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Homeschooling Gripes

Posted Friday, September 9, 2011, at 3:46 AM

Here is a great insert from "The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List" by Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling, Issue #1, Fall 2007 (with a few additions by me) which mimics much of what I've written in past blogs about my feelings on the topic of homeschooling (although I differ on a few points, as I am not nearly as "unpleasant" in my approach to the subject). Those of you who homeschool will also relate to this I'm sure:

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is -- and it is -- it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education -- and many of us prefer a more organic approach -- we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Stop telling me I don't "homeschool" my child because I use State money to buy or choose the curriculum for my child. But others do homeschool because they won't take "anything" from the government. They don't own the word "homeschool'. If my child is at HOME and I am teaching my child what I CHOOSE, my child is homeschooled. If they don't want to take advantage of what THEIR TAXES paid for that not my fault.

26 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling...[don't say anything at all].

Obviously this is a broad spectrum list encompassing all of the many possible topics/scenarios that homeschooling parents and children may deal with when informing others of their decision to homeschool and/or continue to homeschool their child[ren].

There is a very real prejudice reflected toward the homeschool community and quite simply it is unfounded and unwarranted in today's society. Sure, there are always going to the be the exceptions...those families who choose to homeschool to hide problems within the home from public involvement, or families who start out with the best of intentions but fail at maintaining an academically sound environment either due to laziness or an inability to comprehend and teach the material.

But more commonly, the average homeschooling families of today are rearing bright, socially active children whom you would never recognize as being "different" except to say that they do not attend an overcrowded, overburdened and under-supervised public school.

So the next time someone mentions to you that their child is homeschooled, do not react as though they've just announced they have the plague. Instead, tell them something like you "think it's wonderful that homeschooling seems to be there best option for [your] child." Or, "I'm glad that you are fortunate to have the opportunity to homeschool your child. I would love to be able to spend more time with my child if the opportunity presented." Regardless of what you think, be kind in your words and not judgemental. What is right for your child, may not be best for someone else's child.

Showing comments in chronological order
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I have no issues with homeschooling, but from reading this list, I would probably choose not to talk with someone who homeschools for fear annoying or insulting them, especially if I had true interest in what they do.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 6:11 AM

Most of the homeschooled children I have met are actually more intelligent that the average child coming from a public school of the same age and have no problem with socialization and typically more well behaved. I don't see why people have a problem with parents choosing to home school . . . public schools are overcrowded as is and plus some children learn better in a different type of environment than others.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 8:17 AM

I absolutely love this list. And I can really relate to many of the comments on the list. I remember when I first started homeschooling my girls, my neighbors would ask many of the questions listed above.

Steve, you can talk to homeschoolers and ask questions. But the point of the gripe is some people ask questions that are demeaning and are not about obtaining information. If you were to ask a homeschooler what curriculum they use or how they are registered; such as independent or with an umbrella or virtual school - that's not a problem. But it's the "dumb" questions that offends us. Such as if it's legal, how do our children feel about homeschooling, etc.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 9:05 AM

PrpleHze--I thought you might get a kick out of this list, or just about anyone who homeschools. So many "non-homeschoolers" have a misconception about today's homeschooled student, or the 'virtual' classroom environment, etc. I, too, can relate to nearly everything on the list, and it kills me that so many people are still under the impression that it is illegal...as though I would blatantly break the law and then run around telling everyone I was doing it, LOL.

Steve--the list is slightly exaggerated by the author and done so in good, fun spirit to show others just how discriminatory and insulting the views of society seem to be with regards to homeschooling. Any time a person chooses not to conform with the norm they set themselves up for a certain amount of criticism...it's human nature.

Please don't be afraid to broach the subject...I, for one, love to talk about the pros and cons of either side and discuss our personal reasons for choosing to homeschool. Everyone who homeschools chooses to do so for many different reasons, and we should respect their choices because they truly believe it to be the best fit for their family/situation. No one questions why the general public chooses to send their kids into the public school system, we simply ask for the same courtesy. Get to know us before you judge us is all we ask of anyone.

-- Posted by shawna.jones on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 1:52 PM

Thank you and more power to you. I am seventy years old, and wish there had been Home Schooling in my youth. Lots of kids thrived in the public sector, but I hated every minute I was in School. I won't go into the reasons. I quit as soon as I could and joined the military. Got a GED with the urging of my Officers. Scored highly on the tests(three full days). I'm all for you all who choose for various reasons to take this route.

-- Posted by Wolf Clan on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 5:31 PM


Excellent presentation.

I really think some people are intimidated and left with a feeling of inadequacy around home-school families. True, it isn't for everyone, but neither is pigeon-holed academia. I'm proud of my home-schooled grandchildren and their accomplishments. They have not had their inquisitive natures bored out of their psyches; nor have they fallen into the trap of not mentally attending their lessons.

I too loathed public school and did not find any enjoyment until reaching college. It was so stimulating to be in a classroom that was not initially centered around discipline; rather the adult nature of the attendees lead to a relaxed environment where learning was paramount, totally unlike public school.

Thank you for your astute observations. Reading your jovial attempt to illustrate the frustration felt by people who are only trying to do what they feel is best for their children points to your obvious ability to do a great job with your own children. I'm sure they will do well and go far!

-- Posted by dmcg on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 7:07 PM

I truly enjoyed my public school education and it was more than adequate and I continued through Grad school to obtain a Master's.

Don't assume that just because my kids were 'public-schooled' that they are not intelligient or that they did not get a good education or that they were corrupted by their peers.

It makes no difference to me where a child gets their education as long as they get what they want out of it.

-- Posted by tbdyer on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 7:34 PM

I was home-schooled from the second to fifth grade by my mother and father (and an uncle who did Physical Therapy) The reason being I had been run over by a car and could not walk and had limited use of my hands. Mom and Dad both "schooled" me. Mom in Math English and Social Studies and "the arts". Dad in English,History, Music, Poetry and Art history.

Fact: Home schooled kids aren't absent or stargazing. Therefore they have essentially more schooling and better learning experience for a given period

Fact: Home schooled kids get educated at a rate commensurate with their abilities. Not the lowest common denominator. This makes education easier because the boredom factor is eliminated or at least minimized.

Sad Fact: Despite the level of excellence our teachers possess, One teacher for every 20 or more students cannot give the attention needed on an individual level. Teachers have to work with the LCD more often than not. This is a necessity so that the "slower" student (no disrespect intended or implied) can achieve the education needed to survive in the world today

Were it not for the dedication of my parents and extended family who all pitched in. I doubt I would have made it both physically and educationally.

The phrase I hate the most "Oh! I could never home-school my children I am much to busy. That is the schools job"

Personal opinion: The fact that a great percentage of the parents today do not "Parent" is one of the reasons these children do poorly in school and in life in general.

Hooray and hats off to all home-schooled children and their dedicated parents

If I made any punctuation errors or omissions I beg your forgiveness

Thank you for your attention


-- Posted by Pony_Mann on Fri, Sep 9, 2011, at 9:49 PM

Just because a kid is 'public-schooled' does not mean that their parents are not involved with educating them.

My gripe is that you who do 'home-school' continue to state that kids who aren't do not have parents dedicated to providing them with the best education--which involves both their education while at school and their education while at home. Their education does not stop when they get home at 3.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by tbdyer on Sat, Sep 10, 2011, at 12:08 PM

tbdyer, I agree with you that not all public-schooled parents depend solely on the schools to educate their children. The parents tutor them at home after school and throughout the summer. I was one of the those parents. The same can be said about some homeschooling families who claim they homeschool, but instead take the kids to the amusement parks for science class.

There are many parents, homeschooling or not, who care about the education of their children and only want the best for them. But there are many parents who are too busy to care about what their children do in school or if the children need help in school, etc. I am pretty sure you know parents who are more concerned that the children are playing sports, instead of studying or worrying more about their education. Or don't even take the time to ask their children what they did in school that day.

If you are one of the parents who help your children outside of the public school scene, that is great and I applaud you!! If there were more parents like you, the public school system could be different. But the main problem is not with parents, it is with the teachers and the system.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Sun, Sep 11, 2011, at 8:16 AM

Great post Shawna! Homeschooling is very misunderstood, I misunderstood it myself and was very against homeschooling our children when my wife and I first discussed it over 7 years ago but after much research I agreed to give it a try. Last year we completed our 6th year of homeschooling our son who is 17 and our daughter who is 13. During those six years my wife and I heard many of those statements and so did our children. Our children begin to question homeschooling because of these kinds of statements even though they had friends who would tell them that they were lucky to be homeschooled and wished that they could be themselves. Also many parents that we know that have their children in public schools would tell us that they wished they were in a position to home school their children. My wife and I felt that we wanted to continue homeschooling but our children were weighing the possibility of returning to public school and after several weeks of discussing the issue with them, we decided to leave the decision up to them. If they wanted to return to public school we would, be it reluctantly, let them. If they felt they were missing out on something we did not want to hold them from the experience that they felt they needed. In the end they both decided on their own without any pressure from us that they wanted to continue being homeschooled. Now as we enter our 7th year of homeschooling we know that we made the right discussion.

As for your comment tbdyer, all parents who home school their children do not think less of those parents who don't. I am sorry you have apparently had an encounter with a home school parent who made you fell this way but please do not label all home school parents as being negative towards public school parents as you have.

-- Posted by Rodney Simmons on Sun, Sep 11, 2011, at 8:30 AM

tbdyer . . . I think you are missing the point and assuming a lot of things that are not being said. The point of this blog is the fact that there is a misconception that children that are schooled at home lack the same quality of education as compared to those that are schooled at a public institution which is not true as a general rule. I do have to say however that in today's society many parents take a less active role in their children lives while other distractions like cell phones, computers, gaming consoles, and television have become a more domineering force in shaping many children's lives. You can talk to many college professors today and they will express their frustration with the fact that there is a demise in language skills when presented with answers by students in language code from cell phones and computer online message programs. If you take an active role in your child's life and education then that is admirable but the sad reality today is that many parents do not and teachers will tell you that. The sad fact is that today parents and children are more disconnected with other than they ever have been.

Anyway, I went to a public school and also a private college and I was always on the honor role and dean's list and I think I turned out fairly well. It is just common sense that some children learn better in a different environment and people should not assume that the children who are educated in that way are not equal to those that are schooled in public institutions. That is the point Shawna Jones was making but with a little humor added in.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Sun, Sep 11, 2011, at 8:57 AM

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A once self-proclaimed entrepreneur with a strong background in photography, computer assembly, and digital arts/graphic design, Shawna is a dual-major graduate who was forced to leave a middle-management position after a serious accident and illness left her unable to work. As a mother of six and former teacher, she is now homeschooling her two youngest children and volunteers her time as an educator for the Bedford County Enrichment Homeschool Program.