Why Do You Homeschool?

As the school year begins for almost every child in America it is important to ask yourself, “Why do I homeschool my kids?”

We homeschool for a several reasons, but the article Back to (the Wrong) School by Seth Godin sums up nicely one of the main reasons we homeschool.

As we get ready for the 93rd year of universal public education, here’s the question every parent and taxpayer needs to wrestle with: Are we going to applaud, push or even permit our schools (including most of the private ones) to continue the safe but ultimately doomed strategy of churning out predictable, testable and mediocre factory-workers?

The bottom line is that the system is broken. As a homeschooler we’ve chosen to flee the system rather than try to fix it and many people think that is the wrong solution. I have seven reasons why I think my solution is better.

Don’t Replicate Public School

As homeschoolers let us not fall into the trap of trying to replicate the public school experience at home. No matter what teaching method or curriculum you use remember that it isn’t about the standardized tests or sitting still for eight hours every day. Let’s not strive to give our children a good education.

What to Do

  • Teach your child to think, to question, to solve problems, to challenge the status quo. Focus less on grades and grade levels and more on learning experiences.
  • When they ask Why teach them how to find the answer.
  • Let them be inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs even when they are five.
  • Let them fail.

As homeschoolers we have a unique opportunity to give our children an educational experience unlike any they would receive at a public or private school.

You have an opportunity to change the world.

Don’t waste it.

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks! I needed that encouragement this morning. We’re still transitioning from private school to homeschool, homeschooling for the first time this year in 4th and 7th grades. It’s been interesting to say the least!

    • Sonya Thomas says:

      Wendy,

      I’m praying for you today. I remember how difficult it was, our 1st year homeschooling.
      But, now my son is 33 & a very successful business man.
      My daughter passed away at age 23, waiting for a heart transplant.
      She was a poetess & was writing her 1st children’s book at the time.
      I savor every memory of every moment I was able to be with my precious children.
      There were difficult moments but, the joys outweighed those, many times over.

  2. Excellent! I have wrestled with whether or not the way we “do school” is right…part of the time it seems like we’re trying to do “traditional school” but that just doesn’t feel right either. I finally came to grips with the fact that we are “unschoolers” who have chosen to learn through life’s experiences instead of textbooks and worksheets. What a relief…what freedom I now feel since accepting that realization and not feeling that I have to force our homeschool into some kind of specific mold. My 11 year old daughter is bright, curious, loves to read, LOVES science and nature, and can hold an intelligent conversation with someone who is her own age or 8 times her age. My 3 year old son doesn’t have the attention span or ability to sit for long periods yet (I doubt he ever will, to be honest) and yet his sponge-like brain is picking up letters, colors, numbers and other interesting things just by being in the environment we are in. He told me the other day he wanted to go to Mexico.When I asked him why, he said “to see the monicle (Monarch) butterflies.” Now, how many preschoolers know that Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico? I asked a friend that and she said…”only the homeschooled ones.” (; Thanks for this article, it was excellent and right to the point!

  3. Amen! Well said.

  4. Loved this posting! Our daughter is only 3.5 months old, but yeah….this is a big idea for us to consider! Thanks for writing! Best, E

  5. Well we must be in a different public school system. I was never made to sit still for 8 hours. Nor have my children been. They come home telling me about songs and movements and crafts and projects they got to do at school. They get to go to 2 different “specials” each day. I’m no fan of standardized testing but children really are not sitting in classrooms “in straight rows” 8 hours a day doing drills to learn a test. None of the classrooms my girls have been in have been set up that way. And of course we supplement and carefully monitor what our children are taught at school. Are there bad public/private/charter schools out there? Sure. Should a schools test scores be the only way they’re evaluated for success? Absolutely not. But can children be properly educated in the public school system. Yes, of course.

    Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, it can be done incorrectly, and it’s ridiculous to suggest it’s the only way for children to be properly educated. The best way to ensure children are successfully educated is parental involvement. If parents are invested in their children, regardless of what “system” is used to educate them, they will succeed.

    This is right on point: “Teach your child to think, to question, to solve problems, to challenge the status quo. Focus less on grades and grade levels and more on learning experiences.”

    But, there are plenty of children that aren’t taught that. In every schooling situation, even homeschoolers. There are plenty of homeschoolers that aren’t given much in the way of learning experiences. The parent picks a curriculum, “teaches” straight from the book, and doesn’t provide any more than that. I’m not picking on homeschooling, if you choose to do it great but it isn’t the only right way and it isn’t the only way to produce critical thinkers capable of being better than the status quo. Basically, there are “bad” homeschool situations out there too. Bottom line is: whatever method you choose to use, use it well.

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      Erica-
      I think you missed my point. I never suggested homeschooling is the only way for a child to be properly educated. My post was directed towards homeschoolers… who try to replicate the public school experience at home.

      • When you say you are not try to fix the broken system…your voice comes through loud and clear….

        There are many right paths to a well rounded and “educated” child……

        • Not sure what you mean by this…first sentence must be mistyped it doesn’t make sense. Yes there are many paths…that was the point.

    • I believe what you are saying to be true. What you are saying is that with whatever schooling method you choose to use THE PARENTS NEED TO BE INVOLVED 100%. If you choose public then be there for your kids, if you choose private then be there for your kids, and if you choose to homeschool be there for your kids. I homeschool right now but am considering putting them in public. We live in a very small community and I have heard wonderful things about our school system. I am the type that would be visiting my kids classroom, going on their field trips, talking to the teachers-all of this is allowed and encouraged. IF I choose public it is not that I am “wiping my hands of my children’s education”. There are many homeschoolers that I have met that I am truly shocked at the lack of record keeping, “schedule” they keep (does not exist) and lack of knowledge their kids possess about basics. I worry only about my own but try to keep it in check by seeing the “bad” in homeschooling. My main reason is religious. My children need to learn about God and they are not allowed in public. Although, our school system is more tolerant then others it still is not as if should be. If the public system would allow more God in then they would be there!! Homeschooling is so not for all but parents need to be there in whatever method you choose.

    • My children were definitely in a broken system. I remember my advanced reader in Kindergarten telling me her K teacher made her write the entire easy reader out, as she worked with the children who could read. This same child was given first grade workbooks from the neighboring classroom then made to figure it out on her own, or bring it home, because there weren’t enough hands in the class to help her. She was the square peg in the round hole. She didn’t fit so she was excluded.
      Similarly, my older son with high functioning autism was another difficult fit. The school could not offer him anything than a mainstream classroom. His only support was a pull-out speech class twice a week.
      We definitely found the system to be broken.
      I never in a million years imagine I would homeschool. But we were left with zero options. And in the light of the current economy and severe budget cuts I have found many teachers pulling their kids out of school to homeschool. I would say in my Classical Conversations group of parents, 80% were teachers.
      Many of the homeschoolers I have met recently have told me the same thing. I think we have come to realize that today’s kids may not (and need not) fit the cookie cutter mold. So what option are you left with?
      We went from a 2 income family to a 1 income family to allow us to homeschool. It’s not an easy thing.
      I would say the public school system success probably depends on where you are geographically. I also believe that my children’s successful years in public schools depended entirely on the teacher. The teacher can make or break your child’s year. One of my children had a teacher that was way beyond retirement age but refused to retire. She could not handle the class and resorted to using a microphone to teach her 24 Kinder kids (no aides in our district). That’s not a situation I ever thought I would encounter, but I did.
      I want to know, where are these successful districts though? I’m supposed to be in one…

  6. I do not homeschool (yet) for a variety of reasons. I put “yet” because that option is always there and may be called upon. My oldest child was chosen to attend a school and he starts tomorrow. He teaches grades 4 through 8. And this school is 100% behind “fixing the system” within their own little school. They are an arts public school. These two videos are posted on their website to give parents an idea of why they are the way they are:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=player_embedded

    and the Ted Talk

    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

    I think homeschooling is wonderful. And one day I may be a homeschooler. I am also very thankful for schools like the one my oldest will be attending, and I am so glad there are some teachers and parents out there who “get it” and are trying to fix things! 🙂

  7. Every parent should have a reasoned approach to their child’s education. Here is mine: http://blog.coffeedogz.net/2011/08/19/why-i-homeschool.aspx

  8. I chose to homeschool for one simple reason: to spend more time with my kids. I also am excited to get to include God in our lessons about Science and History, something that you can’t do with their public school lessons.

  9. I have gotten a lot of flack because of our decision to homeschool, from parents who both work and from parents who say to me “How can you change the system if you don’t participate?” I reply that I’m not going to be part of the change experiment by subjecting my kids to a mediocre education. I do not participate in social experiments with my kids. It’s unfair to them, and to my family as a whole. I want to have the responsibility of raising my children to be productive members of society, adults who have critical thinking skills and a sense of responsibility. I don’t see that happening much anymore with public schools. I am a product of public school, and did fine, but I was also bored out of my skull even with AP courses. I skipped class a lot in high school, but that was overlooked because I never caused trouble and passed exams with flying colors. That’s not the way to teach a kid. My sister is eight years younger than me, and she’s had a much worse experience. She didn’t learn (or at least absorb) such basic history lessons as the significance of the Boston Tea Party or that the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima at the *end* of WWII. (I kid you not, unfortunately.) And this in honors courses.

    We also made the decision to homeschool because as a military family I don’t want to play Russian roulette with our duty stations’ school districts. I do not want my kids to end up six months ahead or behind their classmates just because districts are inconsistent. I don’t want their curriculum to have major changes just because the government decides we should move in March instead of over the summer.

    Thank you for the inspiration today! I needed it. 🙂

  10. Thanks so much…I am starting preschool with my soon to be 2 year old today and boy oh boy I needed a reminder that, even though I was trained to be a teacher, I do NOT need to teach him the way I would in a traditional preschool…I can use the methods that best work for all of our family. That is a hard thing to remember when you have things embedded into your head like I and many others have. 🙂

  11. Right on! My #1 goal in homeschooling is to teach my kids HOW TO LEARN. Once they know how to do that, they are unstoppable. They can teach themselves anything they want. My husband is a public school teacher and the more I see, the more I am sure that homeschooling is the best option for us. In fact, I believe that if parents would start pulling their kids out of school to teach them at home, we’d see some REAL change!

  12. We’re on both sides of this. My husband and I are both homeschool grads. My husband is a public school teacher. He did not flee from the system, he is there being a light. Our own children are homeschoolers, but we firmly believe that Christians belong in the school system…as adults. 🙂

    • LOVE this. We are in the SAME position. 🙂 I chose homeschooling mainly to spend more time with my children and to instill in them the values they need to be that “light” expecting a 5 year old to be a “light” is a huge responsibility and one I know my children aren’t equipped for…YET. 😉

    • That is right, Ruth – Christians who are adults (and who don’t ship their own kids off to the system to do it) belong in the public schools as lights. So, if the husband is a public school missionary (which is exactly what that job is for a Christian) and the wife homeschools, great. Or if a childless woman (or one whose kids are grown) then serves in a public school, awesome! For non-Christians, it’s an entirely different matter…but I don’t see in Scripture anywhere that God tells believers to send their children to unbelievers for any sort of training.

    • Now THAT makes sense. I’m always amazed when kids who can barely tie their shoes are expected to be “missionaries” in the public school system. I know from experience that even adult missionaries need training first! But it’s wonderful when godly people choose to try to make a dent in changing things for the better.

      • There are actually those that think children should influence the religious beliefs of others? Not just in school, but anywhere? That is beyond absurd and quite the burden on such small shoulders. I really do not understand that concept.
        As for the homeschooling thing….after two years of public school treating my son with PDD-NOS as if his diagnosis equaled a cognitive disability (it does not, he has difficulty expressing himself out loud and is quite shy, but extremely intelligent and inquisitive, not to mention kind and loving…a good kid). He was not taught anything for those two years, just warehoused, while I taught him to read, do arithmetic, write his letters and numbers…and so on. We pulled him out, infuriated with their refusal to change the game plan (yes, he had an IEP and no, they didn’t follow it and yes, I know we could have fought them over it…but, seriously…I have better things to do than convinve a tiger to change it’s stripes) and we put him in a private Montessori program that helped us catch him up on two years of missed education in less than eight months. I may end up homeschooling when he ages out of his WONDERFUL Montessori school, but we will never go back to a regular public school in our district. My high achieving middle son and super bright but wild youngest son would flounder there as well. The middle son is approx. two years ahead of grade level…and our local school doesn’t do advanced classes or non-grade level work with high achieving kids and the youngest boy would simply be bored AND in trouble all the time. No thank you. We are shopping only at Goodwill and eating lots of beans and rice to give the boys an education that works for all of us. If I need to homeschool eventually…I hope I can do as well as their current school, though I am not much of a teacher….being highly perfectionistic and with the focus of some kind of small insect makes teaching my kids myself pretty frustrating.

  13. I love it! We haven’t started “officially” homeschooling our 3 year old, but by not putting him into “preschool” (aka babysitting and mass socializing) I am taking him to the library where he is picking out nonfiction books and movies (by his choice) about sharks and trains. I am taking him to the aquarium. He can identify at least 15 species of sharks, several whales, and knows all about most marine life. He also knows his letters, colors, most shapes, and many numbers. This is not by me sitting with him across the table with flash cards. This is just through every day experiences and being creative and talking about the things going on around us. He socializes with adults already and is very comfortable with talking to them. I cannot wait to be an official homeschooler (yes, I know we are officially doing it, but he is not of age to really be in public school yet is what I am referring to) because I am so excited about his learning!

  14. My mom and I were talking the other day about my difficulty in teaching my fidgety, impatient, contrary, 4-year old daughter. I am new to homeschooling, don’t have a curriculum, and so far am fearful that I’m messing her up because of my impatience and frustration at her antics. I want to make sure she enjoys learning and reading like I did at her age but I am concerned with my skillset and lack of direction/guidance (I like structure). My mom said that I ALWAYS will have the option of public school with her even if I do homeschool the other two (right now 22-month and 11-week old boys). And then as I was talking to her, it occurred to me out of the blue: I can’t imagine sending my daughter away from me for hours at a time where I won’t be there to watch and protect her, putting her in strangers’ hands with who knows who as her peers? The thought almost made me cry and I can’t believe that the huge majority of parents out there do this every day and It’s a very scary thought! I’m confident that this is the right decision for us still and when the time comes for “official” schooling to start (next year), we will both be ready for our homeschooling adventure.

    • If you need more guidance, but don’t want to send her to school, there are virtual public schools in some states. That’s what we are planning for next year when my oldest starts kindergarten.

      • Yes, Mandy, there is actually one advertised on The Happy Housewife site, CVA.org. I checked it out and it might just be the jumping off point I need and am looking forward to looking more into it as my daughter gets closer.

    • Allison,
      Just reading your post and thought you might be interested in Sue Patrick’s workbox system. I currently use it with my almost 3 year old, not with worksheets, but activities. I just put activities into the boxes, I’m not using the numbers thing with him yet (it’s on the website, but basically each box is labeled with a number and you give your child a strip or a card that they put each number from each box as they completel them). I don’t use the numbers because we put stuff back in the box and he can go and use it again when he wants to. For example I’ll put a puzzle in one, the pieces are in the bottom of the box and the puzzle is in there too, or Put markers in a small basket, some paper and stickers in another, another might have play dough, another water color paints, a brush, cup for water and paper.. there is one website that comes to mind I think it is one+one+one=one.. she has stuff on there for little ones. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!

  15. Great post!! My husband and I were just discussing that article by Seth Godin this morning. We have a huge opportunity to do more than just educate.

  16. Wonderful post, although, I would disagree that the PS system is “broken.” I don’t think it’s broken at all. It’s doing *exactly* what it’s designed to do, which is to create semi-literate, very compliant citizens. The fact that the American public doesn’t realize that, and isn’t told, isn’t a symptom of a broken system, it’s a symptom of a corrupt one.

  17. Love this! Our oldest is only 15 months and our next is still in utero, but we are committed to homeschooling at least during the elementary years, perhaps beyond that, we’ll see when the time comes. We are passionate about the classical model of education because its aim is just that: to produce critical-thinking men and women. We don’t just want our children to be able to regurgitate facts. We want them to analyze the world around them and ask questions and change the culture for good by being thinkers. Of course, critical thinkers who see the world through the lens of the gospel, because that truly makes all the difference.

  18. My husband and I have decided to homeschool our (yet-to-be-born) children from preschool – graduation. We both attended public schools ourselves and had negative experiences. I was at one end of the spectrum, an “advanced” student. My husband was at the other end, struggling to be able to read even in high school. My husband got left behind. He wasn’t given the attention he needed to succeed in school. Although he was able to graduate, even now as an adult he struggles with reading (although it hasn’t hindered him in the slightest from earning excellent money). I, on the other hand, found lessons to be repetitive, boring, and a waste of my time. I was one of those nerds who actually asked the teachers for more challenging coursework. The one teacher that went along with it was great. Then there were the teachers who told me that my reading material was too “adult” and told me I had to read the dumbed down children’s books. Although we were at opposite ends of the spectrum, our experiences were essentially the same: we weren’t average, and the average lesson plans just didn’t suit our needs. We will homeschool because we don’t want our children’s education to be hindered by “the system.”

  19. I just blogged about this last week :). It’s titled Why I Home School. I’m glad to have found your website, it is chock full of info!

  20. when I read about other schools, I’m shocked. Our public k-6 school is wonderful and nothing like the ones I read about (which is why I guess so many people apply to go to it). It’s nothing like those I read about online or hear about from friends.

    Parent involvement is very important. At our school there is at least 1 parent in the classroom at all times. Parents are encouraged to stop by whenever and help out. Parents are the ones who teach art, music, dance, etc. many parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc sign up to be regular reading assistants for those who need one on one help. When there are school events it’s not unusual to see whole families there – more than one generation.

    When we go on field trips, most places remark that they’ve never seen so many parents on a field trip. Most parents are responsible for just 1-3 children b/c there are so many others there. My boy’s teacher is new to our school and was commenting on the first day that she didn’t realize she was to talk to the parents on the first day. She had never been to a school where almost every child was walked in with a family member. I think that is so sad!

    that said, I don’t think schools are for everyone – or it can take a lot of searching to find the right school for each child. The right school for one child is not the same as the right school for another child.

    Right now our plan is to enroll my oldest into a hybrid HS/classroom program once he’s in 7th grade (5th now) b/c as he gets older, he needs a more challenging atmosphere. This isn’t what my 4th grade child needs though. We may homeschool her soon for the exact opposite reason – it sometimes is hard for her to keep up.
    We look at every year and decide where to go next.

  21. Saying “the system is broken” is a blanket statement that does not apply to everyone. How can the system be broken when it serves my 5 children so well? My students range from K-High School and they are thriving in creative environments that are rich and varied with patient, highly dedicated teachers. They are certainly not sitting still for 8 hrs a day! My kids make music, sing, dance, paint, and play outside between math, reading, and science classes. I am able to exempt them from a class if I do not like the content and an alternative assignment is given so credit will not be lost.

    For those who think 6 year olds are too young to be “lights” think again! You may not be giving your child enough credit. If your child is a believer, the Spirit is in them and empowers them. Don’t ever say schools are “Godless.” God does not need permission to enter the classroom! When my child’s first grade teacher told his class dinosaurs walked the earth millions of years ago, my sweet 6yr old son politely begged to differ. (We are in charge of his spiritual development, and we taught him well!) It opened up a conversation in the classroom that would otherwise have not taken place, giving the teacher (and other students) food for thought. One 7th grade teacher actually thanked me, because she was able to address Creation only after my 12yr old son asked about it during a class on evolution. Many students came forward to say they held the same belief, and a lively discussion ensued for the remainder of the period… How awesome is that?! These are only 2 examples of many in which my children were sparks of God’s light in the classroom, just by being there and being themselves. It happens all the time… with God all things are possible 🙂

  22. Your kid starts school as a blank slate. Where your children go to school determines the world view they will be indoctrinated into. Catholic school…catholic views. Baptist school…baptist views. School for the Arts….artistic views. etc. If you send them to a government school…they will come out with the whatever world view the govt. and the unions are pushing. I found myself trying to ‘un-teach’ so much of what the kids were learning ! It was confusing for them and frustrating for all of us.

  23. brian halvorsen says:

    if your main reason is religious, why then would one pull their kids out of the darkness when they are the only light the other kids see? we homeschooled for kindergarden, and now they are in school. my thinking is that if my kids are trained in the faith properly, they will be the light in the darkness and change the schools through His love, rather than fleeing the darkness. When one turns on a light at night, the darkness immediately flees, it doesn’t linger around at all. This is how our Christ like lives should be, schools included.

  24. I would love to see the public school classrooms where music and art are taught. They are few and far between in my state. That is not to say they don’t exist. The choices of public schools available to my child did not fit her needs. Believe me when I tell you homeschooling was NOT high on my to do list. When it became obvious that my child was not going to make it past Christmas break before being suspended due to her inability to sit still and be quiet, that the gifted program consisted of 45 minutes a week of enrichment, I knew that we had to homeschool. The typical classroom setting did not work for her, her self-esteem tanked, she refused to do work unless it was for credit (did I mention she was in 1st grade at the time, and was labelled defiant?) In the process we learned that she is ADHD, and a visual learner. I found an online curriculum (Time4Learning) that allowed me to customize for her needs, strengths, and weaknesses. While I started out the journey as an anti-homeschooler, I continue the journey as a happy, homeschool convert!

  25. PhreeSpirit says:

    : ) A true blessing & the most wonderful experience for me to be able to be my childs teacher. I feel very confident & more than that I feel like this is the best thing I’ve chosen to do as a mother. My heavenly father called on me to nurish, love, and to teach : D

    Despite all the negative & crooked smiles I got from friends & family on my decision.. I’m aware that no one knows my baby better than me & I know what is best for her. Disconnection from this world & an optimistic, creative, unique mind is precious.

    Confident mommys DON’T DOUBT YOUR CALLING! : )

  26. I always thought we would homeschool. Then as my daughter entered preschool age, I didn’t have peace to do so. I love what HS has to offer, my apprehension was not due to abilities. Every school year I prayed about it, no peace. Finally this summer the peace I had been waiting for was overwhelming. The thought of sending them to school made me nauseous. So we prayed about it all summer. My husband and I agreed it’s finally God’s perfect timing! If I had my way I would have HS from the beginning and been stressed out b/c of some extreme personal trials we were facing. Also I think my oldest flourished in her first school. Ironically enough last year I started working thinking, “ugh I guess the stay at home season is in the past”…I began moving forward. God has placed on my heart to set aside all my plans and desires and put my family first. Making my family my first ministry, so I guess to answer the question, “Why homeschool?” I am homeschooling because I feel it’s my primary ministry. I am blessed to do so. Tomorrow is my first official day 4th kinder and preschool! – After school I’m going to make my hair appointment as I anticipate the possibility of going grey in the process! HAHA I am not naïve in thinking it will be easy, but everything of value is worth the sacrifice! I would much rather squish them small again but then I’d miss all the current precious moments they create.

    1 Timothy 3 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),
    And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58

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