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Studies and Reports About Home Schooling

Washington Times Op-ed—Socialization not a Problem


How to Fail at Homeschooling in Three Easy Steps
by Marybeth Whalen


The sensible man considers his steps. Proverbs 14:15, NASB


I can still remember the first day I put my kids in school after homeschooling them for five years. When I returned home after dropping them off, a friend called to see how I was doing. "How was it?" she asked tentatively - apparently expecting tears and regret from me.


"Great!" I responded enthusiastically. "I barely slowed down at the curb to let them out of the car!" I explained how euphoric I felt as I turned my children's education over to other, more capable people. I felt liberated that day and explained to my friend that I would be able to concentrate on my two little ones still at home now that my three older ones were tucked away at school. Surely this was the answer to all my problems.


The honeymoon, however, did not last long.


Little by little, school began to creep into our family life and invaded in ways I had not anticipated. There were papers I needed to sign, three teachers' demands that required attention, and three classroom schedules to keep up with. The phone rang nearly every day for some committee or volunteer commitment I was supposed to sign up for. "What about my two younger children?" I asked the ladies who called to enlist me. "What should I do with them while I am at the school?"


"Oh, well, don't they go to preschool? You should sign them up for preschool so you can be free to volunteer. I know of a preschool that has openings if you're interested . . ."


What happened to more time with my little ones? What happened to all the free time school was supposed to give me? The evening homework and endless outside commitments seriously limited the family time we had once taken for granted. Teachers, I discovered, did not care about the Christian concert you wanted to attend when you had (yet another) project due. Since we had never had kids in school, I simply wasn't prepared for all of this.


Perhaps the biggest wake-up call for me was the day my husband took the kids to school. When he returned, he looked at me with tears in his eyes. "I hated leaving them there just now," he told me. "I feel like we have let go of the family we can only be if we homeschool."


I am happy to report that before the first semester was over all three children were back home - living, learning, laughing, (and crying) with us again. Our big school experiment was finished. Both the children and I had to learn that the grass was not greener on the school side of the fence.


As I have reflected on that time in our lives, I have come to realize that I took three basic steps to becoming a homeschool failure. My hope is that in sharing my mistakes I will speak to the heart of some other mother who finds herself gazing a little too fondly at the big yellow school bus.


Step One: I took homeschooling one year at a time and did not commit to it long term. I saw it as an educational method and not a lifestyle. By doing this, I was only able to see it for what it was worth when I did not have it anymore. When you are only able to commit to homeschooling on a short-term basis, you lose the richness of embracing it as a lifestyle. Not only that, but the entire family has the added pressure of keeping up academically with the schools "just in case" homeschooling does not work out.


Step Two: I focused on those around me. By trying to emulate my homeschooling peers or trying to keep up with my children's friends, my home became a silly race-to-the-finish rather than a place of solace, contentment, and refuge. Focusing outward - on the schools, on peers, on neighbors, and on extended family members - only leads to defeat. It is better to focus inward on our relationship with the Lord, on our spouse and children, and on the atmosphere of our home.


Step Three: I lost my vision for homeschooling. Without a vision for why you are homeschooling and what God has called you to, your homeschool will perish just as mine did. The Bible says that we should, "Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run" (Habakkuk 2:2, NASB). If you have lost your vision, spend time alone with God rediscovering why He called you to homeschooling. Reconfirm your commitment before Him; then write down what He has shown you and any special verses He gives you. Ask your husband and children why they like homeschooling, and write down any encouragement they can provide. A friend of mine keeps a "Why I Homeschool" file filled with encouraging articles, quotes, verses, notes, etc. Go back to these things when your confidence is low and you are in danger of losing your vision.


The happy ending to this story is that my failure was only the beginning of our new and improved homeschool. I learned how not to homeschool and was able to start fresh with a new attitude and a new commitment. Just remember: God will resurrect your homeschool just as He did mine. If you allow Him to change your perspective, He will redirect your steps toward success in Him!


The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand (Psalm 37:23-24, NASB).


Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and homeschooling mommy to six blessings from God. The Whalen family lives in Charlotte , North Carolina .
Homeschooling Helper from the editors of Homeschooling Today® magazine August 3, 2005 - Volume 6, Number 8


Homeschoolers Score Higher On ACT College Entrance Exam - August 19, 2005


First Wave of Home Schoolers Come of Age


Home Schooling and the Myth of Socialization


Social Skills and Home Schooling: Myths and Facts


Home Schoolers Arrive on Campus


Home Schooling Grows Up
From The Home School Court Report, volume XIX, number 6: " Home schooling families across the nation know that criticisms about adequate socialization are ill-founded - they have the evidence right in their own homes. But research on the abilities of home schooled adults was limited until the home education movement exploded in the 1980s and ,90s. Finally, there were enough home school students to study, and now, as those young people have completed their education and are assuming adult roles in society, there are enough graduates to provide statistically significant data on the final product of home schooling. In order to answer the "socialization question" with scientific facts, HSLDA commissioned a new study and chose Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute to conduct it. HSLDA's synopsis of the study is entitled Home Schooling Grows Up . Over 7,300 home school graduates participated in the study. Of these respondents, over 5,000 had been home schooled for more than seven years, and the statistics in HSLDA's synopsis are based on these responses.


Jud Jerome, writer, poet, former professor at Antioch, wrote about his son, Topher, meeting this so-called "social life" in a free school run by a commune:
... Though we were glad he was happy and enjoying himself (in school), we were also sad as we watched him deteriorate from a person into a kid under peer influence in school. It was much like what we saw happening when he was in kindergarten. There are certain kinds of childishness which it seems most people accept as being natural, something children have to go through, something which it is, indeed, a shame to deny them. Silliness, self-indulgence, random rebelliousness, secretiveness, cruelty to other children, clubbishness, addiction to toys, possessions, junk, spending money, purchased entertainment, exploitation of adults to pay attention, take them places, amuse them, do things with them - all these things seem to me quite unnecessary, not "normal" at all (note: except in the sense of being common), and just as disgusting in children as they are in adults. And while they develop as a result of peer influence, I believe this is only, and specifically, because children are thrown together in school and develop these means, as prisoners develop the means of passing dull time and tormenting authorities to cope with an oppressive situation. The richer the families the children come from, the worse these traits seem to be. Two years of school and Topher would probably have regressed two years in emotional development. I am not sure of that, of course, and it was not because of that fear that we pulled him out, but we saw enough of what happened to him in a school situation not to regret pulling him out...