"I want to homeschool, but I’m afraid"

August 23, 2009 | 90 comments

12 common concerns about homeschooling, and a request for advice

I get a lot of emails that say something along the lines of, “I like the idea of homeschooling, but I’m afraid I couldn’t do it.” I can relate to that feeling.

The whole idea of homeschooling used to be utterly unappealing and baffling to me, but after getting to know a lot of homeschooling families as well as researching the subject for three years now, my husband and I have come to believe that some sort of home-based education (which might include co-ops, online classes, occasional classes at outside institutions, etc.) is the best option for our family. The details of how we arrived at that conclusion are the subject of another post, but I listed some resources that I found compelling at the bottom of this post in case anyone’s interested.

Anyway, I do have days (like, uhh, today, for example) where the ratio of household chaos to my energy level is so high that I think in exasperation, “What was I thinking? There is NO WAY I could EVER homeschool!” Based on the number of emails I get on this subject, I know that I’m not the only parent who feels this way: I want to homeschool but, gosh, how could I possibly do it?

I decided to put together a collection of the most common concerns I hear, and put them out there to get advice and encouragement from experienced homeschoolers. When I talk to other parents who are considering going this route, these are the most frequent worries I hear discussed:

  1. “I worry about getting physically and mentally overwhelmed — I find motherhood hard enough without the responsibility of being primary educator of my children. Is there any way to both homeschool and make sure I get the breaks that I need?”
  2. “My kids are already in school. I worry that they’ll balk at the idea of doing school in the house.”
  3. “I have babies/toddlers around and will probably have more in the future. How can I make sure the older kids get a good education with little ones underfoot?”
  4. “I’m not particularly good at math [or other subject], and I worry that my children’s education would suffer in that area.”
  5. “There are so many curricula out there! I have no idea how to find one that’s right for us.”
  6. “Our families are adamantly opposed to the idea of homeschooling and would put a ton of pressure on us not to do it, which would be distracting and demoralizing.”
  7. “I worry that my children won’t respect me as a teacher and/or won’t strive to succeed they way they would with the external approval that comes with traditional schools.”
  8. “I don’t worry about giving my young children a good education, but what about when you get to the high school level? I don’t see how I could provide the same quality of education as, say, an AP-level class at a good public high school.”
  9. “I’m naturally disorganized and scattered. I worry that my children would have zero structure in their lives and/or that I wouldn’t be able to keep on top of everything.”
  10. “I worry that my kids won’t have any friends” or “I don’t have a large family; I’m concerned that my child/children wouldn’t get enough interaction with other kids.”
  11. “We have a small house that’s already cramped. I can’t figure out how we’d even make space to homeschool, and feel like we’d all go stircrazy being in the house all day, every day.”
  12. “Money is tight — I worry that buying all the curricula, books, supplies, etc. for all the kids would break the bank.”

If any experienced homeschooling parents have shared any of these worries and found ways to overcome them, we’d love to hear about it! (I don’t expect that any one commenter would feel up to tackling all of these — I’m thinking that people could just write in and address whichever concerns they most relate to.)

Also, I want to clarify that the point of this post is not to suggest that homeschooling is right for every family or that it’s “wrong” not to go this route. I hope that this discussion will simply be one of friendly encouragement for people who have discerned that this is the right path for their family but feel overwhelmed by what all it involves. I look forward to reading your comments!



  1. Erin

    The first item – getting time to yourself, is one with which I am familiar. Like you, Jen, I'm an introvert that desperately needs her alone time. Since you're starting this from the get-go, my biggest suggestion is this: Don't drop the afternoon nap.

    No, they won't be actually sleeping in the afternoon when they're 8 or 9, but we do have two hours of "quiet time" in this house where they can read, do puzzles, play quietly – whatever. I find that everyone is in a better mood when we're able to do this. If we have some planned activity, we can always forgo the quiet time, but if we're home, we do it.

    I also look for programs like homeschool PE at the YMCA, during which time I also get Mommy PE.

    I will say that the most stressful, "How could I ever homeschool" years were the ones where my kids were really young. It's wonderful to cherish them when they're that age, but don't make the mistake of thinking that it will always be this hectic. The challenges are different as they get older, but I think the chaos factor goes down, at least a little.

  2. Wendy

    Just my thoughts (6 kids, home schooling 7 years):

    There's only one reason to home school: you think it's what God wants you to do. That actually covers the list because you can trust God's plan for you, but it speaks specifically to the crazy mom/family pressure/house too small/how will I know what to do? issues. It will work the same way the rest of your life works, you'll seek God's will and He'll take care of it.

    About the "What about high school?" Discern each year what God's asking you to do. Most people I know have found that the kids can take courses in community colleges in high school which gives them a leg up in college as well. Gos will make a way for you.

    About the money thing: You can give an excellent elementary education with paper, crayons, an internet connection, and a library card. Everything else is a nice extra.

    About the parent/teacher conflict: this is a serious issue if you do not see yourself as already teaching your kids.

    Many people are comfortable teaching their kids to walk and talk and name their colors, but then think teaching them to read would be a different role.

    If you see it that way, you may see home schooling as a new job that you would be adding to an overloaded schedule. That makes it harder to succeed than if you see "teaching them the next thing they need to know" as part of what you've been doing since they were born.

    Home schooling has been a source of great peace and joy to me, by the grace of God, and it has also been a whole lot of fun!

    • Lacy

      I just wanted you to know that I have been praying about home schooling for almost a year now. Reading your post was my confirmation! I have been held back by the thought that I can’t do it. The fact is, if God is telling me to do it, I have nothing to be afraid of! Thanks you so much! May God continue to work through you! Lacy D

    • Rochelle White

      Thank you so much for your comment. I needed that. I have my daughter going to school twice a week and being home schooled twice a week. I am mostly just testing the waters and have only been doing it a few months and the only feed back I get is when she isn’t doing as well as she used to in different areas. It makes me sick every time I am trying hard but I feel like I just don’t cut it.

  3. SAHMinIL

    I'm NOT an expert, but I'm a a "new" homeschooler. My kids did go to public school and I did have to tackle "What would the kids think?" "Would they fight us?" etc.

    My advice is TALK with the kids! Let them know what you are thinking. Get their feedback, find out what they are afraid off, etc.

    Mine feared that they would be stuck home all day with NO friends. Translation: They wouldn't get to meet anybody new or non-family members.

    Solution: Joining a local co-op that meets weekly. We found our co-op by asking the children's librarian at our public library and searching yahoo groups for homeschooling groups in our area.

  4. Faith

    I've been homeschooling for 13 years. My oldest is leaving for college on Wednesday!

    I second what Erin says about quiet time in the afternoon. It was a complete sanity saver!

    I am unschoolish in the early years,gradually getting more formal around 7th grade and then really formal for high school. At least that's how we've done it so far. I've got my third 9th grader coming up this year. Two more to go after that.

    My formula for the early years: lots of read alouds, games, conversations, educational TV/movies/computer games, the occasional experiment/project, classes in the community (art, P.E. type stuff, music lessons), a field trip here and there, throw in a workbook or two as they get older. They'll do great!

    God bless you on your journey!

  5. Jodi

    I've been homeschooling for 5 years, and my husband was homeschooled in 1-12th grades, so I've gained LOTS of wisdom from my mother-in-law. Here's what I can add:

    1. I agree with Erin – don't drop the naps. My kids all know that after lunch is "rest time," which means mom should not be disturbed unless someone is bleeding and/or in great distress. For the toddlers and younger, that means in their rooms napping. For older children it means coloring, reading, working on "homework," etc. Anything that can be done independently and quietly. It takes some training to get to that point (and we've never achieved perfection), but it's well worth the effort.

    3. Having babies and toddlers around does make homeschooling more challenging. If you have older children, make use of them. I used to assign each of my two older children a half-hour segment each day when they were required to entertain their toddler brother. That way I could work with the other school-aged child during that time. As an added benefit, your older children learn childcare skills and (hopefully) create a good bond with younger siblings.

    4. I'm relearning math along with my 5th-grade son. Our curriculum includes a DVD of a teacher explaining each lesson to a group of children in a classroom setting, so my son and I watch that together. Then we discuss what we learned and practice until we both understand the concept. I also get lots of customer support from my curriculum. My MIL made use of community resources to teach my husband and his siblings subjects that she wasn't as comfortable teaching–for example, they had a man in their church with a degree in math, so he did tutoring with them. Homeschooling doesn't mean that you are the ONLY teacher for your child.

    10. As homeschooling becomes a more and more popular choice, support groups are becoming bigger. Even in our small, rural community we have a group of over 50 families. So that's an excellent way to find friends and social opportunities. Also, be sure to make use of other community resources, such as youth sports, volunteering, community drama, etc.

  6. Donna

    First time posting, I've been reading your blog for a few months — I've already quoted you in a few places! On the homeschooling front, this I actually know about. I've been homeschooling my little girls since the beginning. We decided when our oldest was 3 that she would never go to preschool, or public school and the homeschooling began then.

    I was certainly nervous, I wasn't sure if I could do it — but it's important when you're worried to know that you only have to do one day at a time — one year at a time — when someone asks if we'll homeschool through highschool, while I fully intend to, I can't be certain — so I say, 'We'll see!'

    As my girls get into those subjects that I cannot teach them they'll be in correspondence courses, college level work at a community college (you can enroll here as young as 14 and keep those credits when you go to a 4 year school!) I am also happy to use my back up — my husband has skills that I don't have, we have a good friend who is a chemistry teacher (my least favorite subject in highschool!) etc. we all have resources — don't be afraid to use yours!

    As for time to myself — this I get due to having a wonderful and understanding husband — once a week I have a pottery class. I've been doing this for about 7 years, it's SO necessary for me to have an artistic outlet and this was something that fell into my lap and I have loved ever since. Without that time, I'm sure I'd manage, but I might be a little more harried than I usually am.

    Oh and small house — we have a relatively small house and we homeschool at the dining room table for sit down work — there's a book shelf with the girls' school books and supplies — everything else is sports, field trips, park days, art classes, co-op, library days, play dates … we're often out having fun with our homeschool friends — and we're never bored.

    I'd recommend searching Yahoogroups or something like that for homeschool groups in your area, we're members of one in our city with around 500 families on the list … we coordinate classes, discounts, co-ops and sports — and we support each other, give advice and help out when people are in need. It's a wonderful community and we know many wonderful families that we'd never have met had we not taken this road.

    I think the main reason anyone should homeschool … is if they want to — people who don't want to, absolutely should not (unless there's some crazy reason I can't imagine) but for those of us who want to — all those common questions we're asked on an almost daily basis from people who prefer the "traditional" school system are easy to answer … we do it because it's fun!

    Hope that didn't come off as too silly, since I'm not really a blog poster!

    ~ Donna & all these girls

    (4 of them: 10yo in 5th grade, 7yo twins in 2nd grade and a nearly 3yo … in drawing in her sister's old work books)

  7. weavermom

    I've homeschooled formally for 4 years. My kids have always been home and I have a 3rd grader and a Kindergartner.

    I'll pick a couple. 🙂

    1. I did not consider the emotional side enough, and it is a real concern. I'm a extrovert and can go a long time before realizing that I'm on the edge of burnout. Here are some of the things I've done: We have a daily one and a half hour quiet time at our house (like the first responder.) Work out with dad for him to take the kids sometime on the weekend for a 2-3 hours just to give you some quiet. Trade with another homeschool mom to trade kids every other week, or whatever works. Take advantage of times that your kid is at soccer practice whatever and just go sit in the car or head to the library for some quiet time of your own. And if you are a Christian, absolutely do not neglect your time with the Lord – for me, it is essential to staying sane.

    Don't worry at all about curriculum! I don't know about the high school level yet, but there are so many resources that you can teach your kids anything. Especially for math- there are even curriculums that come with video sessions that do the teaching.

    And, finding the right curriculum can be hard at first. But, if you do a little reading about the different approaches, you'll naturally feel a draw to one of them. There is a great book called 100 Top Homeschool Picks by Cathy Duffy that is a great resource. The first couple of chapters are about figuring out your style and your kids' style. Then the rest of the book rates tons of different programs by learning style, how much teacher prep, etc.. It's a great place to start.

    Hope that helps someone!

  8. Jennifer Merck

    This probably isn't fair, but I'll offer another concern/question. How will my children learn to be "in the world, but not of the world?" And, on a related note, is it wrong for Christians to vacate the public schools? Who does that leave to be salt and light in our absence? I ask these questions with no judgement, but truly because I struggle with these issues.

  9. Roxane B. Salonen

    Jen, I hope you don't disown me for going against the grain, but I just wanted to affirm one thing you said earlier for those who will be reading this and have not gone the home-schooling route. I truly applaud those who do. I think those who home-school with forethought can turn out children who are very well prepared for the world. But, just a tiny voice here for those of us who admire it but haven't gone that route ourselves. In our case in particular, we have a challenging dynamic that would have made home-schooling a bit more of a cross than I think I could have handled. To those who do, though, again, you have my full admiration. Sounds like you've done your homework Jen, and I hope you get even more great advice here. Happy "back to school" to all, regardless of how you've chosen to work it.

  10. Anne Kennedy

    I have 4 kids, 7 and under with a fifth on the way. It is definitely crazy. This website http://www.preschoolersandpeace.com/
    has really helped me, practically speaking, in organizing and managing my babies. Plus we're involved with Classical Conversations which keeps us on track and relieves a lot of my anxiety about whether we're keeping up a good pace. Homeschooling is a lot of work, but honestly, compared to the difficulty of getting a child on the bus in the morning, lunch in hand, slips all signed, homework done, it can't be beat.

  11. Maria D.

    This is coming from the view of the homeschooled child…

    8. "I don't worry about giving my young children a good education, but what about when you get to the high school level? I don't see how I could provide the same quality of education as, say, an AP-level class at a good public high school."

    I was homeschooled all twelve years. When I hit around eighth grade, my mom pretty much cut me loose and put me in charge of my own education, since she had my four younger siblings to worry about. 😉 Luckily, we used a very good curriculum that practically taught itself (A Beka Book, in case you're wondering!). The only subjects I really struggled with were Geometry and Physics (I found A Beka Book to be very lacking in explaining math concepts, all the way back to elementary school).

    I think that not all important education is taught in an AP class.
    After taking the SAT and the GED, I pretty much "blew off" senior year… according to traditional standards. BUT! I spent that year running a family business, teaching music lessons, earning and paying for my own music lessons, taking French lessons from the next-door-neighbor, and working as an assistant for my dad's ministry. I believe that year gave me a far more valuable education than sitting at a desk, diagramming sentences for the zillionth time.

    How did this all work out for me? Well, I just recently graduated from a private four-year university, summa cum laud. Even though I never took any AP courses, I managed to pass the General Education classes just fine. 🙂 I found that the most valuable work I did in high school was learn writing skills. Physics skills? Not so much. My younger sister is also well on her way to collegiate success!

    What am I trying to say? In my case, I had a VERY solid elementary education, so the secondary work was not an insurmountable challenge. Take heart if you don't know Chemistry or Economics off the top of your head!

  12. sarah

    I see you've had some great comments and advice already 🙂 May I add my bit? (well, rather more than a bit!) I've been homeschooling for ten years now, albeit with only one child.

    – getting overwhelmed: it's a matter of prioritising and organising. For example, for me washing the floor comes below reading a good book with my dd. But doing the dishes always comes first in the morning or I can't concentrate on schoolwork.

    – my dd has never been to school so I'm not sure how to answer the next one except to say I've never met a child who didn't drool at the thought of being homeschooled!

    – I don't have any experience hsing with a baby underfoot, unless a puppy counts, but there is much wisdom about that in Blogland and in some ways I can see it would make the house a more vibrant and interesting place.

    – I am lousy at maths which is why I have good workbooks for my dd.

    – there are many good curricula and methods and sometimes it can take a year or two to find the right one for your family … and sometimes it changes over the years too. I've come to believe that whatever suits the mother/teacher best is the best curriculum to follow. Most hsers end up being eclectic anyway.

    – my extended family are mostly school teachers and are adamantly opposed to me hsing. My dd gets no support or enthusiasm from them. But am I supposed to deny her the best education possible just because of their bias? We just don't discuss it with them anymore. Besides, the best response is the success of the child.

    – the issue of teacher respect did come up in our home when I tried more relaxing unschooling methods. I came to believe a slightly more formal approach – lessons at the table in the morning – gave better boundaries and helped my dd distinguish between Teacher-me and Mama-me.

    – we are doing high school now and I am also tutoring another high school student. I can tell you the work we are doing is far superior to what is required in public high schools. (We are inspired by Ambleside Online.) For science lab work etc there are always external classes, workshops, hs science groups, etc. The proof is in the pudding – most colleges strive to win homeschooled applicants.

    – I'm naturally disorganised myself. I have finally found ways to work with my inconsistency. I don't organise too much in our lesson schedule. We work with about three books at a time, and I know each morning we will read from one of the three and do anything that comes up from them and inspires us. It seems chaotic but it works well. Quality material covers the worst inconsistencies!

    – I constantly worry about the friendship issue. It was better when we belonged to a co-op, we had almost too much socialisation then! My dd does get to play with other children but it has taken me a long time to get myself out of the brainwashing that children need to be around other children all the time. I don't know if I'm completely there yet. Alice Gunther's book A Haystack Full of Needles is the best response I've encountered to this issue.

    – we currently live in a tiny house. My hsing room is actually just a box beside the dining room table, crammed with books and supplies. We do lessons at the table but often are out in the garden or visiting friends or learning in the real world.

    – your budget couldn't be tighter than mine but we do very well with Baldwin Project (free books online) and the library and Dollar Shops for craft materials and all the free majesty of the outdoors. Hsing is very low cost!

    Sorry for such a long reply!

  13. Hope

    There is no perfect curriculum – no one way that is going to give you the happily ever after homeschooling story. If you can accept that up front it helps not waste money and time in search of the perfect math program, etc.

    My kids had a quiet time their whole lives – even when they were teenagers they knew to not come asking me anything for an hour or more unless there was blood.

    I homeschooled 15 years. I lived to tell about it is how I like to describe it! I used to say I still had my sanity but I had a nervous breakdown about 10 years in so there you go. Had nothing to do with homeschooling, really.However I should have sent them to school at that time for my sake but didn't because youngest son wasn't reading yet at age 12 and I couldn't bear the judgement from the community.

    He did learn to read that year and the first independent reading he did was a full length adult novel. He is 21 now and is in university, doing rather well so no worries about late reading.

    The one thing I truly regret about homeschooling is that it became my identity. I was largely motivated by fear. Fear that the influences of others/the bogeyman/who knows what would contaminate my kids. I made many fear based decisions back then. Fear is a lousy reason to homeschool. So is having an us and them mentality about it. Graciousness never goes out of style.

  14. Weird Unsocialized Mom

    Oh, my goodness. My entire blog is about homeschooling and answering these types of questions. 😉

    Really, the answer that kind of covers all of that, in a round about sort of way is that homeschooling really isn't all that different from parenting.

    You find what works for you and your family — schedules, curricula, friendships — and you deal with the things that come up by seeking God's will and His wisdom for your family.

    You go through the different seasons — whether it's entertaining youngers while working with olders or tackling Algebra with your high schooler — realizing that they're just that: seasons…and, you know, God says that there is a season for everything. 😉

  15. Ouiz

    I've got 7 kids 11 and under, and I've been homeschooling for 6 years now. (My kids are 11, 10, 8, 7, 5, 3, and 1), so I have had to deal with babies/toddlers through it all.

    It's hard, but it's worth every bit of it.

    Advice? hmmm. Every family is different, so I can only say what's worked for me.

    Scheduling works well. Not down to the minute, but have a general idea of what your day's going to look like. (i.e. "We'll do our together stuff first, then the older ones will work on math while I teach the younger ones grammar and spelling…"). This has helped tremendously.

    Two, I focus on my younger ones first so I can finish their lessons. Once they are done, they can take care of the baby and play with her quite nicely.

    Three, it doesn't take that long when they are little. When my oldest was in kindergarten, I had a 5 yr old, 4 yr old, 3 yr old, and an infant. We'd all sit at the table together and have a great time. The baby slept in the swing while the rest of them colored, drew, practiced letters, etc. An hour or so later, we were done.

    Four, there will be days that are just awful — the baby won't cooperate, little ones are screaming for juice/snacks/favorite toys/whatever, and you will wonder why on earth you've ever chosen to do this.


    It doesn't have to be pretty, or be worthy of the next cover of "Homeschooling Weekly," to bless your family.

    Don't expect perfection. Expect to be challenged and encouraged to grow in virtue. Your children will develop patience and care as they jump in to take care of the little ones without being asked.

  16. Marian

    I'm sorry that I just don't have time to address any of the specific questions posed. I do, however, want to share one very important bit that I picked up years ago at a "schooling options" panel discussion many years ago. You name it, the various families on the panel had done it. They had very different perspectives. But the one thing to which every single one agreed was this: **Schooling is a new and prayerful decision for EACH child EACH year.** We have found this to be wise and true. This is not to say that you'll necessarily re-invent the wheel every year– not at all! But it is so important to realize that, regardless of how things appear right now, children and families have different emotional/spiritual/educational needs and different phases of life to live; only God knows what those are in advance. It is so easy to look at schooling choice as a once-and-for-all decision for your family. For some this holds true. For others it doesn't.

    There may be times when things are tough and what is needed is to just persevere. If you don't hold your plans and extra-biblical convictions loosely and prayerfully every year, though, it can be easy to end up banging your head (or someone else's little head!) against the wall trying to work against the grain, in pursuit of a vision that is not for a particular child or year or season, mistaking it for perseverance.

  17. Sarah

    We've been homeschooling for just a couple of years now, but I'm constantly telling people that homeschooling is way easier than it sounds- and it is! It presents challenges, of course, but there is so much joy for the taking when you are living and learning alongside your children every day. I shared some thoughts on how we keep our homeschool relaxed here: http://amongstlovelythings.blogspot.com/2009/05/on-relaxed-homeschooling.html.

    As for the concerns expressed on your list:
    #5– choosing curriculum is probably one of hte most daunting parts of homeschooling- it even makes experienced homeschoolers nervous. Some really great resources have become available, though- like Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum- that book matches personality styles (of both parents and kids) to certain homeschool curriculum, and then makes suggestions. It's very helpful, and takes a lot of the guesswork, trial-and-error out of the way.

    #11– we have a pretty small space, but I've found that, especially if learning looks a lot like real life in your home, it won't be as big of an issue as you might expect. We've found a space for our art supplies, and added a few bookshelves- and that's it. We do most of our learning around the kitchen table or on the living room couch- and haven't really felt the need to have a separate space dedicated just to learning. It's amazing how all kinds of families are homeschooling (quite successfully!) in totally different ways- with different budgets, different homes, different family sizes, different climates, and different abilities.

  18. SAHMinIL

    @Jennifer Merck- Regardless of where you're children go to school, you are their primary teacher/role model.

    They are going to learn how to be "in the world, but not of the world" from you. Do you try to keep up with the Jones? Are you always out getting the latest thing? When you shop is it name brand?

    Is mom working to help keep food on the table, clothing to wear, or shelter to live in? Or is she working to keep the cellphones, the cable, the internet, $30,000 cars, or THAT house. (Some people buy homes that are way above their means to keep up with the "Jones".)

    Of course there in nothing wrong with having cable or internet, but honestly they aren't necessities. I will be honest those would be the first things we would "cut" before I went back to work.

    Yes, their peers do have a great influence on them, and they may temporary cloud your child's judgment, but in the long run their values come from you. (Proverbs 22:6)

    As for the salt and light–Anytime a child is around anyone, they can be salt and light. I can't tell you how many times my faith has grown because of my children and their Faith. I have gotten closer to God, through my children. Furthermore, many homeschoolers belong to co-ops and not all co-op are "Christian".

    For example the co-op I belong to is a "secular" one. There are several Catholic-Christian Families like us, there are Non-Catholic Christian families and Non-Christian families.

    In the co-op I belong to we have Lutherans, Methodists, Evangelicals, Jehovah Witnesses, Catholics, Atheist, Mormon, etc. The bond that holds all of us together is that we are homeschoolers.

    Religion within the group can at times be a hot topic, but for the most part there is just respect for everyone and the classes that the kids do within the co-op are NON-religious. This is to avoid any conflicts that families may have with their children learning something they don't want.

    Just being who we are provides us with way to witness to those in our co-op, the same is true for when my kids go to swimming lessons, gymnastic lessons, dance lessons, etc.

    The same is true for when we are at the library, at the grocery store, shopping mall, museum, playground, or when we are out to eat.(Going out to eat is especially true because we always pray before we eat: One time praying before our meal actually caused a family to stop at our table and asked where they could go to Mass). The point is anytime, anyplace we can be salt and light. Even at Grandma's house!

    My kids are still young (7 and 8) and they are still learning about THEIR faith. I believe we all are and I don't think it's realistic to expect a young child to be salt and light when they themselves are not fully trained.

    I know I'm not fully trained yet, I have a long way to go, but at least I can hold my own ground now, because my foundation is firm from my years of learning. I'm not going to be easily swayed by someones argument or opinions.

    My kids are still building their FAITH foundation. I would want their FAITH foundation to be SOLID, like a Rock, before I would ask them to go out ALONE into the world to be salt and light.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that parents are horrible for sending their children of to school! You have to do what is right for your family. You know, homeschooling isn't for everyone.

    I just won't expect young children to be salt and light. I would spend my time training them, teaching them, answering their questions, correcting them on stuff they learned from others.

    In order for a lamp to light it needs oil…My kids are in the process of being filled so they can be lit; They are in the process of becoming salt….

    We are still training them, once they are trained they will not stray, (proverbs 22:6).

    In my opinion, when they will not stray then they are salt and light.

  19. Gregaria

    I home schooled the last two years of high school, so I can't speak for the younger years, but I can answer a couple of these questions.

    First, as a high schooler, I was completely on my own. My parents wouldn't let me home school unless I was willing to do it all by myself. This taught me how to manage my time and discipline myself.

    Secondly, there is a huge home school community in this area (Seattle), and because of that, I had no problems with socializing. In fact, I met all of my best friends through home schooling. Home school communities are well-hidden, so there might be some in your area you don't know about. Co-ops are a good place to look, but there might also be home schooling families in your church.

    Third, home schooling was one of the best decisions I ever made! Despite going to private schools all the way through 10th grade, I learned most of my Faith (more than the basics) from my home school religion curriculum. I didn't know or understand my Faith until I started home schooling and I'm grateful I had that opportunity.

  20. Sara

    I hear these same concerns all the time since I'm in my 15th year of homeschooling. Many of them I think of as excuses because people don't want to homeschool. And that's fine if they're not called to it. I agree with Wendy, the second commenter, that the only reason to do it is because you're called by God. Your reasons to homeschool have to outweigh all those other concerns! If they do, then you'll find a way to deal with everything else.

    My blog addresses some of these issues. I was even planning to blog about younger siblings today. Maybe I'll get to it!

  21. e2

    Thanks for the link, Jen! I'm going to chew on your 12 thoughts for a few hours… 🙂

  22. Catherine Lucia

    This wasn't on the list, but I felt obliged to mention it. I once went to school with a girl who had been homeschooled up until grade 6, when her parents and she decided to go to Catholic school (the school I went to). After finishing middle school there, she went on to a public high school.

    She experienced home, private, and public school and has turned out perfectly. She is a brilliant and well-rounded person. So…if you find that you want to "switch," don't be afraid — it can work, and wonderfully! 🙂

    Blessings to all of you, CL

  23. Sandy

    Item # 8, homeschooling through high school: My two children are now 21 and 19 and both in college. They were in 4th and 2nd grades when we started homeschooling. Both received academic scholarships at college. My strength was math and my biggest weakness was science. We joined a small co-op of eight or nine families in our very small town. The talent spread across the co-op was amazing. One mom taught creative writing, one taught science, one taught history but later we called on her med school education (she was a dermatologist who quit her practice to homeschool) to teach anatomy. Many of our high school students supplemented with college courses at nearby community colleges. There are SO many resources for homeschool through high school! One of my favorites was the forums at Susan Wise Bauer's "The Well-Trained Mind" website. There is a wonderful community of people on the high school board there!

    Item #9, disorganization. I am not naturally organized and keeping a strict schedule is not easy for me. It's OK. I was able to draw up yearly lesson plans for the courses where it was absolutely necessary and we kept to it (while remaining flexible for things that came up like grandparent illnesses, business trips with Dad, etc.). With my kids just two years apart, we did most of our classes together and then separated for math. They did all their co-op work independently unless they asked for my help.

    Best wishes and prayers for your homeschool plans. It is the single best choice our family ever made.

  24. Julie

    The issue of homeschooling has been on my heart for the past week or so, and here you read my mind and pose several of the questions I've been pondering. Thanks for opening up the discussion and aiding my discernment.

  25. Anonymous

    God is so good…today was our pre-first day of school. DS1 is going into 3rd and this is his first year home. He has mixed feelings about leaving school/friends. After our introductory meetings going over our school work for the year, I was assailed with doubts…"What was I thinking?!?" and "Am I crazy?" I prayed, remembering that I'm trusting God with this decision…then I opened your blog. Exactly what I needed! Thank you, Jen! Thank you, Lord!

  26. Cathy Adamkiewicz

    I have six children and I homeschooled for 15 years. My eldest two are now college grads and new wives and mothers. I have a lot of experience, but that doesn't mean I have any answers! In fact, I struggled with EVERY SINGLE issue you brought up. I decided to put my three youngest children in our parish school last year. But despite that, I don't regret a minute of my homeschooling years. The relationships our family developed, and the strength of my kids' faith, made it all worthwhile.

  27. beyondhomemaking

    I had a mix of educational experiences- I was home schooled for a total of 7 years, went to private school for a total of 5 years, and public school for 1 year. I went to college on scholarship so I think I did okay. 🙂 (and as a side note, I have 8 siblings that were all home/private schooled and 5 of us are college grads- the other 4 are currently in college.) I was homeschooled for 2 years of high school and my parents had me tutored in French, Chemistry and Biology since they didn't feel comfortable handling those subject. I also attended a co-op for English, logic and speech in my high school years.

    I have 2 boys (2 years old and almost 4) and we will formally homeschool our kids when the time comes. I'm an introvert by nature and need quiet time to recharge, so I really value naptime/rest time. Even once my youngest has outgrown naps we plan to keep rest time. We do hope to have more children, but we can only really plan for what we have now, you know?

    Looking at curriculum is really overwhelming I think- that's why I'm already reading and learning what is out there so I don't have to make my best guess when it comes to starting with curriculum and hope that I get something that works. As a previous commenter said- I've learned that I lean more unschooly in the early years- we'll see how that develops as my boys get older. I also think that there are ways to homeschool on a tight budget- there are definitely books and things that are worth the money and others that would be really nice to have but not necessary.

    The friend issue- we have a huge homeschooling community here, unlike when I was growing up. So I don't worry at all for my boys. They'll play sports through parks and rec, take music lessons in my studio (I'm a music teacher) and attend co-op. We have church activities too and my side of the family is rather large.

    We will be dealing with the small house thing- so far we've added a few bookcases, but we'll probably school at the dining table or on the couch. For those worried about going stir crazy, plan for trips out most every day- to the store, to a local park, for nature walks, whatever to get you out of the house.

  28. Martha

    I hope you are open to another comment from a non-homeschooler –
    #8 : there is no reason to worry about homeschooling for high school if your oldest is not close to it yet. Think about how God works in your life: does He usually ask you for sweeping, 18 year commitments at once, showing you that this is the definitive answer for you? Or does He ask you to trust Him one step at a time? Or somewhere in between? You can always cross that bridge later. You may try it for a year or 3 and decide God is not, in fact, calling you to it – or He was, and now He's not. That happens to lots of people. If you are one of the lucky few to whom God reveals His will for the next 18 years in one fell swoop, I'm jealous. 🙂

  29. Chris and Sarah

    I do not homeschool myself (kids are still too young and we haven't made that decision yet) but I have shared many of these concerns and have several friends, co-workers etc. who do homeschool, and have releaved some of my fears.
    Regarding the socialization issue, I believe this is much more related to how much interaction your kids have with others and if they are encouraged to do extra-curicular activities.
    For most of my life growing up, all the homeschool kids at church were socially awkward and completely out of touch with the culture and unable to connect with any kids their age. You could identify a homeschooled kid from a mile away.
    But I think things have changed a lot since then. My friends who homeschool have kids who are very well adapted, socially able to connect with kids their age. They are also very involved in extra-curricular activities and you would never guess they were homeschooled. And these are not just young kids, 2 kids I know have now graduated and another will this year.
    So basically, the socializatin issue is not what it once was. As long as you make sure they are getting chances to interact with other kids through church, co-ops, sports, dance, etc. I think they will be well adapted.
    Just a few thoughts, hope it is helpful to someone.

  30. Liz C

    I'm a good bit more chaotic than my husband, so for me, home education is also about schooling my OWN character, as my children are a bit more like my husband, and need more structure than I would naturally tend toward. It's perfectly okay for Mom to learn new things, including how to be more organized and scheduled!

    Lack of extended family support: a man shall cleave unto his wife. So long as the immediate family unit is working together, extended family opinions, if they are unreasonable, are really quite superfluous.

  31. Lady Lovas

    I just want to thank you for this post; I'm eager to read all the comments and learn more about homeschooling; we are a new homeschooling family, struggling with all the doubts you listed…and then some.

    My biggest question:


    I would love to hear any thoughts on that.

    God bless you Jennifer! I TRULY enjoy your posts!!!

  32. MaryJo

    So many great thoughts and suggestions. No one remembered to mention – RELAX.

    Homeschooling is a remarkable journey, and learning with your children at home brings flexibility and challenges unique to each child. Enjoy each and every moment, dwell on those that bring a song to your heart and wash those that frustrate you off in the shower. And RELAX.

    Make prayer a priority, and if you are Catholic, make sure that you and your children enjoy the beauty, grace and strength that is found in the sacraments. Foster a love for scripture and a deep, personal relationship with our Dear Lord and His Mother and all the rest will fall into place.

    Homeschooling is a wonderful journey, worth every step along the way. Relax and Enjoy!

  33. Anonymous

    I love the idea of homeschooling but it is a luxury that many moms cannot afford— some moms have to work as housekeepers or gas station attendants and there are also many single moms or sick moms or widows etc… i just want to remind everyone that god is sovereign and will bless your efforts to honor him in parenting your children — trust him completely — wherever your child/children are in school —
    as a side note—

    I love your blog and am daily encouraged when i read it!!! Elizabeth

  34. MaryJo

    To Lady Lovas…If you have the desire and interest in homeschooling, it probably has come from God. St. Therese once said, that if God had put the desire to become a saint within her, then surely He would help her to achieve it.

    Some may receive external signs, but I imagine those are few and far between. Ask God to bless your decision to homeschool and then let Him guide you along the way. I can't imagine that any homeschool situation is perfect. That would require a perfect teacher and perfect children, (ah, not in this life). Pray that He will give you a peace in your heart to know His will. He will never abandon you! God Bless.

  35. Kaycee

    I would love to home school my kids. My son has been having health problems lately, so homeschooling may become a reality for us very soon.

    Last year his school started offering online curriculums for all grades which I think would be a great way to jump into it with a child who has already had a public school experience.

  36. 'Becca

    Jennifer Merck wrote: is it wrong for Christians to vacate the public schools? Who does that leave to be salt and light in our absence?

    I think this is a very important question to consider. If you homeschool because you feel the schools are not good enough for YOUR children…what about the rest of the children, those who do not have the benefit of intelligent, dedicated, Christian parents? Might your limited time be better spent volunteering in your local public schools to help make them better for your children and others?

    SAHMinIL wrote: My kids are still building their FAITH foundation. I would want their FAITH foundation to be SOLID, like a Rock, before I would ask them to go out ALONE into the world to be salt and light.

    Based on my experience as a child and as a parent so far (my son is 4 and has been attending childcare with a wide variety of kids since he was 2), the solid foundation is laid quite early but you can NEVER be 100% sure that it is complete or permanent. One thing that strengthens it is questioning. My non-Catholic parents sent me to Catholic school for 1st grade for academic reasons; when I came home asking questions like, "Who is Hail Mary?" they took it as an opportunity to teach me their beliefs AND teach me to respond tactfully to being immersed in others' beliefs. School is one part of the day. It gave me lots of new ideas to discuss with my parents, and ultimately I wound up being a lot like my parents. When you have laid a good foundation and you trust God, you can let your children meet others without you and then help them process what they've learned.

    As a Girl Scout leader, I've worked with girls from 3 homeschooling families and girls who attend various public and private schools. I'm unimpressed with the homeschoolers' academic skills, behavior, social skills, morality, or family bonds–compared to the girls who go to school (including those who've been in full-time childcare since infancy) they vary just as much individually, and what differences I see are more negative than positive. Your mileage may vary.

    Speaking of which, as you explore it might be worthwhile to seek out FORMER homeschoolers and learn why they quit. It would be interesting to see if their reasons are the same 12 you listed or different.

  37. Becky D.

    I can address some of the questions. It doesn't really take space. Seperate classrooms/desks are not necessary at all. A cabinet/bookcase or two to store books is it. Most of the curriculum is good, decide on one and use it for the year at least try not to skip around mid year. High school really isn't any more difficult, they should be able to do it mostly on their own at that age, my one that did it almost all on her own (my mom was dying) ended up a National Merit finalist. She's starting her junior year in college tomorrow. I think the self discipline she had to develop helped. Your kids really need to respect you no matter what and shouldn't respect a teacher's opinion more. If you want an outside opinion there are many programs that offer grading services. I homeschooled 2 daughters that had been in public school for several years. One balked at first but after about 6 months told me I want to homeschool my kids someday. I only had two and they didn't really get lonely. If you have a small family you might need to make the effort more to join the Y or the homeschool group or 4-H or other things like that.

    Relatives- make sure to not ask for help or complain to the unsupportive ones, it's rather similar to any decision you make that they don't agree with you might have to agree to disagree. I think homeschooling has become normal enough that this shouldn't be a major factor.

    That's all I can think of right now.

  38. Donna P

    Lady Lovas said,
    My biggest question:


    I started homeschooling in 1988. My heart had been convicted about this for two years, yet I had so many concerns, especially accredation.

    I begged God for an answer and then read about Gideon's fleece (Judges 6:33-40). I told God that if I were to homeschool I would need a photocopier by Jan 31. I told no-one (not even my husband) about this "fleece" but just continued praying.

    On Jan 31 I heard a commotion near the rec room sliding doors. I went downstairs and there was my husband bringing in a large photocopier with the help of our son. As one can imagine, my eyes nearly bugged out of my head. He looked up and said, "Well, I figured if you were going to homeschool you would need one of these, but if you don't we can still use it for other things. It was broken. Someone brought it into the office six months ago and I have been fixing it up in my spare time since then."

    It was amazing confirmation, but still terrifying to contemplate actually taking the first step. The day we signed the papers for the Catholic home-school we had chosen a tremendous peace came over me. I knew I was in God's will and I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

    My children are in their early thirties now, their faith intact, with wonderful Catholic spouses and contributing to society. Thank you, God!

    Once I started homeschooling I was filled with His strength that kept me going even through darker days.
    I believe it was the most important decision of my life and I would do it all over again.

  39. Sarah - Kala

    I learned that you cannot look to others for approval of what you and your husband decide for your children's education. This is an important decision the parents of the children involved make, not anyone else. I agree with one commentor who said that you need to evaluate each child's needs each year. I also agree that in the earliest years, there's so much more flexibility in their education and it should/could get more formal in the middle school years. Fortunately, there are very few stones unturned today when making this decision as there are so many resources and wonderful blogs that are out there, too. Ultimately, for me, I believe had we begun homeschooling our children from the beginning, we would still be doing so now. We all enjoyed it to some degree, but using Seton (for us) was too stressful and structured and there was zero fun involved. My kids didn't like the groups I tried to join . . . we are in the world more than other families (example: we watch Sponge Bob and I let my kids enjoy Harry Potter), but we ran into so many ultra conservatives with no telly's and no music (except classical – which I love, btw) . . . My kids felt judged all the time by these kids who were very quick to say things like, "You know SB is a bad show because . . . . " and they have never seen the show themselves. So, my kids were lonely during the school days. There were neighbour kids to play with (and some of them were quite questionable characters, too! but that brings in the salt/light – hopefully my kids were salt/light to those kids) and they were in Scouts.
    Homeschooling is a gift – for the family. I definitely agree that if you feel called to do so, you should, but keep in mind that not every kid is meant to be homeschooled. In that I mean, if they have experienced public school before they are homeschooled, or ever had time in a public school, they may actually miss it. This was our case through and through as well as the boring curriculum I felt trapped in. Although, I will never regret having those years with my kids with Seton, who excellenly taught them their Faith. I think that alone totally makes up for anything else. Now that they are all in public school in HI (new place; we're military) they are happier, but definitely experiencing the nightmare playground talk . . . and my girl wanted to opt out of the sex ed. class, but the teacher called me and tried to talk me into letting her in "this most important class" . . . we signed another sheet opting out and I wrote on the bottom that WE MEANT NO, so don't try to call me. I mean, why bother giving us the choice if you're going to ignore it in the first place? This was my girl's decision. Also, I'm so proud of my girl for saying "no" – AND BEING THE ONLY KID IN THE CLASS TO LEAVE AND LEARN SOMETHING ELSE IN THE LIBRARY DURING THIS UNIT. It does not bother her in the least 'cos she said, "Mom, sex has no place in public discussion." Thank You, Jesus!

  40. Barbara C.

    If you are already a stay-at-home, homeschooling really does become an extension of your lifestyle. And for many of us SAHMs it's the only thing that keeps us sane in the face of laundry and scrubbing bathrooms.

    When you start it can all seem extremely overwhelming…all of the teaching styles and curriculum choices…all of the information and wisdom to be passed on.

    I think there are two important things to remember, though:
    1. You can't teach them everything. a.) You may eventually outsource a few things. b. You can't teach your kid every foreign language, every factoid, every scientific theorem. That's an impossibility for schools and homeschoolers. But you can have the advantage of keeping their love of learning alive and teaching them how to find information they want or need.
    2. You have to find what works for you, your children, your budget, and your family during every season (as someone else mentioned).

    When it comes to curriculum you really have to prioritize your goals and reasons for homeschooling. Then you can start looking at methods that fit your personality (and that or your family) and then narrow down specific books or programs.

  41. SAHMinIL

    'Becca wrote: I'm unimpressed with the homeschoolers' academic skills, behavior, social skills, morality, or family bonds–compared to the girls who go to school (including those who've been in full-time childcare since infancy) they vary just as much individually, and what differences I see are more negative than positive. Your mileage may vary.

    So have I and the same can be said for those that go to public school or private school. Personally, I don't feel that the behavior, morality, or social skills are a reflection of the child's education. It's a reflection of the parent's parenting skills.

    Parents that homeschool are held under the microscope so much more closely then those that send their kids to school.

    We have to be honest and ask, is that a really the result of homeschooling or is that a result of parenting??

    In regard to those cases that you have pointed out. You have to ask: Would those children moral and social skills been better if they were in public or private school? OR would they have been that "problem child" in school? You know that child that is always having disciplinary issues, or that "class bully".

    The lack of the family bond is not a result of homeschooling. It's a result of the parent's priorities, being in the wrong place.

    I've seen, and I'm friends with wonderful people that send their kids to school. Their family bond is just as strong if not in some ways stronger then ours. It's because for them it's a priority.

    Just because someone homeschools doesn't mean they hold family togetherness as a priority.

    In my opinion, children attitudes, morality, behaviors, are really just a reflection of the parents values and their parenting skills and not necessary a reflection of where they go to school.

    Out of everything you mention, clearly academic level would be a result of homeschooling. However, before I started to judge the parents as poor educators, I would ask: Does the child in question have any learning difficulties or disabilities?

    I'll be honest and say my daughter's reading level is slightly below her peers. This isn't because of my lack of working with her. It's because it is honestly difficult for her to get the concepts down. She was having issues in public school with her reading, and that was part of the reason we pulled her out to homeschool her.

    Public schools (and private schools) do have to teach to the middle. Those that excel above the class often just coast by with out really applying themselves. While those that are lacking struggle just to do the "bare minimum", to get by. They may get passing grades, but they don't really have a firm understanding of the subject matter.

    I was seeing my daughter struggle in school with her reading, but not being challenged in her math skills.

    Now that we are homeschooling, I can teach her at her level. Even though she's in "2nd grade"; I'm working on 1st grade reading and 3rd grade math, because that is where she's at with those subjects and those keep her challenged and learning.

    Her behavior, attitude, and social skills, are till the same now as it was when she was in public school. Well they are little bit better because she is a little bit older, but they are age appropriate and have always been, because as a parent I expect certain behaviors out of my kids and have ALWAYS expected certain behaviors even when they were toddlers and pre-schoolers.

  42. BettySue

    I've homeschooled all 8 of my children from birth. My oldest is 17.

    1. I agree- NAP TIME! 1 person per room, quite and still. Don’t have to sleep, but leave mom and each other alone. As for handling the extra demands, your children will be older and that makes a BIG difference. I find school (and housework) WAY easier now that I have 2 teens and 2 tweens, even with more littles than ever before.

    2 There is a 50/50 chance they will be thrilled and relieved at the idea. The other 50%? Who's the Mom? You decide what your child needs (just like veggies verses ice cream).

    3 Do all ages together. Buy workbooks at the dollar store and hand them to the little one to scribble in when it is math time. Give the baby a paper to crumple when you hand them to the older kids for history. Spend a few minutes doing flashcards with the toddler before having a reading lesson with the older ones. Playpens work great too.

    4 Surely you can teach counting, adding and subtraction. After that, buy a good curriculum or check out online resources. There is more than enough out there to help.

    5. Which curricula would you like to use if you were a kid? I loved workbooks in school and am discovering that my dc actually work best with those. You will make some mistakes and have to chuck the occasional book or method. We all do. It takes fine tuning and about the time you get it all figured out, everyone grows some and it all changes anyway.

    6. Families are adamantly opposed. Read lots of homeschool blogs, join a support group, essentially, form a group of support to counter your family. When the dc get older and it is obviously working, they will back off.

    7 children won't respect me. The only thing you really have to teach a child is to obey. If they obey you by doing their chores, they will do their school. The Hebrew word for teacher is almost identical to the word for parent. They should not be different roles in a child's life.

    8 AP-level classes. One word- Internet. You have the world at your finger tips. I just read in Popular Mechanics that MIT has a good deal of their curriculum online for free (though a bit simplified). Sounds like a great AP high school course to me.

    9. Naturally disorganized and scattered. God uses parenthood to grow us up. I was disorganized when I began too. I'm not (or not so much) now. Leave room for your own personal growth. God wouldn't tell you to do it if He didn't know you could.

    10. The Smithsonian Institution’s recipe for genius and leadership:
    "1. Children should spend a great deal of time with loving, educationally minded parents.
    2. Children should be allowed a lot of free exploration; and
    3. Children should have little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives."
    Children learn to be adults by being with adults. They learn to stay children, even into their 20s, by being with children. Our whole attitude about childhood friends is not biblical

    11.You can always take school to the park. I've been known to go out in the yard on especially pretty days. Who says you have to stay in one place?
    And your ability to fit school into your available storage will grow along with your patience and organization abilities. Plus a small space keeps you from buying way too much junk you don't need. I am currently schooling eight children in 1400 square feet. I have done four children in a 32 foot camp trailer. If I can do it, so can you.

    12. Use the library. Have the dc pick one book from each aisle (usually on aisle is history, one science, etc). They read the book and write an age-appropriate length report or if they are little you read them and have them tell it back to you (at this age, you pick one book from each aisle and read it to all the children at once, cutting down your time). You will need a math curriculum after a certain point, but that isn't much in itself.

  43. Elizabeth

    I don't know if you really need 43 comments on this subject or not (hee hee)but here is my 2 cents.

    I am a homeschooling mom to 4 kids and have been at this for only 7 years (currently I have a 7th grader, 3rd grader, Kinder and a pre-preschooler). Our 3rd grader had a speech impairment so he went to public school for K and 1st grade and our 7th grader went to public school for 5th grade. Now we are all at home and loving it.

    1. Oh man is this a journey. It hasn't always been easy and it changes course on you quickly. We had lived by a motto of "we take one year at a time". Not planning or stressing out about the middle school or high school age. Now that we are fast approaching this age…no we will continue to homeschool through out high school..

    The choices for my kids to earn college credits, make a high school course schedule that fits their goals for their future (High School of Your Dreams) how could I put them in a school where the course work is dictated by someone other then themselves?

    2. The kids learn to take part in their lesson plans and have an input to what will be learned that year. What works, needs adjustments, or an area that needs more attention. This process is a natural "evolution" to our homeschooling.

    3. They are more socialized than most kids I know. They work with various co-ops we have started and do so good; communicating with older, younger, or of same age groups. Like a friend stated "I can always tell a homeschooler apart". That said I agree with one post that this is due in large to the parents. We have so much to do with a child's HEALTHY ability to communicate with his community.

    4. Your family is your child first dose of the world. In our house that became the first reason we homeschooled. Now we live to learn. Our work space has a "learning room" (extra bedroom) with a wall of books to read, reference books, microscope for their investigations, a nature section and tons of art supplies for their imaginative creations. We use the kitchen table, the couch for reading and a desk in the bedroom for independent private learning. Anything can work you just have to see what fits your family.

    5. I worked 40+ hrs a week for 5 years (Graveyard counseling for young girls on probation) and still home schooled. It can be done though it was tough. My committment was driven by the kids. I do feel this is "my vocation".

    6. I have an "advance" learner who reads well above her age, thinks and breaths math in her head and loves to sing and play piano. Then I have a one that struggles to read. I don't believe in that he is below or should be rated like that. Some kids pick up new concepts faster than others. He needs to practice and develope more and as long as I see improvement I am not stressing.

    Anyway… there is many ways to home school and there are great sites to get a feel for it. 4real blog is one, Elizabeth Foss's blog..check it out and explore it.

    God bless you!!!


  44. Anonymous

    In defense of public schools (I am a public school teacher), most public schools are staffed by dedicated teachers and administrators. Many of us are also active in respective faith communities, and work hard to instill the values associated with good citizenship in our students. I understand that people have their reasons for home schooling, but I think that people who denigrate the public schools should get off of their soapboxes and visit their local public school! They might be happily surprised by what they find.

  45. MamaTod

    My story is a little too long to tell all of it, but suffice it to say that I've been homeschooling some or all of my 9 kids since 1991, up to 6 at one time. The oldest five have flown the nest…3 college grads including one who just finished her master's degree, 2 USMC alumni (one is also a college grad) and one in college at the moment. He is the only one of those five to attend the public school through most of high school.

    Your #1 problem will be to get past the falsehoods from our own education, i.e. "education takes place from 9-3 every day and only when we are sitting at desks" or "only the experts can properly teach this subject". Any good parent can home school, not all will choose to do so, but any good parent is capable. I agree with the commentator who said it's really an extension of parenting.
    You will learn right along with your kids. They will teach each other. God will bring along other people to supplement or mentor as you need them.

    Take one year at a time!!! Things change.

    Use math and English curriculum for the grade/proficiency level of the individual child, but use unit studies for history, Bible, science, etc. so that you are all studying the same topic at the same time. The older kids will just do more in depth study or term papers, etc.

    Learn to write down what you do in "educationalise". Cleaning, laundry, meal prep is "home ec" and watching the baby is "family life training". I'm serious. Why should the public schools teach this sort of thing and call it by those names and have it be a class, when it's the exact same thing that parents have been teaching for thousands of years without experts around (except their own parents)? Changing the oil in the car becomes auto shop…you get the idea. Just write down that sort of stuff on your lesson plans, either as a plan to do it or when real life interfered with the bookwork to encourage yourself that learning did indeed take place that day.

    With your children so young, I would strongly recommend the Five in a Row series as preschool curriculum. It's very low pressure. It's fun. I would love to have someone young enough to enjoy it with me again.

    Finally, one of the greatest blessings of our homeschooling years is to see my adult kids truly FRIENDS with each other. They are FOR each other in the best sense of the word and they stay in touch although they have been and are literally scattered around the world.

    God bless you on this adventure.

  46. Kerry

    Homeschool mom of 4 for 6 years.

    #1 – there is a balance between accepting some of the exhaustion as a sacrifice (like all parenting) and setting boundaries for yourself. As others have noted "read or rest" is vital around our house, too! This is a great area that one's husband or family can help – making sure Mom gets out or away regularly.

    #4 – there are excellent curricula out there that will help you in areas of weakness. THere are also tutors, outside classes, online classes, etc. My hubby has taken over math for my rising 8th grader. I can do the math, but I'm sketchy on explaining it thoroughly. But if he couldn't do it, I'd find a class/tutor or buckle down and learn it well enough to teach it.

    #7 – While external approval is fine, it is also good for children to learn that learning is valuable in and of itself…and to value internal approval higher than external approval..and God's approval higher than that. I hope my children appreciate a job well done more than an "A". But, full disclosure here, they really dig it when I give them "good job" stamps on their papers. Co-ops help with this, too, as it gives kids a chance to "show their stuff". We participate in Classical Conversations and my kids love this aspect of it!

    #9 – homeschooling doesn't require organization (more than enough to meet your state's requirements). It helps, sure, but it is not required. Sometimes our "organization" is really a ploy to avoid getting down to the nitty-gritty. I sure do love making my pretty, "perfect" lesson plans…but then sometimes implementing them (imperfectly, to be sure) loses its lustre. I have learned to be more organized via homeschooling, though, and that is a very good thing. Again, much like parenting – you rise to the level of need. And I'm sure working moms have to be pretty darned organized, too.

    10 – neighborhood, church, homeschool groups – all good ways for kids to make friends. Remember what your teachers say in school, "We aren't here to socialize." LOL! Seriously, though – very often kids are bused all over the place and don't see their school friends outside of school. I'm actually very thankful that my kids' closest group of friends is within their church circle rather than school. They are growing up together…some of their friends they've known for almost 8 years! Even my best friendships in elementary school didn't last that long.

    11 – take advantage of your yard, parks, libraries, and field trips. Just today I was talking about educating like the Greeks – gathered outdoors under a shade tree. Some homeschoolers actually complain about being on-the-go too much. There is even a name for it: Van-Schooling.

    12 – homeschooling can be costly…but I have friends who also do it really cheaply. There are lots of free resources online. But it is cheaper than private school, and shoot, if your kids do school in their PJs like mind often do, you save money on clothes! LOL!

    I'm disappinted with Becca's judgement of homeschoolers based on her experience with 3 families. What if I judged public schoolers based on my experience with 3 families I met through Girl Scouts? I think someone would say my sample was a wee bit too small. I'm sorry she has been disappointed with those homeschoolers she's met, but I think if she knew a more varied population of homeschoolers she'd be pleasantly surprised.

    SAHMinIL responded so astutely, no need to reiterate her points.

  47. tuhmeesuh

    what a great post, i'm new to the idea of homeschooling but was looking more towards having someone else actually homeschool my children. not sure if this is possible, but looking into it. thanks for this blog post!

  48. Elizabeth

    And here is post #49. I had already posted a comment about how we homeschool but, wanted to add some things.

    Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive but there is a tendency to over do it. Once you start to look at what and how you want to teach you will find a world full of options. Before you know it you can be drowing in the options of what to use and feel overwhelmed. I can't stress enough how important it is to make a learning environment that suits your family, your kids.

    The best education can be done using the resources you have around you. The library, internet, co-ops already in your area, state run charter schools that gear toward homeschoolers, homeschooling websites and blogs for ideas, reviews of products and recommendations.

    For example, RC History (at RChistory.com) has a good world history syllabus that cost only $30 a volume (there are currently 2 volumes with 3 and 4 in production and they cover ancient history). You can purchase the literature and reference books with the syllabus or can borrow the books available from the library or other families.

    Also, we have a small home with only 3 bedrooms. Though we do have a learning room for books and stuff…you don't absolutely need the extra space to teach. Especially since your kids are still little.

    Finally, in response to another post. Yes, there are some home schoolers that look down on the public schools but that isn't to say it's the majority. I have been to my public school in my neighborhood (having worked in one and had kids in another) and I have to say I was impressed with some teachers but not all. I liked some things but not everything. And there was definetly issues for which I was happy to be able to home school. For us it came down to…I love my kids more than any teacher could and have my kids best interest more than anyone else can. We are very blessed to have the opportunity to learn at home (not everyone does) so I take full advantage of it. Not to look down on others, that leads no where, but allow my children the space to truly learn and become the confident, well rounded, person God has chosen them to be.

    Believe me if you could be at any of our co-ops or home to see what we do and can accomplish..boy would you be impressed.

  49. 'Becca

    Kerry wrote: I'm disappinted with Becca's judgement of homeschoolers based on her experience with 3 families. What if I judged public schoolers based on my experience with 3 families I met through Girl Scouts?

    Then you might say the kinds of things I often hear from home-schooling parents (those I know in person, and the dozens on my online mom boards) about what public schoolers are like: rough, rude, too worldly and ungodly, conformist, not working up to their potential, beaten down by the Evil System. I hear these biases against public schoolers from people who favor private schools, too.

    When the only home-schoolers I'd ever known were relatives of mine, the touted advantages of home-schooling seemed plausible. It's knowing a somewhat wider (though still small) sample of home-schoolers that has led me to question whether it's really such a great idea. I don't think it's BAD for the kids, but I'm not seeing any clear advantage. (I have MET many home-schoolers other than these Girl Scouts, but I have not known them well enough to make a fair comparison.)

    I agree with SAHMinIL that these differences between children are really more about parenting than schooling. That's why it bothers me when home-schooling is advocated as a solution to every problem of childhood. Your commentors here are doing a good job of explaining how home-schooling works for them without bashing other choices.

  50. Jess

    The Learning At Home and Beyond forum at http://www.mothering.com on the community forums is an excellent resource for all types of homeschooling questions and help, at least it has been for me. We are starting slowly doing a tiny bit of preschool to get Ella out of the house this fall while we are in transition but I am dipping my toe in with some gentle home pre-schooling as well. We've decided to marry the curriculums from Little Acorn Learning (Waldorf inspired) and the Animals program from Winter Promise (Charlotte Mason based curriculum). We'll see how it goes!

  51. Charlotte

    To the people who are worried about the need for Christian kids to be salt and light in the public schools: A child's job is NOT to be salt and light at such a young, undeveloped age. (Of course, many of them are anyway, thanks to good Christian parenting.) A child's job is to learn, explore, and obey. If giving good example comes along with these things, bravo to the child and his/her parents. But it's not a reason to subject children to the potential evils that lurk in public (and some private) schools. Satan prowls for young hearts, too. Asking a kid to stand tough all day in a secular, institutionalized environment – alongside his/her educational responsibilities – is asking a little much.

    To the teacher who said we should come visit the public schools some time: Yes, many teachers are devoted to their profession. In my own personal opinion, the teachers aren't the problem. It's the other kids in the classroom that are the problem with the public schools.

    Question: What do you do if you only have one child? This is one of the struggles I face in my final decision to home school in a few years. We are late-in-life parents who may not end up with more kids. Everyone here talks about the fun, fun, fun of homeschooling as a family with multiple children. I likely won't have that. And I also worry that other Catholic homeschool parents will judge us about not having more kids.

  52. Domestic Accident

    As a cradle Catholic and product of Catholic schools, it's surprising to me how many Catholics are homeschooling and not sending their kids to Catholic school. I feel like I'm missing something. Anyone know what that is?

  53. SAHMinIL


    You will be surprise how many homeschoolers I have met in my area that just have 1 child: co-op are the way to go. I wouldn't worry about what those other Catholic Homeschoolers will say…

    If they are being that judgmental then they aren't the type of people you want to be around with anyways. That does mean we can't judge but there is a type of thing as "just" judgment. Passing judgment on how many kids a person has or does not have is not "just" judgment.

    Oh and I totally agree with you on the salt/light issue.

  54. SAHMinIL

    Oh and I just want to say, I don't have issue with the teachers either. My kids had wonderful teachers while in public school. I will say MOST teachers are good people.

    It's the system that they have to work with, over crowding, (1:30 or more ratio); teaching to the middle; teaching children to pass standardized testing (how much money a school gets is based on those test results). It's those things, plus the "socialization" that they pick up from their peers.

    The day I told my son's first grade public school teacher that I was pulling them out to homeschool she HUGGED me and told me: Good For You!!!

    You, know my DD was in kindergarten when she was in Public School and she came home wanting to know when I was going to take her to get a bikini waxing, eyebrow waxing, and to the store to get make-up. All because that was what the "cool" kids IN HER CLASS were doing.

    I went to the school and sure enough there would be SEVERAL little girls in the kindergarten class with eyeshadow, blush, mascara, lipstick on DAILY!! That is not the kind of socialization that I wanted for my 5 year-old!

    As for Catholic Schools: Many Catholic Schools have the same issues as public schools when it comes to the kids, and some times it's even worst, because of those families economic status.

    What I'm saying is I had to deal with my kindergartner coming home wanting make-up, bikini waxing, because that's what her peers, her classmates, were doing; I know several parents that send their kids to Catholic Schools that do the same thing and a times even more so because of their economic means.

    And that to the fact that Catholic School are expensive. If I wanted to send my kids to my parish school it would cost me $10,000 A YEAR and that's WITH my parish member discount. Many families, just don't have that kind of money.

    I can give my kids a solid Catholic Education at Home for $500 a year. (That includes books, co-op fees, and other misc things I may buy throughout the year). It cost me at least that much if NOT more to send my kids to Public School.

    Here Public School Registration Fees cost me $300 a year, plus fees for milk, lunch, field trips, and other misc. things.

    So, for us, for the same amount of money, I can give my kids a more custom education, with a foundation in our Catholic Faith and I don't have to deal with "those" peer issues.

    Yes, there is always peer pressure but at least now it's more age appropriate!!!

    It's most likely clear now that there wasn't just one reason that made us pull our kids out. It was several reasons: some academic, some social, and everything in between. Each reason in and of themselves wasn't enough, but add it all together and it was clear that we needed to do something different.

  55. Alice@Supratentorial

    I'm a new homeschooler. My son is in 1st grade and we did kindergarten last year. So, take my advice with a grain of salt. 🙂

    I'm also an introvert and for me it's just essential to make sure I have some time alone. My husband is great about giving me that time, but I need to be sure I ask for it also. I also work part-time out of the home and he stays home on those days. That time out for me helps me to have something of my own that is not related to kids or school. I think that's important.

    On the high school issue…our approach is to consider it year by year. We homeschool for multiple reasons but both my husband and I agree that we could envision a time when we feel it is no longer the best thing for our family or for that particular child. I know people who homeschool through high school and we're open to doing that but I'm not going to worry about high school now with the little ones.

    And on the small house/stircrazy issue. We have a very small house and the clutter is a bigger issue for me. I'm learning to accept the fact that with kids hear all the time and all the school stuff it will never be neat for long. As far as being stuck at home, a bigger issue I find is not getting overwhelmed with outside activities. There are so many great things to do and so many offerings for homeschoolers in many communities (ours is one) that it would be easy to be gone doing stuff 8 hours a day.

  56. Anonymous

    I like the "salt and light" analogy that some have made here, with regards to sending children to school. I am the public school teacher who posted earlier. My own two sons attend public school. Most of their peers are very good kids. A few are not. However, my boys have had strong values instilled in them at home, and possess, I believe, the tools to make wise decisions.

    Last Spring, my son's junior high had sex ed as part of the health curriculum. My husband and I had talked to him about sex, and making wise choices. Well, he came home and announced that was not going to have sex until he got married…HIs health teacher simply presented the facts about pregnancy and STDs. No moralizing, just plain facts and common sense. I understand that people have their reasons for homeschooling, but there is much to be said in favor of children learning how to get along with different kinds of people.

  57. Anonymous

    Homeschooling has become such a fad. Every Christian family feels like they have to jump on the bandwagon. Most of them do so without really giving any school a chance. They claim that it's about protection and nurturing, but what I hear is control, fear, and a lack of faith. Oh, no, if my child's faith is the tiniest bit challenged, it's going to fall apart! Good things happen when we trust. But trust involves risk, and risk is for other people, not my own child.

    There are good reasons to home school. I envy homeschoolers the extra time they have, since it does not really take seven hours a day to get through the curriculum. On the other hand, he's had great experiences in school, and I am very glad he's not homeschooled. We were lucky enough to have options so that we could choose an alternative school for him. I would encourage prospective homeschoolers to really explore the schools available to them and search their hearts–are you homeschooling because "god wants you to" or because it's what the other cool christian moms are doing? We live in a multicultural society, and I do not think raising your child in a catholic bubble is the best way to prepare him to interact with that culture whenever it is you think he is old enough to do so. So your child will never have to deal with a bully or a bad teacher, but he's cut off from those really great life-changing teachers and friends you would never find through the homeschool cooperative.

  58. Jennifer Merck

    There has been some discussion here about the idea of whether children should be salt and light in a public school setting. I think I was the first to mention it and wanted to clarify something. I agree that we shouldn't expect our children to be salt and light. They often are, but we shouldn't expect it. What I'm talking about is our family being salt and light. I feel called to be on the PTA, to get to know and work alongside other mothers. I feel called to be present. My marriage can be light in the midst of darkness for some families. My home can be a refuge to children with chaos and anger at home. And, for me, the opportunities are creates by our presence in the public schools. I just wanted to be clear that I'm not expecting my kids to be evangelists. I am, instead, that God will use me and my family in this mission field.

  59. Charlotte


    Homeschooling is not "cool," nor do I think anyone doing it is cool. In fact, while I feel I am being called to homeschool and I know it is the 100% best choice for my child, I am afraid of being labelled tragically uncool if that is indeed what I decide to do. Homeschooling is NOT a fad and I think many of us would take issue, indeed even be offended by that line of thought.

    We don't need to "try" out any school on our kids. The proof of what public schools and many private/religious schools produce is available all around us, even many times in our own churches. So a few kids come out unscathed. So what? Most of the kids come out morally bankrupt. If they don't show it by middle school, almost always it shows up in high school or in college. Note that the government continues to introduce and mandate school programs and curriculum that ENSURES moral bankruptcy. For instance, just recently, the U.N. has been promoting the notion that kids between the ages of 5-8 years old should be taught about masturbation!!!! Hello!!!! How many U.S. teachers unions take their cues from organizations like that? England has already almost nearly agreed to take the U.N.'s direction on the kiddie masturbation issue – how much longer until we follow suit? This is just one example of many, many that I and others in this discussion could offer. A good education isn't worth anything if your kid comes out disillusioned and broken from the wicked, secular influences under which the great book education was obtained.

    Kids who are homeschooled are NOT raised in bubbles. Yeah, there's a few. But the vast, vast majority I know are the most vibrant, intelligent, well-socialized children I have ever met. They can have an intelligent conversation with adults about topics beyond Sponge Bob and "How was baseball practice?" This is how it once used to be. Some people think that for a child like that to act in such a manner now makes the kid a freak. Hardly. To believe that a child picks up wisdom and virtue from other kids is delusional. To believe that it's normal that it's a good thing that a child be sequestered all day with kids all the same age is to miss the point. (Same-age schooling came about in this country out of convenience, FYI.)

    Yes, there are good teachers out there and there are some interesting, exceptional kids a child MIGHT come in contact with in regular schools. But for homeschoolers, we're not willing to take the risk of MIGHT. Instead, we KNOW that when we homeschool and get involved with homeschool groups and involve our kids in other community activities and hobbies – it's an almost absolute that our kids will come in contact with those exceptional people.

  60. LovingMom

    "Most of the kids come out morally bankrupt. If they don't show it by middle school, almost always it shows up in high school or in college."

    This is a strong statement, but I don't believe it's true. It is sad that the homeschool debate must so often deteriorate into generalizations of any sort. It's just not helpful.
    As the mother of two public schooled teenagers, I've contemplated/prayed about homeschooling for years without being led to take that course.
    A couple of this "old" mom's observations:
    *It's about the quality of parenting, not about the location of the school. Whether or not you homeschool, you are and always will be your child's first and most important teacher. Too many PS families forget this,leading to negative outcomes. On the other hand, a HS parent who fails to be actively present to their children during the day gains nothing from the added exposure.
    * Don't sweat elementary school. A dedicated HS parent will do just fine. On the other hand, most of the PS parents I know are just as actively involved in their kids' education, by volunteering at school and in teaching math concepts over a cookie recipe, phonics in the car, reading to their kids, etc.
    High school is a different matter, given that children at this stage of life should be exposed to other perspectives, IMHO. Our son attends an excellent PS with many course offerings and dedicated teachers. While I have much to offer him in terms of English, literature and history, his teachers can only add to that. As an aside, I'm always surprised that HSers suggest enrolling their high school kids in community college classes. The quality of education and the seriousness of the students is far higher in the average high school AP or honors class.
    * Your public school experience will depend on your particular school, on your community values, and on your willingness to advocate for your child. This isn't an either-or question. I advise parents to exercise their right to take a child out of a sex ed class, to demand a transfer if teaching quality is poor and to make their concerns and desires known to the local school board.
    * Remember that in God all things work together for good, and that includes education. Take your responsibility for your child's faith formation seriously and the rest will fall into place.

  61. Elizabeth C.

    When we began to home school I received quite a load of criticism from friends and family members. Mainly because they didn’t understand. I, along with my sister-in-law, was alone in this for the first year. I sure didn't think I was following a fad but knew that I wanted MORE for my kids.

    I am repeating myself by writing "you would be AMAZED at what is done in our house and in our groups”. Our kids play, learn and "socialize" with so many different age groups, ethnic and religious backgrounds in addition to belonging to a Catholic home school group. It would be an incorrect assumption to say that homeschooled kids are sheltered, though there are exceptions. But the same can be said of kids in public/private schools. There are always exceptions. In general though, homeschool kids do fair better in understanding the world around them.

    For example, my kids see the world with open and honest eyes. They don't shrug off the homeless man we see by our grocery store. In fact they say hi, call him by name, and show him he is NOT forgotten. My kids work with our neighbors young and old, spend time helping a couple at a store, and have conversations that are truly CONVERSATIONS. We as their parents, continue to be their filters. We need to be because they are children and need this time to grow and mature, becoming ready to enter the world on their own as adults. You can’t say I have my head in the ground because I was IN the front lines with child welfare and probation for years. Those girls often stated they wished for the kind of education of LIFE I was trying to give my kids. I do fail. I am not perfect…no one is.

    Yes, there is peer pressure, arguments, misunderstandings, hurt feelings (why this could be just between the siblings too). Some kids get along better than others. They are kids and are living their lives. We are not in bubbles, many have given the public schools a chance thus now learn at home, and believe me we build trust with our kids from day one. Personally, I don’t take offense with anyone’s comments here. I do feel that some comments come from a lack of knowing or fear of what they don’t understand. Why on earth would someone take that load? Because once we’re in it (it) is AWESOME, crazy, overwhelming, beautiful, joyous, hectic, grand, inspiring…and a whole lot of fun!!

    I do hope we learn something new from each other in this exchange of words. Ultimately the ability to learn at home, the chose, is up to each family. So God bless to you all here and to the original “poster” our host; you’ll be great at it!

  62. Carrien

    I've been homeschooling formally for 3 years now. I was teaching my children long before that.
    I live in a small apartment. I'm not naturally organized. I use very little money and I'm often overwhelmed when I stop to think about all the stuff I am doing.

    I do manage to get time to myself every day.

    It's working very well for us so far. I wrote a few posts about it that may be helpful.

    Approach and basic philosophy

    Curriculum, you don't always need one.

    What our day actually looks like.

  63. Anonymous

    This is for Charlotte: I have been teaching in the public schools for ten years, and I have never, ever, EVER heard of any school, public or private, anywhere, teaching kids about masturbation….:)!

    (I am the public school teacher who posted the other day….)

  64. Elizabeth K.

    I too am surpised by the number of Catholic families turning to homeschooling–at least, they are the subject of many blogs. I'm not here to convince anyone to use thier parish school if they don't want to, but I do want to say that I've found my parish school to be a wonderful, fun, warm community that provides an excellent education for a comparitively low price. Most give discounts for multiple siblings (eventually, they're free). And I also wanted to say, as a college teacher, most kids are NOT emerging from private and public school morally bankrupt. There are a lot of wonderful, caring young people out there–the majority, I'd say–emerging from all kinds of backgrounds.

  65. SAHMinIL

    To the Anonymous Public School Teacher-

    I believe that Charlotte is making reference to the UN and it's new report in which the UN is recommending that children as young as five receive mandatory sexual education that would teach even pre-kindergarteners about masturbation and topics like gender violence. The U.N. insists the program is "age appropriate.

    See Fox News for more info: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,543203,00.html

    There is talk that our current President will follow the UN recommendations on this matter.

    Also, in England they are already doing these things….

  66. Izzy

    I have a post at my blog called 'Why I home school' and other posts about the topic. Read it if you want an opinion that is not based on religious or political agendas. I have homeschooled my son for the past 4 years with less stress and more success.
    P.S. I disagree with 'Wendy' when she said "There's only one reason to home school: you think it's what God wants you to do." The reality is that there are many rational reasons to home school. God gave us brains for a reason.


  67. Rina

    Hi, Jennifer (and everyone else). I just wanted to give you a link to something I posted today that relates to this issue. It's a wonderful quote by RC Sproul Jr. and addresses very eloquently many of my own concerns over homeschooling. I thought you and your readers might like it. You can find it here:


    Hope this helps.


  68. monica_divineoffice.org

    Going through this comments makes me wonder about homeschooling… I think it can be done! :)) Peoples experiences count more for me than a study or an article somewhere. Thank you Jennifer for this opportunity.

    Liturgy of the Hours

  69. Barbara C.

    The reasons we chose to homeschool had a lot to do with the experiences my husband and I each had in traditional schools; his was public and mine was private.

    I did really well in school because the structure totally fit my learning style and personality. Despite being valedictorian, though, I didn't learn very good critical thinking skills. I also floundered socially for many years and received absolutely no help from any teachers until high school. (Thank you, Sister Rose.) And many times I was subjected to group punishments even though I never received a single detention. While there were some classes where I was moved ahead of grade level, there were other classes where I had to waste time repeating the same information until others caught up. And I was put in classes that had no relevance to my future (Calculus) just because it might reflect well on the school later.

    My husband did well in school until about 5th grade, then he realized that no one really cared. He started calculating the bare minimum he had to do to pass. By high school he was only attending the number of days required by law. He barely graduated. He later graduated from college Summa Cum Laude and received his Master's degree. He now teaches Community College.

    I believe schools can produce adequate and even some exceptional people, but I do not believe schools are the only ones able to do so as commonly believed. And I feel that I can give my kids something different and better by homeschooling, most importantly a customized education. However, I selfishly would not want to miss this limited time that is their childhood, even when they drive me crazy.

    As for the person who questioned community college classes over high school AP courses, it really can vary from college to college and school to school. My AP classes (taught at two different Catholic high schools) were not much different than my regular classes and I was woefully under-prepared for AP exams. The community college where my husband teaches is on par with many four-year universities (he gets a lot of Ivy-league reverse transfers over the summer), whereas the community colleges in our home state were like sub-standard high schools (he taught at those part-time).

  70. Charlotte

    What I mean by morally bankrupt is this: Kids who are taught to believe that diversity and forced "equality," gay rights, reproductive health and all the other lefty, liberal schlock are more important that Godliness and holiness. Kids who end up caring more about the upcoming dance and what they're wearing and Hannah Montana and Guitar Hero, etc. Who has an iPhone and who doesn't. Rampant materialism. Or as with the commenter above who said her little girl came home wanting to get waxed and wear makeup!

    I know I will outrage some people by saying all these things, but in doing so, I'm trying to make a bigger point: What some people in our society consider as great, exceptional and well-adjusted kids look to some homeschooling parents as kids who are programmed according to the secualar, humanistic agenda that permeates our society – i.e. morally bankrupt. Many of the values being taught to kids in schools today ARE devoid of morality and logic, but society tells us they are the holy grail of political and emotional correctness. I'm simply asking parents of tradtionally-schooled kids to consider there is another take on what constitutes an "exceptional" kid.

    If your kid comes straight out of a traditional high school and volunteers their butt off, is a totally compassionate kid and all, maybe even goes to church – but at the same time is having premarital sex and contracepting and thinking abortion is just fine and dandy – well then, what say you? I'd say that's morally bankrupt. But society would say that kid is fitting right in within his or her hhuman rights. Unfortunately, the kind of kid I'm describing is the norm, not the exception. And the kind of kid I'm describing is also produced wholesale out of the Catholic schools as well.

    Granted, I'm talking from a purely orthodox Catholic perscpective, which most regular Catholics don't even share. Maybe people would say I'm on the fringe – but I know dozens of homeschool families (and some non-Catholic) who agree with me wholeheartedly. Society can do better than this. The kids' souls are at stake.

  71. paladin

    May I also offer my standard offer to all homeschoolers? (My wife and I can't conceive, so one of the ways I "reach out to nurture children" is to make this offer.) At the risk of sounding corny (or like a geek–though that last part has truth to it!)–whenever I meet them, I offer all homeschoolers free e-mail high school math tutoring (most especially about specific concepts and problems, but I could try to help with something more extended–my time is pretty crunched, though, since I teach full-time). It isn't much, but maybe some help with a stubborn algebra or calculus problem might help relieve some stress for someone, someday? 🙂

    (See my profile for e-mail address.)

  72. ekbell

    In regards to concern nine I've realized something very important.

    For all the work of homeschooling it is the only thing (aside from Mass on Sunday) that I have managed to center a daily routine around. Whenever we take a break from homeschooling (such as to enjoy the summer and the fact that the children's friends are free of school) my household routine (such as it is outside of lessons) completely breaks down.

    As someone living in a rather small three bedroom townhouse with five kids, a good way to deal with concern eleven is to head outside.

    In good weather we take our books outside and work on the lawn. We walk to the library, do fieldtrips and spend time outside studying nature (normally by catching and looking at bugs).

    When stuck indoors we break things up by doing seatwork in the dining area, reading and discussing on the couch in the living room and moving back to the dining around for hands-on projects.

    Between going out and a decent regard for everyone's right to spend time to themselves it works although I admit that the house can seem very small after a week of thirty degree below zero weather.

  73. Lana

    Elizabeth Foss made some great comments on this topic over at her blog the other day. It is thoughtful, sensitive and encouraging, as is typical of most of her posts.

  74. Wendy

    If I may clarify, I believe the only reason to do anything is because you think it is what God wants you to do.

    However, God almost never descends from the heavens and writes the day's agenda on a stone tablet!
    So,yes, God has given us intelligence, will, and memory, and we use these to figure out God's will. Faith and reason never conflict.

    Seeing the pros and cons of homeschooling is part of that discernment. Of course there are other excellent reasons to home school (and not to home school), but the decision to seek God's will and follow it will be the ultimate deciding factor in the decision of how to educate our children. When I say it is the only reason, I mean it it the ultimate reason which decides all others.

    I would also like to disclose that my husband is a public school teacher.

    One last piece of advice for Jen: Discern a short mission statement with your husband so that you have a clear view of why you are homeschooling. This will simplify all the little decisions.

    For example, ours is: To help our children become who God created them to be. In practice this means our curriculum choices are very tailored to each child and very flexible. When I need to make a choice about co-ops, activities, and materials, this guides my choices.

    Another example would be: To give my children the highest possible classical education. This could have guided me in the direction of a packaged curriculum with Greek and Latin.

    The choice that is best is the one God is calling you to, and you can trust Him to show it to you. You will know when you find it because you will have joy.

    I blogged about this here:


  75. JMB

    First of all, I have no advice to give about homeschooling because I don't do it. However, when making any decision regarding your family's education or well being, I've always found David Covey's principal of "beginning with the end in mind" to be of utmost importance. Your son is still very little. Start small, keep it simple and take year/month/day by day. It doesn't have to be complicated or difficult to work. Don't worry about anything else. The future will take care of itself.

  76. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I came back to this post no less than 3 times to make sure I'd catch all the comments – and I spent a decent amount of time following the links. I feel reasonably good about my decision to homeschool, though Hubs is a bit worried about the amount of work. I'd be more worried about getting my kid (hopefully someday kidS!) on the bus before 7 and not getting them back until 4:30. That's just too long. Plus – and most importantly – there's just too much to learn at home, especially since I hope we are living on our farm by then. Honestly, I can't wait! Anyway. Linked to this on my weekly roundup – post is here. Thanks so much for putting this out to your great readers!

  77. Sun-Kissed Savages

    Okay, I'm going to address the "they won't have any friends" concern, along with the opposed in-laws.
    I was homeschooled between 8th and 12th grades. My parents kept us actively involved in church activities and our local homeschool group. It was just never an issue.

    However, that was the biggest concern for my in-laws, who thought the kids would be too "sheltered" or socially deprived and, as a result, they would end up "weird." Yeah, thanks. 😉

    If anything, we are an OVER-socialized family, and I've learned to cut down on activities. There are SO many opportunities, co-ops, support groups, classes, field trips, playgroups, etc for homeschoolers now. We have to really pick and choose which things to participate in. We've found this to be true for most other homeschoolers as well. I believe they have more socialization, and it's of higher quality: you are choosing who they socialize with and where it takes place.

    My in-laws are great supporters now, as they've seen my kids grow and mature. I actually heard my mother-in-law bragging about our daughter a few months ago, followed by the comment, "yes, well, she's homeschooled you know." 🙂

  78. Sun-Kissed Savages

    I agree, too, that if a family feels led to homeschool, God will give resources, support, and grace as it's needed. Take one day at a time.

  79. Tertium Quid

    We decided to homeschool this year after four years at the local Montessori School.

    We have chosen the traditional curriculum of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, a new group out of North Carolina. A classicist couple live with their several children in the country and study the trivium and quadrivium together. They pray the Liturgy of the Hours and try to live as lay Dominicans.

    We will tell you what we think after a few weeks.

  80. Sarah

    Thanks for this post. It was a good one. We are not a homeschooling family. After having 5 kids in 5 years, I know my current limits. But I think homeschooling is a beautiful gift to family life. I am at peace with sending my children to an excellent Catholic school. But I also am open to the idea of maybe doing it in the future … Until then, I will enjoy *teaching* preschool to my 4-year-old this fall. We'll see how that goes and go from there.


    I just came across your blog and am so glad I did. My oldest daughter was in a really bad accident in sixth grade. She missed a month of school. Seventh grade she missed so much school because of dr. appointments and because she developed psoriasis due to her accident. The school district was going to fail her. I took her out and homeschooled her. It was so successful. She looked forward to her assignments and didn't feel the apprehension she used to feel in public school if she didnt understand something and needed more time. As a result I withdrew my youngest daughter who would now be in third grade and have begun homeschooling her.
    I go to the website of their "grade" through the school district and am able to follow exactly what they are learning at public school. They can work ahead and learn at their own pace with out being held behind.
    We have also found a website GSN that is VERY affordable and provides everything you need to homeschool. No books…its all done online.
    I work part time and worried very much that after my job and housework that I wouldn't have the time to work with them. We have put together a schedule of sorts and it's been successful. After dinner when tummies are full and the house is winding down we go over new materials. I grade when they are in bed and once a week each girl gets a one-on-one with me out of the house to go over areas they are having trouble with. So far so good. I may get less time blogging or reading but the education of my children comes secong to nothing.

  82. Anonymous

    I don't have kids, so I have never had to worry about homeschooling anyone, but I do know people who have used a great homeschooling program that works wonders for them. It is TTUISD. TTUISD is a K-12 diploma program that provides parents with all the tools they need to teach their children at a low cost.

    I thought I would tell ya'll about it because I think it would help quell a lot of homeschooling anxiety. Since TTUISD provides everything, it helps the parent become more of a mentor than a teacher. Also, TTUISD offers dual-credit classes that will give students the ability to earn college credit as well as challenge them more.

    If you're interested, check it out at http://www.k12.ttu.edu!

  83. Stephani

    I decided to do a version of a home-school program when I ended my sophomore year in high school because snowboarding became a bigger priority in my life as did competitive cheerleading and it was just WAY to hard to go to High School and balance the extra curricular activities plus, I was so sick of the drama and the bullying. It seems these days those things are getting so much worse. I just had an experience with some girls in high school trying to break up me and my boyfriend by telling me he was cheating on me with them. They lied and said they were 20 years old cause mind you that is how old I am and my boyfriend is 23 and so I am totally for home-schooling. My mom was also very worried about allowing me to do this because she works so much but, we found a very great alternative. My high school offered an independent study program where once a week we were required to go to school for one hour to turn in homework and discuss our work as well as get new assignments and in doing that I actually graduated a year early. My brother who struggles with grades also decided to take this option his senior year and he graduated with better grades then he’s ever got as well as 6months earlier than his actual graduation date. So for you moms who are nervous about doing full on home-school try seeing about these independent study programs I think both are wonderful ideas.

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  86. Sandy

    You said, “If any experienced homeschooling parents have shared any of these worries and found ways to overcome them, we’d love to hear about it! (I don’t expect that any one commenter would feel up to tackling all of these — I’m thinking that people could just write in and address whichever concerns they most relate to.)”

    The book “Overcome Your Fear of Homeschooling with Insider Information” addresses all of the concerns, except #7 and #11. It’s on Amazon at:


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