Homeschooling won’t save your kids

Homeschooling won’t save your kids.

  • “I’m thinking about homeschooling my kids.” 
  • “I’d like to homeschool, but I’m worried about socialisation.”
  • “I’d like to homeschool my kids, but I can’t because I’m a single parent.”

I have three kids… two girls aged 19 and 15, and a boy of 9. 

All three are homeschooled. 

One had a brief stint at school for a couple of years when she was 13, but that’s a story for another day.

For today, though, I want to talk about those three quotes above. They aren’t real by the way. But I hear versions of them online and in real life. 

I live in New Zealand. That’s on the other side of the world, and in case you’re wondering, the education system is broken here as well. 

As some very brief background, when my wife and I started homeschooling, it was considered kinda weird. 

Grandparents were concerned. Words were said. 

And to be honest, I was sceptical. And I had been sceptical for a long time.  

What happened was that I had started my training as budding Marxist thanks to the failure of my own education to provide me with any of the tools I needed to think clearly.

And my wife-to-be was training to be a school teacher but fixated on this idea of home-schooling. 

Naturally, I was against it. 

What did she know?

After all, if it was good enough for me to go to school, surely it was good enough for my kids to school too?

She was training to be a teacher for goodness sake. 

That wasn’t my only objection. 

What was the big deal? What about socialisation? What about all the things that you have to know about stuff to teach kids? 

What about…? Fill in the gap yourself.

It’s easy to be a critic when you don’t have any skin, or rather DNA, in the game. Now though I have nearly 20 years of skin, quite literally my DNA, in the game. 

My quick answer these days to homeschooling objections is simple. 

Socialisation, for example? Well, what of it?

Any criticism of homeschooling equally applies to mainstream schooling. I just flip it around.

Don’t talk to me about socialisation… Have you seen who is going to be socialising little Sarah?

There’s plenty of kids who, after more than 10 or 12 years of schooling are not what you’d call “well socialised”. And that’s not even the start of their problems. 

The same applies to every other criticism. Do you really think school teachers know all that stuff?

Dirty secret: They’re just like you and me… They know some stuff about stuff, but a lot of them can’t spell or do mathematics. And they dress funny and have weird ideas about things.

Flash forward quite a few years and now with three kids growing up, I still have mixed feelings about homeschooling.

But I don’t regret homeschooling. 

My oldest just came back from a trip across North America and Canada that she planned and funded entirely herself through working damn hard for a year. And she’s barely 18.

She has the skills to succeed in life including a solid work ethic. I’m proud of her. I don’t care if she doesn’t go off to university to do some meaningless degree.

My mixed feelings are about other things. 

One is about the amount of time involved. 

Homeschooling is a massive time commitment. Schooling out-sources this time commitment to others. Often, but not always, this is the state. 

This outsourcing, in itself, isn’t a bad thing. It’s about the effective use of resources. That’s worth considering, but you certainly wanna know some more about who you’re outsourcing to.

Back to my soapbox, though. 

Here’s a hard thing: Some folks want to homeschool, but can’t because both parents need to work. 

I get that. I’m fortunate enough to work from home most of the time, and my wife helps me run our business. 

And she’s the one that does most of the homeschooling stuff. I’m around to help when I can, but it still takes up big chunks of her time. 

Fortunately, she loves it. 

But not everyone does. And not everyone can do it. 

And that brings me to the third quote. If you’re a single parent, it’s easy to wish that you could homeschool, but beat yourself up about it because you can’t.

Don’t get me wrong… it is possible to homeschool as a single parent. But it’s damn hard because you need help, whether it’s grandparents or neighbours or whatever.  

However, if homeschooling is impossible for you, whether right now or perhaps ever, you shouldn’t waste your time beating yourself up about it. 

Or your circumstances.

In MiddleEarth, where I live, I know people who see homeschooling as something that is going protect their little loved ones from… well from everything.

Here’s the thing, though:

  • Homeschooling won’t save your kids. 

Or theirs. 

What’s more important is… you.

You’re likely the deciding factor in whether little Johnny turns out to be a little shit or not.

That’s independent of whether he’s homeschooled or sent to a fancy private school.

“Monkey see – monkey do” rules the day here.

If you, either as a single parent or not, are interested in Johnny’s education (and your own), then Johhny is going to be fine. 

Disasters happen of course. 

But they happen to homeschool families as well as families who send their kids to school. 

God and the universe don’t discriminate about this. 

Bad things happen to good people, to paraphrase Mathew 5:45.

And unless you live in a bubble, teenage pregnancy, porn and drugs, for example, are just as available to your homeschooled teenagers as they are to every other teenager. 

It’s who you are and how you respond to challenges in your own life… that’s what’s more important.

My kids are the best and worst parts of me. Yours are too.

If I want my kids to get outside and get fit, then I’d better drag my sorry ass outside and run 5 or 10 km.

How do I deal with stress and trauma? 

Do I like myself as a person? 

Do I have a good work ethic? 

If you want to homeschool and you can, then do it. 

If you can’t then you can’t.

But your kids will learn by watching you.

You monkey.


This was something I wrote recently for the AION MEDIA Newsletter

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Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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