Thursday, February 26, 2009

Homeschooling: An Insider's View - Lacks Humor

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About thirteen years ago I formally started this little thing called homeschooling.

Homeschooling was first introduced to me while driving and listening to Dr. James Dobson on "Focus on the Family." He was interviewing Dr. Raymond S. Moore and his wife, Dorothy, on their new book entitled "Homeschool Burnout." I was on the road a lot and traveling a great deal with my job. And I was pregnant with Hannah-Bo. I knew I didn't want to travel forever and I had been trying to have a baby for years. (The subject of another post!) I knew when I heard the concept, homeschooling was for us. When it was time, I would be home and be her teacher.

Grizzly thought I was nuts.

He frequently has that thought so this was not daunting.

I did what I always do. I bought the book, read it, and then told him he should read it, too. (I actually thought this would work for the first fifteen years of our marriage. I'm a slow learner. How high does that book stack have to GET before a person catches on?) Next, I moved on to reading him short passages and giving him upshots. Then came another book and so on and so forth. He started to think it could work.

Not so much the rest of the world we lived in.

As homeschoolers, one of the questions we get asked most frequently is, "What about socialization?" After teaching for all these years I usually quip, "Don't worry about them. They have friends galore. It's ME you need to be concerned about. All I do is drive them from one thing to another and I HAVE no social life!" And ten years ago I would have completely dismissed the inquiry and been puffed up with my own opinion. But I was an idiot. It's a valid

In forming my opinions about public school I looked at crime statistics, teen pregnancies, fractured parental and child relationships, and the complete void of moral and spiritual training in some schools. I wasn't impressed with THAT method of socialization. I researched overall test scores. I recalled my own abysmal school career and being missed by nearly every teacher while my home life crashed down around me for years.

Grizzly's experiences weren't much better and he'd been at private Christian school as well as public. What WOULDN'T recommend homeschooling to us?

And I thought homeschooling was inherently good, just by the nature of having constant parental involvement. I was wrong. All parties involved would have to be inherently good for that equation to balance and I haven't met that perfect person yet, especially when I look in the mirror. It just ain't so.

As my children grew I did see marvelous examples of great kids from homeschooling families. High achievers, well adjusted, future movers and shakers. But let's be honest: I saw a few terrible ones as well. Kids who had obviously not been taught much, especially manners and respect for others. And kids who were intelligent and educated academically but who brought the ugliest of judgmental attitudes down on those who didn't dress, or believe, or act exactly the way they, or their family, did. Their families taught by unflattering comparisons, instead of by Truth and love. I did it, too, at times, and had to repent mightily when I saw the ugly fruit it bore. Ouch.

But what I figured out was this: some parents public/private school their children and they could, or should, be homeschooling, for a variety of reasons. And some kids who are homeschooled would be better served by being in a public/private setting, for a variety of reasons. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Life doesn't come with a template but it does come with challenges. God will meet us in those challenges and direct us. And we aren't God. Our job is to pray, and encourage, and help one another.

I have dear friends who are public school teachers. Some of them homeschool their own children and some teach in the public sector. I know how invested they are in the children in their classes and the love they give them might be the only love those children know anywhere in their lives. I am grateful for them. I am thankful for them.

I also have friends who send their kids to public/private school and they are caring, concerned, loving, fanTAStic parents. (I even have two friends who do all three with different kids - hi Teresa! - hi Kim!)

And I'm absolutely blessed by parents who make daily sacrifices and do without to honor their calling and serve their children by teaching them in their home. It's constant. It's 24/7. It's trench work. It's pushing rocks up a hill on a lot of days. But what it isn't, or shouldn't be, is about competition for who's the better parent and an either/or in school choices.

I've taken my share of heat. Family isn't always supportive. Public school advocates are sometimes prejudiced, even ugly and unkind, and think we're freaks. Well, we are freaks so that doesn't hurt our feelings. We're just not freaks in the way they think we are! Yes, there is sometimes a presumption that we do nothing and have no standards. No, my school doesn't look like any other school. I don't think I have a market on how all school should be done. I reinvent myself each year and throw out what doesn't work and press on. No, there isn't a perfect formula. If you're super strong in one area, you are probably weaker in another. NO ONE does it ALL. Public, private, or homeschooler.

My response has been to keep on keepin' on. Except on the days I don't. And then I rebel. And then I get over it. It's a theme in my life.

So with that involved, tedious, opinionated, and probably boring introduction into how we got where we are, and how we do what we do, and I'll say that I'm proud I homeschool, and not in a prideful way. I celebrate what homeschooling is and say my thankful prayers to God. And I will tell you some fantastic news about Hannah-Bo.....

tomorrow. It's a win for anyone who homeschools and needs hope that their children can compete on the academic front lines. See ya then!

Copyright 2009


  1. I say hooray for homeschooling! I had to work outside the home, so I couldn't homeschool, but we sent our son to a private school. My youngest sister has homeschooled both her daughters. One is now married and successful. The other will graduate next year. I know many, many mothers who homeschool their kids and if I could do it all over again, I'd homeschool also!
    So, I say, good for you! And I can hardly wait to hear about Hannah-bo.



  3. I admire you for homeschooling. I don't think I could do it. My brain isn't smart enough to relearn all of that math.

  4. What it all boils down to is that you have to make the choices that are right for you and your family.

    And other people should respect that!

    I love your Cinderella essay - and already commented on it over at Red Pine's place...

  5. Great post... must be on a lot of folks hearts these days as a friend of mine just did a post on why they homeschool, and I've talked to a few others about it recently.

  6. I'm a first time visitor to your blog, and just spent some time reading your recent posts. I'm a homeschooling mom, as well as a private school mom, and I just LOVE your commentary. I'll be back for more visits for sure!

  7. What an interesting post! I have to say that I'm intrigued by the idea of homeschooling. I'm not at the point where I need to make a decision about it, but I will definitely consider it as an option down the road.

  8. Perfect, as always.
    You know, there are more and more aspects of *you* that keep popping out, and the more I see, the more I realize that I'm blessed to have found you. You always make my day and the day just doesn't feel right unless I've had a "dose of Robynn" to start me off.

    And I don't mean that in a stalker-ish sort of way either. ;-)

  9. So well stated. I homeschool and I was incredibly influenced by Raymond Moore. Even got to one of he and his wife's conferences and got a book signed. I think I heard him on Focus on the Family in 1982. It was a rebroadcast of his first visit. All these years later I'm about to graduate my third and I have one more in 7th grade. Homeschooling has been (and is) difficult but the results and our relationships has made it so worthwhile. I know not everyone can do it but I think everyone should investigate it and consider it when making the decision on how to educate their kids. Any of Raymond Moore's books are a great way to start the investigation.

    Can I tell you how much I love reading your posts? What a delightful person you are!

    Plano, TX

  10. I was so blessed to homeschool for 7 years of motherhood. I miss it, but my priority is now to help put my kids through college. I think our homeschool years were the best so far, though having older teens is (mostly!) a blast too. The thing that really convicted me to take the plunge was a book by Michael and Susan Card. They said the main reason they schooled at home was to not lose their childrens' hearts. It's all about relationships. Public, private or home...time together building relationships. Robynn, you so accurately articulated my own thoughts and experiences. Thank you for such insightful writing.

  11. Love your post. I'm a publc school teacher turned homeschool mom. Love the opportunity to know my daughter. Thanks for the validation

  12. I, like you, have seen the good and the bad on both ends of the teaching systems..
    We have a few friends who home schooled and should not have. Others thrived beyond the norm! Our daughter teaches in a small school in Calif..she struggles with the parents who have no interaction let alone 'care' in their childs education.
    She has two kids of her own...and she struggles with her own daughters teacher this year and finds herself homeschooling her after school!
    Her hubby is a principal, for a school of "troubled' kids..and his tough love demeanor has earned him much respect from those high school kids!
    I was proud of both daughter and SIL last year when I was able to spend a few weeks there and observed their dedication...and the respect they receive in return.
    They both get frustrated tho...with parents AND the districts lack of support. And now...
    Calif...struggling like they are...things will be worse for teachers and more and more will have to resort to home schooling if they can even afford to stay in Calif!
    Either takes dedication, motivation, a passion and compassion!