Understanding Homeschooling

Personal experiences with homeschooling.

A lot of people have experimented with homeschooling during the ongoing Covid pandemic. Some may want to continue the experiment or start a new one but have no idea where to begin.

My wife and I homeschooled two of our children and learned a few important things in the process, which I’ll outline in this essay.

First of all, homeschooling works best if the child agrees to it and promises to be serious about it. When that happens, you have it made because the child can guide themselves much of the time. Once in a while, you do have to be there to answer questions or point them in a desired direction.

There are many reasons a child would agree to homeschooling: they may not be learning fast enough at the school, the teachers are bad, there are too many bullies, they hate the school itself, they dislike the course work, etc.

If the child loves the school and everything about it, there is no reason to homeschool.

Second, there is an enormous homeschooling support network everywhere you look, once you start looking. Homeschooling groups are everywhere. There are even bookstores and facilities dedicated to selling products to homeschoolers.

Third, there is no “type” of homeschooler. Over the years, I figured that there are about 25-percent Christian homeschoolers, 25-percent agnostic, 25-percent Jewish, and 25-percent Muslim. There is also a smattering of Hindu homeschoolers. This latter group produces most of the winners of the National Spelling Bee competitions.

In my experience, the Christian homeschoolers were the most self-isolating, often requiring “pledges” from anyone who wanted to associate with them. They also seemed to glorify homeschooling in such a way that amateurs would think that all homeschoolers were Christian fundamentalists. That’s not even close to being true.

Fourth, lots of local homeschooling “groups” form to organize events, usually in the form of field trips for groups of 5-10 children. Any of the four categories can organize these events and it’s a great opportunity to meet up with people of various backgrounds. This is important and forms a socialization network for the kids.

Again, you never know what you’ll find. In our area, there was a Muslim homeschooler that was an enthusiastic organizer of field trips for the kids and took them on plenty of secular and well-organized adventures.

Fifth, some state governments hate homeschoolers. California is one of the worst, since you could even be arrested for homeschooling. Skeptics like to say this is because the state wants to indoctrinate the children, but it is about the money lost per year per child in the education system. The indoctrination angle is a bonus for them. Check with the school district for the rules.

The smarter states actually condone homeschooling and provide standardized testing for its kids. Washington State is one example. There you register with the state that you are homeschooling your child. Then it then puts you on a test schedule to make sure you are doing the job so the kid doesn’t become an idiot under your tutelage.

Note that, with some subjects, such as math and language arts, it’s quite all right to hire a tutor.

Homeschooling takes a modicum of parental effort, but not as much as you’d imagine if shared by both parents AND the child.

In many instances, the child will have a desire to go deeper into a subject than any school can deliver. This is with the exceptions of extracurricular band or sports.

Most often, the child will spend extra time on a favored subject. This is often on something that is impractical in a school setting, especially nowadays with a de-emphasis on art, music, wood shop, home economics and other mainstays of the past.

In these situations, the child is running the show.

You should also know that you can take your child in and out of private or public schools—this is not unusual in places where it’s allowed. Everyone will have their own experiences with this.

Of note is that fact that homeschooled children tend to do better than those educated in the public school system. They are also less likely to get a skewed education produced by school systems that indoctrinate kids. Homeschooling stops that in its tracks.

Homeschooling is a lot like raising children—there is no one perfect system and nobody does it the same way. But a lot of support does exist, more than you’d think. It's also good for the parents who have to relearn a lot of elementary information. This is more than you’d think at first glance.

Any reason to homeschool is a good reason, but, back to the first point. It is up to the child to accept the responsibility to make it work. – jcd

March 16, 2021

Additional reading

6 Myths about Home Schooling

Homeschool World (Christian-oriented with lots of resources).