Why I Could Never Have Homeschooled my Children – a Response

This week on one of my favorite websites, 12most.com (full disclosure: I am a contributor), there was a fascinating and eye-opening post and follow-up conversation about homeschooling. I voiced my opinion – as I have been known to do – that I believe that public school, when maneuvered correctly and with parental involvement, can offer an excellent education for our children.

I was amazed at the passion with which the homeschooling parents and supporters of the idea came out to comment on this 12most post. I have to admit, I don’t know anyone personally who homeschools, and I cannot imagine ever choosing to do so myself – and for this my parenting skills and commitment to my children have been questioned.

One of the great things I’ve learned as a blogger and participant in online conversations is that there is always someone with a different opinion than yours. In real life, this doesn’t happen as often, because we tend to surround ourselves with people who generally see the world the way we do. I’ve learned a lot from and about people online who have vastly different viewpoints than I, and this time was no different.

My children’s high school

 

One commenter asked me what kind of parent I am that I would want to send my children away each day for eight hours of school – “institutionalizing” them was the word that was used. Also, what kind of children do I have that I wouldn’t want to spend extended periods of time with them. I was dumbfounded by this question – because I loved spending time with my kids while they were growing up, and in fact was the quintessential stay-at-home-mom, greeting them  as they walked in the door, listening to them talk about the events of the day, helping them to unravel problems and celebrate their successes. I was deeply involved in their lives, both in school and out of school. Now that they’re in college, I am still very much involved in their lives, but from a distance, which is  good.  I am very close to my kids – they both trust me and my husband with things many kids don’t share with their parents – and they have a strong connection to their extended family, also. Overall, I’d say they’re pretty terrific people – but I may be a little biased.

Despite this love for my children, I could never have homeschooled them, both for my sake and for theirs. I am someone who needs “me” time – and if that makes me a bad parent in the eyes of some, I don’t care. I enjoyed the days while my kids were at school – I volunteered, I saw friends, I did part time work. I managed our home and cooked meals.  And my kids liked being in school, too. They didn’t always enjoy every class, or how much homework they had, but I would imagine a homeschooled child might feel the same way. They loved being part of their school and the community, and have very positive memories of friends, teachers, and other parents who they got to know and love. More importantly, I don’t believe I would have had the patience or commitment  to spend 4-6 hours per day educating my children. Again, if that makes me a bad parent in the eyes of some, that’s ok. My kids both were fortunate to find teachers that reached them, coaches and choir leaders who connected with them, and other adults to look to for advice and as role models besides myself and my husband. To me, that is a good thing.

I am in awe of those that choose to homeschool, much like I’m in awe of those who run marathons. It’s something so far from what I can or want to do that it’s amazing to me. But please don’t question my love for my children or my commitment to them. My way of parenting may not be yours, but it worked for us.

44 Responses to Why I Could Never Have Homeschooled my Children – a Response
  1. Teresa
    February 10, 2012 | 8:14 am

    (ĭn’stĭ-tū’shən, -tyū’-) n.
    1) The act of instituting.
    2) A custom, practice, relationship, or behavioral pattern of importance in the life of a community or society: the institutions of marriage and the family. [commentor: or school systems]
    3) Informal. One long associated with a specified place, position, or function.
    An established organization or foundation, especially one dedicated to **education**, public service, or culture.

    Thus, based on the dictionary definition, your children were daily sent to an institution wherein they were institutionalized – trained how to function within that system as determined by others you allowed to be in charge of your most precious, most impressionable youngsters. They learned to ignore the needs of their own bodies by requesting permission to use the restroom and holding it when denied, they learned to delay eating when hungry so they could obtain nourishment when the clock and the authorities deemed it appropriate. They did not learn to think for themselves or operate independently – they learned to comply and deny their own needs & desires while submitting to an authority. They learned how to follow the demands of another rather than listening to their own intuition.

    I’m not saying you didn’t/don’t love them – I’m saying you followed what mainstream America has been brainwashed into believing. Children are treated as less than human, they are assumed to have a worthless voice in the determination of their own lives and futures. Schools (institutions) hurt children. They crush curiosity, they church out good little do-bees who do not buck the system or question authority.

    Read some John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, and Alfie Kohn. Expand your understanding, question what you’ve been told. Then, like me, wake up and apologize to your children.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 8:26 am

      I have nothing to apologize for, but I appreciate your commitment to your beliefs and values. Please respect mine.

      • Chris Norkun
        February 11, 2012 | 2:21 pm

        I’m a public school 10th grade English teacher. I’ve also taught in a boarding school, a private day school, and coached at a Catholic High School. I could lobby for/against public schools v. private schools v. charter schools. I don’t know much about home schooling, except for when a home school student enrolls in our public school. Or, a core teacher is required to attend an IEP meeting for a home schooled student.

        I don’t have children of my own, so I’ll refrain from expressing a personal opinion except that I do not believe I work for an institution and I have to put my head on a pillow at night and know I don’t institutionalize my 10th graders.

        GREAT post and I love all of the comments.

      • not impressed
        February 12, 2012 | 8:03 pm

        I am constantly amazed at the “militant” homeschoolers who never had their children in one day of public school, yet condemn it and those who use the school system. Their children’s only teacher has that much of a closed mind? Wow.

    • sherilinr
      February 10, 2012 | 6:00 pm

      i just came over from BPOTW. nice to meet you, sharon!
      i’m a homeschooling mom of one. she’s 9 and we’ve never put her in school of any kind. i was also homeschooled myself, starting in the 80′s almost before the concept even existed.
      i think it’s crazy how many homeschooling families get their panties all in a wad over what other families choose to do for education. we all have to make our parenting choices. we all have to live with the consequences, good or bad. and none of us can possibly know before doing something if it’s going to turn out to be the perfect thing or the wrong thing. all we can do is make the best choices we’re able and then change them if they don’t work.
      i know that homeschooling is a huge undertaking. some days i hate it. but most of the time i still feel like it’s best for us. i would never ever berate anyone else who feels like public or private school is better for their family. who cares? there are lots of opportunities in either situation if the schooling is done right. there are public and private schools that suck and are awful for the kids who go there. there are also some homeschooling parents who totally drop the ball because they’re lazy or unmotivated or just not very smart.
      but at the end of the day, we can only do what we think is best for our own kids. and we have to let everyone else do the same without getting so angry about it.
      i’m sorry so many homeschooling people have jumped all over you. most of us have really good reasons why we’ve chosen to go this route. i’m sure you did too. and if your kids have turned out great, then who cares which method you used to teach them?
      sherilinr recently posted..seymourMy Profile

      • Sharon Greenthal
        February 10, 2012 | 6:05 pm

        Thank you for this. It’s ok that people have jumped all over me – that’s what makes the world go around, right? I do appreciate your honesty ability to see all the angles on this issue, though. It’s what I try to do as much as possible.

        Glad to meet you!

  2. Carol
    February 10, 2012 | 8:16 am

    Seems to me that the home schoolers are awfully defensive. What about the ability for children in public schools to learn social skills, play on teams, join clubs etc, etc and get other perspectives on the world aside from their parents’? Your kids are terrific, Sharon but however they’ve turned out, you’re right..you have the right to raise them as you saw fit, just as the home schoolers do and for them to chastise you for not going their route is ridiculous.

  3. Teresa
    February 10, 2012 | 8:16 am

    *churn, not church (can’t edit)

  4. Teresa
    February 10, 2012 | 8:20 am

    As for “you” time, I view it like this: I chose to have children, they didn’t ask to be born or parented by me. I had 19 years of my life all to myself before becoming a mother. I have 18 years to spend with them. Assuming I live to see even 65 years of age, that will be FORTY-SEVEN YEARS of “me” time. Thus, devoting 18 short years with my children is a glorious sacrifice. I will have FAR more years of “me” time than I ever will have as “mom” time. Regardless, I agree humans need to have time to spend on their own needs, dreams, desires – that’s why I take the occasional mom time to go to a ladies’ retreat or scrapbooking weekend while my husband gets 1-on-1 dad time with his kids. When I was a single parent, kids had grandma time which gave me “me” time to recharge my batteries. But I surely don’t need from 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM Monday – Friday all to myself. Again, I only get 18 years with them, and I can never, ever regain these moments.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 8:27 am

      Interesting that you call it a sacrifice. I never felt like i sacrificed anything when I spent time with my children.

  5. Jo Tracey
    February 10, 2012 | 8:27 am

    I am very glad that school worked out for you and your children. I have 2 that attended school until graduation, as well as one who was unschooled from the age of 9. My oldest was not served well by the system and at the age of 16 moved from the local school to an alternative education school. Here at the alternative school she became a different teen and enjoyed these 2 years. She excelled for the first time in her life and graduated as valedictorian. My older son graduated from the local public school with honours. When the school failed my youngest, I felt pushed out of the system.
    However, it was the best thing that happened to my family. Now my older 2 who attended school often lament that we did not unschool them.
    I never thought that I could homeschool. When I began, I honestly thought it was a 1 or 2 year commitment to my son. It took only a few months to realize it was a natural relationship to have with my child.
    Today, with between 33% and 50% public school drop out rate and some colleges and universities claiming nearly 50% of freshman require remedial classes, it is clear that schools are not meeting the needs of far too many children.
    Still parents do not believe that they have the ability to find personal time, to work outside the home, to find the patience to deal with their children and to provide a suitable learning environment.
    We, who have been there, need to encourage others to investigate their options, for the betterment of those children who are being failed by the system.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 8:39 am

      It sounds like you found what worked for your family, just as I found what worked for mine.

      It probably helped that our local schools are among the best in the country. We are fortunate to have excellent teachers, parents who are very involved, and students who want to succeed. 85% of our graduating seniors went on to a four year college last year, so they must be doing something right.

      If I had a child who was miserable in public school or who needed extensive help due to disabilities, I would have explored other options. We chose to work within the system when we needed extra help.

  6. Phyllis
    February 10, 2012 | 9:20 am

    Sharon, I went to school with your daughter and I can honestly say we had an amazing time. You definitely made the right choice as a parent. To the parents who homeschool, are you professionally trained teachers? Do you have masters degrees in each field of study? My teachers did. In fact a few of my high school teachers had doctorates. I received the best education to prepare me for college. I also gained invaluable social skills and confidence. A life without my teachers, school friends, and club inolvement is utterly unimaginable.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 1:12 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Phyllis. Where would you all be without the inimitable Dr. Randi Carp, the best show choir director ever!

  7. Jo Tracey
    February 10, 2012 | 9:24 am

    I am glad to read that you had an open mind that if the need had arisen, you might have explored other options.
    Like you, I did work within the system for assistance, for 10 years for my oldest and 2 years with my son. Be thankful that you never need to move beyond what the system was willing to offer. My son attended a school that at that time and even now rated one of the top 100 schools in the country. However, as the system is run under a business model that allows a maximum to be spent on any student, the system often chooses to move students into programs that are in the best interest of the majority of the children in the system not the individual student. If you are the parent of one of these individuals, who education is too costly for the system, you might be told like me, that your child is “ineducable”. I may have trusted the system and worked with them, but the program that they were suggesting would never have worked for my son.
    He would have been steered to a program to build lifeskills. He would have continued to feel he was “dumb” ( his word not mine). He never would have gained the confidence to apply himself to learn all that was required to major in science at the university level.
    To all parents who are well served by the current education system, please do not believe that just because the system worked for you, that it is making the grade for all.
    Look deeper. Investigate. Read the news about the children who being lost and left behind.
    Work inside and outside the system to make it the best situation for ALL students. Perhaps it will be someone you love who is left behind next.

  8. Katie
    February 10, 2012 | 10:19 am

    Let me tell you what the public school system did for me.

    As a student at a public school, I had the chance to be a leader. I had the opportunity to serve multiple years in the student government and make a difference. I had the chance to follow my passions and utilize my talents to help my school and my student body to have the most enjoyable experiences we could.

    As a student in a public school, I had the opportunity to be involved in the vocal music department. The biggest gift the vocal music department gave me was the choir director. This woman changed my life. She became my mentor and truly helped me to become the confident person I am today. She challenge me and nurtured me all at the same time.

    As a student in a public school, I got to be educated by people with master’s degrees, people with doctorates, people with experience. These teachers were passionate and inspiring. Teachers who saved me in the college application experience, teachers who became my friends, and teachers who emphasized the importance of acknowledging my strengths.

    I am sure homeschooling can be great, but as a young adult, I have truly appreciated and seen the importance of having mentors in your life other than your parents. My parents have told me my entire life how special I am and commended my strengths, but until someone else helps you to see what you can do, it is not a reality. Had my mom homeschooled me, I would not have been the person I am today. I wouldn’t have gone through the time periods socially that have brought me to be the friend I am today, I wouldn’t have met the girls who are my best friends and will be my bridesmaids, and I wouldn’t have appreciated academics like my teachers at my public schools helped me to do.

    My question for you Jo and Teresa… do you feel the same way about organized sports and summer programs? Should your children not have coaches who are not you or not attended summer camps with young adult counselors to guide them? I think your children will be at a serious disadvantage once they have the opportunity to leave your nest and go off to college. They will not have learned from all different kinds of people who taught them valuable life lessons like I did at my public schools, in my community sports teams, and my summer camps.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 10:23 am

      My daughter wrote this. I am proud of her and her achievements, but mostly I just really like/love/adore her.

  9. Jo Tracey
    February 10, 2012 | 10:48 am

    Perhaps you did not read what I wrote. My son was written off as INEDUCABLE by the system. He was to be taken from the school he had attended and put into a school where he would be taught lifeskills not academics. The school he would have attended did not have sports teams, or vocal music.
    Learn more about my son and his remarkable accomplishments including being accepted at university without a teacher at all http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/11/moms-story-when-school-left-my-child.html
    I, too, am very proud of my son. He has overcome the system that wrote him off.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 11:12 am

      I did read what you wrote, I’m sorry if it sounded to you like I didn’t. I am not trying to challenge you or your choices in any way, believe me. I’m so glad you found a way to give your son the best education possible. Ultimately that’s all that matters for all of our children. I hope your experience will help others to find ways to better their children’s education too. Obviously all of the administrators were incorrect in their assessment of your son’s abilities, as he has been so successful through alternative living. Kudos to you!

  10. Cheryl
    February 10, 2012 | 11:35 am

    Your daughter writes beautifully. She, however, like you, are uneducated about homeschooling (as you admitted).

    My (homeschooled) son is at a Lego engineering class right now. Afterward, lunch and piano lessons. Yesterday, we learned life skills and he spent 6 hours with a friend. The day before: park day! With kids of all ages, playing (and practicing social skills!) for hours, outside. Church youth group rounded out the evening.
    He writes, learns and uses math, learns history and science in ways that stick with him, and take much less time than in school.
    He is one belt away from his black belt. He is vice president–and past president–of the local Speakers League.
    He plays baseball (on a team). He has friends from church, homeschooling, and the neighborhood.
    On his own, he is learning java script, writing 2 separate books, and reading voraciously. He keeps up on world events.
    He’s not unusual in all this; he’s a fairly typical homeschooled child (if there really is such a thing).
    Please don’t perpetuate the myth that homeschooled children are always alone at home, only in the presence of their own parents, unexposed to life. The reality is quite the opposite.

  11. Cheryl
    February 10, 2012 | 11:36 am

    Oops! Should’ve proofed.

  12. Lisa Nielsen
    February 10, 2012 | 11:40 am

    Thank you for writing a follow up post to my 12 Most post. You and the commentors here make great points. I just want to clarify a few things that have stood out to me.

    1) Most families that home educate have also had a lot of experience with the school system. Most parents with children in the school system have not home educated. Because they have no experience with what this choice is like, they can’t fairly make assumptions on what would have been best. In most cases, they’ve only explored one option. I think it would be wise to take a step back, as I did, and learn from these amazing parents, teachers, mentors, possibility makers who provide a life without school for their children. In most cases, they have lived in both worlds.
    2) Those with no experience in home education have the false impression that kids are locked in a house at a kitchen table learning from mom or dad all day. NO!!! That is not the case. They are in the world and often not learning from teachers or parents, but instead real world professionals who are involved in the young person’s area of talent, passion, or interest. Home educated youth don’t spend their time locked inside buildings, but rather exposed, everyday to all life has to offer. I have several masters degrees in education and leadership, but I’d rather learn from a professional in a real-world setting, than a teacher in a classroom. When it comes to mentors, home educated kids have numerous opportunities. Unlike a secondary school where 1 teacher generally has more than 100 students assigned to them, home educated youth have a huge ratio of adults who are there to serve as mentors for them and these mentors don’t have 100+ other students.
    3) There is an assumption you can’t be on clubs or teams. That is not the case. Most clubs or teams happen “after” school. Home educated kids are often involved in clubs and teams. Sometimes they are affiliated with schools, sometimes they are not. Many of our greatest athletes (Tim Tebow, Venus/Serena Williams, Bode Miller, Michelle Kwan, to name a few) learned outside of school.
    4) Home educated students generally do better in college than those in traditional school. It is a fallacy to see home education as nest. The school is the nest keeping children trapped inside all day. Home educated young people are free to learn from and explore in the world. They are free to be driven by their own passions, talents, and interests, rather than one handed down to them by the government or testing company. If you want to learn more about the success of home educated people in college and career you might find this article of interest http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/01/concerned-about-your-childs-college-and.html

    As an educator and administrator with more than ten years in this profession, I can say that hands down that there is a lot to be learned from home educating families…especially those toward the unschooling end of the spectrum. After all, when you find out you can pursue fantastic careers and get into an Ivy league college without ever having to go to school, or take a test for the first 18 years of life, it should make you rethink everything you thought you knew about school.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 12:52 pm

      Thank you for sharing these points. I see that you believe fully in what you are doing, and there are many who agree and believe as you do. From all of the reading I have been doing, it appears that homeschooling is growing exponentially, so there is obviously a need for it. I would like to point out, though, that being in school doesn’t preclude children from following their passions and interacting with the world at large. Many families encourage outside activities, whether through the school system or otherwise. My daughter traveled to China with her award-winning show choir group to sing at a pre-Olympic event in 2007. My son was the head coach of a flag football team that won their division championship. Most impressive of all, my nephew, who builds computers as a hobby and passion, had over 125,000 hits on the youtube video of his creation, and had the opportunity to meet Steve Wozniak in a one-on-one setting after Mr. Wozniak saw his video. http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/wow-high-school-grad-builds-8-bit-computer-from-scratch-complete-with-custom-os-and-pong/ He attended private school.

      I share these things not to brag, but to counter your point that a conventional education offers little in the way of exploration and outside learning. My daughter could sing you the score from nearly any Broadway musical of the past 20 years – she didn’t learn that in a classroom. My son could plan the offensive strategy for any major league football team – again, something he learned by pursuing his interests.

      You see school as a nest that traps the children all day, and I see it as a community where they are given the opportunity to connect with many different people, from administrators to classmates, and share ideas and opinions with others who may see the world differently than they do. I also see the public school system as something that should be improved upon, not torn down.

      I would be curious to see your information about home schooled students performing better in college than others. You say you can “get into an Ivy League college,” but with a less than 10% admission rate its difficult for anyone to get admitted.

      I believe both of our views have a broad spectrum of positive and negative. Just because I have no experience with homeschooling doesn’t mean I can’t have a viewpoint about it – I have no experience with lots of things, but through reading, learning and listening I am able to formulate an opinion.

  13. Jo Tracey
    February 10, 2012 | 11:50 am

    I only ask that you and others look more closely at the system; the system, not the individual schools. The system fails far too many kids. Just because our own children have achieved our goals for them, should we praise the system that hs a drop out rate of close to 50%.
    I have moved from saying that unschooling is the best education to admitting that for many schools are an essential part of their lives. For many, it is where they get comfort from turmoil and trama.
    For families like yours and like mine, our children would achieve with or without school. My son excelled at a summer camp and won many leadership awards. Homeschooling is not living in isolation. Many times it involves more real to life experiences than a public school.
    My father was a teacher, as is my daughter. My father would be devastated to know what public schools have become.
    I will never say public schools should not exist. You will never hear me stereotype teachers as a group. But we all must admit that today’s public schools have flaws built in by the business model. They are meant to educate the majority of the children cost effectively.
    Since this model expects that some children will never reach the goals, should we not tell the parents of that 12% outside the bell curve that their children are expendable for the good of the majority.

  14. Peter
    February 10, 2012 | 12:22 pm

    I don’t know anything in this world that satisfies a 100% of a persons needs. We all need to accept that and stop trying to convince others that their way is the right way. Schools provide somethings that cannot be accomplished through home schooling and I can think of several things my kids would have benefited from in a home school situation.

  15. Beth
    February 10, 2012 | 12:39 pm

    I can write only from my own experiences as a student of the public school system and as a parent. I was very fortunate to have been enrolled in schools where the gifts of individuals were celebrated. I was doubly blessed in that I had parents who valued education and made themselves available to me and my siblings on every level. They provided moral, spiritual, and yes, educational guidance, and they were both invested enough in our ability to succeed and confident enough of our love for them to allow and encourage us to benefit from the knowledge, caring, and guidance of others, too.

    I personally know a fair number of families who have chosen to homeschool their children, each with their own reasoning. One has a child with special needs and feels that she would be best served by the one-on-one attention that her mother provides. Another has a son who was unable to settle into a routine at school and had an extremely hard time, socially. A handful cite their religious beliefs as the main reason for homeschooling, expressing discomfort that their children would be exposed to ideas they find objectionable were they to mingle with children from varying backgrounds. Some are simply convinced that all public schools have no respect for individuality and are determined to turn out robo-people.

    All of those parents are doing what they feel is best for their children, as is their right and responsibility. I respect that right.

    My personal experience as a student in public schools was a very positive one. I had parents and teachers who encouraged exploration, independent thinking, and self-respect, while acknowledging the very real need for learning how to work, play, and respect people who look, sound, and think about the world differently. I saw and still see that as an enormous advantage that children enrolled in a learning institution have over those who are more sheltered.

    When our children were school-aged, my husband and I chose to send them to public school. They flourished under the kind direction of instructors who were experts in their fields, able to impart a vast amount of knowledge in their specialized areas. Having a team of educators who care about the students entrusted to them can be a wonderful thing. Kids profit immensely, I believe, from studying under teachers who are deeply familiar with their subject matter, rather than just one instructor—however bright and well-intended—who is likely to have a narrower reach in terms of true familiarity with a broad range of subjects.

    I’ve heard it said by more than one homeschooling parent that children in public schools are trained to acquiesce to the authority of others, rather than to make their own decisions. While there is definitely a degree of truth to that, I believe the same applies to homeschooled kids. Parents absolutely make decisions for their children and reasonably so, expect their kids to comply. Most families have at least some guidelines and routines in place, and children learn to behave in the manner that their parents request.

    Everyone—every single one of us—tailors some of our actions to fit with a set of standards that we didn’t personally write. If we hope to remain employed, we show up at the designated time, perform the tasks we are assigned, interact respectfully with others who may not share our views on politics and religion, may have a different moral compass, and may engage in behaviors that we would never even consider. Interacting with others, operating on a schedule that is set to some degree by others, and complying with certain societal demands doesn’t stop us from being true to who we are and listening to and honoring the voice within.

    In my family, our personal preference was to work in tandem with selected individuals who we respected to provide our children with what we saw as a well-rounded educational experience. My husband and I were their first and most important teachers, and we provided them with both love and direction. We also wanted them to benefit from the rich pool of thoughts and ideas of others, which helped them, I believe, to become far more independent-thinking and open-minded than they might have been, had their only take on the world come from us.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 1:10 pm

      Beth, everything you write is so enjoyable to read. Thank you for your comment.

  16. Tara Adams
    February 10, 2012 | 2:07 pm

    I wish people could think less one-dimensionally. Sharon, I thought this was an excellent article.

    I work at a public school and have three kids in public school. As such, I am as intimately acquainted with the failings of the model as anyone. It has inherent problems, many of them politically driven, such as testing and standards that force staff away from seeing the whole child and toward a vision of one-size-fits-all.

    I have some fabulous homeschooling friends and family members. I never thought I’d consider it myself. I am a good instructor, but I felt I might not have the needed patience or perspective to teach my own child. I have one of those square peg in a round hole kids, though, for my youngest–reading two grade levels above but unable to sit in a chair for long periods, sensitive, hyper-imaginative and loathing of repetitive work. I just may home school this one.

    It really isn’t one-size-fits all, as you say. It’s about you, your kid, your available schools, your circumstances and, ultimately, your choice.

  17. Cheryl
    February 10, 2012 | 3:12 pm

    Writing about homeschooling without experiencing it is like writing about parenting without having kids. :)

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 3:39 pm

      I believe if you go back and read my post again, you’ll notice that I don’t actually talk about the act of homeschooling. What I did talk about is why I chose not to, and why I don’t believe it makes me a less committed and loving parent because I chose not to. Again, I have respect and admiration for those who do.

  18. Dawn
    February 10, 2012 | 4:17 pm

    I sincerely respect your decision not to homeschool your children. I have a few friends who are absolutely wonderful parents, yet who have said the same thing: I could never homeschool; I don’t have the patience for it. General comments along those lines. I understand it. I do. When I read the original article in which you made that comment, I was appalled to see the response you got to that. I think *most* homeschoolers do not feel that way about parents who choose not to homeschool. I have homeschooled in 2 different states and been heavily involved in the homeschooling community in both of them, and I’ve never heard anyone express that sentiment out loud before. In fact, many homeschooling parents have some children in public school and some at home, because the idea for most of us is simply to do whatever is in the best interests of each child, and obviously what’s good for one will not necessarily be good for another.

    I do want to say, however, that in reading your daughter’s defense of public school also includes a rather ill-informed, biased, well, bash, if we want to put it frankly, of homeschoolers. So much for public school automatically instilling a respect for variety. We’ve just been told that homeschoolers are at an automatic disadvantage, by a person who has never been homeschooled. We’ve just had it suggested that homeschoolers don’t have the opportunity to learn from mentors other than their parents, by a person who has never been homeschooled. Honestly, where’s the amazing appreciation of diversity there? I’m not seeing it.

    What I am seeing is an individual who, because she benefited from her educational experience at public school, automatically believes that everyone who doesn’t have the public school experience, will be at a disadvantage. I seem to recall you saying your children were in their early 20′s, so it might be forgivable for someone so young to still have difficulty seeing that THEIR way isn’t the ONLY right way. However, we adults need to be a little more diligent about seeking the truth through our veils of ignorance.

    The fact is that my homeschooled daughter has taken piano lessons from 2 different teachers (different states). She has taken art lessons from public school art teachers who teach afternoon classes to homeschooled kids. Why are these people only advantageous to my daughter when she interacts with them in the confines of a public school? How is that they suddenly lose their “mentor” status the second they dare to interact with children who aren’t enrolled in public school? My daughter does gymnastics, so she’s had multiple coaches and experience competing with other children. Why is that less valuable than playing a sport at school? She attends a once weekly P.E. class for homeschoolers, taught by…you guessed it, 2 former public school P.E. teachers. She is involved in Girl Scouts. In all these situations, she is mentored and taught by people other than me. Yet, somehow, your daughter insists that my daughter will be at a disadvantage due to the fact that she was never mentored by anyone else.

    We are involved in a rather large, very active local homeschool community, so we do all the same sorts of field trips school kids do, because almost everywhere will arrange the same sorts of tours for homeschooling groups as for public school groups. She plays with school kids who live on our street almost every evening after school. She isn’t sheltered from the world, hidden away in our home, prevented from learning from other adults, or in any other way disadvantaged. We do what’s best for *her*. I understand that you love, like, and respect your daughter very much, but don’t you also think that perhaps you owe it to her to maybe correct her a little on the details? After all, it’s exactly this sort of attitude, this unflinching refusal to acknowledge that the stereotypes about homeschooled children simply aren’t true, that contributes to the animosity between people who do and do not homeschool. And it does it just as efectively as people suggesting you don’t love your kids if you don’t want to homeschool them does.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 4:35 pm

      You have a good point. I believe my daughter was, among other things, feeling a bit upset because she perceived some of the comments to be somewhat antagonistic. However, she would be the first to tell you that she had many other wonderful adults in her life outside of school, including her youth theater director, our rabbis, various softball coaches, camp counselors, her grandparents, other parents and more. I don’t think she meant to imply that mentors are only to be found in the public school setting – her experience would absolutely be the opposite. I will certainly pass on your comments. FYI she is a senior in college, and I honestly don’t think she had given this issue much thought until I wrote this blog, and was responding with her feelings about her experiences in public school. Sometimes emotion can trump reason – especially for young people!

      Thank you for sharing your experience as a homeschooling parent.

  19. Dawn
    February 10, 2012 | 4:18 pm

    And I should’ve proofread, too. I’m a little tired from having two sick kiddos. Forgive the typos and extra commas. lol

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 10, 2012 | 4:24 pm

      I totally understand. Nothing more distressing than having two sick kids at once!

      • Katie
        February 11, 2012 | 10:03 am

        Dawn and others – my response to all of this was in fact that I appreciate my parents decision not to homeschool me because of what I received out of being a student at my public school. What I interpreted out of some of the comments in response to my mom’s blog was that she was not a good mother because of her choices to “institutionalize” me in a public school. My response was about how I benefitted from her allowing me to learn from others and to become my own without being in my own home. I do not believe that homeschoolers are locked in their home all day, but I got the impression from other commenters that they believed my mom, like she mentioned in the original post, was not a good mother because she did not want to teach me herself. My point was that what I learned from others and what I gained from being in a public school was something I could never imagine not having.

        To each his own… I am sure home schooling was great for your children and maybe one day could be the right choice for mine. All I know is that I think that the challenges and successes I had from being in a public school have truly benefited me today.

        Sorry if I offended anyone.. I was only voicing my opinion the same way you were voicing yours.

  20. k~
    February 10, 2012 | 5:02 pm

    My experience with homeschooling is limited. I removed my son from a dangerous, violence-oriented elementary school and taught him at home for the third grade, it was the only year I home schooled him. I was a single parent and took my son to work with me. I worked nights, went to school during the morning hours, and taught my son in between. Sleep you ask? There was little time for that, or anything else. I did it because it was the best option for him at the time.

    I wish I could say that his experiences through elementary, were good, but the only REALLY good years were those I had him in private school for. The rest were really hard on him, and for the most part taught him that life is not fair. That it doesn’t matter if you do what is right, stand your ground, and work as hard as you can… chances are you will still be judged by the small-minded preconceived notions of others. School gave him a base, home gave him a platform of learning everything he was interested in, and life blended the two together to balance the scales a bit.

    The opportunity to learns starts with the home, whether they stay at home to learn, or leave it to learn, they still have to learn how to function in their environments, with the tools they have been given, and acquired. It’s not as easy as saying “this is the best way” (from either side of the fence), because the circumstances will be different for every situation. Influences will be different for every individual, family, and education process.

    How uncomfortable it would be to walk a mile in another’s shoes, for having judged that which we are not prepared to understand.

    Kudos Sharon, for stating your thoughts, from your perspective, and maintaining your own dignity in between the attacks.

    And btw… nice to meet you ;-)

  21. kelly
    February 11, 2012 | 6:53 am

    “It’s something so far from what I can or want to do that it’s amazing to me.”

    I really appreciate your honesty in this statement. Most people will say they can’t homeschool and more often than not skip the part about not wanting to homeschool. Perhaps for fear of attack or judgement from others who might equate the choice not to homeschool with not wanting to be with their child.

    I think it is so very important that we as parents take into account our own needs and desires as much as our children’s. I think it is incredibly important role modeling. I want my children to grow up knowing that it is okay to pay attention to what they want. If I tell them that, but then show them the opposite in my life they will see right through my words. It is important for them to be able to stand up for what they believe and what they want by acknowledging that it is their choice. There are ways to meet everyone’s needs with a little open-mindedness and creativity. For some families it might be school, for some it be homeschooling.

    I must admit that when I read your first comment about not having the patience or desire it sounded to me like the response I sometimes hear when the topic of homeschooling comes up. (“Oh I could never do that. I don’t know how you do it. Good for you!” often said in a over the top sweet voice or with an incredulous tone). But after reading your post and subsequent comments, I don’t believe that was your intention.

    If homeschooling parents sometimes seem defensive it might be because we are constantly stereo-typed in real life, in the media, in articles and always in the comments that follow. We are often misunderstood and sometimes it is just tiring to hear the same old arguments and misinformation about homeschooling again and again.

    There are also many families and children that have had extremely bad experiences with school and because of that experience want their voices to be heard, they want things to change. Many have found the change they were looking for in homeschooling, but still are rightfully angered by their experiences with school. They want people who are currently having a horrid experience to know there is another way.

    Before my children were born I was a public school teacher and I was completely frustrated that often the children who needed our help the most didn’t get it. In a system set up to constantly measure success only by a child’s ability to do well on a test and rigid in it’s grade level expectations (arbitrarily decided on based entirely on chronological age) a child that falls outside of those guidelines or abilities is set up for failure from the start. My school was a good school, yet there were many needs still unmet and children who had a bad (sometimes very bad) experience. So sometimes you will hear that frustration from homeschooling parents too.

    I appreciate both in your post and comments your willingness to listen to others and respectfully respond even in the face of some pretty negative comments. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and keeping the conversation going.

  22. Mary Ann
    February 11, 2012 | 6:07 pm

    I like that you share your opinions, and that is why I have nominated your blog for the Kreativ Blog Award.

    For details, go to http://www.maryannsteiner.wordpress.com.
    Mary Ann recently posted..Kreativ Blogger AwardMy Profile

  23. Terry
    February 15, 2012 | 6:53 am

    I home schooled my four children for ten years. Only one of them graduated through home school, and it was a perfect fit for her. She had attended public school K and 1st grade. I then pulled her and her oldest brother out and home schooled them 3rd grade level. Both were very bright and did quite well. We moved to another state and I put them in public school after being tested. My daughter tested three years beyond her age level and was very mature, so they bumped her up a grade. She did very well. There were so many problems with some of the teachers that I pulled them out once again, and decided that they were to stay home until high school, then we would make a decision. All three of our boys attended high school because they wanted to play sports (all community sports stopped at the high school age). Several reasons my daughter did not go to public school in high school. One–they would not let her be in the grade she tested to be in because she was so young. They would not talk to her to see if she would be able to handle it. She has December birthday, so most of the kids were not that much older. So she decided to stay home. Two, she was/is a dancer, so this gave her more time for her to, work on her dancing. At the age of 16, she graduated from high school, and attended college. She graduated from college with honors at an early age, and is now doing quite well. My boys, on the other hand. Academically, as far as public school goes they did very well, all have been on the deans list, etc. But once they head to college, that is a different story. I feel they were more prepared for college when they entered high school, than they were when they graduated.

    We have never lived in an area where the public schools are any good. Now, I do know that there are public schools out there that are unbelievably good, but we have not been lucky enough to live by one.

    I will have to admit, there are some wacky homeschoolers, but their are some wacky public schoolers too. I did not homeschool because of religious purposes. I consider myself a Christian, but because I do not go to a mainstream “Christian” church, I was shunned by many of the homeschool community. I was not trusted to help with homeschool groups. I could attend, just not teach. I have a very good dance background, and they would not even let me teach a ballet class for they younger children. I won’t take the time to tell you the list of stories I have.

    When I did home school, I was careful to not only make sure good academics were taught, but also the social. Our children were involved in church, scouts, sports, YMCA, homeschool groups, karate, dance, gymnastics, I could go on. The fact was, there is so much out there, you have to learn to pick and choose, or academics will fail.

    Anyway, I considered our family to have been very good at home schooling, and sometimes think I should have kept them home until college. I’m sure I would have had a much different attitude if the schools in our community had been better (like the schools my nieces and nephews went to).

    So, is home schooling for everyone? No. Is public school for everyone? No. And…I do not think that it is up to others to judge whether or not families should home school or send their kids, it is up to the individual families. On the other hand; I also believe that many who do no think they can do it, can. I really did not think I could successfully home school. My mother asked me when I was first starting out (3rd grade level). “Did you pass the third grade?” Yes, I did. She said to me….” I think you can teach the third grade.” And, she was right…and as the years went on, most of the schooling I was able to teach, because of all the wonderful curriculum that is out there. Things I forgot, I was able to remember and relearn. Upper level math and science, I did send our children to a qualified, teacher with a degree.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      February 15, 2012 | 7:15 am

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree that there a plenty of wacky public school parents out there. I ran into my share when my children were in school.

      Your experience with the homeschoolers who would not let you teach is something that I’ve wondered about quite a bit. I am aware that there are plenty of parents homeschooling for reasons other than religion – however, your story is what concerns me the most about the trend to keep children among others just like them while homeschooling. I realize that public school kids tend to gravitate towards others like them for most social activities, but they are still exposed on a daily basis to kids from very, very different backgrounds.

      Ultimately we all need to find the best situation for our children and our families. Don’t regret what you’ve done – it sounds like you did everything you could to ensure your children had each had a terrific education. No matter what we do as parents, something is going to be lost along the way!

  24. Terry
    February 15, 2012 | 6:58 am

    sorry my grammar is that last post if horrible, but when I type in the comments, I cuts off half the words, so it is hard to read over to see what I wrote, but anyway…I think you understant…
    Terry recently posted..Dark Circles…My Profile

  25. Greenthal buildings | Executiveprep
    February 17, 2012 | 8:35 am

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