged!) to be able to make homeschooling work.I would be so depressed if I had to put my kids in public school. We could never afford private school, and chances of winning the lottery for a decent charter school are slim. If we work together maybe we can make it work for everyone who desires……help each other out.
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Hi Natalia, I really feel for your friend for sure! I’m not sure what other homeschool support groups might be in your area besides the one you met in, but I know here in the states I have heard of homeschooling families who host the children of others in their homeschool day-to-day activities for situations exactly like you’re describing – a single parent who has to return to work (going through divorce, or other reasons) but wants to provide a homeschool option for their children. Sort of like a family-to-family co-op situation. These parents really have to make an effort to work together with the hosting family and make the most of the time with their kids when they are not working, but it at least allows the children to be part of a homeschool environment during the day. If your friend is really passionate about finding a homeschool option, maybe an arrangement like that exists or could be sought out within another local homeschooling support group?
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I think it all comes down to what is most important to each family. We have homeschooled through unemployment when things got bad enough that we had to go to a food bank (short term). Outside of our family’s health and our marriage, homeschooling is our number one priority. I have talked to so many moms that say they want to homeschool but can’t afford it. When I give them ideas, they almost always say that they can’t make the sacrifice.
I like what Gemma said about being willing to make sacrifices. Although I imagine there are people who will take exception to that phrasing; it isn’t meant in a sanctimonious way but rather an acknowledgment that my priorities are different from someone else’s, and so I may be willing to give up this or that because the other thing is important enough to me.
I am not, nor have I ever been, “privileged”; we are just a plain old middle-class family. We are careful with our money. We make a lot of things rather than buying them. Or we make do with what we have, or we find something secondhand that will do the trick. Our (one) car has more than 100K miles on it, and we’re hoping to put another 100K on it before putting it out to pasture. Our first home was a fixer-upper; we rent now but our next home will likely be another fixer, and perpetually in need of fixing.
None of this is to say the way we do things is better than any other way, but it is the way we have found that makes us able, on my husband’s salary, to live the way we want to: one parent at home with the children, and homeschooling.
I used to get upset when I would hear people say that this is something only the “privileged” could attain. Not just regarding homeschooling; on an adoption forum I remember once having a discussion where one poster kept insisting that because his family wasn’t “rich” neither he nor his spouse could stay home with their child after parental leave was over. (This circumstance, he felt, was keeping them from getting a placement.) And no matter what any of us said, he refused to budge from the “must be rich to stay home with kids” mindset. Now it just makes me sad, thinking that people who really *want* to stay at home, or homeschool, or whatever think they can’t because of their circumstances, and I hope they find a way to live the way they want to. xo
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I don’t agree it’s for the “priviledged”. My husband & I both work outside the home (myself part time at 20 hours a week). We also own a rental business and struggle to keep afloat. The great thing about homeschooling is that school is when you decide…not necessarily 8-4 M-F. We all make sacrifices in order to have this lifestyle. BTW, there are a few single mom’s in our co-op. They find a way to make it work, although I’ll freely admit – I don’t know how they do it. They are amazing.
I think that if someone really wants to do something, they will do what it takes to get it done. I have homeschooled my children since birth. I save a lot of money by homeschooling in terms of what I don’t have to buy. I save at least $8000 a year by not sending my kids to a private school—the only really safe option in my neighborhood.
My husband makes an adequate income, but we would definitely not be considered rich. We have always sacrificed where we can financially so I can stay home with the kids and school them myself.
I have thought about what would happen if I became a single parent or our income drops and I have to work. I’ve tried to be a little proactive and start several streams of income which I can do from home. I teach piano lessons and do freelance writing for clients. Both of these jobs can be done flexibly but can be expanded should I need to be the primary breadwinner.
Even for those who don’t enjoy teaching, there are many online options that will teach your child for you without him having to be away from home for most of his day. This is great for moms who want to stay home but need to work from home. It could even be adjusted to a two-income family. They could work different shifts and take turns helping with the school work.
It just depends on what is important to you. Income level is irrelevant, in my opinion.
“Where there’s a will there is a way.” I believe that if God has called you to homeschool, He will provide a way to make it happen. It might take a couple of years even, but He’s not going to give someone a vision for homeschooling and then not provide a way for it to happen.
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I agree that homeschool is a lifestyle rather than an educational alternative. You have to do so many sacrifices and has to have a great desire to do it. But it also true that it’s not affordable o the best option for everyone. You have to evaluate your family circumstances and needs to found if it is the best choice for you.
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I believe that if God convincts you to homeschool, He WILL provide a way for that to happen. Our budgeting has gotten so creative since we started homeschooling three years ago, and I’m also able to work a little bit part time out of my home to supplement my husband’s income.
Tapping into the resources of your local homeschool community can help you find deals on everything from haircuts to curriculum! I’m amazed at the thriftiness of homeschoolers in general – what a great resource they are.
I agree with most of the other commenters – if you want it bad enough IT CAN BE DONE!
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I think that it is priorities as well. Everyone has different priorities. I want my family to have a whole foods diet, so we have a large garden and I cook a lot of beans and legumes due to grass fed beef/free range organic chicken are cost prohibitive. We want to homeschool, so we make cuts in other areas in order to have me stay at home. It isn’t always easy, but we are passionate about it, and that helps.
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I think the word “privileged” ruffles feathers because it evokes images of Miffy and Ralston at the country club while their nanny is at home raising their children. Homeschool families make major sacrifices and naturally push back against being defined this way.
However, I think it is a little idealistic to assume that “when there’s a will, there’s a way” is an always acceptable mantra. It is a dangerous and offensive one for some people who desperately want to homeschool and cannot. It seems a flippant way of saying “well, obviously you just don’t want it enough.”
I am a single mom of three and have wanted to homeschool since before my kids were born. Unfortunately, when I was married my husband did not agree. Once we got divorced I thought, “ok, that obstacle is out of the way..NOW I will homeschool.” Only those work-from-home jobs are not as available as people would like to believe. I had no one to watch my kids while I worked so I had to put them in public school.
Now I am moving out of state, back near my family so that I can homeschool because they are supportive.
But I know many, many single mothers who, like me, would love to homeschool but their job history, income, etc. are not conducive to the homeschooling lifestyle.
For this reason, I am opening a non-profit homeschool resource center in my hometown because I think people who want to home educate should be able to and I know, from experience, that it’s not just as simple as “not cutting enough corners” for some but a serious matter of just not having what they need.
Good for you for understanding the complete picture and doing something about it to help others achieve what they want to do for their children. It is interesting how people assume that if you just cut corners, drive one car, live in a small house, grow and can your own food, etc that you can make it and homeschool. They are forgetting that some people do all these things and still have to work depending on where we live, health insurance (particularly in families with special needs, health concerns) and that it is not about maintaining a “wealthy” lifestyle, but needing to provide for your family. Thank you for your insight and passion!
I think that what you say is very true.
For a lot of people thriftiness and economy aren’t skills that they’ve learned so they truly believe that they cannot sacrifice one income to homeschool, but there are many many people who have real economic barriers.
It’s important that as parents that we give each other the benefit of the doubt and support whatever decisions we make, assuming that everyone is doing their best.
I don’t think that home schooling is for everyone. But I think when it comes to decisions in life, we all do what we want to do. It is not a cut and dry decision, but if teaching your children is a priority, not to say that it should be, you will make it happen.
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Bernice @ Living the Balanced Life
With my children, it was either put them in private school, as our public school system was horrible, especially middle school, or homeschool. Private school for 3 kids, on the low end would have cost us 18-20k a year, and I wouldn’t have made much more than that. (this was 12 years ago) It was better for our kids for us to sacrifice and make it work, than to put them in a place I would not have felt safe for them to be at.
God always provided. Sometimes not how or when we thought He should, but He did!
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Homeschooling is certainly a privilege. By that I don’t mean it is FOR the privilege, but it is a privilege to teach my child myself. I wouldn’t even consider our family to be middle class. My husband is a preacher of a small church here in town and I do not work. He makes 850.00 a month and we manage to pay bills, and afford for me to stay home and homeschool our daughter.
Being able to afford privileges in life means sacrifice. If you want a new car, then you have to make a sacrifice to be able to afford the payment, or sacrifice to save the money to pay cash for it. I drive a 1996 minivan with 150,000 miles on it. My dream car…no. My car to allow me to live on the income God has provided…absolutely.
The only luxury we have is not having a house payment or rent. We have gone without cable, have learned to budget our money and feed our family of 4 on 225.00 a month. I make a menu and shop off of the menu and stick to that. Saves money and time. We do not have a home phone. We have our cell phones so we decided to not pay for a home phone.
My family hates the fact that I don’t work and we don’t “live a better lifestyle” but to tell you the truth, I look at it this way. I am the richest mother on earth because I have a husband who is an extraordinary man of God and who loves me and our family enough to make sure I stay home and raise our children. This includes being able to homeschool. I don’t need a career. My God ordained career is to be a mother. To raise my children in the admonition of the Lord.
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Erin @ Mama in Progress
My husband and I both work full time- not because we want/need all those extras but because one income simply doesn’t pay our basic bills. We have no debt, one car, and we don’t do extras unless we’ve saved for ages to make it possible. Since having our first almost 7 years ago we have gone through a job layoff and almost 5 years of going from job to job just trying to make ends meet while looking for another job in his industry. We are so thankful that his job is secure now.
As many others have said, homeschooling is a lifestyle and I don’t think it’s for everyone. We have planned to homeschool our kids since before we had them and many of our decisions have revolved around trying to position ourselves in such a way to do that. The job my husband has now will probably lead to a position where I will be able to cut my work hours in the next few years. For now we work opposite schedules so that one of us can be with our kids all the time and we share homeschooling responsibilities.
The other misconception I think is that homeschooling is crazy expensive… it *can* be, but doesn’t have to be. At it’s heart education takes pencil, paper and information. I try not to make our homeschool any more complicated than it has to be so we actually don’t buy many text books- I research a TON and make extensive use of our library for history, literature and science topics. I keep our purchases to what is necessary for us, I purposely choose materials for my oldest that I can also use with my other children and I don’t purchase what I can make or plan myself.
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I don’t think it is exclusive. I wanted to homeschool for years and thought I couldn’t because we had to have two incomes to survive. I lost my job, so I started homeschooling instead. It is a family sacrifice and a change in life style for many. It has been a tough road financially, but God has been so faithful to us, always providing what we need! I didn’t see that amazing gift until we were on one income. It has been a blessing to be broke and to be homeschooling!
In South Africa (where I live) the government school system is not good and is not free. Sending our 2 children to nearby public schools would cost almost what we pay on our mortgage each month just on base fees (i.e. before school uniforms, field trips and other extras).
To send them to even the least expensive private schools would cost the equivalent of 2 months of my husbands salary PER CHILD per year (and while we aren’t a high income household, we’re very comfortably middle income, perhaps slightly above). Add to this school uniforms, field trips, stationery costs etc, and the cost of music tuition which is offered only at an additional fee (both of our children play classical musical instruments), and we would be spending almost half our annual income on our children’s schooling!
The math is simple: if I didn’t homeschool and chose to work instead, what I would earn would be a very small fraction of what it would cost to send our children to a good school. Additionally, costs in other areas would rise (we could no longer be a single vehicle family, for example).
We didn’t know this when we first decided that we would home-educate our children, which we decided before we even had children, but I’m certain this is a consideration for many families who desire to give their children a quality education but the costs are prohibitive.
I have heard many mothers lament “I could never homeschool my children. I just don’t have the patience.”.
I find this one of the saddest reasons for not homeschooling.
I don’t believe that homeschooling is an exclusive, out-of-reach lifestyle? Not at all! We’re a one-income family and my husband’s income is very modest – well under 6 figures. We don’t live a typical middle class American lifestyle, though.
We’ve made deliberate choices to live within that one income. We bought a small house in a less desirable neighborhood so that we could keep our mortgage low. We only own one car. The kids and I walk or use the bus when we want to go on outings during the daytime. We grow a large garden in the summer and preserve most of the yield to help lower our grocery budget. We cook from scratch and buy food in bulk to also keep costs low.
I could go on and on and on, but basically we’ve made deep cuts into our lifestyle and creatively positioned our family financially in order to be able to have a homeschooling lifestyle. It’s something our family values highly and you can see that in the budget choices we make.
As for curriculum costs, we don’t buy pre-packaged curricula. We have a library within walking distance (one of the reasons we purchased this house, btw) and take great advantage of that. We also use free online books. We have an extensive home library that we’ve built up over the years by purchasing used books and the occasional new title. Most of the family entertainment budget is spent in buying books.
For additional income I do run a very small home based business and my husband has a side business teaching shooting and firearm safety classes. Additionally, he looks for opportunities within his regular career field to pick up additional jobs (teaching overload college courses, reviewing a textbook, etc.)
Ultimately it comes down to making deliberate choices in how your income is spent. There are lots of creative ways to live according to your values.
kari’s latest post: Mice! (with links out to free sewing patterns)
My parent’s homeschooled my three siblings and me on a very tight budget. I agree that there isn’t always a way, but that many times there is if we’re willing to shift our priorities. And as someone who grew up with very little money in the family and few extras, I can honestly say I don’t ever look back and wish I had more.
Steph’s latest post: A Theology of Busyness
Homeschooling is a choice. Like with any other choice we can plan for it and make the necessary decisions to make it happen. We take into account the expenses and way the pros and the cons.
Some people, like myself, just choose and do it from the day that child comes into the world. And I can tell you right now we have never made much money. I think if I say that my husband has worked our entire relationship in the performing arts you’ll know, we didn’t make a lot of money.
Our advantage was starting from out with the idea of home educating from the very beginning of our marriage. We made a choice and it has been a financial struggle to keep it alive but we have.
Home educating also depends on your reason. If you have a strong reason that you build your home education on it is hard to shake. You really have to believe that what you are doing is the right choice.
There is a study on HSLDA that shows that overall homeschooled children become wonderful adults. The best part of this study, to me, was that they are more content and happy in life then those that attend public school. Of course there are other outstanding results in this study. If you ever felt unsure about homeschool, go read this study.
Kristina’s latest post: An Unschool Math Month
Homeschooling certainly isn’t just for the wealthy, but the commenters asserting that absolutely anyone could afford to do it are kidding themselves. Let’s keep in mind that anyone who has responded to this post thus far can indeed be considered “priviledged,” judging by the simple fact that they have an Internet connection and a few free moments during the morning to be online and commenting on a blog. I don’t see how someone living at or below the poverty level could make homeschooling work. I think it would be near impossible.
That said, my husband and I are a middle-class homeschooling family and we are indeed making lots of sacrifices to make our situation possible: we have only one car, we don’t have TV service, we rent our home instead of buying, etc., etc. But in order for us to get to choose to make these sacrifices, we have to be working from a certain starting point. In other words, our life would not be possible if my husband didn’t have a professional job that provides health insurance and a salary that enables me to stay at home. (For what it’s worth, my husband would be thrilled to be the one staying home and teaching our children. Our situation just happened to be that his salary was nearly three times my salary, so it was a no-brainer for me to be the parent staying home. I used to be a public school teacher.)
At any rate, what I’m getting at is yes, there are lots and lots of things middle-class (or, obviously, wealthy) families can do to make a homeschooling lifestyle possible. This often entails making lots of sacrifices and deliberate choices, and we are certainly doing that (and are happy to do so!). At the same time, as I said before, I think anyone who is in the position to homeschool is absolutely privileged, whether or not they view themselves that way. I just don’t see how this lifestyle would be possible for people living at or below the poverty level.
As for two parents working, I actually plan to return to working part-time when my children are older (right now, our children are still very young). I want to return to working not so much for financial reasons, but because my husband and I are feminists and wish to set a good example for our daughters. But again, this is something I plan to do when our children are old enough to care for themselves for short periods; I think it would be extremely difficult to homeschool with two working parents in the early years.
The bottom line for me is that I don’t think we homeschoolers should look down our noses at people who make educational choices different from our own. I agree that in many cases, people who claim they “wish they could homeschool” simply aren’t doing enough or making smart choices, but in many other cases, homeschooling just isn’t financially plausible.
We have lived below the poverty line for the past three years and homeschooled. We have an internet connection because it’s a necessary business expense for the home business that does support us. It’s been extremely, extremely stressful at times, but putting our oldest in school wouldn’t have made a difference because there were still little ones at home and daycare would cancelled-out any income.
I’m not saying that every poor family can homeschool, but it’s also worth noting that all the “poor” don’t look like what you would expect.
We also live below the poverty line and I stay at home (our girls aren’t grade school age yet but we do intend to homeschool them when they are). We won’t always be living below the poverty line, my husband is a vet, but in his training years (internship/residency, where he makes about 1/2 of what a human dr makes in their training years). I made more than double what he makes but it made more sense for me to stay home since I hated my job and love being at home with them and he loves his job despite often working 100 hour weeks (he’s on his 12th day in a row of work right now) and he had a doctorate so it makes sense that he uses it. Budgeting and making intentional decisions helps make it possible. We are also lucky enough that my SIL also has two girls so all clothes get worn 4 times, toys get rotated between families. There are ways to make it work even on very little income.
Ashlee’s latest post: Cars with Black and White Check Easter Basket
My apologies for the typos in my post, lol.
I really love reading everyone’s comments here. I’m struggling with this issue myself. The school district in our area is imo neither good nor safe, and private schools are out of our budget and a very long (expensive) commute. There is a public charter school but I am not thrilled with it either. Finances seem like the biggest hurdle for us and yet I know there must be a way we can do it.
Right now my daughter is nearly 2, I work part time and my husband full time, and she goes to a wonderful home daycare where she is part of the family and participates in a preschool curriculum. I love this for her! With our second due though, I’m not sure I can afford daycare for both kids and options to pick up more hours of work are very few and far between.
There are a lot of factors to balance here. I love having my kids spend time in another home wiht other kids because they get great peer interactions, they have learned wonderful habits and skills from our care provider, and I get some time to tend to things I need to take care of, for myself (I seek solace in alone time and am a better parent for some daily) and to work. I love my work and feel it is important in the world, and don’t really want to give it up entirely.
On the other hand, having the kids home with me to homeschool would save us money in some ways, perhaps give me more time and options to creatively strategize our finances, etc.
My husband’s job pays fairly well but is not necessarily a reliable amount, nor guaranteed to continue in this economy. I hope it does! But it’s hard to make that leap with so much uncertainty.
My ideal for our family would be to continue working for the next 2 years or so, then begin homeschooling around the time my daughter woudl go to kindergarten or preschool anyway, and continue as long as they want to. I’m sure at some point we’d need to find more advanced educators or they might choose a good high school program, but I know I could do the beginning levels and I think ti would be so fun and such a great experience for us all as a family. I’m trying to think of that ideal and be open to other options, as well as not panic and just see how it all works out.
I do agree with the point many make that homeschooling and the ability to do it is a case by case situation. PErsonally I would be happy to help homeschool someone’s kids in exchange for child watching now and then! I imagine more coops, support, and organizations could help make it more possible.
I read your post and thought “she sounds a lot like me in the not-so-distant past…” — even the part about being happy with the great preschool situation you have now — so I had to reply! In my case, I was actually the one who made more money when we began having a family, so our first talks of homeschooling involved my husband doing more of the day-to-day, but life (and layoffs) happen and by the time our children were of school age, our incomes were more even. At that point, I held off on homeschooling because of finances, and I regret that now. We did end up finally homeschooling two years ago when my eldest was starting 4th, my second was in 2nd, and my youngest was preschool age (3). I did decide to step back out of a management role in my business in order to make it happen — that was the hard leap like you’re describing. But it was like ripping off a band-aid for me: Once I did it, and saw how amazing our homeschooling experience was going, I was so glad I did!
Also, co-op situations like the one you’re describing DO exist! I’m not sure where you live and if it would be hard to link up with other homeschoolers, but I know of a few families where I live who co-share homeschooling responsibilities and it benefits both sides. I also know many who are part of organized co-ops where their kids work with the co-op 1-2 days a week, which would free up some time for you to get a break and give your child more social interaction. I encourage you to do your homework now and look for a situation that can meet a lot of the needs you expressed. I know they are out there, and I see lots of creative homeschooling situations working for families who are committed to making it work. Blessings to you on your journey!
Renee Gotcher’s latest post: Friday Flashback: Blame it on the Rain?
Somehow we’ve always managed to make homeschooling enough of a priority to keep on keeping on. We’ve been unemployed and essentially homeless and still homeschooled. We’ve homeschooled through bankruptcy. We’ve homeschooled in the city and in the middle of nowhere. Actually, homeschooling has been a “constant” for us! Now we are low-to-middle income family, with myself working outside of the home part time (I teach nine ballet classes per week) and also free lance writing. We make little enough income that we qualify for some food assistance and we are all on government health care. But we feel quite blessed and taken care. The children are independent learners who are hopefully thriving. Homeschooling is not just for the elite, although I would imagine that an elite lifestyle would make it all easier (of course, we all imagine that!). I even know a single mom living very near the poverty line who homeschools rather happily. I don’t think it has anything to do with your income or lack of income; it’s simply a matter of preference and values. When you believe in something or love something, you make it work. Lots of parents believe in public schools or charter schools or religious schools or homeschool – together, we make the world go ’round!
melyssa’s latest post: You’ve Reached Gianni
I believe it is all a matter of perspective. I could talk myself out of homeschooling. I could tell myself that I need to work so that we can afford the things the world tells me that we need. I have often wondered how nice it would be to take a family vacation, or buy a new car, but when I really weigh the pro’s and con’s of this chosen lifestyle, I realize that this is what I am called to do. I don’t know how a single parent would manage homeschooling. I can see how it might work in some special situations where they had family nearby that wanted to participate in the education process, but I know too many people who are really trying to do it all on their own. All-in-all, I don’t believe it is a lifestyle for the “privileged”, unless you are not using that label to describe the wealthy. We are certainly NOT wealthy, but we have chosen to make it work… and sometimes it’s hard, but I do consider myself privileged. 🙂
I believe that any family can be a homeschooling family if that is the desire. I have 4 children (7, 4, 4, 1). My husband and I decided when our oldest was ready to start kindergarten that we would homeschool. We both work full-time. I am a small animal veterinarian and he is a general contractor. We don’t have a traditional schedule since our time at home is limited, but we make it work because our daughter’s education is important. We split up the subjects and teach most mornings and evenings and some weekends. It may not be the most ideal schedule, but so far it is working for our family.
Homeschooling is a sacrifice for us. We don’t travel, have iPhones or huge TVs or even cable television; but what I do spend our money on are our education materials, activities to enrich our children’s lives, books, and anything that is an investment into the kids. We are well-educated and live in a beautiful house in suburbia; it is certainly not the norm to homeschool where we are from (and to not have cable television – unheard of). Though I am not reachable via text by my fellow mom friends, I am 100% reachable all of the time to my children.
I believe that anything is possible in God. Our family has a strong conviction that we need to home school and that I should be home with our children. We have gone through different seasons financially. This particular season has been very difficult, but God has provided. I have also worked hard to do a lot with a little. We have six children living at home still. That is a lot of mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, but we don’t need fancy. With frugal living, a lot of love, and working toward a better season, we not only persevere, we thrive. Things would be much different if my husband were less committed than I, but we are in unity and that goes a long way.
I’m sure you’ve all heard it said that everyone who is involved in their kids education will home school to a certain degree. We all have to figure out which percentage of their education will be done at home and what parts we will resource out of home. No one homeschools 100% unless they write all their own curriculum, and hardly anyone 100% educates their children through public institutions.
Regardless of what the decision is based on, it’s one that only the parent(s) can make. God will provide for the needs in any scenario (public, private, or home educated), financial, emotional etc.
Whether the kids go to public, private or are schooled at home, I think the parents have the ultimate responsibility to teach their children about life. I cannot assume someone else will take up the seriousness of that responsibility to the same degree I would and I’m no gifted teacher. My favorite thing about homeschooling is that instruction for life and academics often go hand in hand. 🙂
Lana Wilkens’s latest post: the giving house
Homeschooling is just that: a lifestyle. I don’t think it is an exclusive out-of-reach lifestyle because when there is a will, there is a way. I actually didn’t start out thinking I would homeschool, but after a year in a the public school realm, it was the right choice for my daughter and our whole family has been blessed because of it. I have embraced my kids in ways I haven’t before and had to work out how to incorporate learning into everything we do–including our freetime activities. I love the challenge. But life sometimes throws us curve balls, and no matter what we hope, we cannot perfectly handle them. That’s what is nice about homeschool–the flexibility for the parent/teacher to learn and grow–and that may be including sending kids to a traditional or charter school for a time. Next year we are going to be living with my mom while my husband finishes his degree… and because of certain issues she has with homeschooling at her home (which is unfortunate, since she hasn’t seen our homeschool in action) we will probably send the kids to school this next year. And then resume our homeschool adventure when we get settled into a new job/home.
I might have a slightly different perspective than a lot of folks–I’m a homeschool graduate. All twelve years, all from parents who didn’t graduate college and who never earned more than about $35k per year. We did without a lot of things, not because we were homeschooling but because that, unfortunately, was just the socio-economic level we lived on. So I don’t think we were privileged. (And if anyone is wondering, in college I was valedictorian at a tough engineering school, so it all worked out.)
On the other hand, as my husband and I prepare to homeschool our kids, I’m very privileged. He has a good income–not obscene, just a job with health insurance–and I have a husband who believes that what I do at home with the kids isn’t mooching. We decide to drive old cars and cook at home, and wear clothes until they’re worn out, and he doesn’t feel deprived. And we’re not in a position where I have work night shifts to come up with more money just to make rent or keep our heat from getting shut off.
People can and have homeschooled in very difficult situations. But that’s a personal choice–we need to keep an eye on the line between being encouraging to someone in a tough spot and guilting someone who really doesn’t have good options.
So I think the answer might be to do several things: improve the public schools, improve the options for single mothers, and keep reiterating that homeschooling is accessible, good, and doable.
There, I’ll just wave my fairy wand and get all that done. 😉
I don’t at all consider homeschooling to be for the privileged. In fact, most of the homeschoolers I know are probably in the lower middle class financially. For us, we are fortunate to have access to a wonderful library system, which I use weekly. We spend very little on curriculum between this and free information on the internet. I understand that sacrifices might have to be made to be at home with the kids, but homeschooling in and of itself doesn’t have to cost much at all. I bought a huge box curriculum my first year, spent way too much, and while it was good stuff, I found myself frustrated most of the time. I now spend very little and my kids are getting a more rounded education than ever before. Homeschooling does take one thing though: COMMITMENT!
I started really wanting to stay at home and homeschool a little over a year ago while working as a librarian in a public library. I thought there was no way we could do it though. I was making 37,000 a year before taxes and my husband was making 27,000. We have 3 kids. I was paying about 18,000 a year for daycare. I kept doing the math, and with me being the one wanting to quit, it didn’t quite add up. We do not have credit cards or car payments, no college loans, etc. We have a mortgage, about 1040 a month. We would have about 150$ a week for food, gas, and other household needs. While still working I read books like radical homemakers, but no one in that book was making as little as us. Then I read tom Hodgkinsons freedom manifesto and I thought ok maybe we can do this. However, at this point, what I really wanted was more time with my kids. I left the library and went to student teach at a local public middle school. It was horrid! No way were my kids going to a public school! So that was it. I started to stay home. My oldest is almost 5 so were kind of homeschooling but mostly just having fun. Everyone is so happy here! Oh yeah and my husband is making 37,000 now so we’re a little more comfortable 🙂
oh and my husband didn’t have health insurance when I quit. He does now. I think we just need to take risks sometimes if staying at home and/or homeschooling is something really want.
Megan’s latest post: This Moment
sorry I keep wanting to add on. I just wanted to add that I think the problem for a lot of people is the debt they are in. In particular, a lot of folks wanting to stay home or homeschooling student loans to pay off. They feel stuck. As a parent that is something I am going to stress to my kids as they get older. Do not get in debt! If they want to go to college, they need to go somewhere affordable, I will help them out as much as I can, maybe they can receive scholarships, work while going, etc. But no student loans!
Megan’s latest post: This Moment
I used to think it would be too expensive since we are also a one income family but it can be done absolutely. We use the library and a used Christian bookstore which sells alot of homeschool supplies for low prices and is right by our home. This blew my mind when I stumbled upon this store one day when I had been thinking of homeschooling but overwhelmed with the enticing but pricey curriculums with all this shiny new “stuff” in them. When I first started I felt like I needed to have all of this new material and tons of manipulatives and also set things up like school or else I was skimping, which now I see is not the case but it is overwhelming at first. My friends mostly ask what I will do when the kids are ready for physics, which did stress me out at first but I know now that I will learn with them or get them in a class when that time comes. They also think I must be super crazy as well as patient to spend so much time at home with them and I get what they are saying. I tell them how I am not super patient and how the kids do drive me crazy, do bicker, do fuss, do need constant attention all day long but when I did have two in elementary school it was not much of a break. There was always work and reading to do when they got home tired and cranky, rushing to do bath and bedtime, a hard time scheduling doctor and dentist appts. Basically we have more free time and an easier schedule being home than going by the school schedule and we get more reading time in and more learning in less hours. We had a wonderful school with awesome teachers, I just wanted to get to spend the time with them, and I am so glad we went for it, even on the super crazy days.
We are an enlisted military family. I’m always surprised when I hear people say they can’t afford to homeschool. I think it’s all about trade offs. Yes, we don’t have a lot of expendable income but I have found that we have always been provided enough money for classes or my daughter’s horse therapy without going into debt. In some of the recent articles I’ve read about homeschooling it seems to give the impression that it is something only well educated, wealthy families have the option of doing and I find that to not be the case at all for most of the families I know.
Whether or not they use homeschool or some type of institutional school instead, I actually do think it should be every Christian parent’s desire to want to keep their kids out of the humanist, God-bashing public schools. I’m willing to believe God calls a very few children to the public schools – just as he had Moses raised by the pagan Egyptians for a good reason – but it’s illogical to think that sending most kids into such an environment is his will. If that were the case, there’d be more biblical examples than just Moses.
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I educate my children from home, but I don’t think the choice to home school can be based firmly on the story of Moses. Nor can assumptions be made regarding God’s will because of the lack of other examples in scripture.
Most of my friends have chosen to send their kids to public school, and those children thrive because of how close to Jesus they are in the home. These children love to bring the presence of God to the world around them, and I am constantly encouraged by their testimonies of boldness and faith in the midst of anti-biblical teaching.
Each child is so different and we shouldn’t play Jr. Holy Spirit by assuming we know what God’s will is for each family. I would caution you against such talk as it isolates the home schooling community in unhealthy ways. Your family should make your choice before God and let everyone else do the same.
And to the humanist/God-bashing comment – God says we are to be “in” the world, not “of” the world. I hope that your path includes grace for those that do things differently than you and that there’s some healthy overlap between your lives and the lives of lost souls around you.
I’m sure you’re an awesome teacher with your kids and wish you all the best as you lovingly protect and guard their minds until they are old enough to have their own spirit-led discernment.
Lana Wilkens’s latest post: what homeschooling isn’t (for us)
Interesting discussion. We make sacrifices to live on one salary and homeschool. But my husband makes a “fair” salary – certainly not close to many in our province but it is doable. I have friends who make minimum wage and the wife works part time to make ends meet. They are very frugal but life would honestly be so hard for them if she was not working. Still, in a situation like this, HS’ling could work by staggering work hours for the parents, if that was priority in their life. My parents homeschooled many of my siblings and I come from a family of 12 (only 8 probably lived at home at any given time) on one salary. We had a big garden, my mom sewed lots, we didn’t do fancy vacations (we camped) but we were loved and well taken care of. But they were also super careful with their $ – no debt, paid off mortgage in 7 years, etc. As I’ve said in other comments, I also ran a part-time day home the first two years that I homeschooled since we were repaying huge student loans; this was the only way to make it work for us. It was worth it.
Kika@embracingimperfection’s latest post: To Walk Humbly
Like Breanna, I came from a homeschooling family of eight children with non-college-grad parents living on just one very up-and-down income (my step-dad was in the construction business). Same goes for my husband, who was homeschooled by his father while his mom worked in a university copy shop. My husband and I both did very well post homeschooling: We both graduated college in the high ranks and I also have a Master’s degree in Journalism. I knew good homeschooling was achievable with limited finances.
However, I didn’t homeschool my daughters from the start, because I was convinced that my husband and I should have all our financial ducks in a row (and a harmonious living/working situation) before we started. I call this blunder “thinking I’d be ready” in a post on my blog (http://wp.me/p1MH6f-dp). The only thing I was certain of is that I believed God was calling me to do it. And if that was the case, I had to trust Him with the “how” and believe that He could provide when we made the necessary sacrifices to make homeschooling happen.
For me, it boils down to Heidi’s comment: “I believe that if God has called you to homeschool, He will provide a way to make it happen.” I gave up a team management position in a direct sales company to focus on homeschooling full time, and my income dwindled down to just $100-$200/month at the most, so we’re basically a one-income family. However God has also blessed my husband’s career: His income has improved since we started homeschooling, which was an unexpected blessing. As a family, we’re also learning to live frugally. I realize now that this is a character quality I actually want to develop in my children anyway, so they’re not swept up into a materialistic life like I was as an adult.
Lastly, for us homeschooling has never been about simply providing a “better” option over local schooling: It’s been about focusing our children’s education on a God-centered world view. This is a far cry from what they’ll receive in a public school. Because this is the key reason why WE personally choose to homeschool, we will continue to do everything we can to make it work, no matter what financial struggles we may face.
Like others have mentioned, many of the families in our local homeschool group are making it work with limited financial resources. We love the public library and curriculum swaps! And I know single parents who homeschool as well, creatively working their school time with their children around their jobs. So far, none share any regret for the choices that they’ve made to make homeschooling work for their situations.
Renee Gotcher’s latest post: Friday Flashback: Blame it on the Rain?
The very values we demonstrate to the children in frugality, gratefulness, grit, innovation, creative adaptation and sacrifice are exactly the kinds of fire I want to light in them anyway. I am thankful that I don’t have poverty or riches, just Daily Bread.
I think these excuses are very similar to the ones I hear about why so and so can’t be a stay at home mom. I’ve heard family members say they can’t stay home b/c they can’t afford it, but they are getting their nails done every other week and buying new clothes constantly. Yet I know others who truly cannot pay the rent if they don’t both work. They live in a small county and work very blue collar jobs b/c that’s all they can get.
My point is that there are people on both sides. However, there are many people that just use those “reasons” as excuses. I have no problem if you want to work, but don’t lie about it and say you HAVE to. I just wish people would take responsibility for their decisions.
I do not believe you need to have a degree to homeschool. I have a BA and can’t remember anything I learned. I will relearn again as I teach my children.
I felt the call to homeschool as a teen, even though I was not homeschooled myself. It was about eight years after that spiritual call that I had my first child.
My husband and I made $18,000 a year when my son was born 10 years ago. As soon as my son was born, I quit my day job, and have been home with my children ever since.
We bought our first house and our first car as a couple when my oldest was just over a year. Our house was less than $60,000, in a small town outside of the city where my husband worked at the time. Our mortgage payment was only about $450 a month. The house was less than 800 square feet, and in a pretty old neighborhood. We lived in that house for 6 years, slowly remodeled it, investing about 4 or 5 thousand dollars over the course of those years, and sold the house at a $40,000 profit.
Our car was already 8 years old when we bought it, and it had almost 150,000 miles on the engine.We still have and drive the vehicle (a 1994), which now has almost 300,000 miles on it, though we did buy a second car last year.
We have never had cable. We were given a television and a computer by family members. We were given couches, washer, dryer. We washed dishes by hand. We used the library internet. We didn’t have cell phones until last year. We shop garage sales, thrift stores, and gladly accept hand-me-downs. We have always grown a garden. We cook from scratch, and shop the sales. We don’t eat out much.
To supplement our income, I have offered both foot zonology and piano lessons over the years, so that I could help with extra things, but still be home full time.
We save up for things we want new – such as mattresses and shoes. We set aside money for traveling, which always ends up being a visit to faraway family.
As far as your question, I think that not everyone is lucky enough to have the choice to homeschool. I can see from the above posts that some people are tied into a lifestyle that does not permit it, financially. No judgment from me on that, because it sounds like the individuals on this comment board are conscientious enough to realize that they have to make an extra effort to mentor the children they don’t see all day.
There are some people for whom this lifestyle is not really an option because their priority is to live near a support system moreso than to homeschool, or they are single and cannot seem to find a way to earn a living from home.
That said, I have never known a single person who truly wanted to homeschool who was unable to find a way to do it. People say where there’s a will there’s a way, but to me it is more than that. If you feel called in your heart to something, and you take a leap of faith in that direction, it is amazing what God or the universe or karma or whatever you call it makes happen in your life. If you commit to something that you feel a sense of mission to accomplish, there is not any roadblock that can stop you.
The idea of homeschooling being for the financially privileged is not the case with me. And I don’t know any rich homeschoolers. All of my friends are middle class and thrifty. Most of them have home businesses, which are part of the children’s learning experience.
I am grateful that homeschool has worked out for us. I know that it wasn’t my will alone that made it happen, more my willingness to align my will with a mission I felt called to perform. I am very much at peace with the way we live, and we are truly happy. We are rich in all the ways that matter. And in that way, privileged.
Home schooling is a sacrafice od time and money for any one who wants to do it….I think it is a matter of deciding what is more important to a person…I realize that there are many who would like to do it but are made to feel they are inadequate.
I believe that homeschooling is out of reach for me – not for financial reasons, but because of the demands of my children.
My eldest child has started at our local school this year. I am impressed with the work they do and the diversity offered. I also, could not have supplied him with access to such a group of friends. However, it is fair to say, he is not flourishing and I am questioning our decision more and more.
The reason I cannot homeschool him at this time is that his 3yo brother requires too much attention. He is a high-needs individual and very, very demanding. The only way I can ensure my eldest is receiving any quality attention is to outsource at this time. I cannot say how much this saddens me – to not have a choice, as I truly feel the alternative would be worse. I feel that homeschooling is a lifestyle out of our reach at this time.
I noticed a sweet thing as I was dropping my son off for basketball practice for our homeschool basketball league: many of the coaches/dads drove junker cars. This observation touched my heart. You know men don’t like driving junk! But they were willing to be humble and drive a beat up old sedan, hatchback or pickup and that reflected, to me, a sacrifice to stretch out one income to homeschool. Not many (any?) of my kids’ “school” friends ride around in anything but new and/or luxury vehicles. It was also good for my teenage (non-driving yet) son to see that his dad wasn’t the only one with the junker!
I enjoyed hearing this! I know there are moments that are hard for my husband when most of his colleagues are going on vacations together and driving fancy vehicles, etc., and our life looks very different. Most of my own siblings prefer a more materialistic lifestyle than us, too, and when we visit them/they come here or we all get together, it can be a little hard. Not than we want their life but you see the material things and can feel a little shabby… or wonder if your kids ever feel like that. And yet, we do not even live like paupers.
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I am a single parent, and I am also disabled (I have Bipolar Disorder, but am VERY well medicated), so my two children and I live off of my SSDI and food stamps, and very rarely, a little bit of child support. So money is tight! But I am a wonder at budgeting, and willing to make sacrifices in order to afford homeschooling! I firmly believe that anyone can homeschool, in any situation. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! You can do anything you set your mind to! 🙂
hey, i’m another single homeschooling mom named Katie. 😉 We live just around the poverty level for our state on a mix of odd jobs, help from family, and, every year or so when tax season approaches and a certain somebody wants to claim one of the kids for a tax break, a month or two’s worth of child support. 😉
i really love being around my kids. i’ve toured schools and talked to them about school but so far (my oldest is 10) homeschooling continues to be the right fit. –Katie
When I refer to affording homeschooling, I am mostly referring to curriculum. 🙂
I think that expecting everyone in the world to homeschool or to be able to homeschool is unreasonable, and it is just as unreasonable to call those who do it, privileged. Some people are called to do it because of passion, bad experiences in public school, dreams, desires, or a myriad of reasons. There has to be a comparison to comments about how not everyone can compensate enough (sacrifices) to do it. There are many aspects of our lives where we do may not measure up to “the Joneses,” but do we call them privileged? Or is it a matter of life circumstances and experiences combined in such a way with perhaps passion, frugality, ingenuity – what have you – that adds up to ability to homeschool? I don’t even give a second thought to comments about whether just anyone is qualified or not – that stuff is obviously based in (no offense) a lack of experience and knowledge about homeschooling, as all homeschooling parents here know that you don’t need higher education or specializatino to teach or make choices for your kids. I’ll take ANYONE to taks on that – and I have a terminal degree – but I think anyone out of high school can do it and do it exceptionally well. Hands down! But, what I do think is important to note is the perception of privileged. Single income families who homeschool often take huge but calculated risks (financial, primarily) to make it work. I don’t know that I would call that being priveleged. Brave, innovative, corageous – yes. When you are living as close to the edge, willingly, as we do – it isn’t called privilege. It may be called a lot of things by a lot of people – especially those who do not readily comprehend why we do this and by those who assume we are irresponsible or haven’t taken the time to really think out our choices – but one thing I don’t think you can call it is privilege.
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I homeschool mainly because I realized (finally), that better learning happens at home and in the world. I have 4 children, the older two attended a good amount of public school, but also homeschooled at times too. I realized the differences while raising these 2 and now my younger two are homeschooled. There are so many things that interfere with a child being a child, and really discovering the world in an institutional setting. Learning how to think does not seem to happen after years and years of being in a classroom. I really believe that most kids that reach high school and are pulling the 4.0 have learned so well how to “perform” in the system for the praise and the majority of the other kids (which in my opinion are probably brighter, because they see the manipulation) are just screaming to get out and learn what they really want and need. I believe this is why so many kids and parents have the rosy elementary school experience, but then when the child is older, the kids realize that real learning is not about being in a classroom with an “expert” everyday, and their grades slowly drop, because they are tired of playing the school game. I saw how much brighter my kids faces were at home and how much they enjoyed learning when they were able to engage for as much time as they needed and really choose things that interested them.
I am a Christian and I do believe that my job as a wife and mother are to be the keeper of my home and children, however I did not always realize this because our culture teaches us to be all about “me” and to get as much free time from your children as possible. Just yesterday, I had a mom friend tell me she could not wait for her 3 year old to start pre-school next fall with a look in her eye like she will be so relieved to have him out of her hair for half of the day. For a moment I thought wow! that does sound great! But really?? No. Maybe for a few hours one day, but not EVERY DAY!
I am so grateful that I am not blinded anymore by what our culture says about education and being a wife and mother is. I can love being home doing what I was called to do. Of course, it’s not a love affair every moment, but it is pretty awesome.
As for being frugal and simplicity, I am in love with it. God showed me by losing everything in a house fire several years ago, that freedom, peace and joy come from the simple life. My husband is very educated and now makes $188K per year plus our $8,000-12,000 we get from our dividned for our family to live in this state, (we live in Alaska and the cost of living is pretty high). I know that I want to teach my children that life is not about making money, the advanced degree you have, a fancy house or car. We eat at home mostly, cut our own fire wood to burn, raise animals, embrace thrifty shopping, raise our own veggies in the summer, and give much of our money away in service to others and to our church. My priorities were very different when our income was $45K, because I was raised in our culture of “more is better”.
Homeschooling for us is about teaching what life is really about!! Oh, and you don’t have to have a degree to homeschool – just a love of learning, a sense of humor, and the ability to not be too rigid, but very flexible. Patience comes with learning to love what you were called to do- being the keeper of my family. It’s not always easy, but so, so rewarding!
Thanks for sharing that! That is great!
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shelli : mamaofletters
While we get by with what we have, money is a definite worry and stress for us. We are frugal and get by with very little, yet we still have a lot compared to so many people in the world. It would make life a lot easier if I put the kids in school and went to work. Yet my husband and I want to do this for our kids, so we’re committed to it, but if worse came to worse, we would do what we had to do to keep our house and a reasonable standard of living for our children.
We had neighbors who lost their house, yet they went right on homeschooling. They moved in with relatives for a while and then the husband got a job. I guess they were confident he would get a job sooner rather than later. I think if that happened to us, my husband and I would both look for jobs, and if we had to stop homeschooling for awhile, we do so. We also try to be proactive by saving what little we can and by not spending thoughtlessly.
While I believe homeschooling is not just for the privileged, and I have heard of families of little means and even single parents homeschooling, I do think it’s out-of-reach for many, many people. I do not see the young, single mothers who are in my college professor husband’s classes homeschooling. He talks to many young people who are just trying to get their lives together. They may have other family members to support too. I read an article in my local newspaper how a high percentage of kids in the local school qualify for free lunches (a big indicator that those kids are living in poverty). How much time can those parents think about their kid’s education when they are worried about putting food on the table?
While you don’t need a lot of money to homeschool, homeschoolers will come from a group who are privileged enough to worry about education.
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PS Perhaps I should also add that homeschoolers need to have maturity, self-reliance, and a love of learning as well.
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I don’t believe it is the priviliged who often homeschool, I truly believe it is those who are willing to make the sacrifice of money and time and effort t make it happen. It does not and will not work for everyone. I believe in it 100%, for me and my children. We are a single income household, in no way well off, and I personally find the public library and the internet a HUGE help for lowering costs.I am so grateful for it, or we might not be able to homeschool. There are many free and low cost intenet sites with fun and wonderful learning games, ideas and worksheets. I also love swap.com and other sites like it where you can trade and get books and other supplies. Homeschooling is a gift and a pleasure and any who choose the lifestyle, absolutely are one of the priviliged.
I LOVE that you call homeschooling a lifestyle and not just an educational option.
We don’t homeschool but I don’t like the public schhol system here (NYC), too liberal for me. We make our sacrifice by sending the children to an excellent local Catholic school. Is that an option in other parts of the country or just here in the metro areas?
We have good private school options here in the midwest, but they are much more expensive than homeschooling. Plus we have found that we do like our homeschooling lifestyle. While we watch our private school friends rush from event to event our pace is completely different. I am not saying it is better, just different and a better fit for our family.
Homeschooling, like so many other things, is about what is important to you. If you are convinced – deep down convinced – that homeschooling is the best lifestyle and educational path for your family, then you will be willing to make sacrifices to accommodate that conviction. I am a young wife and mom to 4 little children, ages 5, 4, almost 3 and 15 months. We are on a single income; my husband works hard to provide for us. Although we feel blessed, statistically, we are within the lowest financial bracket in the US. We own only one vehicle. We started formal homeschooling with our oldest last fall (he’s doing great!). In order to make homeschooling work, there are sacrifices of finances, time, energy and emotions that we make on a daily basis. But these “sacrifices” are made willingly because we recognize that we are working toward an ultimate goal…that of raising well-educated, secure, confident adults who are prepared for what life will throw at them, will follow their own dreams and convictions and will bless those around them.
All that said, I will echo what many people have already stated in the comments: I don’t believe homeschooling is for everyone. But, if you believe that homeschooling is the best route for your family, then there IS a way that you can make it happen!
I was homeschooled, and my mother made it work while running a home daycare to pay the bills. Later, my parents divorced while she still had three kids at home to school, and she managed to do it as a single parent living in some nasty poverty while she found her feet again. My siblings and I all received excellent home educations, and I love my mother for making it work. Now I homeschool my two children, and I work full-time at the same time. We could live on my husband’s salary, but I have a job that I love doing, and I wasn’t willing to give it up for homeschooling. It’s flexible, though, so I get to do it all (which is exhausting but still rewarding). Homeschooling can be part of a family lifestyle in many different ways. Kids can go to work with you, or work in the family business, or you can trade days with another homeschooler, or you can work from home while you homeschool.
I don’t think homeschooling is for just the privileged. I think that what many of us perceive as needs are in fact wants, and by putting them aside and making the sacrifice, we can make homeschooling work. I left a successful research career and cut our income in half to homeschool our children. We have never had to worry about our budget until I started to homeschool, but I think the sacrifice is worth it for us. There may be seasons in our life where we sacrifice our desire to homeschool to meet other needs (Needs, not wants) but this still does not put homeschooling in the realm of only the privileged.
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My husband and I were both public school kids and we are both college graduates. And we had VERY different experiences.
I was a basketball player or a”jock” and school wasn’t all that easy for me. I was sexually harassed on the bus by a couple of guys and as a freshman in high school buy a teacher. Obviously, these aren’t good memories but they’re also not everyone’s experiences. I didn’t let that get me down but I also couldn’t handle it emotionally as most girls my age probably can’t. Anyways, I struggled with the math and sciences and somewhat excelled in History and Literature (writing as well). My husband was a Honors kid and excelled and all subjects, especially Math. He graduated with Honors from a local University. I graduated as just a regular person who struggled.
We have 2 girls (20 months and 4 months) and have been talking about how to school our girls. We can’t afford private school and we’re not convinced that’s any better than public (by way of education) and we aren’t sure public school is a right fit for us either. We have already gotten some negative feedback from our families and friends. There are definitely negative feelings toward homeschooling but I think it’s really from people who don’t know what it’s like these days. It doesn’t have to be sitting at a table at home anymore and there are SO many opportunities for outside activities with homeschools and other parents and their kids.
I also want our girls to be VERY independent. We are already working on that with them. I don’t play constantly with my toddler and I never have. I have my life to live and it doesn’t revolve around her or making her happy. B/c we were public school kids we didn’t learn how to do laundry, iron, cook, vacuum or run a house. Nor did we know anything about a family budget. Could we have learned this after school? Of course, but there was always mounds of homework, then dinner then before we knew it it was time for bed. I think all these things are JUST as important as learning about how to properly write sentences and work equations. After all, we didn’t live with our mommy and daddy forever and needed to know how to cook for ourselves, wash our own clothes and budget our money. We have struggled with that a little since being married. I want our girls to learn about these important everyday tasks.
Also, I am a visual learner and an active learner and sitting at a desk 7 hours a day didn’t do it for me. I didn’t understand everything and I don’t even use a quarter of the stuff I learned. I feel like if we homeschool we can’t concentrate on what interests the girls and stay on a subject that is tough for them. We don’t have to get through a certain amount of material by the end of the year b/c a test is coming up. We can go at our own pace and do our own thing. We can also have a lot of outings that integrate into what we are learning that week. And we can use vacation time as learning time too.
Is homeschooling for everyone? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s because we aren’t qualified or whatever. It just isn’t a fit for some people. And that’s okay! For us, we feel God calling us to homeschool our girls. Neither one of us is “qualified” b/c we don’t know how to teach the material, it’s all new and all learning experiences to us. But God doesn’t call the qualify, He qualifies the called. I know He’ll equip us during this process, He already is.
For us, our girls will be involved in other areas. We will do a sports activity, art classes (outside of the home), trips, etc. We want to get involved with other homeschool families as well.
We don’t want all or hard work on instilling our values in our girls to be thrown out the window on day 1 of public school either. This may be extreme but it could happen. I don’t want to shelter them but I do want them to have great experiences with learning. I love to learn now. I wish I had that same attitude in school. I may have been a different student if I loved it. But sitting in a classroom didn’t do it for me. And I don’t want that for my girls.
I think as parents we know our own limitations, how our kids test us and after all that what’s best for our kids. Homeschool is right for some while it’s not right for all. And that’s OKAY!
I agree with a lot of the comments here that it can be done if you want it bad enough. Homeschooling is more affordable, but may require sacrifices as it takes more time and effort. We do the same for our kids, and slowly getting used to it.