FAQ

Here are some questions or comments I have received from people when I tell them we’re going to homeschool.  

My answers in May 2011:

1.  Why do you want to homeschool?

I have many reasons for wanting to homeschool, but my number one reason is so that my children will not lose their love of learning.   I see how my eldest son loves to explore and learn new things.  He is interested and wants to participate in discovery.  I feel that somewhere along a typical school kid’s education something can happen that makes them start to dislike school.  Being forced to learn things you are not interested in or in a way that doesn’t suit your learning style can do this.  I want to roll with my child’s natural impulses to learn.

{Update (December 2011): As I continue to learn more about homeschooling and watch my sons grow, I realize that I want to prepare them for much more than what a typical public school’s course of study offers.  (Perhaps you could call this educating the Whole Person or Whole Life.)  Children today are not learning how to manage daily life as adults.  Running a household and financial matters are extremely important skills to learn, and by being at home, my boys will have a hands-on education in this area.  In addition, I feel children have the potential to learn leadership skills better when they have a say in what and how they learn.  There’s also a spiritual component that is missing in our education (I’m not necessarily referring to religion, though it could mean that).  Children need to learn coping skills for misfortune, and they need to know how to balance work with play.  And play should remain a vital part of life always.  While homeschooling, I hope I can integrate these life skills into their education.}

Though I consider our homeschool mostly child-led, this does not mean that I will let my child do whatever he wants, which for most people implies that he won’t get enough discipline or learn how to function as an adult in our society.  On the contrary, I have seen evidence that child-led learning can create highly functional, successful adults.

I should also note that my husband is a college professor, and he has had some homeschooled students take his courses.  Usually they are dual enrollment students – students who are in high school but are taking college courses for early credit.  He says these students are among his best, and they usually participate in class more than the traditionally schooled students.

2.  Are you going to homeschool through high school?

I don’t know.  We will evaluate how homeschooling is going for our boys each year and decide if it still seems like the best choice.  Also if my boys want to go to public school at some point, we’ll consider it.

3.  What is your philosophy in regards to teaching/homeschooling?

I do not have any concrete style or philosophy. See my Table of Contents: How We Homeschool. I believe in following my child’s interests, using storytelling liberally, and now we’re embarking in project-based learning.

4.  So-and-so’s child LOVES/thrives in preschool.  Your son might love it too.

Yes, I know my son might love preschool, but you should note that my son is thriving now.  He is a happy child, and we are exploring the world and making new friends together.  He loves our activities, outings, play dates.  He has learned everything he would learn in a preschool and more.  He is even coming out of his shyness and talking to new people more readily.  In my perspective, he is simply having a different kind of preschool.  I wish you would see it that way too.

{Ditto for Kindergarten.}

5.  Why do you feel public school isn’t good enough?

Actually, I think public school works for many children, and it may work for my children too.  There may come a day when my husband and I decide to enroll our children in school, and if we do, I’ll still want to be heavily involved in their education.  However, at this time, I am able to stay home, and my husband and I want to give our children the one-on-one support they wouldn’t receive in school.  We feel we’ll be able to give them a well-rounded education without the pressure of standardized tests or peer pressure.  We want them to be able to delve into the subjects that make their hearts sing so that they will learn to love learning! {Also see my updated note above about educating the Whole Person.} Yes, I do think I can do a better job than the school.

I do not blame the teachers or administrators, but I feel many students in school eventually learn to hate it. Parents should be more involved with their children’s education.  They should know best what their child is most interested in and explore different options to get them motivated to learn whether or not they attend school.

Unfortunately, there are many families in this country whose daily struggle is getting food on the table let alone making sure their kid gets a fair education, so for those families, I don’t blame the parents either.  Education is such a complex issue, and I don’t have the answers for it.  I wish I did.

However, I can help my own children, and that’s what I’m going to do.

6.  I think homeschooling is good, but I would worry about the socialization.

{UPDATE Sept. 2012: Be sure to read my most recent posts on this topic: “Homeschooling, Socialization and Religion” and “Homeschooling and Socialization.”}

I worried about this too at first.  It seems to be the number one concern for anybody contemplating homeschool.  But from all the blogs/books/articles I’ve read as well as the face-to-face homeschoolers I’ve met, it’s really a non-issue.  Unless a family decides to keep their children under a rock and they don’t get them involved with the countless opportunities available to homeschoolers these days, children will be socialized.

Having said that, I am realizing that it takes a lot of effort “to get out there” with the typical homeschool groups that meet around our area, i.e. park days, etc.  My eldest is reserved and cautious, which means that it’s difficult for him to jump into playtime with other children.  The usual meet-ups at the park don’t work for him because, so far, he stays next to me and/or sits down and plays with sticks and pinecones or whatever by himself.  I think this is fine because it’s who he is(I should mention that he’s getting much bolder and less cautious as he gets older.)

My youngest is a very active toddler, which makes it hard for me to be by my 4-year-old’s side when we go out into a group setting.  As such, I have avoided participating in some homeschool activities.

I have done a few things that have worked for us:

 a.  We have started to attend a church.  My son really likes his Sunday class.  I think it helps that they usually do a “sit down” activity, and it also helps that I don’t have to be there.  In addition, this class happens on a fairly regular basis, so he’s had a chance to get comfortable there.  He has blossomed in it, and the facilitators tell me he participates a lot. {Update December 2012: We are not attending a church at this time, but the 2~3 years we attended with my eldest was a benefit for him.}

 b.  I look for age-specific classes.  When he was 2 years, I did the “Babies and Beasties” class at the Sandy Creek Nature Center with him.  At 4 years old, I found a 6-week “Creative Play and Movement Class.”  I didn’t have to be in the room with him, there weren’t many other students, and he loved it because the teacher did a lot of make-believe with animals.  (Animals are his biggest interest right now.)  He loved this class.  I wish I could find more opportunities like this.  {Update (December 2011): Now that he’s five, it’s a lot easier to find some awesome classes.} {Update December 2012: We have many more friends and playdates now, and we are still attending classes and mini-camps at the nature center!}

 c.  We have a few friends that we do one-on-one play dates with.  My son seems to benefit from playing with just one other person.  I am especially grateful for finding one little boy who is his exact age.  We can’t always get together each week, but scheduling with just one other family seems to be much easier than rounding up a larger group.

 d.  We go places.  My husband and I enjoy taking our sons to many places, including parks, the shopping mall, the zoo, the aquarium.  We also take them shopping, on errands, and they have even visited my husband’s workplace.  My children encounter plenty of people at these venues, and our sons are watching us interact with the world!

 e.  Finally, we have nearby family, and, of course, we socialize with them.

Every once in a while, I panic that I’m not doing enough.  I also feel bad that we have not joined or established a regular “homeschool group.”  However, I have come to realize that daily life with children this young keeps me very busy and exhausted.  We do enough.  They have enough socialization.  I will continue to seek out opportunities for classes, homeschool groups, etc., and I will try them on for size ~ to see if they are a good fit for my children’s needs at the time.  But I won’t feel bad if they are not.  As long as we keep getting out of the house on a regular basis, my children are being socialized!

7.  All homeschoolers are religious conservatives, right?

One stereotype about homeschoolers is that they are all religious conservatives, and the concern goes farther in that non-homeschoolers feel children should attend school so that they can encounter a more diverse group of people with varied views.

Many homeschoolers are religious and homeschool for religious reasons, but I think there are a growing number of secular homeschoolers or homeschoolers that, while they may be religious, are not necessarily doing it for religious reasons.  Currently on the Secular Homeschoolers of Georgia yahoo group, there are 555 members, and on the North Georgia Creative Home Educators Group – a very eclectic group that welcomes diversity – there are 419 members.  I have met non-religious and liberal homeschoolers in my own county, which is a fairly conservative county.  I have a feeling that many families are turning to homeschooling because they are paying attention to their children’s needs and find that homeschooling is the best way to meet those needs at a cost they can afford.   Or they just want to spend more time together as a family – not wanting to turn their children’s formative years over to anyone else.

I may not always agree with every parent’s decisions, but I believe all parents have the right to educate their children the way they feel is best.  Most parents parent in the way they feel is best for the child, and we live in a country where everyone has a right to their own beliefs. Whether they homeschool or go to school, children are profoundly affected by their parent’s beliefs and expectations.  I think that children who attend regular school can be just as sheltered as what some people fear homeschooling does to children.

I don’t think our religion or beliefs should matter, and up until now, I have always said that our homeschool is secular.  This is because I don’t homeschool for religious reasons, and I’m not going to use a religious curriculum for subjects such as history or science. However, after much thought, saying that our homeschool is “secular” isn’t altogether true. If I consider homeschooling a lifestyle that encompasses our Whole Lives – which I do – then it’s not right to say we’re secular. We do have beliefs, and though my husband and I are each on our own spiritual journey, we will teach our children about our beliefs and our religion. We will also teach them about the world’s religions so that they are well-informed about the world as they grow up.

Am I sheltering my children and not exposing them to enough diversity?  We have religious conservative friends, and we have more liberal-minded friends.  As my boys grow, I will try to get them engaged in different activities and at different venues where they will meet a variety of people.  This is all I can do.  So you can decide the answer to that question for yourself.

Note:  There are a lot of other homeschooling stereotypes.  If you want to see a list, click here.

3 Responses to “FAQ”

  1. Hello
    I found your blog in the Atlanta Homeschool Magazine. I have been homeschooling for 8years and have 4 children ages 12-1. My husband and I are exploring new philosophies, and how we “see” our faith regarding our homeschooling and parenting in general. Can you explain to me what you mean by “secular” homeschooling? Your response is a little vague to me, and you may have intended for it to be that way in order to keep your own philosophies very personal. I understand that. Are you homeschooling without a “faith,” “God”, “doctrines,” etc. We tend to side towards not isolated our own children to our very present christian home school groups, but that God loves all people and he accepts all of our faiths and it is not up to us to pick and choose. Is this what you are saying as well? Thanks for your insight.

    • Hi Tiffany – Thank you so much for your message, and yes, I was intentionally vague about our beliefs because I don’t think it should matter to other people, and by secular I mean that we homeschool with a secular curriculum. We do not homeschool because of religion, but I do want my boys to understand the basic beliefs of all the world’s major religions before they “graduate.”

      However, this doesn’t mean we don’t have our personal beliefs or that we’ll not share those with our children, or guide them spiritually. I’m not sure we’d describe it exactly as you have here. I think you are asking for ideas on how to teach your children about religion/spiritual matters if you don’t necessarily follow one specific religion? Is that correct? I’ll be happy to talk about this further in an e-mail to you. I think I could offer some ideas/resources for you.

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