13 Things Homeschoolers Wish They Could Tell You

We asked parents why they chose to homeschool their kids, what it's like to be the teacher, and what they really think about public school.

By Michelle Crouch
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine September 2014
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    Yes, the largest subset of us is Christian.

    But we've also got plenty of granola-crunching hippie types; growing numbers of Jewish, Latino, and military families; and parents who don't like what their local schools have to offer. So ditch the stereotypes.

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    In some states...

    ...you need a high school diploma to teach your children at home, your curriculum must be approved, and you have to test your kids regularly. In others, you don't even have to notify anyone that you're homeschooling. 

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    Unfortunately, there are homeschooling parents who aren't teaching their kids.

    Some grown homeschooled children have spoken out about educational neglect. One Virginia teenager said that at age 16, he didn't know South Africa was a country and couldn't solve basic algebra problems.

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    Our kids aren't unsocialized outcasts who never leave home.

    Most of us spend at least several days a week out of the house with — shock! — other people. We coordinate proms, classes, sports teams, choirs, and clubs with other homeschooled children in the area.

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    Luckily, we're not on the hook to teach our children everything.

    Many of us use online classes, hire tutors, or send our kids to co-ops to be taught by former teachers. 

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    Our firstborn almost always get a better education than our younger kids.

    Why? The truth is that some of us have trouble keeping up with everything.

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    Some homeschoolers have formal lesson plans, report cards, and even a bell to start the school day.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum: unschoolers. They have no curriculum and no textbooks unless the child asks to use them.

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    We're having more fun than you.

    On a school day, we'll make cookies to practice fractions and visit a museum to learn about history. And we still have time for field trips, some of them to other countries.

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    Public school systems get less money if they have a high number of homeschoolers...

    ...so a growing number of districts are recruiting us to enroll in certain classes, borrow materials, and use school services. The reason behind it all: They want to get back a portion of that lost per-pupil funding. 

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    Educating your own child can be a burden.

    Every day I worry that I'm not good enough.

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    I may forget what grade my children are supposed to be in.

    With homeschooling, if they're doing great at math, they can be several grades ahead. And if they're struggling in a subject, they fall behind. 

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    Why do public school parents always ask about socialization?

    Sitting quietly at a desk all day does not seem very social to me. 

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    The best part about homeschooling?

    I get to spend time with my kids and be there for the a-ha moments when they learn something for the first time. 
    Sources: Homeschool moms Nancy Carter of Mashantucket, Conn.; Dena Dyer of Granbury, Tex.; Julie Anne Smith of Richland, Wash., who blogs at spiritualsoundingboard.com; Kris Bales of Ringgold, Georgia, who blogs at weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com; Heather Bowen of Lumberton, N.C., who blogs at frugalhomeschoolfamily.com; and Laura Huber, author of The ABCs of Homeschooling; former homeschool mom Vyckie Garrison; and Richard Medlin, PhD, psychologist at Stetson university in DeLand, Fla; Milton Gaither, PhD, professor of education at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and author of Homeschool: An American History

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    Your Comments

    • TeachWorldToSing

      Another thing about home school graduartes – they can read this RD article whereas public school grads cannot

    • Melanie

      This is a very poor and inaccurate representation of homeschooling. Certain points were ok, but several imply that the quality of the education is low. In fact, most homeschoolers are getting an education superior to public school. How frustrating, that this article would paint us in such a bad light!

    • Tina Hollenbeck

      #11: The reason we don’t know is that we don’t care. “Grade level” is an artificial construct for public schools and is irrelevant to the individualized learning that occurs at home. It also becomes a completely pointless notion once one reaches the age of 18, so why bother?

    • Tina Hollenbeck

      #10: Worrying that one is not doing enough is par for the course…because we care SO much. That does NOT mean we consider our kids to be burdens. At all.

    • Tina Hollenbeck

      #9: Smart homeschoolers know better and stay away from public school “perks.” There is no such thing as a free lunch and we know it. If we use the system, we need to play by their rules (that’s just fair). But why engage with a broken system when we can do better – and do so every day?

    • Tina Hollenbeck

      #6 is just a lie.

      • http://mghollis.blogspot.com/ Melinda

        lol – I know. If anything, my youngest is getting a better education than my oldest cause I’ve taught her since day 1 instead of pulling her out at 5th grade like my oldest.

    • Tina Hollenbeck

      On #5: No, we don’t need “former teachers.” Co-ops are taught by homeschooling moms, each offering her own personal expertise. Sometimes those moms used to be classroom teachers, but that’s beside the point.

    • Tina Hollenbeck

      On #3, let it be clear that such sad situations are extremely rare. And that doesn’t mean that all homeschoolers should be more regulated. After all, PLENTY of kids are not taught much in public schools either. Every homeschooler should be considered “innocent” unless/until there is credible evidence to doubt that in each case. We cannot be lumped together.

      • Jamie Luella Backlin

        Lol, I know right? A LOT, more than should be, of high schoolers coming out of public schools enter college but are intellectually not ready for college courses in math and English. Yeah, public schools are soooo much more efficient in teaching *rolls eyes*

        I’ve heard more than one professor lament that kids don’t even know basic Bible stories anymore. It’s not that they have to be Christian, but the Bible is like the cornerstone of Western literature. If you’re serious about being an English major, a Bible would be in your library… in fact, a professor (with a doctorate in English) TOLD us that one time – and believe me, she was no conservative! I don’t think she was even a Christian.

        And I’ve heard math professor lamet freshman college students not knowing basic MULTIPLlCATION TABLES. Needing a calculator for (no joke) 2×3 or 3×5.

        My husband and I HAVE entertained the idea of homeschooling any kid(s) we may have – and we’re both public system graduates.

        Yeah, I think (my opinion) this idea that public systems are effective in teaching is parroted mostly by a bunch of parents with their heads in the sand, and are just afraid of their kid being different (and we don’t want people thinking our kids are like “those” Christians!) – yet giving their kid a unquie name that is often hard to spell and/or pronounce or a misspelling of a common name, seems to be the trend.

    • RJ

      “…. couldn’t solve basic algebra problems” Yeah and lots of high schoolers can’t either but they get to be beat up every day.