Let me school you

I was homeschooled and have opinions on the matter. Should you homeschool? Maybe! Or maybe not!

I’ve been asked if I plan to homeschool my daughter. She’s only been around for a month, but I’m not particularly surprised by the question. No, I don’t run in super crunchy-granola unschooling circles,1 and I work full-time. But I was homeschooled as a child through 9th grade, so there’s a bit of an expectation there, it seems.

Welp, the answer is no, definitely not. I will not be homeschooling, but not for the reasons you may think.

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Reason #1 you may think I’m not homeschooling: “The kids get no socialization.”

The theory goes that homeschooled kids learn in a bubble, have no friends, and are mild-mannered robots who don’t understand real-life human interaction. While I’ve certainly met the Perfect Homeschooled Child, this definitely did not describe me or my friends. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and in my particular community, there were tons of homeschoolers who formed co-ops, went to weekly swim and music lessons together, performed in all-homeschooler theater productions, and played on homeschool baseball teams. Did some of the girls wear bloomers?2 Admittedly, yes. But, oddball practices aside, we had ample opportunities for socialization–and this was before the Internet as we know it today. I simply don’t buy the argument that kids won’t be socialized. If you want your homeschooled kid to be socialized, it’s very, very possible.

Reason #2 you may think I’m not homeschooling: “I got a sub-standard education.”

The education I got was different from the “norm” in some ways, but it was also closely monitored. During my homeschool tenure in Pennsylvania yearly portfolios of work had to be submitted for the approval of the school board. We were then individually interviewed by a representative of the school board in an all-day process covering a range of topics. We also had standardized tests to do, the same as regular kids. This is all to say that while some states are laissez faire about homeschooling methods, others are not. A homeschooling education doesn’t have to be sub-standard if you don’t want it to be (see: the availability of co-ops, the Internet, etc). That said, are some kids getting a substandard education via homeschooling? You bet. But that’s not necessarily the fault of homeschooling so much as the fault of the parent/guardian directly responsible…much like you can have failing and thriving public schools, you can have failing and thriving homeschoolers. Anybody who says either is the perfect solution is drinking some interesting Kool-aid.

Reason #3 you may think I’m not homeschooling: “You have to be a stay-at-home-parent to homeschool.”

My parents both worked while I was homeschooled. However, I’ll be the first to admit that their setup is not one that would work for me. My mom was able to work a night-shift job that allowed her to monitor our schoolwork during the day. I work in a field where that’s not an option. But, for what it’s worth, there are people out there who homeschool and work. It’s not impossible (but it sure seems hard and not something I want to do, frankly, even if I could). So, this is kind of iffy. Yes, I would have to be a stay-at-home-parent to do this, but not everyone is necessarily in that boat.

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Ultimately, my feelings about homeschooling are mixed. I grew up to have a successful career, and I think I made it out with only mild social awkwardness.3 I had a lot of friends, got to go on a lot of field trips, and was allowed to jump ahead or spend more time on subjects according to my abilities and interests. But of course, I see peers who were homeschooled and who grew up more successful than I did…and others who didn’t. Being homeschooled doesn’t exempt you from consequences of poor decisions.4 Being homeschooled doesn’t mean that your child won’t encounter bullies, either; there are mean homeschoolers because there are mean humans.

Homeschoolers like to toot their horns a lot about successful outcomes,5 and those do exist…but so do mediocre outcomes and/or kids who do poorly as adults. So maybe someone’s adult outcome has less to do with their homeschooling background and more to do with other factors, which seems on par with many parenting and educational methods out there.6 Yesterday it was homeschooling; today it’s micro-schools. You’ll have your successes, you’ll have your failures, and either can be held up as evidence for or against the method.

So, if you’re pondering homeschooling or micro-schooling (or maybe public schooling after a more offbeat method!) as the summer comes to a close, the best I can say is this: it might be a wonderful decision for you, and it might not be. Your child may have a great outcome. She may not. You could even have multiple kids with radically different outcomes. At the end of the day, if you’re doing your best for your kids, that’s probably the best decision you can make…whatever that decision looks like.

Photo by: jimmiehomeschoolmom

  1. Nothing wrong with crunchy, mind you! Crunchy, chewy, etc… 
  2. Yes, BLOOMERS. 
  3. But then I went to regular public high school starting in 10th grade, and one could easily blame my awkwardness on that rather terrible experience…or just on me being the person I am! Teenage years are kind to few. 
  4. The child’s or the parents’. 
  5. And who can blame them, when there’s a lot of judgement about the socialization, etc? 
  6. I’m always leery of someone who’s written a parenting book when their children are all of three or four. I want to see the outcomes for further out! 
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Hayley DeRoche

Hayley DeRoche is a librarian with a penchant for cardigans and corduroys. Luckily, her professional life revolves more around technology & information than fashion.

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