Yay Or Nay? Homeschooling

Written by

Kate MacLean

2:00 pm

Elle Strauss, Photographed By Nicki Sebastian

The homeschooling movement in the United States has steadily increased in numbers since its origins in the 1980s. Today there are somewhere over 1.5 million children homeschooled in the country, and the numbers increase by about 1.3% each year. There are a wide variety of reasons parents may choose to homeschool and an even wider variety of ways in which they accomplish it every year. These aren’t children sitting in vintage desks in lone rooms, while their mom or dad dictates from the lectern. These children are learning in the kitchen, in the forest, in the fields, in science museums and art galleries, in neighbor’s houses, in the living rooms of grandparents, on city streets, and everywhere in between.

Parents may choose to homeschool because they live rurally and their local school is very far away, or maybe their local school is close by, but underfunded and struggling. Perhaps their child was bullied at school or is simply not flourishing there. Some homeschooling families choose to do so because they disagree with the public school’s mandatory focus on the Common Core, or they can’t afford a private school. There is no one reason to homeschool, and likewise, no one method for how to do it. It isn’t for every kid and it certainly isn’t for every parent. Homeschooling is not an insignificant time commitment and requires considerable job flexibility on behalf of the parents.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and comes with requirements that vary state-by-state. Broadly, parents must submit yearly lesson plans to the state, and at the end of the year, their child is evaluated (in person, not by testing). Homeschooling is an intentional practice, not a passive one, where parents direct their child’s learning based on broad guidelines provided by the state.

Many parents don’t see homeschooling as all wildflowers and skipping children learning arithmetic effortlessly, while baking their mother a gluten-free gingerbread cake. And, of course it isn’t, no matter what the Instagram filters show us. There is criticism that homeschooling is a privilege of those who don’t need to work. There is concern that it creates anti-social children who will be woefully underprepared for “real life”. Critics say that it undermines already struggling local schools by removing would-be students and would-be energized parents. Opponents say that children should get the experience of school, of having to sit for long periods of time and accomplish tasks that are asked of them by their teachers and peers.

What do you think? Have you considered homeschooling your children? Do you already? Were you as a child? Share with us your thoughts, your experiences, your wisdom. Homeschooling: yay or nay?

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I grew up in a household that thought homeschooling was strange and produced socially crippled and undereducated kids. Then I got to college (Brown University) and met some of the most brilliant and KIND people who were homeschooled. The ones I knew really understood how to study, were excellent friends, and seemed like some of the most balanced and unaffected people I’d ever met. Now I am partially homeschooling my kids and sending them to public school part time. It is lovely to have the extra time with them and witness their scholastic growth.


    Kate, I would love to hear more about how partially homeschooling and partially attending public school works. I have preschool aged kids and have long considered homeschooling—your balance sounds ideal and is something I’ve never heard of.


I was homeschooled in the 90’s for the second half of six grade and all of seventh grade and no, I would not homeschool my children. There is so much else that goes on in a school that kids need to learn to function in the world once they graduate, and I believe in the mission of public schools. There was nothing wrong with my homeschool experience, it was what my mom felt was best at the time and something I wanted to do at first, but ultimately it was because of our economic privileged that it could even happen and I was really, really lonely, even though I continued to participate in school soccer and choir.


    I should also say, I’m framing my response under the premise that homeschooling is a choice for a child and not a physical necessity. I have a cousin with debilitating anxiety/panic attacks who could not stay in school for that reason. Of course homeschooling/online schooling were the right option for her.


I homeschooled my 2 children for 2 years when they were in their early elementary school ages and I loved it. They enjoyed it for that time in their lives and we were able to focus on the areas that I felt needed special attention. It definitely tested my patience but it also brought my kids closer and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend that time with them while they were younger. I personally don’t think there’s only one way to educate your kids, whether it be homeschool, public, private or charter etc. My kids are a little older now and are in public school and they love it. I’m a supporter of homeschooling and mainstream schooling. There’s pros and cons to both but you just have to do what’s best for both parent and child!


I homeschool my children Hendrix (age 8 1/2) and Caspian (age 4). I made the decision after my oldest attended kindergarten. He had a wonderful school and his teacher was fantastic but he began the year with a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning and he ended it bored with school and with a negative view of education. I pulled him and i’m proud to say it’s the best decision we have ever made for our family. He loves learning, recently tested grade levels ahead, and is dedicated to self education. He’s free to pursue his passions at his own free will, linger with a book he loves, spend time sketching in the morning or doing math in the evening, the freedom is just life changing!

I think the biggest misconception is that homeschoolers aren’t socialized. It’s actually the opposite! My kids spend more time playing with other children in one week than he did in an entire month in public school. They spend hours free playing with peers each week. We joined a co op and take classes with other homeschoolers. We go on a couple week long vacations and camping trips each Summer with a group of about 75 other homeschoolers. It’s the coolest community! We have school dances, proms, trips, all the things you associate with public school but just for homeschoolers.

Another misconception is that homeschool is public school at home. It’s not! It’s a life style as much as an educational experience. It very much centers around the belief that learning happens while you are living.

Both my husband and I work for ourselves and actively participate in lessons. It’s a balance of running our own individual businesses, making sure the boys are getting what they need, and somehow having seperate social lives and romantic time just for the two of us.
We don’t live in a 9 to 5, 5 work day week schedule. We don’t participate in the school year in any form. We school and work year round at whatever schedule works for us. If we need a break, we take it when we want. It’s truly the greatest gift. We are very privileged to have so much flexibility.


I was homeschooled from kindergarten until I graduated high school (except for freshman and sophmore year of highschool, where I choose to try it out). I loved my experience, and have choosen to homeschool my two sons. Economically I have never been well off, but my parents lived frugally, and they made it work on one income, as my own family does now. I feel it is worth the sacrifice to give my sons a chance to be children, who don’t need to practice sitting at desks all day like adults, but instead experience living books, nature, our faith lived out, and are able to learn life skills through daily life at home and in our garden. When I went off to college, after my education at home, I flourished, graduated with honors, felt prepared for having a family and home at a young age, and socially did fine since I had learned to have friends of all ages and walks of life when growing up. I am so thankful I was homeschooled.


I homeschool my 3 girls ages 10 and under. I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom. I homeschool mostly because I’m compelled to. I quit my dream job to do this. It’s definitely an endeavor that comes with lots of challenges, but none-the-less feels so right for our family. We are independent homeschoolers; It is definitely a lifestyle!

I am so grateful and honored to witness the burgeoning creativity of their minds. Their love of learning is voracious, and I can’t really take much credit for that. It’s like I just kind of stood back to see what their interests were and they followed their own passions, naturally. We have structure for sure(!) but not to the point that takes away their enthusiasm for learning. We choose our friends wisely (as anyone should) and they have handfuls of really solid friendships which we go out of our way to maintain.

I am also so encouraged by how well they converse with people of ALL ages about many topics. They get to be themselves–innocent, quirky girls without unnecessary outside pressure. I’m amazed at how kind and loving they are. So far the experience has kept their innocence and love of learning in tact. We talk openly about many things and if ever they want to pursue learning in public school, I am absolutely open to exploring that option.

But for now, so far so good!