A.M. asks from Mesa, AZ on April 16, 2011
Homeschooling - Mesa,AZ
I would like comments and suggestions from people who have been personally homeschooled. I've read the general pro's and con's. I have also read a lot from mom's who homeschool their children but have not heard much firsthand from kids, especially if they experienced regular school also, and are now adults. My greatest fear in doing this is sheltering my kids and not exposing them to all the interpersonal stuff they mayl need to deal later in life.
So What Happened?™
Thank you for all the posts. I especially appreciated the firsthand experiences. The other posts also reinforced things I've read and researched. I am a passionate, dedicated mom and very self-disciplined. I know I can provide for them more than they are receiving in school. I currently teach my kids (from a curriculum I've put together) all the important life skills they don't learn in school (finance, being a better parent/spouse/citizen, your rights, etc). So adding the basics won't be that challenging since those curricula already exist. We are very excited about the possibilities this will provide for us.
A.K. answers from Fayetteville on April 16, 2011
I was homeschooled my entire childhood. A couple of Summers I went to the local public school "for fun". Most of my friends were homeschooled, some of my relatives were, all of my siblings were, and I've stayed in contact with many, many homeschooled kids as we've grown up.
My first question would be if you have a teaching degree. No child should be educated by an uneducated person. Homeschooling moms like to say that they can "learn along with their kids" but that is wrong wrong wrong. You should have a college degree if you're going to take on the responsibility of educating your children on every topic they need to know - Arithmetic, Writing, History, Science, Social Studies....etc. I know that is not the law in many places, but it should be. Too many women who didn't even finish high school or attend college themselves are teaching their children, and doing a shoddy job of it.
Secondly, WHY do you want to homeschool your children? Is it because your religious beliefs have you fearing science, and you fear your children being exposed to things like evolution, dinosaurs, proof of things you don't personally agree with? That is not a good reason to homeschool. If your children choose to follow the same religious path as you, that should be their choice - not one made for them because they've never been exposed to anything else.
Homeschool children very easily slip through the cracks in our system. I can't even tell you how many I knew who were abused at home, needed psychiatric help, had emotional issues or physical disabilities - and didn't get the help they could have received because no one but their close circle of trusted allies knew about these things. Homeschoolers don't turn in other homeschoolers, even when they see wrong being done. If your children are in a school setting, someone would notice if there was something bad going on or if they needed help. A good parent likes to think they would catch all of that, but even the best parents can mess up, not wanting to admit their child may need help.
What you said is a very honest assessment of the reason many people homeschool in the first place. They want to shelter their kids from the world and not let them be exposed to all those dangerous evil things that they believe are 'out there' waiting to get them. Personally, I was hammered into with the belief that public schools are terrible places where they do awful things to you - to this day I can't walk into one without feeling scared and queasy.
Public (or private) school offers many opportunities. Yes, bad things can happen at them, but bad things can happen anywhere. The key is to be involved with your childs education and to pick the best school possible for them to attend.
I don't advocate homeschooling for anyone. My education was shoddy (do you know how easy it is for a homeschool mom to have a lazy day/week/month/yeah and decide that your math lesson consists of paying for groceries at the store? Very easy), my social skills are laughable, and getting into college has been the biggest nightmare in the world. Even just a community college, where I don't have to prove any smarts to be accepted. It's extremely difficult to get in because every state has different rules about what homeschoolers are required to keep as records, what homeschoolers need to be taught (many of them aren't even tested annually to ensure that they are keeping up with their peers), and what paperwork you need to fill out to prove that you had any education at all. I don't get recognized as a high school graduate - I get recognized as a homeschool student who grew up and turned 18. My friends who have 'diplomas' had them made at home by their parents. Not easily accepted, either.
Think long and hard, please, before deciding to go down that route. Ask if you trust yourself to do as good a job as someone who has a 4 or 6 or 8 year college degree, and who can be held accountable when your child isn't learning. Figure out how you're going to get your children socialized - a couple playgroups a week is not sufficient for children past the age of 9 or 10. If you still think you can do it, then educate yourself on the laws in your state. I have run into homeschoolers here in my current state who don't even know the laws on the books - they just do what they want and get indignant if you tell them they are breaking the rules. Because homeschoolers, for some reason, are above the rules.
And finally, thank you for asking. It's the first time I've ever heard a parent actually seek out homeschooled students to ask them what their lives and educations were like. You may glean some very valuable information by asking that question.
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L.L. answers from Rochester on April 16, 2011
I just want to counteract the last response (toddlermom) with a little positivity, because I think you need some following that.
Personally, I was not homeschooled. I went to public school, and was always bored, because they do not tailor an education for anyone.
Yes, some homeschooling parents are lazy. I know plenty.
However, SOME of us (like me) are VERY DEDICATED to making sure that our children are getting a top notch education, far better than any public or private can offer. Not only is my K-age student working at first and second grade levels in INTESIVE studies, she has plenty of time to develop her own interests.
Oddly enough, as a VERY fundamental Christian family (which, by the way, I think is a perfectly valid reason to homeschool, as well as not wanting your children exposed to whatever) her biggest interest right now are dinosaurs. I'm sorry, but the Bible does clearly mention dinosaurs, and I don't that being something you WOULDN'T want your children exposed to...it just helps to go at it from a creation standpoint, which is very easy considering it's the truth.
My children are not, by any means, socially stunted. My eldest, who just turned six, has lots of friends, gets along well in both youth and adult situations (i.e. I can take her out to eat and she knows how to behave), and is far more mature than most children her age, which only equates to her being a more compassionate person. Yay! There are plenty of opportunities to be social outside of a school environment, and I think there is more value to that, anyhow. School is for learning, not social distraction, who's popular, who's not, etc. etc. etc.
Bonus, I know a lot (and I mean a lot) of homeschooled children and adults. They've had no problem attending college because they received an excellent education from their parents, and they are leaders at their colleges and in their communities. I know two, as of now, that are studying for their doctorates.
Please don't let one child's negative experience scare you away from it. If you do it right, and invest yourself into it fully, you can give your children far more than any school can, because you care more and have more at stake. I admit that it does take total dedication, but if you have it and want to go for it, please don't be afraid of what people who are against it might say.
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D.K. answers from Sioux City on April 16, 2011
I am was not home schooled but I am a teacher. It never occurred to me to home school my children. I tried to find good schools for my kids and was so very disappointed that I brought them home. Some of my kids are quick and are ahead of the game and some of my kids struggle and it takes them longer to master new skills. I never dreamed that I would say this, but I know my kids are getting a better education at home. I don't think all children get a better education at home, just as I don't think all children get a great education in the school system.
We do homeschool because I want my children to fully understand their faith. We believe that teaching them truth will better prepare them for the world that is out there. I don't believe you could every teach your children to identify every lie that is in the world, but if they know what truth is then they can sort out the lies.
Although I have a degree in education, I don't think it is required. It does require that you continue your education though. You must model life long learning so that your children understand how very important it is.
It is hard work and I take it one year at a time. My kids have a very rigorous schedule and I require far more than what their teachers in the school setting required. There are days when I would rather they be in a regular school setting because I could drop them off and come home and get my house clean and make some extra money. Each time I have compared the curriculums of the local schools it is disappointing. It is very comforting to have them home when my husband comes home from work, he is a cop, and tells me of the situations he has had to deal with pertaining to incidences at the local school systems.
I will be checking in to this thread to see what others post. This is a great question and I look forward to hearing about the experiences of others.
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J.K. answers from Phoenix on April 16, 2011
It depends on what you want them to learn. Homeschooled kids are different because they are around different ages of kids (siblings and homeschool groups and activities) and they interact with adults more often than their public school peers. I homeschool all 5 of my kids and they are definately different. But I like different. =) My daughter (who's almost 16) just told me the other day that she notices a difference between the school kids and the homeschooled kids at the youth group. The school kids are more concerned about the way they look and are rowdier...LOL
added~ I forgot to mention that I was homeschooled when I was in 6th grade because of illness. That was when I turned around my grades. That one on one finally clicked and I did better in school after that. It also made me a better homeschooling mom! =)
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M.H. answers from Atlanta on April 16, 2011
I am a homeschooling Mom that just had this discussion with my graduated 19 year old and thought I'd pass on what she told me today. She is dating a young man that she intends on marrying and the discussions began because they were talking about what they would do with their kids...
She feels like she has missed some of the things that her boyfriend enjoyed about High School BUT she also realizes that she gained some enormous benefits that he never saw. Se has told me that she feels stupid sometimes but MOST of her homeschool buddies that are her age are already into their third or fourth year of their undergraduate degree. She also has a friend that is 2 years older and working on his doctorate. In my daughter's sophmore year of high school she came in second in the advanced category of the City Wide (Atlanta area) Speak Off which is held by the Toastmaster's club/Girl's Scouts. A couple of the judges told me privately that if she had picked a less controversial topic she probably would have won. I told her before her speech that she wouldn't place with her topic but she is one of conviction/stubborness and did it anyway. She is NOT stupid but she was not given the self esteem pep talk everyday.
We moved our family back to my home town when she was 16. When she got involved with church activities most people, her age and my age, thought she was in her early 20s because of the way she carried herself. She says she feels comfortable around all ages, all the time.
Her main comment to me today was that everyone feels that "the grass is always greener on the other side" if you have a bad experience and "my way is the best way" if you have a good experience. I would have to agree with that. Schooling is for the benefit of the child not the other way around. Some people send their kids to public school out of laziness and some people home school out of some need to elevate themselves. There is good and bad on both sides.
Your greatest fear is not one I would have. My daughters would agree (my other one is 15 and a little too social, lol). They both are involved in their church, volunteer at the nursing home, have cared for their elderly grandparents, babysat, and done intramural sports/games in their home school groups. Right now my kids (19 and 15) are at the yogurt shop with their 20 year old cousin, my oldest daughter's boyfriend (20) and his friend that's 22. Like Toddlermom said, there are some VERY important issues to consider but socialization doesn't need to be an issue. Kid's tend to follow the lead of their parents in that area.
Sorry I piped in but I thought what she said was worth hearing and I know she wouldn't jump on here and tell you herself.
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T.N. answers from Albuquerque on April 17, 2011
Our 26 year old nanny was homeschooled her entire life. She's absolutely completely totally socialized, a productive member of society, a fun person, has tons of friends, etc. I had never met anyone before who was homeschooled so it was fascinating to hear about how she spent her days as a kid.
I think that most of us who don't homeschool have no idea how many social outlets there really are for homeschooled kids. Carrie (our nanny) participated in park playdates when she was little -- all the homeschool families in her area would meet once a week, and sports through the local rec department. Then as she got older her parents teamed up with several other homeschooled families and did difficult subjects at one person's house because they figured they weren't all qualified to teach every subject. Carrie's mom taught Spanish to four homeschooled teens, another teen's dad taught science since he was a chemist, a third parent taught art.
In addition to all of that Carrie played volleyball at a community program (and actually got a volleyball scholarship to college), her brother played soccer. They were really active in church too. When Carrie was in her mid teens she went to public school for almost a year and hated it. She said it felt like such a waste of time because it was all walking to and from classes, waiting for the teachers to pass out papers, days off for teacher in-service, etc. She voluntarily went back for homeschooling and ended up graduating from high school at age 16.
She's told me many times that if your version of homeschooling is to keep your kids at home all day, every day, then yeah - they're not going to learn the interpersonal stuff. But if you do homeschooling like everyone she'd ever met, there will be plenty of opportunities to socialize and learn to relate to people outside the family. In fact, she says she had MORE opportunities to learn valuable interpersonal skills than her public school peers because she didn't have to spend 1/2 her waking hours sitting in a classroom. Public school kids learned how to survive in a group of 30 kids the same age. Carrie learned how to relate to a wide variety of age groups at the same time. And when you think about adult life, that's more important... cause when are any of us going to be stuck in a room with thirty 40 year olds?
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V.S. answers from Flagstaff on April 18, 2011
Having read all the posts and also having been homeschooled all my life, I felt I need to say a few things. First of all, homeschooling is not for the parent who thinks all you have to do is get the kids the books and let them do the work. Maybe later on in highschool, they will be able to do that, but early on, they need the structure of a teacher, even if it is just the parent. Set certain times for certain things. And what doesn't get done has to be done after 'school' like homework. Believe me, once a kid gets old enough to read the directions and understand what it means, they will start learning the discipline needed to finish the work, even if it means getting up early before breakfast to get a head start so they can play earlier! At least that's what my siblings and I did. As for socializing and other stuff, as long as you are involved with your kids and know how to relate to them, and get out and do things with them, don't worry about it. I had friends, the neighbor kids when they came home from school, and church friends. There are also home school support groups in most areas these days, where families can go on field trips together, or learn things like teamwork, sports, and science. Those are always fun. The nice thing about homeschooling is that there is really not much peer pressure, I feel like I am very close to my mom, and siblings, and I didn't have to deal with all the drama of school. When I got to college, I was near the top of my class, probably because I knew how to study on my own, and I think it gave me a love for learning that was not forced on me. I am now a mom of 3 boys ages 5 and 4 and I am definitely planning to homeschool. I know it will take alot of work initially, but I want to be able to teach them the things they need to know and give them a love for learning by not forcing them to learn until they are ready. They can get out and move their little bodies when they need to instead of having to sit in a seat for 8 hours a day. ok, that's enough rambling. hope it makes sense. Anyway, basically, I was homeschooled and didn't go to regular school until college, except for some of the required assessment tests. I really don't feel I missed out on anything, except maybe peer pressure and alot of negative things. But my mom was a good teacher, and my grandma helped too starting out. Like I said, homeschooling is not for the lazy parent. You have to discipline yourself to help your child learn especially in the beginning when they have to learn to read and understand what they are reading and learn discipline so that they have good study habits. Then later on they can complete their work on their own and you can do other things and be there if they have questions or need their work checked.
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C.B. answers from Los Angeles on April 17, 2011
My husband went to public school for the first half of his education, and was homeschooled for his high school education and graduated as a homeschooler. He loved it, and we are now homeschooling our own kids because of his experience (and other reasons as well). The one thing that struck me about him is that in college, he was always very disciplined in getting his work done (one time he was on his way back to his dorm room to go to sleep, as I was just starting on my homework due the next day). He and the other homeschoolers I met at our college were very social and just as capable of handling things in school as others were; in fact, they seemed more prepared in handling college-level work compared to many public school kids who were there. One of the things I love most about my husband is his ability to think "outside of the box" and not just go along with what he hears from other people.
His youngest brother was homeschooled his whole life, and he is probably one of the most social people we know. He has lots of friends, he even got invited to the prom at one of the local high schools by a girl he met through some of his other friends, and he was able to take college-level courses as a senior in high school. When he graduated, he already had his first year of college completed. He is now in his second year of college and planning to transfer to a four-year college as soon as he can.
Homeschooling is just like everything else: some people love it, some people hate it, and most people are somewhere in between. Nothing is perfect. Some people have good public school experiences, others have awful ones. Some people have good homeschooling experiences, and others have awful ones. The thing I've noticed about homeschooling, however, is that it is a big responsibility. You have to give your children the experiences they need to grow socially, by enrolling them in classes and sports and activities, going to parkdays with other homeschoolers, etc. If you don't actively seek out those opportunities for your kids, then they may feel left out of what other kids are doing at their age. If you haven't read it already, I recommend the book The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole. It's one of the books that calmed my worry about whether my kids will be sheltered socially or not, and it is pretty informative.
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