Homeschooling for Safety Reasons

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on January 2, 2013.

It troubles me to see a surge of interest in homeschooling after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I love homeschooling my family, and I have to admit that after the tragedy, I was glad my children weren’t attending school that following Monday. But is this a reason to homeschool?  Not if it’s the only reason you have for homeschooling.

While only 4% of U.S. children are homeschooled, this is a fast-growing movement. Of course, I am an advocate of homeschooling. I love to talk to people who are thinking about it for their own family.  At the same time, I don’t think everybody has to do it. It should depend on your child’s needs and also the needs and desires of the parents.

People should understand that homeschooling isn’t just “school at home.”  Homeschooling is a lifestyle. Your whole family is in it together, and you are going to be together all the time. If you have extended family or extra resources to help, that’s great, but it’s still a lot of togetherness. Even for the most patient parents, it can be tough.

Friends and family have commented that I have a lot of patience, and I often chuckle and think to myself that they don’t really know me. I suppose I am more patient than some, but I’m also introverted, and I like a lot of time to myself. I try to balance my love of my children and this lifestyle with my needs, but that’s not always possible. I accept that.

I like to tell people that yes, you can homeschool, if you want to, but there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to. The only thing that is wrong is not being heavily involved in your child’s education.  Someone once told me that she was going to supplement homeschool with public school. I wish more parents took that attitude.

Statistics are proving that homeschoolers tend to outscore traditionally schooled children on standardized tests, and most agree that the concern about socialization is unfounded.  But as I read about how more families are choosing homeschooling, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see more problems arise with it.  It seems inevitable that as any population grows more challenges will arise within it. I hope I’m wrong.

I read about a family whose mother pulled her children out of school and told a homeschooling friend she didn’t need any advice…she knew exactly what she was going to do. Well, the children were back in school before the year was out. Apparently she was determined that her kids would learn A, B and C by a certain time, much like they were supposed to learn it in school.

Guess what?  Kids all learn differently, and they each have their own time frame.  Most homeschoolers recognize this, and this is why they are homeschooling in the first place.  The biggest benefit of homeschooling is being able to tailor your child’s education to fit his needs and interests. I don’t understand homeschoolers who don’t take advantage of this. This is why I call homeschooling a lifestyle too.

While I do have what I call “school time” with my boys in the mornings, I don’t stress lessons, and I rarely use worksheets. Instead, I have tried to cultivate an atmosphere where all questions are valued and learning is just part of our lives. My son asks to watch nature documentaries, and we watch together as a family. We have conversations, go on field trips, take community classes and make time for playing, creating and exploring.

When I’m trying to teach something specific, I have learned that I might have to try various resources before I find one that works for my son. I have done much research on various homeschooling methods, and my work has only just started.

I don’t blame parents who want to homeschool after the recent tragic events, but I hope they will consider all the variables when they pull their children out of school. Tragic events happen everywhere – not just in schools – but, yes, you do have more control and flexibility while homeschooling.  You get to spend quality time with your children, and you get to make sure they have the kind of childhood you want them to.

Homeschooling can be the best thing that ever happened to you, but if you go into it with a fixed idea on what it should look like for your family, you may be in for a rude awakening. Think about it. Maybe try it. Above all, be flexible.

What do you think about all the interest in homeschooling after the recent tragedy? Do you think it’s a good idea for parents to consider homeschooling for this reason? Or maybe for other reasons?

9 thoughts on “Homeschooling for Safety Reasons

  1. I haven’t actually seen the upswing in interest since the tragedy. But we don’t have TV either so that may be part of it. As far as your question, do I think it is a good idea for them to consider it because of the tragedy… if it is put on their heart then yes. Considering doesn’t mean they will do it… and doing it and changing back isn’t bad either. It is just trying.

    I would have never considered it if my daughter had not been bullied in kindergarten. And when I say bullied, I mean choked on many occasions and thrown on her head on the ground causing a neck injury. I spent time working with school trying to get things to calm down for my daughter at school but nothing was being done. I could no longer watch my daughter come home with migraine headaches at the age of 6 years old. But the bullying/abuse was the ONLY reason I considered it. It wasn’t until after I did my research and decided it sounded like a good fit in many areas of our lives that I made the decision to change to homeschooling. It has been difficult at times but it has been a true blessing for us all.

    There will be people who do it for the wrong reason, and sometimes that reason wont be because of fear, but it will be something else… does the reason matter? Figuring out what is right for the family is what matters. Some people like you and me will always be open to what is best for our families… while others will be open to what is best for them, or what looks best.

    I think a lot more children should be homeschooled… but many should NOT be. Both have their place for different reasons and both can be good and bad.

    Sorry for writing so much! 🙂 I loved your topic.



    1. Grace, Thank you so much for your comment. I wholeheartedly agree that if a child is being bullied in school and it doesn’t stop then they must be pulled out! You were so right to do that, and I’m glad homeschooling has worked for your family too. I agree that many more children probably would benefit from homeschooling. There are so many troubled youngsters in schools. My husband commented the other night that what if someone had taken them and nurtured them one-on-one? I know from my own experience that there are so many children who are doing okay in school, but why don’t their parents want them to flourish? Unfortunately, they haven’t really considered their options, and there are many parents who, I feel, would be unfit to homeschool. Then there are students who do flourish in school, and perhaps that’s partly because someone at home is also nurturing them one-on-one. There are just so many things to consider when one endeavors to homeschool. I just don’t want it to be a knee-jerk reaction, although I think you are right…it might spur some parents to realize that homeschooling is a good fit for their child and family. It might open their eyes to something new and exciting that they had not thought of before.


  2. I, too, am an advocate for homeschooling, but not for safety reasons. I was disturbed over the holidays when Sandy Hook came up and then some relatives said, “Oh, it’s good you’re homeschooling because it’s so much safer.” I had to say, actually it’s not. It would only be safer if you stayed at home all day, which we don’t. We go a lot of places, like children’s museums, aquariums, parks, and classes and every place we go has less security than your average public school. Plus, people are so good at ignoring this, but the most “dangerous” place that the majority of our children are in is the car. A child is by far more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident than by a violent crime, but no one is saying we should not let kids in cars anymore! I think I might be so irritated because a lot of people already have the view that homeschoolers want to shelter their children from the world and are generally paranoid (and some of them are, yes, but not most, I don’t think) and that is not why we are choosing to homeschool. On the contrary, I want my children to be out in the “real” world more, so they are more prepared for life. And no, children do not need to experience bullying to be prepared for the real world. I do think that a child being bullied IS a good reason for homeschooling, but that’s a whole other topic. 🙂


    1. I love your thoughts Peggy C! There are a lot of dangerous things. Lots of them are in schools.. most of them are in the world. So keeping them home is great.. if it is right for the child and family. Blessings!


      1. Thanks Grace and Shelli! It’s nice to know that some of the thoughts going around in my head make sense to other people too!


    2. Peggy, You have nailed it! I wish I could push your comment up into my post! I, too, have been nervous about the amount of driving we do, which is one of the reasons my husband wanted to purchase a safe car. And I think your point about schools having more security than those other places is right on…people don’t think about that, do they? I didn’t! The newspaper I write for did a big spread on our local schools and the security measures that they take – all very good measure, IMO. And when you say, “I think I might be so irritated because a lot of people already have the view that homeschoolers want to shelter their children from the world and are generally paranoid (and some of them are, yes, but not most, I don’t think) and that is not why we are choosing to homeschool. On the contrary, I want my children to be out in the “real” world more, so they are more prepared for life.” You took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you.


  3. I homeschool my kindergarten age daughter. I did extensive research about all of the educational options- private, public, online, homeschool, Waldorf, Montessori, etc. as she got closer to school age. I knew in my heart and soul and every fiber of my being that I wanted to homeschool her, that it was the right place for her to learn and the right lifestyle for our family. I heard so many stories of people sending their kids to school for part of kindergarten and or first grade and deciding to bring them home for various reasons. I had this deep down gut instinct that that is what would happen to us, and yet I pondered whether we should still give public school a try, despite that “gut” feeling. I ended up deciding to go with my gut, and homeschooling is really working out well for us. But I wonder what would have happened, if I had sent her to school this year, to give public school a try. I wonder if the shooting would have spurred me to think about pulling her out and homeschooling, since I had already felt inclined to do that.


    1. CC, Thank you for your comment, and I think you give an excellent example because as you said, you were already inclined to homeschool. If parents are already aware of their options, have done some research, and were leaning toward homeschooling, then it doesn’t matter what spurs them on, I think they ought to go for it! Homeschooling has tremendous benefits for most children.


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