10 Things (Former) Homeschoolers Wish Their Parents Knew While Homeschooling

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Introduction by Nicholas Ducote, HA Community Coordinator; list is a group effort by numerous members of the HA community.

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UPDATE, 01/05/2015: The title of this piece is, “10 Things Homeschoolers Wish Their Parents Knew While Homeschooling.” It is based on members of the HA community finding the “10 Things” in a homeschool parent’s article similar to statements they commonly heard growing up. The similarity proved too close for comfort. Thus these community members are expressing their reactions to those statements from their own experiences. This list represents the experiences of those contributors; it does not claim to be the universal homeschooling experience.

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Two days ago, this post came across my Facebook feed titled “10 Things Homeschool Moms Wish You Knew.” The blog post is generally about defenses of their homeschooling methods, especially in regards to math education, socialization, grade-level, and comparisons with kids who attend public schools. Her second “Thing” disturbed me greatly because, like her son, I could plan a Bible study (about math!) at age 15, but I still struggle with basic high school math.

“2. Our kids are behind in school.

It’s true. My daughter can’t spell “were” to save her life. She’s 13, for goodness sakes. My son hasn’t opened his math book in…well, let’s just say, it’s been a while. They are behind in some subjects. But, let me let you in on a little secret…your kids are behind too. Now, before you start arguing with me that your child just made principal’s honor roll, let me ask you this: Can your 17 year old change the brakes on a car? No? What have you been teaching him? Can your 13 year old plan a Bible lesson and teach a whole room full of students? No? What has she been studying?? Mine can do that and more.”

While changing the brakes on your car will save you some money on occasion, missing out on a fundamental math education will substantially limit your capabilities as an adult. Not every child is gifted in math, but that doesn’t mean you give up or don’t keep at it.

So in the spirit of viral counter-lists, our survivor community has compiled their own:

10 Things Homeschoolers Wish Their Parents Knew While Homeschooling

1. Your choice to homeschool was never about us. It was about control, it was about you. It was about creating little robots that mimicked your beliefs and did what they were told so that you could show off how superior we were to the whole world. It wasn’t the best decision for us, sometimes it was a really bad decision. But that didn’t matter because your belief that homeschooling would save your kids and make them Super Christians matter more than our individual needs.

2. Some of us were behind in school and are now behind in life. This is not a good thing.

Don’t assume real-life experience and book-learnin’ are mutually exclusive…. and don’t assume that we got either one. Our parents phrased it as this tradeoff existed between “well, your kids are up to grade level, but MINE have life skills,” but often, it didn’t work that way at all. We didn’t get the education we should have had, but we also did’nt learn most of the things that would have helped us in the “real world” later on. Bills? Checkbooks? Banking? Insurance? Credit cards? Managing money, being self-supporting, holding down a job, driving, etc etc etc? Nah.

3. Fundamental schooling is more important than your religion. Forcing your beliefs down our throats at the cost of educational building blocks is immoral

4. Despite the lies you’re told, you don’t have to homeschool to be a Christian. Have a little faith in your own parenting abilities when your kids go to public school. When our parents got impatient because we couldn’t learn what they were teaching, they should’ve changed how they taught or sent us to school so we could actually learn. Not screamed or locked themselves in the bathroom.

5. Admit when you’re in over your head. It’s okay.

6. That’s legit. People should leave kids alone.

7. It would’ve been nice to know what our grades were. That way when we graduated and entered the real world, we would know whether we were good competition for our peers or woefully behind and unable to get scholarships and jobs.

8. You say we were socialized. Which actually meant that we were pretty good at talking to adults. But many of us have no idea how to relate to peers. Peers scare the crap out of us. Kids are good, we can talk to kids. But some of us still struggle to see ourselves as adults and peers of adults and struggle to relate and socialize with other adults our age. This is the product of most homeschooling socialization.

9. You worry? Did you ever stop to think those worries were legit? You say “if you can’t say anything nice about our choices, then please just don’t say anything at all.” But you also describe educational neglect and your children’s lack of basic skills. I was glad every time someone stood up to my parents – like when my grandparents fought for months for my parents to allow me to receive a newspaper subscription.

10. You said “We like being different. We are okay being different, and we hope you can appreciate us for our differences!” Do you think your kids feel the same way? Would they even tell you if they didn’t? Because my mom said the same things. But the fact was I hated being different. I hated being weird and the freak. I hated it all and was miserable because of it. So speak for yourself.

27 comments

  • As I homeschool alumni and now a homeschool mom, none of the above apply to my experience. I attended public school for 6 years and then homeschooled for the remaining 6. My moms primary reason was religion but in no way did that diminish the importance of our academics.
    Religion played no part in our decision to homeschool our own children.

    [HA admin note: comment modified due to Comment Policy #3.]

    • I’m glad you were not educationally neglected by your parents.The original list this is in response to passed off educational neglect as typical homeschooling.

  • As a home school mom, all I can say is OUCH!! Thanks for sharing this, maybe it’ll open up some more eyes.

  • Honestly I read the first one and stopped. I as so sorry your parents wanted to create little robots that followed one thin line of reasoning. The first reason I choose to home school is that I worked evenings and would not see my kids if I sent them to public school. The second reason was I did not like the narrow-minded thinking of the public schools where you studies 11 years of American History and a little European history and learned nothing else about the world. I wanted a real education for my kids – not a fill in the blank, test and forget mind set.

    Again, I am so sorry that this was your experience. I would be upset too! I am sorry you are behind because of it.

  • I love that I was homeschooled, and not for the above reasons. My parents legitimately determined that I would thrive in the homeschooling environment. Comparatively, my brother was sent to public school because that’s where he thrived. Granted, I can look back and say that I did not excel in mathematics (though passed with sufficiency) because neither of my parents are great at math, but I was allowed to pursue history, english, and other studies at a level that many of my peers were not.

    I suppose it largely has to do with the motivation for homeschooling. There certainly have been major offenses committed in the name of the christian homeschooling fad, but I was a delighted homeschooler who was taught in that fashion, not because of some sort of religious inclusivism, but because of my parents’ love of teaching and understanding of my personality. (In all fairness though, it must also be noted both my parents are college graduates with masters and bachelors that ranged from psychology to education, and my mother worked professionally as a tutor for both advanced and remedial students, so there was a pre-existent standard of training.)

    In further reading of the website, I notice I share very similar views as HARO, and had an exceptional experience in homeschooling. In light of that, this article seems a bit harsh.

  • I was homeschool, and I just have to say that this article doesn’t resonate with me at all. My experience was not at all like this article portrays homeschooling. I do, however, know some people who were homeschooled who do feel this way. I think it’s important to point out that just like not every person has the same experience in public school, there is a wide range of experiences that come from homeschooling. My personal experience left me feeling very positively towards homeschooling, because it more than adequately prepared me for both life in the adult world and my future educational endeavors. That being said I don’t think homeschooling is for every family, or every child. Even though I think homeschooling can be a really great option I may or may not homeschool my kids, it will depend on what they need and what works best for them.

  • Thanks for writing this. My husband and I are second generation homeschoolers. While our experiences have been primarily positive while being homeschooled ourselves, we have met many homeschooling parents who have not given their children an adequate academic education. My husband has taught in private and public schools for the last 18 years and he has seen students who were woefully unprepared and behind academically.

    The homeschooling community needs to wake up and realize that not everyone is homeschooling with academic excellence or integrity. The fact is that many families are using homeschooling as a means to control, manipulate, and abuse their own children.

    Homeschooling is a freedom not a right. Educating children is a responsibility that every parent should take seriously. Parents should do everything in their power to teach their children how to excel and survive.

    • Agreed. I think it’s incredibly ridiculous that a lot of homeschooling advocates go around saying that all homeschooled kids do so well in their studies. But that implies that all homeschooling parents having the time, skills, and resources. As with traditional schools, quality of homeschooling varies and it’s a dumb idea to ignore the fact that some homeschooled kids DO get poor education, or that some do get homeschooled just as a way to be controlled or even abused.

    • Oh, my goodness! YES! YES! YES! Thank you! A huge part of why I left my homeschool group was I was tired of seeing families use it to control and abuse their children. Surprisingly, it was a *secular* group, too. Instead of forcing religious morals on the kids, these parents would do some wacky crap like putting their children on absurd diets, never letting them be exposed to *anything* that was considered “media” or “commercial,” and pressuring them to compete heavily in extra curriculars or their studies far ahead of what they were able to.

      This lead to angry stressed out children who didn’t know how to interact with most others their own age—which was so heartbreaking as I’ve seen children thrive with homeschooling when their parents were actually doing it for them (versus projecting their own baggage and inadequacies on their kids). If those kids had gone to public or private, they would have at least had an 8+ hour break from their parents each day—and more opportunities for outside help to step in…even if it was just counseling.

  • This doesn’t exactly reflect my experience of being home schooled. Among other things, I don’t think it was just about control for my parents, I didn’t have any problems adjusting to college, and I don’t remember any instances of parents screaming or locking themselves in the bathroom. 8, however, describes me well.

    What I, personally, wish parents understood more, was that homeschooling can easily become so wrapped up in families’ and individuals’ identities that critiques of homeschooling are taken as personal threats against self-worth. There’s way too much of this idea that people and things must be (or appear to be) all good or else they are all bad.

    I also wish parents knew that their kids will be socially different, and would find ways to help their kids deal with that which don’t involve inadvertently giving them an superiority complex. Kids might need help to understand where others are coming from and how to, in turn, be understood by others.

  • All of these things were true of my homeschool experience. From the homeschool mom’s post, the assumption that “All parents are trying to do what’s best for their kids” is laughable at best. I am very happy for and jealous of people who had parents who did want and try to do what’s best for their kids. Sadly I did not. Don’t believe for one second that ALL parents do that. They don’t. Some parents straight up don’t give a shit about what’s best for their children. I’m sure some of you can relate to having a narcissistic parent who used homeschooling as a way to keep all her children under her eye at all times so they could serve her interests and needs instead of the other way around. There was zero concern for myself or my 4 siblings to get the best education possible.

    • Thanks for reminding us, larissaann, of how true this is for too many homeschooled kids. Homeschooling can certainly serve to enable abuse and/or neglect by giving poor parents both perceived moral justification and cover for their actions. Though my parents weren’t abusive or neglectful, I still encountered the idea that parents must have the right to do whatever they want regarding their kids’ education–even if they decide something harmful for the children. I hate that this culture can lead people to believe (and practice) that “parental rights” trump a child’s actual well-being.

    • You and me both Larissaan.

    • yes completely true

  • The problem is they don’t care. These parents want what they want, and if it makes their kids miserable, and ruins their lives so be it.

    My self worshipping father decided that we did not need school after eight grade. I was miserable as a child, one of the many reasons, my cousins who were five years younger then me knew more then me, about everything. The thing is people do not respect or take seriously people who live under a rock. My cousins talked about music, movies, magazines, even though I was older then them I had know idea what they were talking about, they thought I was an embarrassing joke. I was a rube. I have no respect for my parents. I am an atheist now. This is a good list.

    • I am so sorry that your parents did not care about your education. That was not right or fair to you. No school after 8th grade is crazy. I am sorry that your parents did not take your needs seriously. That wasn’t right. Thanks for sharing. I hope you are learning all you can now.

  • This article definitely resonates with me as a former homeschooler. Especially #8. I can talk to people much older than me all day long–most of my friends over the years have been old enough to be my parents. I can also talk to teenagers, in fact I stand in front of them and teach all day long. But my peers? No way. I have a lot of social anxiety still even though on the outside I have learned to look normal. I hate it and I hate that I was always the weird one. I did get to participate in outside sports and a few other activities but guess what, I was still the weird one. All of my teammates went to school together and all sports did was solidify in my mind that I could not relate to my peers and would always be the outcast.

    My parents did want the best for me but good intentions don’t magically transform horrible experiences.

  • Thanks for this, it was my experience word for word! And now I am 25 just starting college and struggling to keep up. But I swear that my 6 year old first grade boy will go to school every day and I will ensure he is prepared and capable of life!

  • The reasoning for homeschooling is dependent on the families who choose to homeschooled. I am so sorry for the experiences you had being homeschooled, however, not all homeschooled children have this same truth in their experience. I hope more parents are homeschooling for the benefit of their children’s advancement in the world because homeschooling a child is a lot of dedication and work.

  • Growing up I hated the fact that I was homeschooled. My parents honestly did not care if I got an education, they hated public schools so much, and believed homeschooling was the only “Christian option” my education greatly suffered. My mother taught Mr to read when I was 7, after that they would buy me books and let me read at my own leisure. At first, i was so excited, i wanted to read everything I could, but then I got upset, my parents never spoke to me, I never saw anyone outside of my family, I was isolated from the world. I stopped reading in hopes my parents would pay attention to me, would help teach me. It went on like for another 4 years. At the age of 13 I started reading a lot. Our family had just purchased a desktop computer and I used it religiously. I can’t tell you how many wiki pages I read on so many different subjects.
    When I was 17 I went to take the SATs. I passed with a score of 2100, not bad, right? But it had nothing to do with my parents. I still have trouble in social situations, I have trouble connecting with anyone my age. Every relationship I was in ended badly, mostly thought I was weird and and sheltered. Now, at the age of 25 I’m married to my wonderful husband who is 36. His parents sent him to public school but always stayed present in his education. Making sure to take them on trips to museums on the weekends and during breaks, checking in on his homework. We’ve decided when we start a family, we’ll raise our children the way he was raised, not depending solely on public schooling to educate our children, but still getting that experience.

  • This relates to me so much!!! I hate homeschool, I hate the word homeschool. I just HATE HOMESCHOOL. I’m a teenager and I’m tired of being the weird, different one that struggles to maintain relationships because I’m homeschooled. But my mom keeps homeschooling me no matter how depressed I am. She said it’s the best for my life, WELL I DONT EVEN KNOW IF I WANT TO LIVE LIFE AT THIS RATE. Sorry you had to read this.

    • i am so sorry that things are so hard for you. it does get better. i hope that comes soon for you. ❤

    • I’m so sorry to hear this! My advice to you is to take control of your future as best you can. If possible, get a side job, take online courses, study for the SAT, volunteer, etc, Apply to college. I know from how tough it can be, but there’s always a way out.

  • This sort of thing really puzzles me. My siblings and I have had an extremely positive homeschooling experience. I don’t mean to boast, but simply to give an idea of the results we have had: all of us received multiple full-ride college offers, and I am, at 23 years of age, in the middle of a fully funded graduate program at an Ivy League school. My sisters are doing an MD/PhD and working as an actuary at a major insurance company, respectively. Frankly, my parents were very hands-off and never designed curricula for us. By the time we were in high school, they had only vague knowledge of what schoolwork we were doing. My siblings and I designed our own course loads and set our own SAT and AP exam goals and just went about doing whatever we wanted, including extracurricular activities that we enjoyed. Example: my younger sister decided that she wanted to take the AP Calculus exam. She checked out some books from the library, studied on her own for a whole academic year, signed up for the exam at the local public school, asked our mom to drive her to the school, took the test, and viola, she had passed another AP exam with flying colors. She was only 13 at the time. Moral of the story: there are so many opportunities out there, including many that a teenager can carry out with minimal parental assistance. Please, take some initiative – do some research, decide what you want to do, and run with it!! You are very lucky to get to home school because you have the time to do what you want.

  • I was homeschooled and am now in University. I hated every moment of it and did terribly. My schooling was online based, but it was not my learning style at all. Regardless, I remained in this program for 7 years at the cost of my mental health. I developed social anxiety and depression, both of which I still struggle with on a daily basis. The only reason I was able to go to University at all was because of my religion and the schools they provide (which I am so grateful for). While in public school, I was a model student and genuinely loved going. I was pulled out and hated school since. I understand my parents did this because they thought it was best. I understand completely. However, that doesn’t stop me from feeling some deep seated resentment for so many missed opportunities that homeschooling has cost me. Parents, don’t homeschool your kids against their will and especially if they would do better in another environment. They may resent you later, just like I do. I don’t want to resent them, but I can’t stop myself.

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