Wednesday, April 22, 2020

This is NOT homeschooling

Now that we seasoned home educators everywhere have sufficiently chuckled and needled at the fact that suddenly, homeschooling is the new government mandate, I wanted to pause and clarify that crisis homeschooling is very different from real-life home education.

We are not locked up at home all day

Parents who unexpectedly find themselves locked up at home most of the day with kids that are usually gone might be on the brink of losing their minds. If being on lockdown all day, every day were what homeschooling in real life looked like, I dare say few of us would choose it. No, it does not make you a bad mom to not want to be within touching distance of needy people all day without any outside activities or distractions. 

The fact of the matter is that most homeschool families are very involved in outside activities, and often spend time away from home on a daily basis. That could be anything ranging from co-op classes, to field trips, P.E. groups, and extracurricular interests such as chess, theater, speech and debate, archery, ballroom dancing, music lessons, craft classes, and on and on. And that's to say nothing of leaving the house for everyday activities such as shopping and running errands. 

Being on home confinement as an adult is hard enough for many. Being on lockdown unexpectedly with a house full of kids is NOT typical homeschooling. 

We socialize with others on a grand scale

The most commonly expressed concern with homeschooling is "socialization," i.e. making sure that kids grow up as part of, and integrated into, society. This as opposed to being a misanthropic recluse. I have met a few of the latter, incidentally none of whom had been home educated themselves. 

That's because in real life, home educated students are actually exposed to infinitely MORE people than students locked in a classroom for most of the day. In school, kids are mostly only able to socialize with other children, of their own age and aptitude. In real life, home educated kids interact with siblings of all ages and grade levels, observe working adults in the real world, get to spend more time with extended family, and are exposed all day long to the full gamut of those who make up society, including fringe demographics like the homeless or people with disabilities.

Hands down, home education is far more socially diverse and inclusive than a classroom setting ever could be. To suddenly be isolated is challenging for everyone, including homeschoolers, as this is entirely opposite our normal lives. 

It is well-planned 

Aside from a few exceptions, most parents who choose to home educate do so out of concern for their child's education and well-being. We are responsible parents who take initiative, fully realizing that if we take our kids out of school, it is now up to us to make sure they get a solid education. As a result, we spend many hours researching the best curriculum to match our kids' individual learning styles and aptitudes. We attend homeschool conventions, read every book available on the topic, connect with our local homeschool communities, and otherwise do all in our power to be fully equipped. 

We already have textbooks, lesson plans, and daily routines we rely on. No need to wait on the school district to figure out which way is up, how to switch from classroom to virtual teaching, no need to wait for laptops to be issued, etc. We know where our kids are at in each of their subjects, and stand ready to help them since we have been by their side, educationally speaking, the entire time. There is no learning curve or sudden adjustment. Our approach is not haphazard, we are not panicked or insecure, and we don't view this educational approach as an emergency measure, a band-aid until the school system bails us out. 

In other words, this is "just another day at the office" for us. 

We were not thrust into this

Those of us who have been homeschooling for years were not thrust into this lifestyle overnight, thrown into the deep end of an ice-cold pool as it were. Most of us had a gentle, gradual, planned entry. This is especially true for those of us who have been home educators all along, since we started with just one kindergarten student. 

This has repercussions in countless areas: we are accustomed to cooking for and feeding our kids three meals a day, rather than relying on school to provide lunch and in most cases even breakfast. Our homes are set up to handle people living in it all day long. Our routines are based on having kids around, rather than being kid-free most of the day. Our parenting and discipline are such that we can handle being around our kids, all of them, all day long without life becoming one long, miserable countdown to bedtime. 

Most importantly, we CHOSE homeschooling. It was not foisted on us, unexpectedly, in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, amidst unprecedented measures and the anxieties they produce. 

How are the current situation and regular home education alike? 

Take heart, there are some things that are the same. We all are far from being perfect parents, doing our best. We all can only make it by the grace of God. We all could do better. We all get irritated by and tired of our kids at some point. We all second-guess ourselves daily. We all have kids who resist learning and feign cluelessness to wiggle out of school work or other responsibilities. We all think our kids are the best, smartest, and cutest in the world. We all love them with all of our hearts and want only the best for them. 


This post was inspired by a German news article I read this morning. The German ministers responsible for education are actually using the English word "homeschooling" to refer to the current state of education, in which parents are to continue their kids' education at home with textbook assignments sent through online portals (but no online teaching). Imagine the irony in that! For decades, Germany has been one of a few European countries where homeschooling is not just illegal, but actively squelched. Parents who choose to home educate anyway face anything from government harassment to fines to termination of parental rights or even imprisonment. It would be unfathomable to see children of school age accompany their parents in public spaces during school hours. Those who home educate have to do so in secrecy and fear, not the freedom and widespread acceptance we are accustomed to here in the US and other parts of the world. 

Even now, those same German authorities are stressing the fact that this "homeschooling" situation is temporary, because children need social interactions beyond their immediate family. Whoa there, Sherlock! Tell us something we don't know. To compare unexpectedly doing school at home while being locked up with little to no outside activities or interactions to homeschooling is unfair and deceptive. 

If you had considered home education in the past, but this current crisis has you pulling your hair out, please do not let it dissuade you from pursuing homeschooling in the future. This is NOT our normal.


  1. Excellent and well said! This is certainly NOT our normal to be sure of it. Not in all my 25 years of homeschooling have I even remotely heard of such a thing being thrust upon the sheer amount of parents all over the world as is happening right now in this crisis. I am sure it has to be maddening to the masses who aren't used to it at all.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  2. I did not homeschool, I’m not against it by any means. I fervently believe that parents are ultimately responsible for “their” offspring. Not day cares, schools, nannies or other ersatz care givers. This has most definitely been a true learning curve to re evaluate what’s most important...... the NEXT generation.

  3. I don't have kids of my own yet, was sent to public schools my entire life and have met plenty of previously homeschooled children who perform and behave a lot more maturely than my counterparts did growing up. They excelled at team sports they joined, cared about their education and were reserved from too much silliness around them. I personally think homeschooling is a difficult job to have (since you have to keep up with keeping education consistent) and I have a ton of respect for it.

    I also have a ton of friends who thrived from studying at home because it was a place for focus and relieved themselves from social anxiety and I am hoping those same people are enjoying this time to focus on other things (we're all very much long out of school and have jobs and stuff, but I know a lot of people work better at home and learn better at home)

    I think when i'm blessed with children of my own, i'd personally like to either homeschool the first few years or have a teacher presence at home with them. I definitely believe that a parent is responsible for understanding how their child's brain works and if the public school system is working for them or not. :)

    I hope this virus hasn't given you any grief Zsu! You're in my thoughts as a long time reader :)


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