Blog Business & Worthy Reads

Just a bit of blog business:

  • First, I’d like to say a big thank you to Simple Homeschool who included my post, In Response to a Teacher’s Questions About Homeschooling, in their weekend links.
  • Second, I’m happy to say that I finally bit the bullet and paid WordPress so that this can be an AD-FREE blog.  I knew those sneaky ads (which they cleverly never let me see) were there, and I despised them, but I have to watch the money I spend, and I appreciated the opportunity to get started with a free blog.  Perhaps someday I will research how to put ads of my own choosing that I can fully endorse, but for now Mama of Letters will be sans ads.

And here are my Worthy Reads in no particular order…


Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher by William Johnson in The New York Times Sunday Review.

Workforce Preparedness: Is Your Grad Ready for the Real World?  – Houston Chronicle Blog – A little dense and specific to Houston, but I thought it posed a good question.  Students need to think in terms of getting the skills they need to be prepared to compete in the workforce.

Myth Busting: How Reading is Taught in a Waldorf School – I love learning about different educational philosophies, so I was happy to come across this post on Moon Child.

UN Produced Atlas shows Girls Still Falling behind Boys in Education – SOS Children’s Villages: Canada – I talk a lot about boys and homeschooling, but this is a reminder that all children around the world are still struggling to get a decent education.

Afraid of Your Child’s Math Textbook? You Should Annie Keeghan on her blog, Chronic Sense.

Educating  and Raising Boys (I will add the following to my page Worthy Reads About Raising and Educating Boys.)

A Huge Gender Gap Persists In College Degrees, Do We Need A White House Council On Boys And Men? by Mark Perry

Boys falling behind girls in education, experts look for solutions by Bruce Lindsay for

All-boys’ classes grow confidence, leadership by Tamara Shephard on

Who says raising boys is easier?  by LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

Learning to live with ‘boy energy’ by Stephen Bede Scharper


The Moral Status of Homeschooling and Public Schooling Motivations by Pamela J. Stubbart, Huffington Post – another response to Dana Goldstein’s article in Slate.

In ‘Class’ – at Home – Ted Landphair’s AMERICA

The Best Homeschooling Resources Online – By Jamie Martin for

Why I Could Never Have Homeschooled My Children – A Response – by Sharon Greethal for – Scroll down to see a comment I left here.  I don’t believe homeschoolers should ever question a non-homeschooler’s parenting skills or commitment to their children.

I am too negative about homeschooling – From the blog, Skipping School, which is written by Kate Fridkis.  She was homeschooled Pre-K through 12th grade and then went on to college at Rutgers and Columbia.  Now she’s a freelance writer.  And obviously, I recommend her blog as well.

Should Home-schoolers Play for High School Teams? in Room for Debate on the The New York Times.

What Labels Are We Placing on Homeschoolers?

Note: This column appeared in the print edition of the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, February 22, 2012.

A number of articles have been circulating lately about the growing diversity in homeschooling families.  Publications such as the Houston Chronicle, USA Today, and Newsweek have each reported on the number of homeschoolers who don’t do it for religious reasons, which has been a stereotype of homeschoolers.

Then in Slate, Dana Goldstein wrote an article titled “Liberals, Don’t Homeschool Your Kids” in which she makes a case that homeschooling violates progressive values.  Madeline Holler responded positively to Goldstein on  She writes, “Homeschooling really isn’t the answer, certainly not for people who purport to value things like civic life and public institutions and who wish for those things to improve.”

While I’m glad the word is getting out that homeschoolers are a diverse group of people who choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, I fear that more stereotypes are being made.  So let’s review. When you hear I’m a homeschooler, you might assume one or more of the following:

  • I may be an evangelical Christian that wants to indoctrinate my children with a religious curriculum that shuns science.
  • Or, I’m a bleeding left-wing liberal who breastfeeds my children well into their toddler years.
  • If we aren’t religious, then we’re probably atheist.
  • You may think we co-sleep with our infants and that we do not trust public schools to teach our children anything.
  • Or, you may believe I’m a “helicopter parent” who will never let my children flourish independently on his or her own.
  • You might think I silently judge others for making their children spend six hours a day in “prison.”
  • Finally, you may believe that we are “uber-intellectual” parents that have plenty of extra income to homeschool.

For the record, none of those descriptions fit us. But since we are not religious fundamentalists, I guess that makes us liberal homeschoolers, at least in the eyes of some of these writers.

Dana Goldstein writes, “This overheated hostility toward public schools runs throughout the new literature on liberal homeschooling, and reveals what is so fundamentally illiberal about the trend: It is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families….”

She also writes, “If progressives want to improve schools, we shouldn’t empty them out. We ought to flood them with our kids, and then debate vociferously what they ought to be doing.”

First of all, why do I have to be labeled either liberal or conservative?  I have some liberal views, and I have some conservative views too.

When it comes to homeschooling and staying home with my children, I’m more conservative, yet when it comes to rearing boys, I guess I’m liberal because I adhere to a few practices known as “attachment” parenting.  But even then, I don’t fit the mold because I didn’t breastfeed my children until toddlerhood, co-sleep with my infants or ever carry them in a sling.  Where oh where can I fit in?

I respect those who don’t homeschool or adhere to my style of parenting.  More than that, I understand that there are many people who can’t do what I do. Though believe it or not, there are many homeschoolers who didn’t choose to homeschool in the first place.

Having read many forums on homeschooling, I can tell you that homeschoolers are diverse and teach their children at home for more reasons than we can count.  There are single parents, financially struggling parents, and as I mentioned, parents who had no plans to ever homeschool.  They put their child in school, but something went wrong.  I have heard stories about parents who tried to make changes at their child’s school, but they got fed-up and turned to homeschooling.

I think that is more than what those writers can see when they try to lay a guilt trip saying progressive homeschoolers are hurting the wider community by not putting their children in school.

Sure, if I wanted to, I could put my children in school and fight to change them in a positive way, but what kind of energy and time would it take on my part to actually make a difference?  I would have to rally the support of many families, and then we’d have to agree on what changes we wanted.  Do you think we could agree on what changes would make an ideal school environment for all our children?

Part of the reason I’m homeschooling is because I believe children deserve to have individualized attention when it comes to finding out what is the best way they learn.  Another reason is because I want my boys to have more freedom to move and play outdoors.  What works for my kids wouldn’t necessarily work for other kids.

Yet I don’t think of public school as prison.  Despite the problems our schools have, it’s not lost on me that a lot of good goes on there.  I read articles about student’s achievements, awards, and projects.  I know teachers who engage and motivate their students.  Good teachers are important role models and mentors for young people.  I’ll always support our schools, and when I’m able, I’ll do for the greater good.

But I’m not going waste my time trying to change my local schools when my priority right now is my children.  I’m not going to use what little free time I have to serve the wider community when I desperately need to nurture my own mind and body so that I can meet the demands of this household.

You can’t help others before you help yourself.  You have to get your own affairs in order before you can give to others.  Does this mean I’m conservative or liberal?  I believe I’m doing what most Americans are doing – doing what they think is right for their families and what they can to get by.

Note: Since I wrote this column, Dana Goldstein has responded to the overwhelming response she received on her article in Slate.  You can read that by clicking here.  You may also enjoy reading Why Homeschooling Is a Boon to a Liberal Society in The Atlantic by Conor Friedersdorf.  I also enjoyed reading Liberal Homeschoolers: What We Really Are on the blog, Quarks and Quirks.

Please tell me what you think.

Secular Homeschooling Is On The Rise

As a secular homeschooler, I can’t help but notice the attention we’re getting in the media lately.  Several articles and spin-offs of those articles are appearing in major media outlets.  Here’s a few:

Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education – written for Newsweek by Linda Perlstein

Home-schooling demographics change, expand – written for USA Today by Alesha Williams Boyd and Sergio Bichao

Secular Homeschooling Instills Love for Learning from a Non-Religious Perspective – written for Houston Chronicle by Ken Chitwood

I think this attention is good because it’s breaking the stereotype that all homeschoolers are conservative Christians seeking to indoctrinate their children, and that they only teach with religious curriculums, shunning science.  While there are homeschoolers who are extremely religious, I think it should be noted that many people homeschool for a variety of reasons.  Yet I believe every homeschooling parent wants to impart their own beliefs and morals on their children without the negative influences inflicting youth today.  Most of us want to allow our children to experience childhood without pressure from peers, testing or a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

It should be noted that self-proclaimed secular homeschoolers may or may not be religious.  Religion may play a part in their life just as many traditionally schooled children have a religious upbringing and attend church.  Yet religion indoctrination is not the reason for homeschooling, and they most likely teach from a secular perspective.  Secular homeschoolers seek more diverse and tolerant companions while socializing too.

As I’ve mentioned before, I respect every parent’s right to teach their children in their own way.  If I don’t respect your right, how can I expect you to respect mine?  I also appreciate that because of the work of many religious homeschoolers, homeschooling is now legal in all 50 of the United States.

I have friends who are religious and others who are not.  I think it’s a shame when someone may not want to befriend us because they don’t like our viewpoint, but I can’t do anything about that.  I seek open-minded people who are willing to see our similarities.  We all love our children and want what is best for them.  We want to give them a good education, help them build bright futures, and teach them to tolerate and respect all people as long as they do not physically or emotionally hurt another person.  (Believe me, I know it can be hard to respect other’s viewpoints, but I try.)

So, let’s spread the word: Many homeschooling families are moderate, run-of-the-mill people who find that this lifestyle fits their family!

What do you think?