Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is Home Schooling for Everyone?

Maybe, Maybe Not

I was sent this article the other day and asked to share my opinion.  Since I now have a blog this is where my ‘sharing of my opinion’ now appears!  LOL

Here’s the link (so you can read for yourself) that was the inspiration for this post.

I want to say that I mean NO disrespect toward this young woman nor am I casting any judgment on her perception of her experience.  This was HER experience.  I don’t think we can say to someone, “You’re wrong” when they tell us how something made them feel.  I do think, though, that perception is reality.  And I’d like to lend a different perspective on what this young woman shared, especially for anyone who is considering homeschooling their children and this article scares them OR for anyone who believes that sheltering their children from EVERYTHING by homeschooling is a good life choice for them.

First, in all honesty I basically agree with this woman – her situation kind of sucked.  However, I don’t think her situation and the subsequent issues it caused her were the fault of being homeschooled.  I’m not sure ‘fault’ even needs to be placed.  Her life appears to be a good one now.  She went to college, has a young daughter of her own now, and she writes well.   At least on the surface she doesn’t seem to be suffering any extensive ill affects of her life experience.  She had ‘bumps’ in the road – albeit uncomfortable ones – as we all do.  Bumps are necessary in order for us to learn and grow.  However, she puts forth a serious question regarding socialization that many might worry over when deciding to home school. 
Clearly this young woman was raised in a Christian household and I would say that from her descriptions she was raised in a Christian household that sheltered the children, perhaps even purposefully kept them from being exposed to others of different cultures, religious backgrounds, and perhaps even ethnicities.  Clearly she was kept from all children who were not either homeschooled or members of her own church.  To me, this is a mistake.  I’m sure that every parent, especially ones that make the choice to home school, make the decisions they do in rearing their children out of concern for their children and with the information they have at the time make the best choices they can.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes.  We all do.  I know I certainly do.  If we haven’t given our children something to grip about to their shrink when they are adults we failed.  But seriously…..

No one who will one day enter ‘the world’ benefits from being overly-sheltered.  One of the greatest assets afford to homeschoolers is the chance to expose our children to a myriad of people (including public schooled children), circumstances, and experiences where we can be with them to teach them and guide them so that as they face new opportunities, people, and experiences when they are older they have a foundation for how to navigate those waters.  By not taking advantage of this asset of home schooling, and choosing instead to shelter them from ‘the world’, we run the risk of children who grow up uncertain of who they are when up against others who are not of a like-mind.  It reminds me of a quote I heard long ago, and can never find who to attribute it to, that says, “If all we ever study is that which we know, we learn nothing.”  This is also true regarding exposure to other people, ideologies, belief systems, cultures, and ethnicities.  That lack of exposure while being homeschooled, I think, is an important point to make regarding this young woman’s situation.

Yet, as to her ‘uncomfortableness’ around peers I say this:  I was public schooled.  I was never all that comfortable around my ‘peers’.  The crowd I ran with was the more mature crowd.  I don’t mean I ran with ‘older’ kids.  I mean I found like-minded individuals and they were my friends.  These kids were usually the ‘weird’ kids.  They were into their hobbies and interests and had no desire to participate in the latest trend or fad that was being favored by the ‘in-crowd’.  They, and I, could have cared less about who was dating whom, how drunk the kids were getting, or any other such ‘juvenile’ nonsense.  I was born an adult and I never understood the majority of my peers.  Even as a young elementary school kid I thought the majority of the things that my peers did or said was stupid or immature.  I didn’t understand why they acted the way they did.  Did it make life harder for me?  Sure, in some ways it certainly did.  Was I better equipped for dealing with adults when I became an adult?  Yes, I was.  That worked to my benefit.  My point is this, one doesn’t have to be homeschooled to be awkward with their peers.  Kids are weird.  They are immature and juvenile, some more so than others.  That’s ok, though.  We all (or almost all, anyway) even out eventually.  Today I have close friends that are as much as 15 years younger than I am and I still have friends who are as much as 20 years older.  Adulthood can be a wonderful thing in so many ways!

At the heart of this young woman’s issues is one thing, in my opinion – a lack of self-confidence.  That brings me back to my earlier point, if you never expose your children or allow them to be exposed to different, even conflicting, viewpoints, cultures, beliefs, or people then they can never truly feel confident about who they are, what they believe, and why.  THAT is what the problem was for this young woman, in my estimation – not that she was homeschooled.  Somehow she didn’t learn to be a leader while being homeschooled.  For us, while homeschooling Punky, being a leader and not a follower is a major focus.  Punky is already very comfortable in ‘new and unfamiliar’ situations.  She walks into auditions knowing no one and figuring it out.  She ‘runs with the big dogs’ in theatre shows where the majority of the cast are strangers and adults.  Is she exceptional?  Not in the least.  She always enters these experiences a little scared and unsure.  That is normal.  We all enter the unknown a little scared and unsure.  The more times we have those experiences though, the more we become comfortable with it, as well as becoming a little wiser for having the experience.

This woman says that if your children are more comfortable socializing with adults that isn’t a sign of maturity, but rather a sign that there is a problem.  I don’t agree.  We spend the majority of our lives as adults.  Being able to socialize with, work with, and navigate around adults is a skill that is very necessary.  Now, we could say that if your child is not comfortable socializing with anyone BUT adults, there may be a problem.  The difference may seem slight, but it’s meaningful, I think.  Punky prefers to spend her time with mature children, often time that means children who are a year or two, or even three older than she.  Punky doesn’t enjoy socializing with adults more than her peers, but she is very comfortable interacting or working with adults.  Of course this is OUR experience, but it is one that we work hard to make happen.  At the end of the day, I believe that homeschooling can be right for any child, because your homeschooling experience is totally what you make it.  Granted that means that home schooling parents needs to focus on more than academics.  We should, in my opinion, focus on guiding our children through new experiences and opportunities.  We should be looking to introduce them to as many people, from as many walks of life, as we can while they are under our supervision and guidance, teaching them along the way why we make the choices we make for our lives, why we have the beliefs we do, and allowing them to learn about the choices and beliefs of others. 

Home schooling may not be the choice every family makes, but home schooling is not a ‘wrong’ choice.  Home schooling doesn’t cause problems.  Homeschooling is an ideology that says every parent has the right and ability to provide for their children the education and learning needed to navigate their lives well into adulthood.  If a parent fails to, or chooses not, to guide their child through all the opportunities they can, that is not a failure of home schooling.  Home schooling can work for anyone, because home schooling is what you make it out to be.  If home schooling didn’t work for you or your child believes it didn’t work for him, all I can say is:  the right way, for you, wasn’t found.  Homeschooling can be limitless in its opportunities, if you are willing to open yourself, and your children, to them.

~Mari B.


  1. I agree, I had problems with my peers as well... I couldn't deal with immaturity. As a freshman, I hung out with Seniors, and a Sophomore, I hung out with Seniors, etc... and repeated the same process in college. In my yearbooks, everyone signs, "Where were you the first three years". I've just always preferred an older crowd and most of my best friends are 10 years older than me. We all have our oddities, but they can't necessarily be blamed on our education. BTW, my homelife SUCKED, and I am sooo glad my parents didn't homeschool.

  2. It sounds like the problem in the other bloggers situation was parents that wanted to keep their children incredibly secluded and controlled. Homeschooling was a tool they used for doing that. Homeschooling is not immune from being used for bad purposes. There's a book called Triumph by Carolyn Jessop, and in it she makes a plea for homeschoolers to accept some level of government supervision, just to avoid parents being able to use homeschooling to completely isolated and control their children.

    Her description of being socialized just for one setting and not for schoolers reminds me of how certian homeschoolers I knew used to talk about "schoolers" all the time, and talk as though homeschoolers were better. That concerned me. People are people, there's no need to define people by where they are educated.

    But yes, homeschooling works, and lots of people have self-confident issues, regardless of where or how they were educated.


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