My Homeschool Experience: Has Homeschooling Ruined My Life?
A lot of people write bitter articles about how ‘homeschooling ruined my life’. However, that’s very different from my experience. Indeed, my homeschool experience felt like walking out of a dark tunnel into an open field of daisies with sunshine all around.
(In fact, I was so enamoured with my homeschool experience, I wrote a book about why all parents should homeschool their children.)
So, was I was bullied in school?
Was I neglected?
Certainly, no one thought so.
After all, I was going to a Christian school with godly Christian teachers. I came from a good family who loved the LORD and loved me.
However, I still felt stifled at school and came home in tears most days because of the sheer exhaustion of staying up for eight hours each day.
By contrast, homeschooling was wonderful – and that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article, namely:
- Exhaustion: homeschool vs school
- Test scores and academic results
- Studying for only two hours a day
- My homeschool experience with curriculum
- Socialization: homeschool experience vs school
- My spiritual walk before and after homeschooling
- Whether homeschooling ruined my life!
(Interestingly, ‘homeschooling ruined my life’ is googled about 20 times a month in the US.)
Exhaustion: Homeschool Experience Vs School
I know most people don’t think about exhaustion as being a major reason they will homeschool their children, but for me, it will play a big role.
And that’s because I realize how important sleep is for little people.
If your kids don’t get sleep, you can kiss a lot of those good academic results goodbye. If your kids don’t get sleep, you’ll also be struggling with grumpy, sullen children when you get home.
Unfortunately, this is the reality for so many families whose children attend school.
The children return home from school, a lot of the time they get to spend with their parents is spent in nasty, short exchanges – a fair portion of which is fuelled by over-tiredness!
I’m not a child anymore, but I still feel exhausted and grumpy when I don’t get sleep.
How then, do we expect our kids to not become like this?
Test Scores: Homeschool Experience Vs School
When I attended school, I was acutely aware that I was at the bottom of my class, academically speaking.
Every time the teacher gave out a worksheet that we needed to fill in, I was often the last to finish. I was the little kid with my hand up constantly waiting for the teacher to come around and help me.
I felt like a burden to my class because I was slower than them. This made me feel stupid and (in hindsight) did a lot to damage my belief in my ability to excel in subjects later on.
Sure, I was a November kid – and, sure, I was six-years-old. But, these early experiences really matter. And when my teacher said, ‘Rebbecca is not as fast as the other children,’ I heard, ‘Rebbecca is dumb.’
Was this the case?
Far from it.
(I don’t want to brag, but I do want to show you that I didn’t have a learning disability – though at the time if you told me I had one, I probably would have believed you.)
So, What was my Academic Homeschool Experience?
After I was pulled out of school, I could work at my own pace. My parents gave us one-on-one attention and helped us with our homework straight away if we asked them.
My older and younger brother – who were both better at mathematics than I was – helped me with my maths when I needed it.
I completed Year 10 and 11 in one year and finished early.
Because I wanted to study nursing, I joined the local TAFE who helped me in my quest to become a nurse (I was the youngest in my year at that stage – an advantage homeschooling gives is that you can start tertiary education a lot earlier than schools encourage, as schools want you to stay for Year 12. This is totally unnecessary for most teenagers.)
I eventually did a degree in Medical Science (scoring in the top 10 percentile) and entered into a medical degree to become a doctor.
Of course, if you’re studying to become a doctor, people assume that you must be naturally smart (and, to be honest, most people in my class were!). But, I wasn’t. I had just regained belief in myself and my abilities.
My homeschooling experience had taught me that if I work hard, I can study whatever I like.
In like vein, my brother, who was also academically at the bottom in his class, became a top 10% student after his homeschool experience.
Academically, I can’t say, ‘homeschooling ruined my life’ because I’d have to say it improved it out of sight!
We Only Did 2-Hours of Homework a Day!
My homeschool experience was especially amazing as we could do our homework whenever we liked, so long as we got everything done. This meant that, if we worked five days a week, we sometimes got our work done in about two hours a day. It wasn’t a bad deal.
After doing some research on the number of homeschool hours a day people average, I discovered three hours is about average for most homeschooling families.
Generally, younger homeschoolers spend much shorter periods glued to their desks, and older homeschoolers spend longer amounts. Indeed, I did a poll on Facebook and here were the results:
(This was perhaps what was wrong with my school experience too…we spent far too long at the desk, and not long enough playing.)
When I became a teenager, I spent so many hours studying – but this was of my own choosing. After homeschooling, I’d begun to love self-directed learning. This made study easy as I wasn’t being forced to do it, and I had more of a decision over the material I had to study.
My Experience with Homeschool Curricula
When you homeschool your children, you need to pick the material your children will study yourself.
This meant our family had to drive two hours to the nearest homeschool curricula warehouse (which was in Canberra at the time) and look over the material and choose it for us.
Because my parents had never done it before, and because both were not teachers, they asked the warehouse staff for advice in addition to sourcing information from homeschooling parents in our homeschool group.
They recommended ACE paces which our family tried for a couple of years.
After a while, we changed to a different homeschooling curriculum with Abeka, as ACE was too easy for us.
I loved the Abeka curriculum and I felt it help me learn my mathematics thoroughly through repetition.
This is something else I love about my homeschool experience – you can change your homeschool method or curriculum anytime it isn’t working for you. Unfortunately, schools rarely have the same flexibility.
Socialization: Homeschool Experience vs School
For many people, the socialization question is the biggest reason they don’t homeschool. Many worry about homeschool socialization, afraid their children will turn into social rejects without the haven of school to socialize them.
But, my homeschool experience has shown me that school socialization is a myth.
Furthermore, unless parents severely isolate and neglect their children, homeschooling will give you a much better chance of socializing your children in a well-rounded manner.
For me, my school socialization experience consisted of me rejecting the good, Christian groups in my class and gravitating towards all the ‘cool’ girls who came from broken families with problems.
These girls also had their share of problems.
My homeschool experience brought me back into more contact with my parents who were good influences. Furthermore, our homeschool group consisted of a lot of great examples (parents and children) who helped me thoroughly in my walk with Christ.
As a homeschooler, I learned to socialize with people from all walks of life including when:
- my parents took me to financial meetings with their advisors,
- we saw babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers all grouped together in my homeschool co-op,
- we went to cycling meet-ups, table-tennis tournaments, and soccer games,
- I had a part-time job at 15 and worked in a small shop and
- I became a nurse at 16 and worked in local nursing homes.
This is just a small look into our social lives. It became much richer after we stopped school!
My Christian Life: Homeschool Experience vs School
My School Experience Spiritually
When we went to school, my parents noticed how we started walking away from anything to do with Christ.
Although we went to a Christian school, that Christian school (like most Christian schools in Australia) had a policy that meant they accepted a proportion of non-Christian students for evangelical purposes.
That meant that 50% of the class were from Christian families with Christian influences, and 50% of the class were from secular families with secular experiences.
Of course, we all mingled together and (the idea was that) the Christian kids were supposed to convert the secular kids.
For me, and many other children in school, this didn’t happen. On the contrary, reverse-evangelism is what happened. I was slowly being converted into a secular way of thinking.
This was evidenced when my parents found me stealing Barbie dolls and Kinder Surprises from the local supermarket. They were horrified as they said they hadn’t condoned or taught me any of that behavior.
But, I was stealing Barbie dolls because I was the only one in my peer group without a Barbie doll (and I wanted one so bad, I was willing to steal it). And there was a lot of negative peer pressure to fit in too.
Pretty soon after that, I became hooked on stealing stuff. I thought I’d figured out a way to have everything I want without paying for it.
I was seven-years-old at this stage.
My Homeschool Experience Spiritually
When my parents pulled us out of school (my habit of stealing was a real eye-opener to an underlying problem for them), they expected we would become academic failures.
My dad thought, ‘they’re going to become check-out chicks and ditch-diggers!’
But, they thought, ‘We don’t care – so long as they know Christ.’ This isn’t to say they thought homeschooling would save us. But, they realized influences cause reverse-evangelism – a process they saw happening in all their children.
They diligently sought the LORD and prayed about the decision.
(Indeed, it was a difficult decision for them as there’s a significant cost of homeschooling – most obviously the loss of a double income. – and plenty of stigmas attached to this non-mainstream choice of education.)
And then they dived in.
Was it worth it?
As I went through my homeschool years, my father regularly had long discussions about the Bible, Jesus, and everything Christian. I rekindled my love of Christ which had, it seemed, been stamped out in school.
My parents diligently devoted many hours to our spiritual education (which included carefully explaining and discussing our Christian homeschooling curriculum).
These days my brothers and I are all walking with the Lord. My older brother will be graduating as a pastor next year and my younger brother is a church deacon. We are all married and we’re all Bible study leaders with a real thirst for the Lord.
My homeschool experience is that you can more easily grow in your love for Christ when you have time to spend with Him that is unhindered by the (mental and physical) ‘noise’ that occurs in so many schools.
Far from saying, ‘Homeschooling has ruined my life,’ I have to say that it has helped to create a spiritual environment in which I have flourished.
Conclusion: My Homeschool Experience: Has Homeschooling Ruined My Life?
Far from saying, ‘Homeschooling ruined my life,’ I have to say God was gracious and led me to a style of education that allowed me to know more of Him and more of my surrounds. I realized homeschooling doesn’t save people – that’s Jesus. However, I realize a lot of schools have a process that happens in them called reverse-evangelism. As Christians, we need to consider our options wisely.
If you’re thinking about homeschooling, I can only speak highly of it. My homeschool experience was amazing, academically, socially and spiritually. So, if that’s what you want for your family, I encourage you to dive in and read the book Why on Earth Homeschool and our homeschooling 101 article How to Homeschool: 10 Things You Need to Know.