Because I Was Homeschooled, I’m Not Homeschooling My Daughter

homeschoolingEvery morning, after eating a breakfast of whole wheat biscuits and gravy, with milk straight from the cow, my brothers and sisters and I would gather our worn notebooks and stubby pencils around the table and begin our lessons. But first, we prayed and my mother read from the Bible. Tacked behind her on the wall, were flash cards with Latin words on them, a poster of the cursive alphabet and a large wooden spoon, inscribed with Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” The bowl of the spoon was cracked.

Our kitchen table was a large giant oak slab, built to accommodate all eight of us children, as we huddled together to learn multiplication, Latin roots, Roman history and copy out poems and Bible verses in our scrawling script. If I finished my math early, I was allowed to hide away behind the holly bushes and read.

When the birth of my brother Noah, who was born both Down syndrome and autism, forced my mother to send me and my older sister to school, I was able to skip ahead into AP Biology and take composition and English classes with upperclassmen.

Yet, despite the memories of warm biscuits and days spent lost in the worlds of novels, I will not be homeschooling my daughter.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, in 2009, there were 2.5 million home schooled children in the United States. And while parents may home school for a variety of different reasons, 72 percent of those who responded cited religious and moral reasons.

This was my family. Our parents homeschooled us with the desire to remove us from the influences of “the world,” which meant anyone who was not Evangelical. I sat through lessons and read books where Charles Darwin, persona non grata in our family, was blamed as the source of all godlessness—Nazis and Democrats, chief among them. We went to seminars where feminism was blamed for the lack of care and nurture provided to children in families where mother’s worked.  My mother played us tapes of a series of lectures given by a conservative, homeschooled family of 20 children on topics like, “virginity” and allowing your parents to choose your spouse (only for women, of course). In high school, when my parents had decided I had been corrupted by “the world.” I was sent to a camp, where a leader told me that all good women needed to “bridle their power, like a horse restrained.”

This type of homeschooling may seem like a small minority of the population, a Duggar-ish aberration from the norm. But they are a vocal and powerful group. And despite only 25-30 percent of the country identifying as this brand of Evangelical, they have a large sway over the national conversation. Just ask any non-religious unschooler how hard it is to avoid this brand of homeschooler in homeschooling groups.

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  • poopjuice

    Not at all! But why? What is it that makes you feel this way?

  • Heidi

    Thank you sharing.

    I grew up in a non religious public school home and had a ton of gaps in my education and was totally unprepared for high school and for college. No one bothered to read me the Bible. My Dad did talk to me about history in the car. I love history. I homeschool because I just don’t think public education is all that great. Some is. Some is so awesome! And some totally sucks – like my 3rd grade teacher from Germany I swear she was a Nazi – NO for real! My chemist teacher that didn’t teach up at all. He left 20 11-12th grade students in the room to figure out the assignments every day while he drank coffee, then yelled at us the day after each test about how dumb we were. The high school government teacher that talked about the TV show “Alf” everyday all year. Id on’t know you get goo and bad where where you go. My homeschool group is nothing like the one you describe. I know a few people that hold to that line of thinking. Maybe 2% of the homeschoolers I know. I am not sure that big blanket statements can be made. I am sorry that your parents held those views. I don’t, my husband doesn’t. My husband is a full participant in the home from laundry to cooking to repair to whatever. We boat hare full participants. There are so many models of things. You should do what you want. But realize that not all homeschooling looks like yours. I know all public schooling did not look like mine – I know a lot was better and a lot was worse.

  • DanOOOO

    The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) is not a
    legitimate research entity. Dr. B. Ray answers questions on his sampling
    by saying you must purchase his product to find out information on his
    methodology. Legitimate researchers freely share their research
    methodology. Therefore I have never used his numbers on what
    homeschoolers believe, how they homeschool or even their test results. I
    can say he has been connected with HSLDA and their alias which
    DOES represent conservative evangelical Christian homeschoolers and
    their advocates. Therefore I do not agree with the author’s claim that
    72% homeschool for religious or moral reasons.

    I most certainly agree these homeschoolers are a very vocal group. I and many, many others have spent years fighting representatives of this type of bias,
    interfering and often vicious group.

    We homeschooled for moral (bullying and sexism) and educational reasons. We believe in children’s ability to learn when and what they wish. I’m sorry this author had a horrible experience. This may represent the experience of many
    HSLDA/NHERI families and advocates but this does not representative homeschooling as a whole.

  • Brunhilda

    I must point out, I was homeschooled quite successfully, but then again, my mother was an actual public school teacher for the elementary grades for 15+ years before getting married/having kids, and so she actually knew what she was doing. Not only that, but there was no religion aspect to our education, unless we chose to read random religious books.

  • Alice

    Becky, I admire your courage to choose a path diverging from that with which you are familiar per your upbringing; this shows independent thinking. However, I wanted to share with you my circumstances, which drastically differ from your own, so that you might be able to have a complementary perspective; more information can’t hurt right? My family left a severely corrupt Communist country, and I was raised by uber-capitalist post-Communist extremists; my parents both have masters in engineering, and my Mom is a staunch feminist. Because of financial reasons, we went to public school for most of our lives. Granted my experience was particularly negative because at first I didn’t know the language but, let me give you a portrayal of the “kinds of things” that went on there. In 1st grade we were all crowded into a large gymnasium of over 200 kids at least, and piled before a large projector screen; there, completely moronic cartoons were played while we were fed ice-cream, and my peers would jump up and down and make monkey noises to Ren-and-Stimpfy. If you are not acquainted with that cartoon, a quick perusal will be very entertaining I’m sure. At recess, because I was “gifted” in part, I was excluded from almost all social activity; I spent my recesses crying by the wall, and at lunch people hurled food at my head. My mother insisted on dressing me like a boy, and would not allow me to wear pink or have dolls; I was also not allowed to pursue art, and my colored pencils were broken because “only math and science count”. Though not homeschooled, I can almost promise you I had less of a social life than you did; I spent my entire life, through high school, buried in whatever inane academic activities would garner a “higher GPA”. When I was in high school we did move to a better school district, where I was often teacher’s pet – however – despite this splotch of positive, the overall schooling experience was rather negative: even these teachers (outside of AP teachers) – were hardly as qualified as my parents, who did most of the heavy lifting when we struggled with any scientific concept. Worse, we were surrounded by extreme peer pressure, and vicious competitiveness; this was only exacerbated later in the top 10 colleges my sister and I went to. We were never taught about morals, or social graces; consequently we had a lot of problems fitting into society, problems it cost us dearly to “undo”. Additionally, for my younger sister things were particularly bad; she only sometimes managed to achieve academically and fell into a culture of extensive drug-use and appearance-based definition. I can’t go into everything that resulted from that, but, it was not pretty. Since the time when we were in school, the public education system – yes even the BEST of the BEST of them – have disintegrated into a place that is extremely laden with pitfalls; of course we can’t protect our children “forever”, but I’ll tell you though I fully “felt” the adult as a teenager, I was extremely emotionally unstable retrospectively – and it’s a damn blessing that I was fat at the time or God knows what example I might have followed. My point is not to illustrate how terribly my life was going – but rather to paint this as a best-case-scenario: had I been able to fully integrate into the culture around me, I might have been A.) doing drugs B.) having premarital sex resulting in – no, probably not children with adequate contraception – but possibly disease, and worse – emotional heartache it would take years to heal or C.) not learning much of anything of use. I highly encourage you to spend a day sitting in a classroom the full day at your local public high school; forget what the teacher’s are telling you and watch the social dynamics at lunch, and recess. Determine whether you are fully comfortable gambling your child’s sense of self there. My parents took that gamble and it turned out “okay” for us, but the gamble was considerably lower at the time we were in the system. A group of teachers I overheard at lunch one day put it this way, though “these parents, they run to the best school system thinking we’re going to raise their kids; they have no idea how exhausting it is to “teach” 30 kids – and I just *hate* those parents that are all surprised their kids are doing drugs; let me put it to you this way – either YOU pick your kid up at 3:00, or the drug dealer will – and HE will be on time.” These teachers teach at the cream of the crop magnet school in the area. It turns out they also told an autistic kid to “run around and flap your arms like a chicken” when the 4th grader was confused what to do at recess. These are the “best of the best” in our area. I might go back to work when my youngest turns 5 but, it’s with extreme hesitation and fear that I do so, if I do so – and purely, purely for financial reasons. In my opinion, there’s nothing shameful in focusing on the home and children; all my life I have been GUILT-ed for doing so. It seems to be the flip side of your situation – and let me tell you – it’s not pretty; there are few things so heartbreaking as leaving your infant in the care of someone else – yes even extended family – to go back to work. I’m extremely grateful despite our loss of income that I do not have to go through that hell at this time. You might find out of the outpouring of love in your heart for your child, out of a pure, God-given protective instinct, out of the sheer joy that that little bundle brings that the freedom of being a career-woman suddenly feels like a giant burden you’d rather put down for a while. Then again, my Mom did not feel that way she claims. But then again she visits us twice a week even now. Anyway, I’m sorry to ramble but, take it from my Mom, she always wonders how things “might have turned out” for my younger sister if she had “been there”; and she’s an uber-feminist mind you. Being there is so critical; I was unable to fully academically perform before I found someone who made me feel unconditionally supported. If your Mom gave you that, she gave you GOLD. Sorry, I’ll be quiet now. God bless.

  • Mike

    I hate being home schooled. I don’t have any friends, and I feel like I’m not learning anything.

  • Paul Dunahoo

    I am finishing up home school right now in college. I too have huge holes in my education, where it is quite clear that I would have had the education I needed in public or private school. If I marry and have children, I will not have my wife and I homeschool them.

  • Paul Dunahoo

    I wish I had parents like yours. It would not have changed my opinion, but gosh, it would have made life a lot easier for me.

  • Katie

    I’m a teacher and i will be home-schooling my children using secular resources.

  • essay services

    Your blog really make sense to us. It gives some good perspectives of education which is more efficient for those learner’s from the home schooler.

  • Just a guy

    My wife (state-certified teacher) homeschooled our kids all the way through 12th grade. They dropped out of college.
    She makes excuses and says it’s because they don’t know what they want to do when they grow up, but it’s really because they couldn’t handle the load.
    This mainly stems from holes she left in their education (math & science) and from the lack of structure they received during their schooling at home. I had virtually no say in their curriculum because she was the “expert.” Her priorities for the kids were religion, art and reading.

  • foxtails

    This is right. It is not always the most healthy for children to be isolated. This is also wrong to think that all homeschoolers isolate their children. There are many homeschoolers that are more social and involved through community than most pubilc schoolers. it’s about your schooling method within the homeschooling sphere not actual homeschooling that is the problem.

  • Carolyn McBeth

    I’m homeschooled (forced) and I absolutely hate it. PLEASE PLEASE!!!! Do not force your children to do so. I have cried so many times about it, covering my bed in black lines. Let your children find the best way to learn. I can’t learn this way and all my friends were banned from me. Please any parents who are reading this. communicate with your child!!! It will improve your relationship, and the only way your child will behave is if you are putting up the right walls. In my experience, my mom wasn’t Christian until 6 years ago. But then when she was, she started dieting crazy, acting crazy, and BEING crazy. She freaked out and made us find a new church, pulling me away from choir and friends (who were christian).

    And then we found a church called Faith Journey. To me the church is fine, but EVERYONE IS HOMESCHOOLED. After 3 years my mom finally broke and decided, “Hey I’ll force my 13 y/o and 15 y/o into homeschool.” Now it’s just me and my brother tying to struggle for a B, and nothing I say (even my dad) can change her mind. Every week (3-4 days)we go to her office and sit in the backroom doing whatever we can to fill the 10 hours we are there. And then everyday she comes in and we do lab work (she is an orthodontist and we make retainers)

    It’s hard work and there’s no pay. She keeps lying to us that she’ll hire someone, but she hasn’t in the past year she said she would. I can’t take it anymore. I’ve gone into complete depression, cut, and even thought about suicide. Last year I would have told you I was a very lucky girl and I was happy. Now I would say, “Help?!” I know it’s spoiled to think like this, but it’s destroying my relationship with my mom, causing me to harm myself, and I’m falling WAY behind. I had my whole 7th grade courses set up and then my hopes were destroyed and I got classes that were videos, no work, no help, just an old man talking non-sense to me.

    I wrote it before, I’ll write it now, “Help?”

  • GlamMami

    I absolutely agree with most of the replies above, however, your last paragraph touched me deeply. I am a former public school teacher who also decided to homeschool. After over a decade of teaching in public schools I knew that I wanted to be the one to set the moral tone for my child. Yet, I constantly feel that I have to defend my choice as people offer back-handed complements. I’ve even had people to say I would never “do that to” my child as if it was a punishment. I have seen a lot of terrible things in both “nice” as well as inner-city area public schools (eg sexually active elementary school age kids). I have seen incompetent and lazy teachers in both. In the depths of my soul, I know what I’m doing is best for our family, but the societal pressure can be challenging. We make use of multiple memberships for homeschooling days & events to supplement our days as I strongly believe in experiential learning. I also feel that this increases social interaction. However, there is always that person that makes me feel like we are weirdos because we choose differently than them. The world should not dictate our children’s values and that is what I try to keep at the forefront of my mind.

    • Julia


      Those could have been my words! I too was a public school teacher that worked in both Nationally recognized districts and urban districts and had the same experiences. Sexually active, drugs, violence, gangs (yes even in urber-rich districts), peer pressure, etc and we’re talking elementary grades and tiny little 6th graders!!! I knew after 5 years I had had enough. I was tired of being a babysitter for one, but secondly I grew weary of the lack of parental involvement. So many parents believe that because they send their children off to school that they themselves no longer need to be involved with their child’s education. I vowed I would homeschool my children and that’s our plan! They will not be subjected to group sex in the girl’s bathroom; sadly that happened in my last year of teachers. A group of fifth graders! I was still playing with barbies and hopefully, so will my girls!

    • tallen

      “Back-handed compliments” not “complements.” Oy.

  • towerofshelly

    Wow. It’s really too bad that you had such a horrible experience as a child. Unfortunately, recent statistics show that children who were home schooled fair much better in life, in many domains, than their public and private schooled counterparts. Sorry you were in that tiny minority sliver who did not benefit as much.

  • Firstadmendmentisgreat

    Idk, reading this makes me think you’re a brat rebelling against religious nut parents. Maybe everyone else that read this before thinks it but isn’t saying it??? Just because you didn’t like how your parents raised you doesn’t mean that homeschooling isn’t good. Or God isn’t incredible.

    For folks who run across this…. There are parents like myself who go against the norm home school grain of refusing to shave, wear jeans with tennis shoes, put our hair in a bun, cram Bible down my kids throats, don’t watch movies, listen to country music, or hide our kids from the world.

    Homeschool is an incredible tool and God is amazing. Both however fall victim to people who have radical agendas. Either ditch is dangerous.

    I hope this bratty rebellion doesn’t transfer to your kids as the result seems to smart but either way let us know how it works out for you .

  • Amanda Pye

    I think the author has valid points, but when your child is dyslexic with health problems and the public school system says “We’re sorry but we are unable to help her” and the only private schools around you are religious and you’re not, you find you don’t have a choice. The public school system is failing kids all over the country and while homeschooling has it flaws, for us it is the best option

  • charlotte.quevedo

    Hmm. I was also homeschooled but only as a preschooler up to 6.5 years. When I first entered school I was very advanced in reading and writing, and I mean very very advanced. But after being in public school for years, I was behind in everything, though still gifted in language, I did not do my work. By the time I reached high school I had the holes you describe. So while my point is not to say that public school alone created the holes, homeschooling does not either. Children learn things at different times and some children will struggle in certain areas. It also sounds like your parents were not flexible on finding alternative ways to teach as it sounds like they used a box curriculum. For this reason I will not be buying a curriculum. The bottom line is that you are a victim of your horrible parents who, while, deeply brainwashed for sure, only wanted the best for you, and you have no confidence in yourself as a teacher. You could have just written that and saved yourself and your readers some time.

  • Katie

    I agree with this woman… yea public school sucks… but being born a girl and having the only influences in your childhood tell you how terrible that is (women are temptresses you know) takes an enormous toll on your confidence. There are enough homeschooling families that are like that, that there should be a system in place to protect children from the religious zealots that are their parents.

  • Hannah

    I’m homeschooled and I hate it. My mom won’t let me go to a regular school because I’m not even in highschool but I’m doing AP Calculus, so she thinks that I’ll already know everything that is taught.
    *English is not my first language*

  • snowplow

    Do they learn how to use capital letters? No? I assume you’re not e.e. cummings? (And, come on. Choosing to be in the minority — as homeschoolers do — isn’t the same as *not* choosing to be in the minority. Apples and oranges.)


    With overwhelming homeshcool groups and support in many states it is possible to have a more rounded homeschooling experience. We are learning more now than 20 years ago on how to homeschool and with better results than our parents. Don’t let your parents mistakes keep you from a great idea. Most schools and teachers are not an extension of our morals and values and this is why we homeschool. We have greater resources than ever before. Seeking a public school system for your parents failures is hardly the best solution, it’s merely an excuse for not expounding on a biblical idea.

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