Homeschoolers, I Need Your Help!

As some of you know, I am writing a short series on problems within fundamentalist homeschooling circles. However, I know that criticism of a segment of the homeschooling community is sometimes seen as a reflection on homeschooling in general.

I support homeschooling. Homeschooling is quite diverse, and there are many good reasons for homeschooling children. So I am writing an article for this series that favorably presents homeschooling in general. This is where you can help me with some information about your homeschooling choices and experience.

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If you are willing, you can respond either here on this post or you can message me privately at https://www.facebook.com/JesusWithoutBaggage/. I really appreciate your input and will not use your name unless you tell me otherwise.

Here are some questions you might consider, but I would like to hear anything you have to say:

1. Why did you choose to homeschool your children?

2. What is your educational or homeschooling philosophy?

3. What is your style of homeschooling?

4. What curriculum or resources do you use in homeschooling?

5. What are some disadvantages of homeschooling?

6. What are your thoughts on the level of state involvement in homeschooling—like monitoring for quality or learning achievement levels?

7. What articles or web sites might be helpful in my preparation for this upcoming article?

8. What else would you like to share about homeschooling or your homeschooling experience?

9. What else should I be asking?

I am eager to hear from you and really appreciate your help in preparing for this article!

Thanks!

~Tim Chastain

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20 Responses to Homeschoolers, I Need Your Help!

  1. I was homeschooled by my mom for the first part of kindergarten, and she considered doing long-term homeschooling for my younger brother. To be honest, the reason that happened was because my school district in New York was a lousy one (bad test scores, discipline, and overall outcomes). And when we did find schools, they were not district schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your questions are directed towards the parents and not also towards the children. I would advise redrafting the questions to bring more responses.

    I will look forward to your articles to see your thoughts. As someone who was homeschooled, private schooled, and public schooled, I have my opinion as to which is best, though that opinion was also later fully shaped by coaching in the public schools as well as being involved with inner city programs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Grateful, that’s a great idea to ask homeschooled students! I will see how I can incorporate that. In the meantime, would you like to share your experience more fully? You don’t have to follow specific questions; just share whatever you would like to say on the subject.

      Thanks a lot!

      Like

      • I was home schooled for a year and a half (1st – 2nd) and found it to be fairly easy (my 3 older brothers were also home schooled at the same time). We used Abeka curriculum and my parents (who both have college degrees from Michigan State University) found it to be sufficient for the elementary grades. We home schooled those years instead of private schooling primarily because my mother was feeling the pressure (whether real or imagined) of the fundamentalist home school mothers in our church. Basically this was the thought in the early nineties in Dallas Texas: if you are a good Christian parent than you should home school.

        My private schooling was Abeka curriculum through 5th grade then ACE 6-8th.

        My overall feeling about ACE is that if someone works hard then they can learn a lot, but for those who are good at rote memory then they do not end up learning much. But that is a problem that can happen in any schooling.

        My parents sent all of us to public high school. I personally loved the public school due to more peers to interact with, more teacher variety than the private school, more athletics, and art and language classes.

        My home school and private school experience is much different than the large cohorts or private schools found in Grand Rapids, MI or other Christian Metro areas. (I should note that my family moved from MI to TX in early 80s, then back to MI in 97).

        My personal preference right now would be towards putting children into public school rather than private or home school (feel free to ask clarifying questions) because I fear that the exodus from public schools by Christian families only harmed the testimony and influence of Christians. We became inbred (harsh term… I know) and unable to decipher what was Christian culture, versus Christianity, versus a plain healthy society. I have seen too many home schoolers and private schoolers that throw rocks (proverbially) at public schools for being horrid cess pools, and I think “so, what are you doing to help the situation?” There also becomes a class divide between the “haves” who can afford financially to buy their own curriculum to home school, or send kids to private school, and the “have nots” who have no choice in the matter. So instead of all the resources being put into the public interest, many choose to keep them to their own selves and not be in public schools.

        Ok, one disclaimer should be stated: some kids do need more 1 on 1 teaching than many public schools can offer. Some kids have social, learning, physical, or mental handicaps which would spell doom in many public schools. I do not want to sound like I think all private and home school parents and students are wrong. I get that the best option for many is to home school (or private… I know I am lumping them together, but that is because my private schooling was essentially home schooling in a cubicle next to others who were doing the same thing). Many parents want their kids to learn more Scripture at a young age, and want their kids to have more oversight. That is good. But, no matter the schooling style, the most important factor in a child’s success is parental care and involvement. Just because a parent home schools does not mean they are more involved than a parent who sends their child to a school building.

        Phew… I hope that I was able to give you some valuable thoughts. Blessings on your article!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. fiddlrts says:

    I’m a second-generation homeschooler, and happy to respond.

    1. Why did you choose to homeschool your children?

    Both my wife and I were homeschooled, so it was more familiar to us than the alternatives. This isn’t THE reason we did it, but it is one reason we felt confident in doing so – we knew more or less what we were getting into and were confident we could provide a good education.

    Other important reasons. In general, at younger ages, there seems to be a dramatic increase in homework such that many of our kids’ friends have little free time to just play and read and explore. Many traditionally educated kids also seem to have the love of learning beaten out of them by the boredom and busywork. We like the flexibility to use the curriculum which works for our kids, and the lack of pressure on the younger ones to hit specific milestones at certain times, whether or not the child is ready. Also, we like having time off during the week available for field trips and other activities. I hike and camp with the kids, and they get lots of hands-on science experiences as a result.

    Also, as my dad joked about us, we homeschool so we can go to Disneyland on weekdays. 🙂

    2. What is your educational or homeschooling philosophy?

    Because of the experiences my wife and I had in cultic fundamentalist groups in our teens, one thing we expressly do not wish to do is use homeschooling as a means of cultural/political/religious indoctrination. Sure, they learn about our faith, but we do not isolate them from other ideas.

    In general, we are committed to strong academics. Both of us were raised in academic homeschool families, and had no difficulty adjusting to college-level work. We aim to teach our children not just the list of facts or how to do rote tasks, but to think through things, to solve problems, and to learn independently. We focus strongly on math, science, and reading and writing skills for the elementary kids. We hope that our kids will transition well to college in the future, but also that they have a solid education in the stuff that isn’t tested too.

    3. What is your style of homeschooling?

    We combine a rigorous academic program with sufficient free time for undirected activity. For younger kids, we have tried to keep the busy work to a minimum, but increased the expectations as they progressed to higher grades. There are specific non-negotiable subjects they have to complete. But we encourage them to read and explore after these are done.

    4. What curriculum or resources do you use in homeschooling?

    Our eldest is enrolled at a local charter high school (and will be followed by her sister next year). For her, we use their curriculum, and she goes to class two days a week.

    For the late-elementary/Jr. High kids, we use (currently) the following: Saxon math, Houghton Mifflin Science Fusion Jr. High for science, Joy Hakim and Susan Wise Bauer for history, Susan Wise Bauer for writing, and a plethora of supplemental stuff that varies by kid and from year to year.

    5. What are some disadvantages of homeschooling?

    The biggest *potential* disadvantage to homeschooling is that it is easy to get lazy and not provide a sufficient education. You have to be very disciplined and focused as a parent/teacher to keep things on track. For many, this isn’t a problem, but all of us within the homeschooling community know people who really shouldn’t be doing it.

    The other disadvantage is the socialization problem. I know I am going to get some flak from fellow homeschoolers for this, but it is true. It isn’t that homeschooled kids aren’t around people – it’s that often they aren’t around people who are different from them. (This is actually a reason many people homeschool. Best not to have the kids exposed to “worldly” kids and ideas.) This wasn’t an issue for me growing up, as we lived in a predominantly minority working class neighborhood – and played with the neighbor kids all the time. But with our own kids, it has been harder, as kids aren’t out and about in the neighborhood much anymore. Too much homework, too many electronics, and too many regimented extra-curricular activities these days. So, we have to work a bit harder to get them chances to be around other kids their age.

    This also plays into another disadvantage, which is that some homeschoolers really do use it to keep their kids isolated – and away from those who might notice abuse or neglect. This isn’t a large percentage of homeschoolers. But it is there, and a problem.

    One facet of this problem is that children who are experiencing something traumatic (whether abuse, neglect, or just a poor relationship with their parents) often do not have outside people available to them. If you have read some of the “homeschool survivor” stories, a common thread is the LGBTQ child who has no access to appropriate counseling – all they have is “you are going to hell” thrown at them.

    On the other hand, I know a number of people who have homeschooled special needs children because of the horrid experiences they had with public schools. So it cuts both ways here. And it really depends on who and why.

    One more to mention, that we have found personally: for those of us who are in some way “secular homeschoolers,” it is difficult to find local groups that are not expressly fundamentalist. (We are Christians, but not fundies.) Particularly in communities that are already very conservative, the homeschoolers tend to be even moreso, expressly political, into gender roles and “purity and modesty” culture for girls, and so on. And they tend to be hostile to including atheists and non-Republicans, even if they are *supposedly* non-sectarian. Actually, this has been a big issue for our family regarding church too. Sigh.

    6. What are your thoughts on the level of state involvement in homeschooling—like monitoring for quality or learning achievement levels?

    California (where I live) is very hands off as far as states go. (It kind of fits with the overall state mindset of “you just do your own thing and I’ll do mine.”) When we were kids, there was still some cases of harassment by social workers or school officials. But my family never got that, because of where we lived. Since we weren’t delinquents or regular truants, nobody really cared.

    Personally, I would be in favor of a bit more state involvement. I really don’t have anything to hide about how we school – and we are doing testing anyway, so no big deal. On the other hand, a lot of proposed regulations seem to be non-nonsensical or overly invasive. I wish that the homeschooling community would be more open to collaboration in this area, rather than taking an adversarial, conspiracy-theory minded approach. Ironically, more parents our age are going with independent study programs through local charter schools, which obviously involves much more monitoring and state involvement.

    7. What articles or web sites might be helpful in my preparation for this upcoming article?

    There are so many resources. Just one that you might not otherwise see is this Atlantic article. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/homeschooling-without-god/475953/

    8. What else would you like to share about homeschooling or your homeschooling experience?

    Homeschooling is extremely diverse, and this diversity is often geographical as well. Growing up homeschooled in the 1980s in Los Angeles like I did was a vastly different experience from participating in a Christian Patriarchy cultic group like my wife did. Friends we have in LA are able to be in racially and politically diverse groups with strong academics and great socialization opportunities. But not every community has those – and not all homeschoolers would be okay with that. Trying to say “homeschooling is like this” is thus kind of like talking about the middle-class experience, or the California experience. It varies so much as to make generalizations really dangerous.

    9. What else should I be asking?

    You might ask about the advantages people experience with homeschooling. I think this might help identify those who homeschool for academic reasons, versus those who do so for reasons connected with the Culture Wars(TM) – it can help understand where people are coming from.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Meg says:

    1. Because she was bored in class and was getting intouble. And because her mom refused to give up time it transport to regular school.
    2. Try you best and ask for help.
    3. We use an online curriculum. Works great!
    4. Everything can be a class. Cooking is science, math and home ec.
    5. Very few friends, needs socialized.
    6. State does not bother us. Ours is free through the state.
    7. None I can think of.
    8. Homeschooling is no joke! You have to be more dedicated then your child most of the time. It’s great for kids who have learning disabilities.
    9. I would recommend finding an online school that’s free in your state. They lay most classes out, vs having to create an entire curriculum. Add things you child needs and or likes to encourage school.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    Thanks, Fiddlrts! This is great information and is very helpful to me.

    Like

  6. newtonfinn says:

    This is outside the focus of this thread, so I apologize. But I very much wanted to explore the possibility of what might be considered a form of homeschooling at the level of higher education. With college so obscenely expensive and oppressively debt-creating, and also in light of its morphing into job training at the expense of intellectual and spiritual nurture, I have this vision of a group of college-age students–under the mentorship of broadly and deeply educated thinkers of more mature years–reading, pondering, discussing, and writing about a substantial slice of the great works of humanity, from the ancient Greeks, through non-Western cultures, to the more weighty authors of the present day. When you think about the essential concept of a liberal arts education, it need not be a terribly expensive or complicated thing. Some eager learners, some worthy teachers, some great books, and a place to gather and engage would seem to be the key ingredients. Those students who complete the kind of program I envision could then be given some sort of degree or credential to present to future employers open to such alternative education. It’s been noted that modern society abhors the small and elemental in knee-jerk preference for the large and complicated. Perhaps new modes of education, at all levels, could lead the way back to a human-scale society, one which has learned the hard way to avoid the five pernicious trends/traps identified by E.F. Schumacher: SIZE, SPEED, COST, COMPLEXITY, VIOLENCE.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, this is quite an interesting and intriguing proposal. How would the mentors make a living from it? Or would they be volunteers?

      Liked by 1 person

      • newtonfinn says:

        My thought is that mentors would be paid modest salaries if they were not already retired and willing to volunteer. So there would be some cost per student for this alternative higher education (unless it were covered by government funding for education, private grants, etc.). But whatever that per-student cost turned out to be, it would be dwarfed by the stratospheric charges now being assessed for traditional higher ed and the massive debts that tragically follow as young people are just starting out in life.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, I agree that costs for higher education these days is prohibitive for some and tremendously burdensome for others.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          Newton, there is no doubt that, if the current costs for tuition and living (with interest rates on loans going up to at least 6% p.a.) had applied in my time, I would never have gone to university. It seems that someone wanting a career in science, engineering or technology would be better off now to go into an apprenticeship scheme and try to get the firm to fund them through university later.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Chas says:

      Newton, didn’t this used to be the Open University?

      Liked by 1 person

      • newtonfinn says:

        What little I know about “Open University” is that it now seems to involve distance learning over the internet. Done well, I think that’s a very useful thing, but I was envisioning a more direct and personal learning environment, along the lines of the small class lectures and discussions which used to be associated with a liberal arts college education. Hard to believe today that this sort of life-changing experience was easily affordable in the 60s and early 70s to working class kids like myself, and that in some college systems like in NYC, it was provided tuition-free.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sarah says:

    1. Why did you choose to homeschool your children?
    My youngest was being bullied at school. She had stopped talking (amongst other things) and had withdrawn herself from life. The school offered no solutions to the issue.
    2. What is your educational or homeschooling philosophy?
    Do what’s best for your child. Teach them what they need for life.
    3. What is your style of homeschooling?
    Try to find balance. Getting out to group meetings/sports things. Covering maths, English, Sciences and whatever topics she find interesting. Getting some GCSEs under her belt (we are in the UK).
    4. What curriculum or resources do you use in homeschooling?
    Whatever I can get. We get no financial support in the UK. So you are limited by your income. However, we are doing very well so far.
    5. What are some disadvantages of homeschooling?
    The negativity towards it from some sections of the British press.
    6. What are your thoughts on the level of state involvement in homeschooling—like monitoring for quality or learning achievement levels?
    I think that Home educators should be registered, but that state intervention can be daunting for children who have been damaged by state education. My daughter was terrified by the home visits and afraid they would force her back into school. That the state shouldn’t require a certain style of teaching (because children all learn differently and not through the styles prevalent in Western education). However, I do think there should be more concerns raised about home education by religious parents who teach the most awful stuff (i.e. ACE).
    7. What articles or web sites might be helpful in my preparation for this upcoming article?
    Study positive outcomes from home education as well as the awful outcomes. How can home educators be supported more. There are a few articles online about these issues. What are the genuine concerns of parents whose children do not cope well with being ‘trapped’ in a room with 30+ other children for 6+ hours a day being dictated to about what/how they should learn. Watch Professor Robinson’s TED talks. He’s done a few, but this is a good one: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity
    8. What else would you like to share about homeschooling or your homeschooling experience?
    My daughter has changed so positively. She’s started talking again. Is doing Biology and Law GCSEs 3 years early. Loves life again. She has stared painting and painting. My house is strewn with canvasses and paint.
    9. What else should I be asking?
    Why do Christians want to hide their children away from the world? What are they afraid of, Jesus said, ‘Don’t fear’. Why are governments reluctant to clamp down on that awful ACE teaching??

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sarah, thanks for your responses! They were very useful. Most of them were added to the responses of others, and the article will be published tomorrow at 7 a.m.

      Like

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