Have you ever dissuaded someone from homeschooling?

I built up a head of steam yesterday.

Perhaps it was a bit misplaced.

I still haven’t decided.

The shortish version is that I read a blog post from someone — we’ll call her Rosie — who was “inspired” by the blog post of another blogger — we’ll call her Patience.  Patience’s post had sung the praises of the benefits of homeschooling, and had said, in essence, that every family would benefit from it.  In Rosie’s response, she took each of Patience’s numbered points, and rewrote and dismantled them, supplying her own life as a better example, which was, in short, homeschooling for the younger years, and public/charter schooling for the older years.

I didn’t entirely disagree with most of Rosie’s suggestions.  I was, though, aghast that she would publicly take a specific blogger — a friend, no less — to task.  And, that she would say, in essence, “I have learned much better, grasshopper.  Mine is the more excellent way.”  Though Patience responded and didn’t seem miffed, I couldn’t help but feel for her.  I would be horrified if someone I had known personally had done that to me.

One thing, though, about which I did completely agree with Rosie, was that homeschooling is not for everyone.  I have steered an inquiring mother in another direction, on more than one occasion.  One, which made me giggle at the memory, was from a mother who

  • said she had zero budget for homeschooling
  • balked at my suggestion that she go to a library:  “I don’t think I’ve ever been to a library.”
  • didn’t have a clear reason about why she wanted to homeschool
  • did not have the support of her husband
  • did not research or follow up on any of the material I gave her, over a couple months’ period

What it came down to was that this mother wanted:

  • ME or some government entity to supply her with an entire curriculum (she didn’t want to participate with one of the assorted charter “homeschooling” programs, where the school provides the curriculum, and often a computer, and then checks up on the student, like Arizona Virtual Academy or Connections Academy).
  • ME to tell her husband that she should homeschool.  She figured that, as I have a (small) leadership role in the church, I’d outweigh his authority on the matter.

Her audacity made my jaw drop.  I declined to help on either count, and never heard from her again.

Now, the story makes me giggle.

Do you have any similar stories??   Or, do you, too think that homeschooling is for everyone?  (I won’t rip you apart if you do!)

EDITED TO ADD: Names have been changed to protect the parties involved, of course.  “Rosie” has only very rarely ever been to my blog, and I don’t believe “Patience” ever has.  I don’t think it likely that either will ever see this post.  And, even if they do, no one would ever know it’s them, unless they out themselves in a comment, or something like that.  So, I think the dignity of the bloggers is protected.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on January 12, 2011, in Blogging, Friendships, Funny Stuff, Homeschooling. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. OH MY !!!! I don’t know,… for a fact,… if I’ve dissuaded anyone or not. HOWEVER, I have met more than a couple of handfuls of people that were either planning on homeschooling or were actually “homeschooling” right then that really never should have ever attempted it or thought about it. How’s that for audacious ???

    I think if all of those markers that you mentioned just don’t line up, it’s probably not for your family!

    #1 — NO ONE — I repeat — NO ONE is going to give you one, thin dime to purchase curriculum or the supplies that you’ll need. If this is truly your heart’s desire / calling from God, then it’s going to have to come from God’s provision. “Where God guides; God provides!”

    #2 — While the library is a decent place to start, it’s certainly not very reliable these days. Heck, most libraries are closed more often than they’re open lately!! Even so, a lot of the things that you’d want to use there would be a lot easier to purchase and have at your immediate disposal. Definitely not a long term solution, in my opinion…

    #3 — Without a PERSONAL conviction about WHY you’d want to homeschool, it’s an exercise in futility. I have been homeschooling for 12 years now — Kindergarten through high school and even on the best days, I’m ready to rip my hair out sometimes! If I didn’t have the inner drive, the conviction, the calling from God, the overwhelming obsession to research, read, peruse, and research things related to homeschooling, and the desire for my children to reap huge benefits no matter what it cost me — I’d have failed before I even started.

    #4 — Husband isn’t on board with the whole idea of homeschooling??? RED FLAG !! RED FLAG !! RED FLAG !!! There were some days that Tom would come home and I would be in tears while making our dinner. He’d sit with me, let me cry, put his arm around my shoulder, pray with me, and then help me sort out the difficulties. Often, it was a matter of me being too close to the situation and I needed a set of “fresh eyes”. Other times, I needed suggestions to get my brain re-wired a bit. If Tom hadn’t been on board with our homeschooling our kids — we wouldn’t have made it !! Plain and simple! This is such a VITAL, VITAL element to have in one’s tool chest if homeschooling is even to be considered….

    I would hate to think that I dissuaded someone from homeschooling, but I would certainly sleep better that night knowing that I gave them a realistic view of homeschooling.

    • Julie, you have PERSUADED people to homeschool, at least one for certain: ME! I wasn’t certain if I could, and you said, “Pshaw! Here’s what I do for kindergarten!” and I went right out and purchased those materials. I call it, still, the Julie [your last name] curriculum.

      About the library: I still love the library, even with the city’s cut budget & cut-back hours. I do think it’s great for supplementing curriculum, and as a resource when you don’t have the $$ to purchase a particular book or 40.

      And, YES! on your #4. A few years ago, my Dad publicly said some negative things about my homeschooled children (he has since changed his mind, btw), and my husband is the one who boosted me back up, encouraged me, reminded me of why we were doing what we were doing, etc. I so needed that! I can’t imagine embarking down this path w/o the at least moral support of one’s husband!

      • Oh! About the “one thin dime” thing: One year, my Stepdad did give me — unasked — $250 towards curriculum. He’s a public school teacher, by the way! Still, though. That was a gift of God, truly unexpected. From God, through my Stepdad… So, it’s still true: “Where God guides, God provides.”

      • As you know I was homeschooled as a child (from fourth grade all the way through high school). One year my family went through a really difficult time–as a result, financially we were pretty much ruined. We didn’t have a place to live, let alone money to buy school books! My parents were firmly committed to homeschooling, but had no money….at all. They prayed. And the Lord told my mother, “You take care of their hearts and their hands. I will take care of their heads.” That year we prayed, worshiped, and served (the heart) and we learned practical skills–how to cook, change the oil in the car, gardening, etc. (the hands). We went to the library two or three times a week. We read everything we could get our hands on! We listened to all sorts of records (oh the good ol’ days of vinyl) from classical to jazz to Shakespeare. We even started volunteering at the library we were there so much!

        At the end of the school year we took the State tests. My poor mother was so nervous. And then the results came back–and we had shot up in every single subject.

        God had indeed taken care of our heads.

        I don’t rely on the library for our complete curriculum, but I do think that there is enough there to keep us busy and learning for quite a while. Sometimes we forget how much education happens in just reading great books and being exposed to noble ideas and being free to discuss and process those stories and ideas.

    • On Tuesday I stopped a gang fight that had originated at the HS and had started up again in the Kroger/McDonald’s parking lot. Wednesday I sat in the parking lot of the HS while my son practiced baseball and a girl was giving a boy a BJ in his white Suburban SUV. And that is not even the worst of it. I am going to try homeschooling because there were too many kids in the classroom and around 15-20 minutes are actually school work. The rest of the time the teacher is trying to get control of the class. In HS, at least in this State, there is no limit on the amount of kids in a classroom per 1 teacher. How sad.

      • CK, I had to read your comment through a few times to make sure you weren’t pulling my leg… Ack. You bring up a good point, though. Homeschooling, if nothing else, is more EFFICIENT. The student actually gets learning done! Learning about good things. Studious things.

        When are you starting? I hope you have some local support!!

        • There is a University that actually has a homeschooling program. We are waiting for them to review transcripts, etc. Currently we are reviewing summer work material to keep on track and one of the teachers was kind enough to provide school work. No I am not pulling your leg. Private schools are just as bad. It is very, very sad. I called 911 before I drove my car into the fight (3 times!!!) before they realized I was after them and not trying to shop. A girl actually was trying to stop the fight to let me pass so they could continue. Can you believe that? Fortunately our constables were there within 6-8 minutes of my calling. Don’t even get me started on the homecoming dance. WOW Have a good evening. Going for a walk with my neighbor.

  2. Yup, one of my sisters wanted to homeschool her kids, partially because her husband really wanted her to because he had experienced bullying in his childhood. No one in my family wanted her to homeschool. We all felt that she would be an awful homeschool teacher because she has no organizational skills, no research skills, no teaching skills, no patience, and no money for a curriculum. She homeschooled her oldest son for grade one and then decided she couldn’t do it anymore (to our collective relief) and sent him to grade one a year late. He spent all of his first year catching up to his age group. He’s in grade three now, and I think that he has now caught up. I absolutely do not think that all parents are cut out to be homeschoolers. I know of some homeschooled kids that are succeeding very well academically and I know of some who, well, aren’t succeeding academically or otherwise.

    • Yes, Heidi. In my (rather limited) observation, the parents who embark on hs’ing PURELY for the protection of their children do their kids a disservice. Now, I’m happy that hs’ing limits my children’s exposure to bullies, anti-Christian mindsets, et al, but I really think that should be secondary as a motivation for teaching kids at home. Keeping kids at home protects them, of course, but their education needs to be at the fore, or at least very near the fore!

      • I agree that it’s good to protect your kids from bad influences! My sister’s kids, though, were entirely too insulated. They attend a very, very, very small church where they are the only young family and they weren’t really getting involved in any of the homeschooling groups in town. I went out with the kids to a science centre once, and they almost seemed frightened of the other children that were there; they had no idea how to interact with them. All in all, not a very good situation.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever dissuaded anyone. Of course, I haven’t had people really ask me if they should, or if I could help them do so.

    However, I do try to reiterate that homeschooling is a great option. But an option it is. And Sonlight–the only homeschooling option I’m familiar with–is certainly not for everyone.

    ~Luke

  4. I do not think homeschooling is for everyone. But, I do think it’s for a lot more people than currently do it. So many people disqualify themselves with excuses like “I’m not organized enough” or “I’m not patient enough” or “I don’t have the money” etc.

    When my mother was feeling the call to homeschool back in the 80’s, she used all those “reasons” and more with the Lord. He spoke to her so clearly “How dare you use disobedience in one area of your life to justify disobedience in another area of your life.” OUCH! I feel like if you think you are not organized enough to homeschool, get organized! If you easily lose your patience, take that to the Lord, because that could be an area of sin. If you don’t have the faith the homeschool, ask the Lord to increase your faith (anything not from faith is sin, the Bible says). (So, yes, my mother took us out of public school. Submitted to the Lord on a Friday, took us out on Monday.)

    And for the Christian family, who decides not to homeschool, there are other options aside from government run public education. Even if for some reason I could not homeschool, public school would just not be an option for me. There are private schools, co-ops, charters, etc.

    I’m sure you’ve read it, but here is my basic homeschool philosophy:

    http://gombojav.blogspot.com/2008/06/philosophical-reason-to-homeschool.html

    All that to say, I don’t think I’ve ever talked someone out of homeschooling. But, I have tried to convince someone to remove the excuses (Get organized, pray, get some inner healing, spend more time with your children and learn to like being around them, etc.) so that there would be room in their life for homeschooling and that they could be open to the possibility of homeschooling.

    • YES, Daja. I completely agree. I will go back this afternoon and read that post of yours from 2008; I don’t recall offhand if I’ve read it or not.

      I had an experience very similar to your mother’s, after my first year of homeschooling. For kindergarten, my oldest learned to read and my 3yo did, too! In many ways it was successful, but I felt like I was totally disorganized, and my husband wouldn’t pay for the curriculum I really wanted, which, in my estimation, was just what I/we “needed.” So, that summer, I enrolled him in a wonderful charter school, and felt really good about it until God spoke to me very distinctly, as I was leafing, rather wistfully, through a homeschooling catalog that had arrived in the mail. He said, “Rather than put him in school because you can’t do x, y, or z, you need to face those head on and LEARN how to conquer them!” Wow. So, I did. I withdrew him from the school, and started to look into organizational tools for homeschooling, and a curriculum that was a better fit for me than the one I was using. Within days of my conversation with God, a friend introduced me to Sonlight, which SHE had just discovered. It was less expensive than the other program, AND it had the lesson plans done for each day. Voila! My hubby agreed to the purchase; it turned out that he had been disappointed — though he hadn’t expressed it to me — that I was going to put our son in that charter school.

      When someone tells me, “I wish I could homeschool, BUT…” I do my very best — like you — to help that woman distill what is at the heart of the barrier, and deal with THAT, rather than say that she can’t homeschool. I think if God puts it on someone’s heart to homeschool, that they should, most certainly, work to overcome any excuse that would keep them from it.

      Like you, I think way, way, way more people can and SHOULD homeschool. But, I still don’t think it’s for everyone.

    • p.s. For another instance of “not everyone should homeschool” — I’ve been acquainted with a woman for a number of years. She recently started homeschooling, and it breaks my heart. Every time I’m around her, my stomach drops, and my heart melts with grief over the way she speaks to her daughters, how she treats them. There are also some serious moral/sin issues going on in her home… She says that the reason she is choosing to homeschool is because she wants to spend more time with her daughters, and how can I fault her for that? But, I still feel for those girls; it breaks my heart to think — though I could very well be wrong! — that it may do them more harm than good to be around her more… God protect every child not only from the wrongs of our public school system, but from the sin in our own homes, in our own lives — me included!!!!!

  5. Well, you ladies (and Luke) have pretty well hashed it out so I won’t go on and on except to say I agree, some people shouldn’t hs and some who don’t should quit the excuses and try it especially when the children need it for safety, learning style, morals, etc. etc. I also agree that having a purpose is key. I have to always go back to “why am I doing this” and it can’t be some fluff or guilt ridden reason. IMO

    A lady I knew hs’d her kids because her husband had his own business and they needed the extra help and honestly, I don’t think she wanted the inconvenience of getting them to school and doing homework. Needless to say, the “students” who taught themselves, had minimal success. One is my age and a mother, Her handwriting is completely illegible, she reads at about a 3rd grade level and can’t manage a checkbook. SAD! One of her sisters managed to do well surprisingly.

    Someone should have talked them out of hs’ing!

  6. This is an interesting post, I definitely think when I hear people singing the praises of homeschooling that it isn’t the best thing for everyone. My mother isn’t the most patient person, nor the most well read or educated, I feel so grateful for the world that opened up to me through my education.

    For you wonderful, intelligent people who homeschool I’m sure it’s a great choice. For some… they’re probably happier and the kids are probably happier if they’re at school.

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