Disclaimer: Before answering your questions about homeschooling, let me clarify: Any commentary herein is based only on my opinions and my family – please don’t take offense or feeling like I am making any blanket statements about your family.  For instance, if I say that I chose to homeschool so that I am able to have a greater impact on my children, I am not in any way implying that people who don’t homeschool have a lesser impact on their children – I’m just giving my reasons for my choices.  I do not think that homeschooling is the perfect choice for every family, and I especially don’t think I know what is best for every family.  Each family needs to seek out what is best for themselves.

Answering Your Questions, Part Two: Homeschooling.

Eleanorjane – I am interested in the homeschooling thing. As an ex-High School teacher, I’m pretty vehemently opposed to homeschooling – can you explain why you do it?

I was homeschooled all twelve years, so I am very familiar with the pros and cons.   But the short answer is, I feel like it prepared me very well for higher education, the workforce, and life.  I learned to be self-motivated, learned great study skills, and was able to get a firm grasp on my morals and beliefs from an early age. I was also able to do my daily school work at my pace (which is very quickly), so that I was able to work quite a bit during high school, thereby giving me experience for my future career.

Oh yeah – and my Mom made me write a ton. Which might have something to do with this blog’s existence.

One of the first things people ask me is, “if you homeschooled, how did you learn social skills?”.  I believe that the biggest myth about homeschooling is that it always impedes social development.  I won’t deny that it certainly can hinder socialization if a family secludes themselves, but that is not the case for most homeschooled families.  I had so many homeschool and church events, groups, classes, and extracurricular activities that I don’t feel that I missed out socially.  And now, because of the significant rise in the number of homeschoolers, there are exponentially more of these opportunities available.

Colleges are also recognizing the value of homeschooling and recruiting based on that.  Many even have scholarships just for homeschoolers.

I don’t think that homeschooling is for everyone, but it was perfect for me.  And, considering Ali’s personality (she loves to learn and is a complete geek like her parents), I believe that homeschooling will be well suited to her, as well.

Cara – Do you plan to homeschool your kids through high school?

We’re not sure yet – we are certainly not opposed to it as my experience was very good, but are also not committing to it.  We want to do what is best for our kids at the time.

Jessica – I’m guessing Ali is home schooled? Why did you decided to go with home schooling?

We decided to homeschool because of how well I feel it prepared me, and because Ali loves learning and we’ve really enjoyed teaching her.  We also love the fact that homeschooling allows us to pour so much time into her life, giving us the opportunity to teach her our values and beliefs at a deeper level.

Plus, I have the best homeschooling resource in the world – my Mom!

Lorie – What would you say were the best and worst parts of being homeschooled?


1. How well it prepared me for a college environment,

2. The dramatically increased amount of time we had as a family, and

3. The extra time I had which allowed me to pursue work and other interests.  Because I could do my work at my pace (I didn’t listen to lectures – I studied the books, did the work, and took the tests), I was able to have a job in my future field (accounting) during my last two years of school, and I was able to get ahead enough to take six weeks off of school to go on a missions trip to Cyprus during my Junior Year.


1. The lack of competition probably kept me from doing as well as I could have in High School.  I had no idea how ridiculously competitive I was until I got to college, at which point I was obsessed with making the best grades possible.

2.  For those interested in playing college sports, depending on your state’s laws, you could be disadvantaged by homeschooling.  However, states like Florida allow homeschooled kids to play on public school teams, which is how Tim Tebow, a homeschooler, was able to become a famous quarterback for the University of Florida.

3. The feeling of “not being like everyone else”.  I don’t consider this a “bad part of homeschooling” anymore, but at the time I did.  Now I realize that being different and learning to be okay with that helped shape my personality.  Also, now that homeschooling is more prevalent, this isn’t nearly as much of an issue as it was when I homeschooled.

4.  College calculus was very challenging for me, and I feel it could have been easier if I had taken a class in High School, rather than trying to figure it out on my own (many “traditional” classes with other homeschoolers are available through their school groups and other resources).  Fortunately, though, I married an Engineer while I was still in college, so Chris tutored me in Calculus throughout our first year of marriage!

Sarah – I just took my wee boy in for his first school visit today (here in New Zealand kids start at 5 but their parents go along for the first couple of visits). Home schooling is very unusual here so I find stories from people who home school fascinating. It seems to be quite common in the US?

It is becoming more common all the time.  When my Mom started homeschooling us in the mid 80’s, it was very rare and practically unheard of.  But the popularity has soared, as have the opportunities for homeschoolers.  In fact, at our church, over half the kids are homeschooled.  When I was in school (at the same church), I was one of five homeschoolers in the entire youth group of sixty kids.

Mary @ Parenthood – What age did you start? What age did you start with Ali? When are you planning to start with Noah? Why would you (or wouldn’t you) encourage someone else to homeschool? What do you think is the biggest disadvantage of homeschooling?

First, what age I started: When I was in the first grade.  But because my birthday is in October, my Mom started me in first grade when I was five, so I ended up graduating when I was 17.

Ali: It depends on what you consider “school”.  I started teaching her to recognize and say letters when she was a little over a year old, but our first “definitely school” project was when she learned all of her states at two and a half years old, followed by Presidents and writing letters at almost three, and Countries,addition and subtraction at three years old.

However, please don’t take from this that I’m being over-aggressive with her education. We only do things that Ali thinks are “fun” (she literally still thinks school is a game), and only do them until she doesn’t think they’re fun anymore.  Which means that sometimes we do school three days a week (never for more than an hour a day), and other times we go weeks without doing any school at all.  At this age, I just want to instill in her that learning is interesting and exciting – there’s plenty of time to learn to be disciplined.

Many of our school projects (interspersed with my thoughts on the matter) can be found by browsing through the “Homeschooling: Not Just for the Socially Awkward Anymore” category.

Noah: It will depend on his temperament.  If he’s like his sister and enjoys learning, we’ll start early.  But if he’s all boy and too busy running around and destroying my house to sit and learn his letters, then we’ll either start later, or I’ll try to find a creative way mix learning letters with running around and destroying the house.

Would I encourage someone else to homeschool? I am very careful to never push my schooling opinions on others – every family is different and has different needs.  I would only encourage someone else to homeschool if it’s something that they’re already feeling led to do.  It’s not for everyone, and you’ve really got to WANT to do it to make it work.  Also, the child’s temperament plays a huge role on the ease and success of homeschooling.  I would definitely encourage anyone who IS interested in it to research it further, ask questions, and consider trying it, though.

Biggest Disadvantage: Already covered above in the “worst” parts of homeschooling.

karen – how did you teach Ali to write her letters?

Ali wasn’t nearly as interested in learning how to write her letters as she was in learning what they were.  It took me awhile, but I found two things that helped:

First, she was much more interested in “forming” letters than in writing them, so we would practice making our letters with a piece of string, silly putty or play-doh.

Secondly, the thing that most helped her want to write them was completely by accident – she got a Cinderella and Ariel Game for her Leapster that had a game on it where you traced a letter, and then Cinderella came behind you and danced on your letter.  THAT totally sold her – I mean, if a princess will dance on your letters, who wouldn’t want to write them??

Other homeschoolers: please feel free to chime in your answers to these questions, as well.

Everyone: please feel free to ask further questions, give your own insights, or discuss in the comments. I’ll answer any follow-up questions within the comment section.

34 thoughts on “Answers, Part Two: Homeschooling.

  1. wow. this is very interesting. my mom started homeschooling me in the mid 80s, too…lol…yes, it was much more un-heard of then…lol. loved your answers…we have so much in common. except NOT accounting. haha. =)

  2. I thought you did a great job with these questions, Rachel! I’ve finally come to the conclusion that my plan is to go public school all the way through. However, I’ve also come to the conclusion that I need a backup plan. If plan A ever fails, plan B is to homeschool within the context of a co-op and a cover school. I’ve never viewed homeschool as an option before b/c I don’t feel like patient teaching is my gift. I also found school to be very easy, so I have a tendency to be intolerant of learning styles that differ from my own (i.e. If I understand, why don’t you?) Math played a part in that too. I can tell you the answer, but showing you my work the way the book wants me to was always tricky. How do I teach my kids to think in that box if I have to work around it myself? All that to say that once I realized there were classes that you could join, lab sciences available outside the home, co-ops, and field trip groups…I felt like homeschooling became a viable option. It isn’t for everyone, but I think it can fit more families than I previously realized. My experiences with family members who homeschooled has been VERY negative. I think that was a problem with the way those family members schooled…not homeschooling.

    That was A LOT. Sorry to be so verbose! :)

  3. As a fellow homeschooler from Kindergarten through 12th grade I agree with so much of this! I do remember when I was younger and no one knew what “homeschooling” was, so if we went somewhere in the middle of the day my mom would leave us in the car and we would play quiet games so no one would see us and ask why we weren’t in school!

    I agree that there are so many opportunities with homeschooling….I was a competitive gymnast and because I could finish my work quickly (and didn’t have homework) it gave me a great schedule for practice. It was really a great experience being homeschooled and I really believe it prepared me well for college and beyond.

  4. Great explanation! Thanks! I have been getting very interested in home-schooling. I’m still not sure if it will be right for my family, but, like Nikki, I am viewing it as Plan B in case my kids don’t take well to public school, or the school in our area isn’t good.

    Here is my main concern about homeschooling, and it might actually be better asked of your mom since she has so much experience. How does a mom handle homeschooling? It seems like an incredible amount of work, time and effort. I am planning to be a work at home mom, working part time (about 20-25 hours a week). Is it feasible to homeschool and work part time?

    1. I think it would depend on how many kids you had, but I would think so. However, I let Mom know that she had questions awaiting her attention, so I’ll let her reply with the long answer!

      But my Mom and us kids did run a business during our years of homeschooling (we had a used textbook consignment store), and both Mom and I did a TON of work regarding that store (as did my brothers, as well). It was feasible, and it actually worked into our homeschooling – I learned a lot about business by helping with hers!

  5. I think you did such a great job answering these questions and opened my eyes more to the positive sides of homeschooling. As a child psychologist, I tend to be more opposed to homeschooling; however, I seem to see mostly the negative effects of homeschooling (e.g., parents not doing an adequate job teaching, not socializing their kids, etc.). Your post has shown me that it doesn’t have to be negative for everyone. I still do think a lot of the parents that I see probably shouldn’t have chosen homeschooling, since for whatever reason, it may not have been the best choice for their family. But, as your post shows, it can be the right decision for some families. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Leslie! It makes sense that you’ve only seen the cases where it didn’t work. I certainly remember families like that growing up, but the majority of the families I knew then and know now are successfully homeschooling families.

  6. I think it is a good option (have several friends that do it) but it is NOT for me. I am a teacher, and summer at home with my kids drives.me.crazy. Now, that’s not to say that if it became something we needed to do for whatever reason, that I couldn’t adapt! One of my friends is doing the University Model. Her child goes all day for 2 days, and the teacher provides basic lesson plans for the other 3 days at home. Nice for little boy, because he gets 2 days of a totally new experience, and nice for mama because she has a bitsy one at home. I think that might be what I tried if it was me.

  7. I had never even considered the possibility of homeschooling until I started working in a school. I work for a wonderful school that is geared toward students with unique learning styles and offers an extremely small teacher/student ratio. I fell in love with how the teachers took the time to research and discuss each student to see how they learn best. Being in the public school system through 9th grade, then a private Christian school 10th – 12th, I saw the drastic difference between the environment where I work and where I went to public school (private school was great!) I would love to have my children go where I work if it weren’t for the 5-figure yearly tuition, so I began to think, “Man, I think I could do homeschooling – no one cares about my child’s education like I would.” Having said this, we cannot afford for me not to work at this time, so I will echo an above question- would it be possible to homeschool and work full-time?

    Another option is to try the public schools in the area (they have a great reputation here), but supplement as much as he will tolerate both before he starts school and after starting. My main concern is that he receive the moral and spiritual teaching along with the secular- which will be done regardless in our home.

    Loved reading these posts! You may be able to start a full-time career as a homeschool mentor after this!

  8. I really appreciate hearing about your experiences as a second-generation homeschool mom. My kids are in public school, but homeschooling is always in the back of our minds. I help teach beginning orchestra students in the kids’ school district, and it amazes me how slowly the students progress compared to students who take private lessons, even in an orchestra program with a great reputation! When you apply that to math, science, etc., it’s very interesting to think of the power of one-on-one education, especially from someone who knows and loves their kids better than anyone else.

    1. Yes, the one-on-one part definitely makes school easier AND more efficient. It takes so much less time when you’re only having to teach at one kid’s learning speed, rather than trying to reach every kid at every level.

  9. Nice job explaining, Rachel.

    I was one of those five in the youth group of sixty lol. Church and other activities provided plenty of social interaction, and the experiences I was able to have because I wasn’t in school eight hours a day more than make up for any perceived disadvantage.

    Many people I’ve told about being homeschooled have been in awe – I actually got the comment once “But you’re so NORMAL!” – but as I explained to them…

    It’s not that homeschooling makes people socially awkward, but especially in the 80’s and 90’s when we were doing it, it was more the type of people who typically homeschool(ed) their children that created the stigma of “weird”.

    In fact, even though I was homeschooled for 11 years, I still sortof think about it that same way. Someone says the word and I picture one particular family I knew that embodied every stereotype of homeschooling everyone has.

    Except the lack of actual education (book smarts) part. That’s rare.

    1. Yes, one way I heard another homeschool Mom put it like this: There are two types of homeschoolers: “Homeschool Families” and “Families that happen to Homeschool”. There’s a big difference – one that us former homeschoolers are all too familiar with.

  10. In some states (like here in Oregon) homeschoolers can take a few classes through the public school if the want to . They are also able to be involved in public school sports if they want. Our local community college also has a program specifically for homeschoolers where they can take their last two years of high school classes and get a two year transfer degree at the same time. Check with your local schools or ESD to find out what is available in your state/area.

  11. Thanks for the answers Rachel, I have always said that if I have children I want to either homeshool or have them attend private school.
    My sister and I went to both public and private Christain school because and I learned so much more in the private school, I also liked the smaller classroom environment it offered. I am thankful my parents made the decision to send us although it was a financial strain. It was to them and my sister and I worth it.
    I have always been intrigued by the idea of homeschooling and everyone I have met that was homeschooled are wonderful well adjusted people, and especially now when you can be apart of organized sports or field trip groups, I think so of the stigma and labels attached to homeschooling will or should go away. Because you are right Tim Tebow certainly is a prime example of being sucessful in the sports world and being homeschooled. He is also a great and amazing person. I think it is a great option for someone. I know like private Christain school it isn’t for everyone though.

  12. Kristina absolutely refuses to work on writing letters with me. However, she thinks getting to type on the computer is great fun, so at least she’ll be able to send emails from a young age!

  13. Our babysitter was homeschooled as are/were her other 9 siblings. :) And she had way more extracurricular opportunities and options than I ever did going to a very small public school. I think there are so many things now for homeschoolers to be involved in that it is only the parents’ fault if the kids turn out to be socially awkward! :)

  14. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for your enlightening post. Your experience obviously covers some of my concerns i.e. you actually graduated and went to to College and it sounds like your Mum was a great teacher. I’m also impressed by the things you’ve mentioned about your teaching methods (except memorising lists – NZ education is very much focused on skills, not knowledge so much…) But the play doh letters are a great idea and very observant of you to work that out. :)

    One of my concerns is that great teaching isn’t nearly as easy as people think it is. Teachers spend at least 3 years learning how, then (in NZ at least) are supported for another 2 years, then receive professional development after that. And many of them still aren’t really great! On of my previous jobs involved assessing volunteer teachers – I saw about 80 a year teach a half hour lesson and they varied wildly in quality! It sounds like you’ve got the knack, but many parents may not…

    In my experience, I’ve mainly seen examples where the children have received no qualifications and were unable to go on to College. They did not cover a broad curriculum (or any curriculum at all in some cases!).

    I also have seen parents who I think are fullfilling their own emotional needs rather than what’s best for the child. There are two families at our church – one of them has at least two special needs children who (as far as I know) have not been diagnosed or treated. The older child is of an age to start gaining some qualifications (and I believe she could, with support) but her parents are not organising that. It concerns me that this girl is not getting the best chance at an independent and successful life.

    On a more positive note, one of my best friends was homeschooled and did gain qualifications and go to College but she is of a fairly uncompromising nature. Not sure how much of that is homeschooling…

    Anyway, I do realise that schools can be shocking and that they do let down many kids. One of the things that broke my heart when I was teaching was the kids between about 25% and 40% on tests. Unless they were under 25%, they didn’t get any extra help (and even when they did get help, it wasn’t enough). So, there was a group of kids who were very likely to fail and the school had no way of giving them the intense coaching which could have pushed some of them up to 50%. Also, by High School, most of these kids had decided they were dumb and weren’t going to try.

    Parents generally didn’t know how to support these kids either by coaching themselves or hiring a tutor. Also, because the kids had given up, it was too hard for most parents to try to get them to do their homework etc.

    It’s a tricky one!

    1. I wonder if the laws for homeschooling are stricter here in the US than they are in New Zealand? For instance, in Alabama, you are required to be in a Homeschool Cover Group. That group is responsible for ensuring that you are teaching what you need to be teaching, that you’re keeping up with records, credits, and testing, and that you’re participating in generalized testing (I think). Not to say that there aren’t families that are still irresponsible with learning, but this process does seem to weed out a bunch.

      Oh also – for clarification, I’m not one for teaching lists of things either – she was learning the geographical locations of states and countries so that she could point to them on a map and name them. Kind of like a list I suppose, but geography has more value in my mind.

      1. Hi Rachel,

        Yes, it sounds like you’ve got a much better system of support and curriculum materials etc. than what I’ve seen here. Good to know and keep up the good work :)


  15. Great post! I hate all the sterotypes that people label homeschoolers with. Unfortunately I have known several families who are the epitome of all those sterotypes. But great job helping people understand that it’s not just for those who are wanting to shelter their kids from reality.

    I think the big thing on homeschooling success is the parent’s motives. If they want to shelter their kids and keep them from having to deal with the negatives in life, then they will likely have introverted, socially awkward kids, but if their motives are a better education/one-on-one instruction/more family time, then their kids will be fine.

    I was homeschooled 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade and I loved it. We used to finish our schoolwork as fast as we could in the winter and then the whole family would head up to the Mtn. and go skiing for the rest of the day. It was awesome. :)

    I’ve actually heard of some districts in my area that give parents money to buy curriculum with! The stipulation is that you can’t use it for Christian curriculum, but that would be really nice for the basic stuff! Do you know what curriculum you are going to use with Ali? What did your mom use?

    I need to do some more research on resources available for homeschoolers in my town before I make my final decisions. Thanks for the great insights!

  16. Thanks for the answer. (did I really write “why did you decided? I need to remember to edit! :)
    My sister is planning on homeschooling as well because she had a HORRIBLE experience with school when she was a kid.
    I’m glad to hear that you chose it because of your positive experience… it’s always better to make a decision from a good place than one of fear. Personally, I’m probably not patient enough to sit down and do school with them… so I’ll leave it to the professionals and do supplementary stuff at home.

  17. Rachel – what a great post! I had the opportunity to teach at a University Model school last year and really appreciated the fact that students and their families were able to get the ‘best of both worlds’. Parents received support by having a curriculum to follow and a network of other homeschooling parents. Students had the opportunity to get both the classroom and social experience. We just moved to another state that only has one UMS in the whole state – kind of a bummer! But maybe by the time my little guy is ready there will be more options available. :)

  18. I didn’t know you were homeschooling! We started a 4K program this year with 2 other families with boys close to the same age. With most things the 3 year old does the program as well. It has been great and we are researching co-ops and curriculums for next year, but I think we are going to wait on a cover school until the next year.

    I had never planned on homeschool and was pretty passionately against it until I taught in the public school. I taught in a struggling school and in a great well-funded school. I really think that successful teachers are the ones who tailor their teaching to the students and are flexible. I want to be able to give that to my kids every year. We also want to use the very limited time that we have with our children wisely. But the most important thing about homeschooling getting to teach scripture and Jesus as the center of any education. We don’t know that we will always be called to homeschool or even with each child, but we are willing and joyful for as long as we are called to it. Thanks for sharing!

  19. I really wanted to do that for my daughter, but I am organizationally inept so I would only have done her a disservice. I did enhance what was learned at school outside of school though. I LOVE coming up with activities/crafts/ideas/games for the kids.

  20. Great post about homeschooling.

    As you know, we’ve recently begun our homeschool journey with our son who happens to have developmental delays and visual impairment. Our son does not respond in typical ways and his development is all over the map so he does not fit into one category for teaching. He is also very much a run/jump/climb little boy. He had a wonderful teacher at the private pre-school/daycare he was attending but I spent a lot of time working with her developing materials and helping to adapt her materials. I have found that it takes a lot less time for me to work the things he needs to know into our day than to do formal sit down work. As a result, he has come to enjoy some sit down work for short periods. I believe that his attention and love for learning will only continue to increase.

    Also, I am able to focus on his actual knowledge of a subject and not just production of a specific coloring page or craft or whatever.

    My husband was quite the skeptic but after seeing how much our son’s development has taken off from us being able to tailor things specifically to our son’s level, he is singing the praises to everyone.

  21. Interesting! I am leaning towards homeschooling Elizabeth but not sure yet if I can find enough French immersion type opportunities outside of school and I really want her to be bilingual, so we’ll have to see.

    What Leapster games do you recommend?

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