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We just finished our third full year of homeschooling. (Editor’s note, this was originally published in 2015. We started homeschooling in 2011). And I wanted to tell those of you who are silently dreading the return of Back to School something:
You don’t need the government to educate and raise your kids. You just don’t.
Every year at around this time, I see many posts about mamas hearts hurting at the thought of sending their babies off to Kindergarten. Weren’t they just born? How could time have gone so quickly? I’m just not ready for this.
At this point, I want to scream through my keyboard in all caps: THEN DO NOT SEND THEM! HOMESCHOOL INSTEAD!!!!!!!!!
But instead of giving people advice that aren’t asking for it, I am posting here for those who want to hear why they should keep their kids home, where the heart is, instead of sending them off to school. You are your child’s greatest role model. Shouldn’t you be the one to show them the way when it comes to difficult issues? Shouldn’t you, as their parent, instill in them the importance of matters like citizenship, leadership, moral integrity, etc? Didn’t you “teach” them to sit up, crawl, walk, talk, etc.? Homeschooling isn’t much different from that.
The following are the most common concerns parents might have for being hesitant to commit to homeschool:
- My child will miss riding the bus, buying back to school supplies, etc.
Check this out: you can still buy those same school supplies! In fact, my nearly 6 year old managed to break her backpack strap from all our trips to the library, so she will definitely be needing a new one this fall! We also love taking advantage of the school supply sales, since we go through glue sticks and coloring supplies like no one’s business!
As for the bus, you can ride any mode of transportation you want with your child. You could even organize a trip with a homeschool group! Ours rode the train to a local library together a couple of years ago.
- I’m not qualified to teach my child.
On what basis are you not qualified? Not qualified to do what? It may come as a surprise to hear that a teaching credential is actually not content based, but typically focuses on classroom management and lesson organization. Do you have a computer? Know how to look up information or locate sources? Boom. You can be a home educator. (Please note: this is an intentional over simplification, I have done my research regarding teaching credential programs and their various requirements, if you would like to know more about them in detail, I suggest you do your research as well. I deeply respect teachers and their overwhelming responsibilities with dwindling resources and instruction time.)
As for actual curriculum, if you decide to go that route, if you are not a current homeschooler, or maybe even if you are, this site will blow your mind Rainbow Resource Center, Inc. If you request their catalog, though it may take a while to come, it’s bigger than the phone book. Not.even.joking. You will be shocked at just how much curriculum and school stuffs are available. Seriously.
Also, you can hire private tutors, or send your kids to classes for particular subjects. 2020 update: Our 6th grader takes an in person middle school math class through our charter with other middle school aged students and a credentialed teacher. You don’t have to personally teach them every single thing just because you homeschool! Co-ops exist for this very reason. Parents have different skills, so they come together, and each parent teaches a different subject. It’s a wonderful thing. Expect a subsequent post from me dedicated to online classes and other resources.
Homeschooling is not what it was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. It is so different. There is SO much support available. In fact, it is THE fastest growing segment of education in the U.S. Which brings me to the next point:
- Friends: I want my child to be around other children
Awesome! You will be happy to hear that there are homeschooled children and their parents everywhere! While the particulars may vary according to where you live, because homeschool is gaining traction, you should have no difficulty finding a group somewhere near you. Our local area has a 4H group only for homeschoolers! (more on that later)
Here’s the best part: the kids can actually play together! What and how they want! No freezing when the bell rings. Climbing up the slide is ok if mom says so! I got in trouble in Kindergarten for talking with my friends too much. I bet you have experiences of not being able to socialize in the classroom too. It makes sense. You can’t socialize and have a quiet and contained classroom. So actually, socialization isn’t something the schools are necessarily advocating. It’s almost a coincidental parallel. Especially considering silent lunches that are becoming increasingly common. That is assuming you can even bring lunch at all, maybe with a doctor’s note. Yes, you read that right, some schools will not allow lunch sent from home. Because the government knows better than parents what to feed all children– whether you like it or not.
However, back to friends, my personal favorite part about homeschool children is that they are not taught to differentiate or discriminate against other children based on age. So any one of my kids can be seen trying to play with a 13 month old baby, or a 12 year old homeschooler that’s helping make sure the younger kids don’t get into trouble. It’s really amazing. (ETA: my oldest is now that 12 year old) You should see it for yourself!
Oh and the moms! The homeschool moms! The ones who know what you’re going through because they are going it too! The ones who are not jockeying for a leadership position on the PTA, or who are fawning over your childrens’ teacher looking for an advantage. The homeschool moms who are there to collectively help your children navigate any difficulties they may encounter, prevent any bullying before it starts, encourage their children to be respectful of other peoples wishes– in other words, moms who are just there to be moms! There is no friend quite like a homeschool mom. And, it has been my experience that unlike school moms who drop you like it’s hot when you leave a particular school, homeschool moms will gasp! still be your friend even if you enroll your kids in school! They may even offer to watch your kids for you during a school break! See the chapter in Gatto’s book about false community on this one.
Also, regarding “socialization,” or what we refer to as the “S word” in homeschool circles, in a typical school setting, you have no control over your child’s peers, other than the fact that they live in the same geographic location and are similarly aged. Hyper sexualization of children is taking place not only in the toys that are marketed to them, but in the curriculum becoming non-optional in California. That is not something that I want my young children exposed to. And I hear it pours over into Girl Scouts these days. No thank you. See an example of some concerns here.
- I can’t imagine homeschooling my kids until college!
So don’t! Take it one year at a time! Start off by not sending them to Kindergarten, then re-evaluate at the end of the year! You can always send your kids back to school, any school you want. Want to try a private school? Go for it! A charter? Sounds cool! A microschool? They even have full time options now!
- What about college?
When I first published this post, I completely forgot about this concern, because for me personally it is not a concern at all. I know all sorts of homeschoolers whose children went on to Ivy league colleges and the like. Or homeschoolers whose children have been recognized as the top 20 photographers under 20 in the country. Or the homeschool child that won The Voice this year. In fact, colleges are starting to catch on to this homeschooling thing, and have special admissions procedures just for our homeschooled kids! Colleges like: Stanford, Yale, Brown, etc. Can you believe, there’s like an entire page, just for us! See also, and this too.
Typically, those students who want to walk that path are required to take the SATs, like everyone else, and can demonstrate/are required to demonstrate competency by taking SAT II subject tests, for which there are subtests in languages: Hebrew, Latin (a homeschooler favorite), Mandarin (which my 7 year old decided on her own to study last year, eh?), Japanese Korean, etc. There are also History, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and maybe another category I forgot about, since my oldest child is 7. So, even the Ivys Ivies (?) are not out of reach. 2020 update: we have a friend whose daughter was homeschooled K-12 that was just accepted to UC Berkeley. We have another friend whose daughter recently graduated from Reed College. Julie Bogart’s kids are another example of 5 children who grew up with homechooling. (See book post for links to her, or maybe if I have enough time I will dedicate an entire post to Brave Writer).
Another popular option is to have homeschool teens, and sometimes even younger, to the local community college when they are ready. Community Colleges are very special to me personally, as I started out at one. You can find world class professors there that really do want to change the world, and don’t need a lot of money or prestige in order to do a kick ass job. JMO.
Also, one thing you may come to realize about life, is that college isn’t the only option! What if your kid decides that he or she is super into welding, and then end up deciding to pursue that full time from an early age? What if they want to do something like what is done at maker faire? If that truly makes them happy? See also, Billie Eilish, yep homeschooled. I’ll post a picture of something on that later. Here it is, someone’s child grew up and made this! Likely a team of peoples’ children, from the Maker Faire:
- Class parties
Yeah, we got those too. Sometimes at community centers or at the park. Often potlucks. Here’s a pic of the Valentine’s Day exchange from one of our homeschool groups
- Fun kid activities
Let me tell you something. There are so many activities to sign your child up for, I can’t even. Not only is every single opportunity for after school classes through the rec center or private businesses still available for your child, but there are tonssssssss of opportunities that are offered solely for homeschooled children. For example, near us, there are language classes, art classes, ceramics classes, classes at the various science museums, LEGO classes, tennis classes, etc. There is a company called Quantum Camp that offers Math and Science, this cool place called Curiosity Hacked, or places like The Crucible: offering classes in welding, blacksmithing, jewelry making, glass blowing, etc.
We are also fortunate to have nearby an amazing 4H solely for homeschooled children. There are 10 year olds running the meetings. There are 14 year olds running Ancient History clubs. It’s freaking amazing. We haven’t even joined yet, but many of our friends have. I’m looking forward to it, in case you couldn’t tell 🙂
- We both need to work
Many many homeschool families have two working parents, especially here in the Bay Area. Find out what income you really need, and find a way to make it work. You would be surprised to learn how many families can and do make it work. I was really surprised to read this when I first found it a couple years ago. A doctor homeschooling her kids! It appears that article has been updated with extensive information on the working angle, check it for more info! See thistoo.
Ok, well maybe you weren’t thinking about Prom, but as a high school and college student leadership participant that helped organize dances, fundraise, and the like, I have thought about these things. As it turns out, there are homeschool proms. And they look just like any other high school prom, except that the parents organize and host it, and I have a feeling there is a lot less delinquency taking place afterwards.
Other cool things that have happened with my homeschool kids: spontaneous jump roping at the park with other girls, going on field trips to museums with other families, sitting quietly and listening to lectures at various locations, interacting with librarian 1:1 to find library books, or using the computer to put books on hold.
My kids have been a part of two trips to a senior home to bring valentines, and then conduct a reverse egg hunt. They have participated in an experiment on ocean acidification as part of a demonstration at a science museum. They have heard about rescued wild birds at a wildlife museum. They have been to a historic Native American village. They have attended various political advocacy events related to school laws. They have been to a homeless family housing center. They have not only seen their mama participating in, but have also been a part of service. My biggest goal in raising my children has always been and will always be to raise good people. People who care about others, and care about the world beyond themselves. I have always jokingly said that it doesn’t matter whether you are the smartest person alive if you are an asshole. You can always take remedial classes in English, but not in character. However, for the record, my 7 year old is reading at a 5th grade level, and is capable of doing Math at least 1 grade level ahead. And all my big kids chant Latin and do Math with food “for fun.” So I’d say we’ve got the academics covered as well.
As far as an every day situation goes, Pinterest is a major source of inspiration, as are teacher friends, especially those on Instagram! Here are just some things I’m hoping to do soon with my kids!
Before we started our summer break, my 5 year old was super into Ancient China, so we did some calligraphy, which she loved! My oldest is doing Mandarin with Rosetta Stone, per her request!
Kids have been begging for smores, this just has to be done this summer!
My 4 year old is obsessed with collecting leaves right now.
I really want to do this when we start our new school year! I love seeing the kids reflections of themselves, and such a treasure to keep for when they’re older!
The coolest thing about homeschooling, aside from everything else I’ve written above, is that it really is living in the world. Your children get to live life, every day. They get to learn how to buy things with money, and the concept of tax. That makes explaining historical events like the Boston Tea Party much easier for them to understand. They can see baby birds hatching in the wild! They can go to the Farmer’s market or orchard and see what things are in season and when. They can interact with all sorts of different people, and learn lessons that simply cannot be taught through textbooks or within the confines of a classroom. It’s beautiful and amazing, and I hope you’ll decide to go for it!
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some cool books to read:
I’m not the best at technology stuff, but the following is a broad list of books that I would recommend for starting out. I tried to post the image/link but I’m not sure if it worked out. I think you can take it from here 🙂
(I also have a separate & quite long post, filled with book recommendations, which you can find here.)
The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life, Julie Bogart
Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, Susan Wise Bauer
So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, Lisa Whelchel
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Fourth Edition), Susan Wise Bauer
Learning All The Time, John Holt
A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century, TJED Online
A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
Dumbing Us Down -25th Anniversary Edition: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling – 25th Anniversary Edition, John Taylor Gatto
Typo disclaimer: sorry if I have any! Also, this was copied and pasted from a prior blog, that is no longer up, so I think the photos may have disappeared. My apologies!
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