Not your parents’ homeschooling.

One of the things we still get questions about on a regular basis are the scope, accountability, or limitations of homeschooling. Given the way the practice has exploded in recent years, this surprises me, but the reality seems to be that most people are still fairly committed to the conventional public school system, with private school close behind for those who can afford it.

The perception of homeschoolers as isolated, socially awkward, and lacking educational rigor or responsibility is far removed from our particular homeschool experience. In fact, we have run across a lot of things and people in our Christian homeschool community that dovetail and overlap pretty closely with the secular school world. For example:

  • A strong emphasis on acquiring the tools to test well enough to get into college
  • A trend toward insuring kids have credit transferable to the state system
  • A marked increased in the use of tools like the public virtual school network to tackle subjects the parents can’t or don’t want to tackle.

Those are just three that initially occur, not including some of the peripheral issues concerning culture and modesty that many families are dealing with, largely as a result of the fact that church youth groups and ministries contain a mixture of kids from all educational backgrounds. Additionally, there are different standards on many of these things held by parents as well.

So when people ask me questions that I thought were already well plowed in the general culture and with answers I think are well known, I am surprised. Our homeschool experience is far removed from the days when the clarion call was “Heaven, not Harvard!” To be sure, the wonderful Christian homeschool parents we encounter and enjoy fellowship with are definitely more invested in their kids’ eternal end than their temporal one. They have simply decided that a top notch education can be included in those plans.

We are such parents, and our homeschool life reflects that. We have always been crystal clear on the reality that not all socialization is good socialization, so that basic question has never been something that moved us. However, for the sake of accountability, rigor and fellowship, we have included a few outside educational components to our homeschool life. I’ll list a few.

When our 11-year-old started her middle school years this fall, we knew that we wanted to add some extra rigor and accountability to her education, and so set out to research the many venues we are blessed to have in our area.

These are venues more structured and yes, more expensive, than your typical homeschool cooperative that most people think of when they consider homeschool enrichment. That is not what we were looking for, having already been connected to such a cooperative for several years.

What we did was enroll our kids in what can only be considered a part-time Classical Christian school, where the teachers are paid and the high school level students receive credit for the work they do. In our area, there are many alternatives available for homeschoolers to avail themselves of such services and it’s one of the reasons why we have, unlike may communities, a fair number of families to share community with for the past 5 years, forming lasting friendships.

Socialization? Check.

As for the question of curriculum and state accountability, the curriculum our kids are working on are, in most cases, more rigorous than the public school curriculum, but in the areas where a student might need more time or developmental berth, homeschooling provides the opportunity to provide it. Having paid teachers who often grade assignments more strictly than parents or conventional teachers has been instrumental to our daughters’ academic development.

Accountability? Check.

Rigor? Check.

I realize that not every homeschool family has access to the resources that we enjoy in our particular situation and geographic region. The point of this post is to point out that homeschooling has evolved in myriad ways. Many of the ways are for the better, and some are for the worse.

One thing is for sure. It’s not the same Christian homeschool most often thought of by those only familiar with the kind of Christian homeschooling called to mind in people who are familiar with the homeschool movement popularized in the 1980s.

This is a new generation of Christian homeschooling.




18 thoughts on “Not your parents’ homeschooling.

  1. Robyn says:

    “One of the things we still get questions about on a regular basis are the scope, accountability, or limitations of homeschooling. Given the way the practice has exploded in recent years, this surprises me, …”

    It doesn’t surprise me.

    The questions themselves (discourse, conversation) are excuses to alleviate responsibility. Parents that engage in this subject, don’t *really* want to home educate: They just won’t come clean it. This method allows the none homeschooler a place in the conversation that makes them seem like just as much of a sacrificing parent as the parent that has given up their life for their kid; rather than just saying, “I don’t want to homeschool and would rather go to work/have a career.”

    “but the reality seems to be that most people are still fairly committed to the conventional public school system, with private school close behind for those who can afford it.”

    The conversation almost always spring-boards off one of these three excuses: (1) Something to do with socialization coupled with, I just don’t have the patience. (2) Money. But rarely are both excuses brought up by the same person in the same conversation. And finally, (3) Our school isn’t like that.

    Perhaps I’ve gotten a little jaded after 25 years of home education, hearing variations of the three same excuses over and over and over again. I can pretty much nail, with 98% accuracy, what excuse a parent is going to use. (I don’t think it’s judgment, I’ve just paid attention and listened to what people have said.)

    The problem for me isn’t that most parents don’t want to homeschool, I really believe God gives us our kids and *we* are responsible to Him for our parenting – free choice and all, right? But don’t make excuses and lie to yourself; or convince yourself that yours is a special case wherein you cannot do it *but really want to*, be honest to your kids and yourself.

    I think public (secular) education is a great thing for the world at large, for parents wanting their kids indoctrinated with humanism. Kids have got to go somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elspeth says:

    Homeschooling can be a really good way to give your daughter a better education, Major..

    That said, it certainly isn’t for everyone. I am not a part of the “homeschool or die!” crowd. Where we live has been a great blessing for us when it comes to this choice because I am not a particularly confident homeschooler and the options available here are abundant.

    Lots of ways to split the difference between mom and dad doing everything and support from more knowledgeable parents and educators.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elspeth says:

    Color me naive for still being surprised Robyn, LOL.

    But yes, sometimes it is clear that the questions are more about the questioner than curiosity surrounding how we do this.

    There are also a lot of ideas about homeschooling that have been held over from when Christians spiked the numbers in the early 80s. Visions of denim jumpers pop into their heads

    I don’t have anything against denim jumpers. I’m wearing a near floor length denim skirt as I type this. I’m using “denim jumpers” as the catchall phrase used by those who speak derisively of the movement and some of its modesty standards.


  4. Elspeth says:

    You have a really great set up there Hearth, where your kids can take advantage of charter school part time while you and your DH still control the education reins.

    The only way I am aware of that we can do that down here is through using Florida virtual school.


  5. hearthie says:

    Charter schools are the bomb, and they’re popping up like mushrooms here. Not without a fight – there is constantly legal weirdness going on at the state level fighting against them. (FYI they’re public schools, funded at state level).

    I was thinking about colleges, actually. My mom sent this to me yday. and of course you can get quite a good education on youtube if you care to do so.


  6. Bike Bubba says:

    Robyn’s got a great point. A lot of the objections to home education are really excuses, and those who keep asking them despite being told the answers–for example, my kids get social interaction at church, at the doctor’s, while shopping, at homeschool coop activities, etc..–are really looking for a way out of not just homeschooling (which is fine), but rather responsibility.

    Along those lines, I’ve made a point of noting to parents that if they understand that the buck stops with them, and that they will pay the penalty to a degree if their kids do not learn (by depending on their parents well into adulthood), they’ll do OK with almost any form of schooling. If they don’t absorb these lessons, any success they have will be purely by accident.

    I like the comment Hearthie makes as well about employers getting impatient. The guy who taught me some quality engineering basics noted that he loves university statistics professors because they don’t manage to present the basics of the profession as far as industry is concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. hearthie says:

    I note that Mike Rowe is plugging a documentary channel online … pure documentaries, no reality fluff. Dennis Prager has his “Prager U” – although I think those vids are far too short. You can watch all the vids online to become a church-counselor (have to pay for the test, but not for the info). ETC.

    I am HOPING this push is us taking our education back.

    But call me on “responsibility” when I don’t have a whiny 13yo who doesn’t want to do her homework faster than a crippled snail over a saltlick. She really does do better for a teacher. :p Next year, next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elspeth says:

    I am HOPING this push is us taking our education back.

    I wonder how long the trek is between the emergence of these trends and their acceptance in the mainstream education/employment world where it counts. I hope it is short.

    whiny 13yo who doesn’t want to do her homework faster than a crippled snail over a saltlick.

    Not sure how fast a crippled snail moves over a saltlick but this sounds vaguely like my 11yo.


  9. Robyn says:

    to Major Styles;

    You said that we need more homeschooling info out there. In your opinion, what information would be helpful?

    The reason I’m asking is that I’m considering adding an extension to my blogging for homeschooling.


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