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 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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