I’ve been homeschooling for 16-plus years. My husband initially planted the seed in my mind when our eldest child was entering first grade. I was completely ignorant to the process and quite frankly, wasn’t even sure it was legal. We laugh now, recalling how aggressively I combatted his idea. I spouted off a long list why teaching my daughter at home would be impossible. I pointed out that I could be a homemaker or a teacher but there was no way on earth that any woman on the planet could do both things simultaneously and anyone claiming to be doing so not being honest with the person to whom she was speaking or to herself.
Fast forward to 2019 as I type this in the morning before my kids awaken because the early morning hours and nighttime hours are when I work from home at my “pay” job. Our homeschooling journey has helped four students achieve high school diplomas, thus far, with a senior this year and four others to follow within the next five years. My eldest spent 12 years in outside schools; by the time I mustered up the courage to homeschool her younger brother, she only had two years left of high school and we did not cancel her enrollment (a decision we have always regretted). That same child, now a mother of two, also works from home and homeschools her own daughters.
I’m often surprised by the continued negative bias that exists against homeschooling. There appear to be several schools of thought, from those who actively support the idea (like my mother, who begs me to never stop) and those who think they would like to try it but doubt their skills, to those who seem to take homeschooling as a personal affront against their own lifestyle choices or against teachers and outside school systems.
I believe many people who think they hate homeschooling have been given misguided information and have therefore formed opinions on false perceptions. Some parents lack the courage to do something counter-cultural. Others convince themselves they couldn’t survive without dual, full-time incomes generated outside the home. Many homeschooling mothers I know are degreed teachers, who left their classroom jobs to teach their own kids at home. Where there’s a will, there’s often a way.
Homeschooling is definitely not for everyone; however, neither is going to private or public school. I think most homeschoolers wish that parents and teachers who have chosen other paths would simply acknowledge their right to do the same.
My children participate in sports at our local high school. I have great admiration and respect for the school’s teachers and coaches and we support our local schools as much as we can, both financially and with our volunteer time.
I have many friends and family members who are teachers who avidly support our choice to homeschool and strongly encourage me to continue, especially when I have turned to them over the years, asking whether they think I should send my kids to outside schools.
Homeschoolers often face questions regarding why they are hiding from the world, whether or not they worry that their kids don’t get to be with their peers for 8-10 hours a day like “normal” kids and how they expect their children to achieve success in life when they haven’t had “real” educations.
A quick review of current data regarding homeschoolers who pursue college educations is all it takes to correct the erroneous idea that an education provided at home is not real. Further research of significant figures in U.S. history who were homeschooled also shows that not only is such education real, many students thrive in self-motivated, customized, independent learning environments.
Negative homeschooling bias is often prompted by ignorance. There may be underlying issues, as well, such as subliminal feelings of inferiority or worrying that a person choosing to homeschool is somehow trying to degrade or disapprove parents’ decisions to send their kids to private, charter or public schools. For the purpose of full disclosure, I admit I have indeed met homeschoolers who are prejudiced against all forms of outside education, which is just as detrimental to children as those who are biased against homeschooling.
Another common misconception suggests homeschoolers somehow deprive public schools of government funds. To the contrary, as taxpayers, homeschooling parents still financially contribute to local school funding. Homeschoolers ease the financial burdens on public schools; in fact, current data shows that choosing to homeschool helps save taxpayers and public-school systems billions of dollars every year. In short, it costs less to educate fewer students.
Diversity is part of the world’s beauty. Our children are blessed by the fact that parents have multiple options to choose from when determining how to help them achieve educational success. Education is about intellectual, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Inculcating a love of learning in our children is most important, regardless in which setting style that learning takes place.
Every family is unique and every child has the right to learn in whatever way best fits his or her needs and ultimate life goals. Isn’t it wonderful that each parent can discern what is best for his or her children and wouldn’t we all be better off if we encouraged and supported one another’s choices?
Writer Bio: Judy Dudich
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.