Home homeschooling How Will Your Kids be Prepared for the Real World (Unless They Go to School There?)

How Will Your Kids be Prepared for the Real World (Unless They Go to School There?)

by Kelly Crawford

It’s the number one opposition homeschoolers face from doubting questioners, and unfortunately, one of the biggest obstacles preventing parents from deciding to homeschool: parents want their children to be prepared for the real world so they think they must send them to school.

Stop: who got us to think upside down? Essentially, what this means is, we feel like the best way to prepare our children for the real world is to take them out of the real world, put them in an unrealistic world all day for twelve years, try to simulate the real world, and then tell everyone this is the only way to prepare them for the real world. It’s hilarious just writing that out!

“Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.” Resource for Kids

All I want to do here is to help people who want to homeschool but are gripped with this irrational fear to “let it go!”  This is not an attempt to put down anyone, but to offer a discerning look at an often misunderstood topic. If you’re happy with the simulated circumstance (and many are), this isn’t about convincing you to homeschool.

However, we should all want to talk and think like rational humans so for the sake of everyone who must make this important life decision about educating his child, we at least need to make it based on the facts and truth of reality. It’s a bit like my choice to bottle feed my first baby. I knew I would have to go to work and I was still in school and so I decided to bottle feed because I didn’t see a way to breast feed. I did not, however, pretend bottle feeding was better or even the same as nursing in order to justify my decision. I knew it was second best, but it was the decision I felt I had to make. Regardless of our decisions, we need to at least be honest about them.

How schools must recreate the real world

In the first several years of school, especially, a classroom must try to recreate real life which is hardly possible, making the classroom second best for real learning. That’s not an insult, it’s simply a truth, like saying real hair is preferable to a wig. Exploration, creativity, freedom, hands-on learning, it is all greatly limited if not extinguished, in the classroom.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

I was thinking about this as my 5 year old asked me what time it is. I’ve never given my children clock worksheets–we have a clock on the wall. And when they begin to be aware of time and the clock, I show them, until they understand, how time works. That’s it. They all learn to tell time. (Same way they learned the English language.)

We don’t even have phonics books. We use phonics as we sit down with books together, sounding out letters, blends and memorizing sight words, and eventually, they begin reading.

We don’t read books about “opposites” or colors, or numbers; all those things exist in our daily conversations and children are remarkable learners. It comes naturally in real life. We learn about vegetation outside, we classify real birds and real trees when we go for walks. We talk about current events at the dinner table, asking probing questions that require thought and analytic skills.

We discuss lifestyles and how to handle different situations after we leave events, family gatherings, or vacations.

Life teaches.

Hygiene from a health book? No. Weather? It’s there.

Is it reading about the solar system (a perfectly wonderful thing to do) or would the words come alive if they were just given a telescope and notepad to chart their observations?

Another unrealistic thing (necessary only for keeping order and tracking of large groups) is the idea of “school in” or “school out”, deadlines, and grade levels. I could write a book, but suffice it to say, it’s optimal to embrace learning (i.e. “school”) as something always happening, without the confines of time and space. We will never learn all there is to learn; why not develop a mindset of always-learning what is in front of us and what we need to know to enhance our gifts?

As they get older, what then? Is real life being confined to rooms lined with desks and people the same age with little time for conversation and interpersonal exchange? Or is it being allowed to mingle, in the real world, observing and attempting adultish things? Exploring all their interests? Following their passions? Figuring things out on their own?

Do we “sit down and do school”, ever? Yes, but not because it’s necessary. We mostly read a lot, I give writing assignments and go over those for proper grammar and usage, the older ones have a formal math curriculum (I’m tweaking this a lot) and they do copy work. Most everything though, can be and is being learned in the context of real life. There are far more pressing things than whether our children can recall the area of a trapezoid (Google it if you need it!)

Keep in mind, the evidence consistently shows that qualities employers desire (if the goal is to work for someone else) hardly ever include test scores or the ability to memorize facts, etc. It’s almost always about character, communication skills and the ability to solve problems–all most easily learned in the real world, where children are free to satisfy their curiosities and find solutions, an amazing trait the Creator gave us all when we were born. In fact, even most highly specialized jobs provide on-the-job training, requiring the capacity for learning, not a specific set of facts already learned (which most students forget anyway).

(Yes, I know there are those needed jobs where students must still jump through the hoops of the system (achieving certain test scores, etc., homeschooled or otherwise). Thankfully though, even this is being widely reconsidered as the job industry is discovering how a college degree or other “certification” may not always be a comprehensive representation of a person’s expertise. More and more are seeing the benefits of apprenticeship/hands-on training.

If you worry about your children learning to cope in the real world, I don’t blame you; consider homeschooling them.


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tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations April 20, 2013 - 1:20 am

I love this post. It’s so hard to break out of the box. But it is a must!

I see learning as part of life. When the need arises one will learn.

thank you for the encouragement. 🙂

Verna April 20, 2013 - 4:23 am

Great post!! My oldest is only 3, so we are not even really doing any “school” work right now. I love this post though!

Laura April 20, 2013 - 9:23 am

Does your district require anything of you? If so, how do you meet their requirements? My 7 and 8 year olds did school this last year(though only the 8yo was “registered”), and I have to have him evaluated and participate in testing….to make sure he’s making “progress” whatever that means…. Also, he’s a struggling reader, though we slowly went through phonics together. His ability to understand abstract concepts and other things is very high, but he struggles to read and comprehend….his 7yo brother has surpassed him in reading ability… until he catches up, I sort of feel like I have to “spoonfeed” him other content about science and history and other things, since I’m afraid that his struggle with reading would discourage him in these other areas….what have you done with a struggling reader?

Word Warrior April 22, 2013 - 8:04 am


Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond! The answer to your first question, no, thankfully homeschooling laws here are up to our “umbrella” school, the requirement for homeschooling. All the state requires is attendance, and the umbrella school can ask for whatever they wish. Some are very strict, others allow you all the freedom you want, which is our case. If you are required to do testing, I would just fill in around that preparation as much as I could with a freer style of learning, lots of reading, etc.

For your struggling reader, it may simply be a time issue. Many children do not read well until later (even 9 or 10) and then become avid readers. If he feels frustrated, I would consider backing off a bit. But I would search high and low for books on subjects that pique his interests…that is key. Then read a little to him, to whet his appetite. Continuing the phonics exercises and reading what he loves–that, I think, will get him reading in time (oh and have his older brother read to him a lot–good for both of them). At some point that you think he might have more going on, you might seek professional advice about alternate teaching methods. Hope that helps!

-- l April 20, 2013 - 9:28 am

I read every post like a delicious magazine article with my espresso. Even if I don’t comment, I read each post with so much delight! You’re blog is one of my few favorites! It is nice to know I am not crazy or alone in thinking like this too!

We have only one child who will be six this year and we live in a very urban area in the NE. I have always wanted to homeschool but my husband is still so opposed, so she will be enrolled in our small church school next year. I am thankful that he would even consider this school because he is still so pro “public” school right now.

However, even though our church school is a nice community and safe pace – the whole classroom environment still exists, worksheets and all — including long days that don’t leave room left over for more important things I think – like learning how to garden and cook, etc. And even though it is a Christian school most children there have lots of exposure to media and many are sent to school with actual candy for a snack! ???!!!

Being with one child all day every day can feel so intense and there are also co-ops to attend and play dates to host every week (because no one else will host them). I am an introvert so the social side of homeschooling always wears me out. And my child is an extrovert – an extreme extrovert. My husband is gone 12-13 hours every day too, so these are often long days for just the two of us. I think if I were younger and more energetic (I’m 40 now) this would be so much easier…..

In case we do have to homeschool in the future I am prepared. I do have some of the Oak Meadows curriculum books (first grade and kindergarten) and it is lovely and have been collecting seasonal nature studies and Ambleside Curriculum books. That is one of the most painful things about not homeschooling — even with private schools, the curriculum is less than desirable and there is not much extra time for earning crafts, life skills, and handiwork.

I really believe that that the traditional school and university route will not benefit our kids 15 years from now. It worked in the 1980’s. But this is really no longer the case. Learning how to be industrious at home will be the biggest skill to save our kids. As food and gas prices increase — growing things and keeping animals and being able to build and make things yourself without relying on a company to provide them for a fee will be our children’s security.

On a positive not, the homeschooling community in this area (Cambridge, Arlington and Boston Metrowest) is pretty big and quickly growing inspite of all the “good school districts.” The homeschooling community is mainly very secular too. Many are mothers of boys who would do terrible in a classroom environment, or the moms also hate the idea of learning with worksheets for their kids. Bullying seems like it is a terrible problem no matter how affluent the area or school is. And private secular schools (unless it is a small church school) are outrageously expensive and excessive media usage and bullying is still a problem there too (even in Waldorf schools). And finally since we live in an area with so many resources and extra curricular for music, etc, many parents choose to keep their children home so they can have time to hone their talents beyond what school can offer.

But few families it seems live in very affluent areas – since those areas require two income fast tracked professionals. It is nice to meet families making choices for their children that do not require a large gorgeous (but always empty) home.

My daughter currently attends a two afternoon a week Waldorf (very secular and unbiblical, but still nice in many ways) kindergarten for homeschoolers. A woman is running this program for homeschoolers (ages 4-7) at her home in Lexington and transformed her garage with floor ceiling windows into a sweet classroom that overlooks her garden, which she designed for the little ones. It is so precious and the children there are so sweet and play so well together as compared to other children who are school everyday – it is so striking, even with children from ‘good homes’ or who are in Christian schools just don’t play well. Two afternoons a week away is really all are little children need!

Also – there is a Charlotte Mason school is also near here (but not near enough) – a lovely gentleman runs a CM school out of his home – some students are full time and some are part time homeschoolers. He also hosts homeschooling seminars for parents.

There are a good number of growing homeschooling yahoo groups too for moms to communicate with one another and share homeschooling and local food and farm co-op ideas.

I think a center recently opened up in Framingham too for working parents to take their homeschooled children so they can do their studies in a supervised way (not sure how this works, but the idea of alternative programs is nice).

I find programs like these so encouraging and exciting! I hope more and more of these alternative programs will pop up – we need them!!!

Laura April 20, 2013 - 10:45 am

Also, Kelly, have you ever run into the issue of your learning stlye versus your childrens’? As a verbal, voracious reader, myself, to whom reading and spelling is nearly intuitive, I struggle to understand the perspective of my boys who sometimes don’t “get” it…Is learning style something you take into consideration in your home? Because I do just fine with sit and read/study method and too much “hands-on” actually drives me crazy! So I struggle to figure out how to incorporate “move around” learning, though that is what my boys need more of… It seems harder to tell whether the action oriented learning is sinking in, too, whereas reading/written work seems like “proof” of whether they “get” it or not… probably still some leftover mindsets from being a public school attendee…but even so, I often don’t teach, the way my kids learn… and sometimes we all get in knots as a result…

-- l April 20, 2013 - 1:54 pm

Hi — You might like the Oak Meadow curriculum for your boys — it is supports the more whole body learning style. It is not pure Waldorf in the sense it does not get into anthroposophical elements and although I am not a huge Waldorf fan for that reason, I do love a lot of things they do to meet the children where they are at developmentally. It is a very physical style of learning since children are very physical beings – especially boys. In our Waldorf co-op I’ve noticed that there are a disproportionate number of moms with boys.

I like incorporating some Waldorf methods (like the main lesson books, knitting for reading skills and developing the left brain, etc) because we recently moved from Europe and attended a Waldorf program there (very different from the Waldorf programs in USA) and we really liked it. Where we lived it seemed that the European public schools mimic a more Waldorf / hands on organic style of learning in many more ways than US ones – namely being outside in all kinds of weather and gardening. I also like how the Waldorf methods incorporate age appropriate classical reading: ie simple nature stories for early years, Fairy Tales in grade one, Fables and Rudard Kipling, etc in grade two, and Old Testament stories and hero and Greek mythology stories for grade 3 and then 4….. that is the age when boys are really looking for heroes….

I love how they introduce math concepts as well – I think it is worth researching, esp for children who have a hard time sitting still and being “academic” or bookish. You might like Parenting Passageway blog: “Your fourth grader” or whatever and/ or reading Gesell Institute books on child development. Disclaimer – it is all secular!

Claudia April 21, 2013 - 9:58 pm

Just my 2cents here, as I have three boys, one who especially requires lots of movement. I will say that at age 10 1/2 he works longer without movement than he did at age 9. I have found that shorter periods of “lesson time” with movement in between (which can be shooting baskets, playing piano, throwing the ball to the dog) really helps. Even coloring historical coloring pages while I read aloud historical fiction helps. This same son can brilliantly narrate/retell a portion of a book/chapter, yet really struggles with written language. I think it is great that you are reading to your son who is struggling so that he can continue to learn what he cannot read on his own. Not sure if you are familiar with the Charlotte Mason method of narration, but I would encourage you to look into it. Oral narration (with me listening and sometimes typing) has really encouraged him; He sees in print what he has produced. Your son could share what he is learning with a drawing. Also, books on tape might be a good option. “Your Story Hour” audios have wonderful stories of scientists and other figures from history. My boys listen to these during lunch periodically, and while my older son “narrates” in his science notebook with a written narration, my younger son draws and labels a picture in his science notebook to show what most impressed him about the story. Also, I highly recommend Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook in regards to your son who is struggling with reading. BTW, while I homeschool all three of my boys now, my background is in public school teaching. If I can help in any way, please let me know, and we can talk via email. Blessings, Claudia

Claudia April 21, 2013 - 10:00 pm

Sorry – I meant to reply to you, but I replied to I’s comment to you in my hurry!

-- l April 22, 2013 - 1:29 pm

HI Laura — Penelope Truck just posted a great post today about How Personality Type Affects Homeschooling: http://homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com/2013/04/22/how-personality-type-affects-homeschooling/


Kelly L April 20, 2013 - 12:35 pm

Again, great points. Since we only have one, she frequently goes with us in trips where she is interacting with adults more than children. They all say the same thing: they just love her because she can carry on a conversation, she is intelligent and even funny with them. She is 13. The drag is, this is uncommon. It shouldn’t be. Being told that you should only be able to “socialize” with people of your own age by having them only with the same age 8hrs a day is not helping kids or their families.

Jennifer April 20, 2013 - 2:19 pm

I do not think school’s any less realistic than being home all day. There are different aspects of school that can be beneficial if it’s a good one.

Word Warrior April 20, 2013 - 4:35 pm

So what about learning things that are usually learned in real life, like the examples I gave being learned from a book rather than from experience? That’s not very realistic. What about sitting in an age-segregated classroom, in a desk for 8 hours a day (or close to that)–I suppose that’s sort of realistic if you compare it to life in a cubicle, but really, is that what we want to prepare our kids for?

I’m just curious how you would back up your statement that both are “life-like”? Understand that being homeschooled doesn’t necessarily mean “being home all day”, which may be this big gulf in the misunderstanding. But even if “home all day” were the reality, there are still the myriad of things one learns in a natural setting that has to be simulated in a classroom.

Jennifer April 20, 2013 - 5:11 pm

Kids in school learn to interact with myriad different people, not just kids their own age, how to get along with different adults, how to study sometimes on their own, how to learn, period, and create their own methods themselves, aside from all the other different things like math and science. They interact with kids of different ages all the time and mingle quite a bit; grade school’s far more social than a lot of college (though it has its benefits too and far more independence). There are also numerous field trips, which are the general part of school that I miss the very most. What I’d give to ride a school bus again to a new and exciting destination.

Anon April 20, 2013 - 6:30 pm

Unfortunately from my experiences – and those of other parents I have talked to – as far as learning hwo to communicate with a variety of different people within a public school can not come close to comparing it to homeschooled kids. In public school the kids are taught to not disagree with their teachers/principal. They are only taught to follow directions/orders and if they do not do it the way the adult in charge requires then there are being “disruptive” or “disobedient” or causing problems. A classroom doesn’t allow freedoms that are available within a homeschool environment. Children are naturally more active for a reason – they learn that way. So how does forcing them to sit for hours at a time compare? Also with interacting with a variety of children – you don’t have any way of knowing exactly what those children are talking about & teaching each other. I can still recall talking to a friend who teaches about a student that blurted out in a health lesson (1st grader) about how cigarettes are not bad for you because her mom & dad both smoke and that they are nicer when they do. Later during the same discussion it came up that they smoked cigarettes they rolled themselves or stuck in a pipe. I don’t know about you, but to my friend (and me for that matter) it definitely sounded like this child was NOT referring to tobacco cigarettes at all. This is NOT something I would want my child to learn…especially at that age. So not all interaction is positive – or enable our children to grow their minds in a manner that many parents would agree with.

Jennifer April 20, 2013 - 10:36 pm

“In public school the kids are taught to not disagree with their teachers/principal”

Maybe in a fantasy land that works, but in every school I’ve visited or attended, children disagree with the principal and teacher all the time; once we hit high school, debates were often brought up and encouraged. In elementary school we had police come by every year and show us drugs and the different harm they did; no one thought they were cool. Interaction can be positive or negative all depending on the circumstances and teaching; a friend of mine said she constantly saw homeschooled children who had no idea how to socialize or interact properly, so it could work either way.

Word Warrior April 20, 2013 - 11:01 pm

Here’s a very interesting notation by Walter Russell Mead:

“Life in school is life in bureaucracy. You follow the rules, do what you are told, and rewards follow.

The real world was never very much like that, but the parts of the real world that look most like school (like for example law firms, universities and government and private sector bureaucracies) have their heads on the chopping block. By the time today’s students are in their forties (and that is MUCH closer than you think, kids), most of those organizations are going to morph into something very different. Or they will die.

Inmates who spend a long time in prison become institutionalized; they adapt so well to the conditions of prison that they can no longer function in the free world. Something similar can happen to students. From age six or even younger, students are immersed in a predictable world that runs by the rules. Then you get out of school — and expect that this pattern will continue. If you go to a good law school and do well, you will become an associate at a successful firm. Do your job well, work hard, obey the rules and wash behind your ears and in due time you will make partner.

That’s the old system; the new one won’t work that way. Creativity, integrity and entrepreneurial initiative will pay off; following the old rules and hoping for the old rewards is a road to frustration. You have to fight the tendency of the educational system to turn you into a timeserving baby bureaucrat, following the rules and waiting for the inevitable promotion.” Full article: http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/09/01/back-to-school-2/

Jennifer April 20, 2013 - 11:56 pm

I guess it depends on the school, though this guy’s attitude baffles me. In THOUSANDS of jobs, if you’re not the boss, you have to follow some rules; you also have to follow the rules of the law, or the company’s regulations, even if you’re the boss of it. There’s almost always someone higher. Aside from that, we can’t all be entrepreneurs. In addition, I am NOT referring to your fam, Kelly, but it always strikes me as ironic when the most strict of homeschooling families, those who raise their children to obey and follow Daddy even into adulthood (especially the girls) can harp so much about independence for children’s minds anyway. Those who raise their daughters or kids in general to stay home and obey until marriage in a very strict sense seem to only have an objection with their kids obeying someone else, even as grownups.

Jennifer April 21, 2013 - 12:09 am

As a last note, life in the classroom in the sentence that guy described is life for children as a whole, one way or another: follow the rulesadults set for you and rewards follow. It’s different depending on the surroundings, I know, and I don’t trust what most public schools have become now anyway, but I don’t think the general methods are deadly.

I do not believe in treating children like bureaucrats though, and a good example of that would actually be some of the older models of school I’ve seen, private or public; the old-fashioned models of children being shipped off in trains to stiff-necked boarding schools was always nightmarish to me. This seemed especially common in Britain in its tighter years: children would be trained to be quiet and take whatever they got regardless of their feelings, they’d be dressed like starched mannequins and they’d even live by the motto “be seen and not heard”. I remember in a commercial showing old-fashioned children I was very turned off by their stiff slacks and stiffly droll clothes; I recall thinking right off the cuff, “People back then must have hated children!” And why? Because they weren’t even dressed like children, but like minitiare adults, and unhappy ones. And we all know about the horrible type of schools, even further back, that had children dying from cold and illness, all far away from their parents.

As I said before, I don’t think I trust about 90% of schools anymore, not after these insane shootings and what I’ve heard about the ultra-liberal movement creeping in. But as far as the better schools go, their simple methods of teaching, recess, play and study simply don’t seem damaging to me, nor were they personally when I experienced them. The grades gradually allowed more freedom; we had clubs in the 5th grade, were given sophisticated scientific tools in middle school, and by HS were allowed to wander totally on our own come lunchtime. I still remember those either social or quiet times with fondness.

Kari April 21, 2013 - 2:15 pm

The great part about your list is that all of that is easily obtained in a homeschool situation. Well, we can’t ride school buses normally, though many churches use school buses, so there’s that one taken care of actually. Ha Ha.

There is nothing positive that you can obtain in a public school setting that you can’t obtain in a homeschool setting. Not one.

Jennifer April 21, 2013 - 5:45 pm

Yes, there are some things. They may not be vital, but they’re real.

Kari April 22, 2013 - 9:26 am

Could you share one positive lesson for life that you can only obtain via public schooling and not obtain in homeschooling? I have never seen one single lesson. It is hard to discuss it when I am not sure what lessons you are thinking about.

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 2:29 pm

For one thing, trained and experienced teachers, extra coaches and as I pointed out before the ability to cope with adults and children and develop myriad habits on their own. None of these could be reasons for being against homeschooling, but they are things that outside schooling teaches since you asked.

6 arrows April 23, 2013 - 4:00 pm

Jennifer, Kari asked for positive lessons for life that can only be obtained through public schooling and not homeschooling. “[T]rained and experienced teachers, extra coaches” are not lessons. And homeschooled children have many opportunities to develop “the ability to cope with adults and children and develop myriad habits on their own”. That is not exclusive to children who are public schooled; far from it.

I’m curious to know, also, how you would answer the actual question Kari asked.

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 6:28 pm

I thought I was answering the question. One way or another, those are benefits, and the lessons I also mentioned are at the very least obtained differently, because kids don’t have their parents as defaults to back up.

Kari April 23, 2013 - 7:07 pm

But none of those are things children either need, are positive lessons, or are things that homeschooling can’t easily provide. Those aren’t a list of things that you can only get in public school and can’t get in a homeschool setting and they certainly aren’t just a list of positive things that only a public school setting can provide. I still have yet to find one single thing that’s positive in a child’s life that homeschooling can’t provide. But, thank you for trying. I admire someone that actually attempts to answer, even if it didn’t answer the question with an example. Most people won’t even try because there isn’t anything once they start to think about it to answer.

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 8:52 pm

Actually some children DO need trained teachers and coaches, and the other things are things they will need at some point, and NONE of these are negative things for pete’s sake. If you had seen my problems and struggles with math and certain other things, you wouldn’t be so quick to contradict the former.

Kari April 23, 2013 - 8:59 pm

But you are missing the point of my entire question. You can get those in a homeschool setting quite easily. I asked what public school could provide that homeschool couldn’t. Everything on your list is easily provided in a homeschool setting.

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 9:30 pm

Learning to get along without parents is NOT something kids get in homeschooling! And how are all parents trained teachers? They’re not, and mine could NOT help me with math.

Kari April 23, 2013 - 11:55 pm

Jennifer, you aren’t speaking truthfully about homeschooling or you don’t fully grasp how homeschooling works if think you don’t learn how to be independent from your parents as a homeschooler. You are sadly mistaken on this information. Amazing how many successful homeschool graduates that are out there doing things in the real world, without parents. They get jobs in their teen years, like publicly schooled children do. In my homeschool convention children have their own area, sans parents, where they present their self-designed business and actually run the business. These are kids in 5th grade on and are working, independent of their parents, on a business they designed on their own, selling their wares or services without their aid to other people who are interested in them.

These kids are on sports teams, extra curricular activities, church activities, and family activities, all without their parents. You act like we hole our kids up in a room, lock the doors, and sit them staring at us 24/7/365. Please learn about homeschooling if you honestly think this is the reality because you are very much off the mark.

Your kids couldn’t do math and needed a trained teacher? What were their issues? Where their disabilities? I have two children with multiple special needs and one also has a learning disability on top of it. I know what it’s like to teach those kids that are often shoved to the side by the “professionals” and “specially trained” in the public school system. My oldest child was in the public school system for a short time, in an award winning school with so many accolades you couldn’t list them all in polite company. I know the kids in that class and in the classes in our new area. I watch them grow and learn. They aren’t any smarter or any less smart than my children. They have many of the same special needs my children do. My children are excelling them in most areas, and right on path with them in a few. They are not behind any of them in any area. This isn’t because I am an awesome instructor or trained in any special manner. No. It’s because I am taking the one-on-one time with them, working with them, customizing their lessons so they can understand them, and learning my children inside and out at a young age so I can help teach them how to learn and how to have a passion for learning. If you teach a child how to learn, he will learn, even into adulthood.

Yes, homeschoolers very often have trained professionals helping them. Sometimes these are in the form of co-ops, sometimes in the form of tutors (every tutor in our area is a certified, degreed, public school teacher), sometimes in the form of a family member that is a public school teacher that gives them guidance.

Sadly, many people think you need a piece of paper to educate a child. If we can obtain bachelor’s degrees, masters, and PhDs, we can teach a child. Stop doubting yourself. You are smart enough. It’s the “system” that has told you that you aren’t, the same system we are saying is broken.

It sounds like the underlying thing here is the old, “the child needs to be free from his parents young” and that’s just not the truth. That’s an opinion, not based on any actual evidence, given to parents from about the age of 8 months on in a child’s life. Cry it out in the nursery, it’s good for them. Send them to preschool, it’s good for them. Send them to full day kindergarten, it’s good for them. You need to let them go so they can grow up healthy. They grow up perfectly healthy, centered, focused, and properly in a homeschool setting. Don’t believe the lies.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send your child to public school. If you know all the facts, the real facts, and you and your husband still feel that a public school is the best setting for your children, then send them. But don’t come say it’s better or has things homeschools can’t provide. It’s just not the truth.

As I said, something positive, and something a child needs that you can only get in public school. You haven’t listed one single thing. You don’t NEED those things if you have parents that love you, care about you, and want the best for you as they will seek the resources necessary to help you succeed in your educational goals.

Kari April 23, 2013 - 11:56 pm

Sorry, Jennifer, I misread your post. You needed help with math, not your children. It’s late where I am. Tired eyes about to head to bed is my only excuse. But replace the misspoken words of your children with you and the post still holds.

Jennifer April 24, 2013 - 12:58 am

“You act like we hole our kids up in a room, lock the doors, and sit them staring at us 24/7/365”

I have said elsewhere that I have no problem at all with homeschooling and don’t even trust most public schools now with the liberal points of view coming in, so that isn’t an issue at all. Public school offers different areas and ways of learning to kids than the home does, this makes it neither superior nor inferior but DIFFERENT, and unique. Not all kids are made for it, but I loved it, and if all PS were like mine, I’d recommend them in a heartbeat. If I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have met the amazing kids, teachers and numerous instructors I came to love; it was food for my mind in a different way than my home and family were. You happen to be skilled at teaching, but not everyone is; you think you’re not, but simply not everyone can teach very well, it’s as much a gift as anything else, at least doing it truly well. I needed help learning and with my own kids, past the 5th grade level, I’d be hopeless at helping them with math. You happen to have access to other teachers and tutors, but not everyone does, so what your describing is exactly like the parentally-guided courtship method: it works just great if the surrounding community, or neighborhood or whatever happens to accomodate it.

Kari April 24, 2013 - 6:45 am

Jennifer, as I said, I am not skilled at teaching. It is not one of my gifts. In fact, God carries me most of the day as I work through my weaknesses in order to homeschool my children. I am my mother’s daughter and we both have the leaning towards, “forget it, let me just do it myself”. He he. That impatience is something I have to work hard on each day within myself to overcome. I only do it because of Him.

Second, our community doesn’t actually support us much at all. We live in a small area and are the exception in a major way. There are no co-ops, no awesome groups, or anything. Our pastor and his wife homeschool. They live in another town and we don’t hang out. That’s about it. In our new area education doesn’t seem to be much of a big deal. Homeschooling is certainly not done. We live in a very pro-homeschooling state, they make it easy for a family to homeschool, yet very few people in our area do. I have even had my children questioned like they were being given a final exam by people when they learn we homeschool. I, of course, stop the questioning and tell them if I allow them to ask questions based on what they feel my child should know, do I get to do that with them next.

The point is, even though I am NOT a natural born teacher, even though we do NOT live in an equipped area or an area with supports, I do it and seek out any help our children need. We, personally, do not use any professional teachers or trained educators in a tutoring or helping situation. I know people who homeschool all across this nation and many of them do use it.

I do agree that public school offers a different way. But that wasn’t my question. It was what is one positive lesson that a child can only learn in public school and not in a homeschool setting. (I was very clear when I chose the words “positive lesson” as I didn’t want to include the junk that comes along with public education, only the facts, knowledge, social lessons, and so on that one would obtain so as to make our conversation more positive and focused.) As to if it’s better or not, well on that we will probably disagree. I was a publicly schooled child and obtained what most would consider a top notch education. Top notch is just not good enough at all compared to what could have been given to me as far as education goes. Add in all the junk, and homeschooling is a much better option.

I have enjoyed our conversation. You are one of the few that has attempted to actually take a stab at the question of what is one positive lesson in life that a child needs and can only get in public school and not in a homeschool setting. Now you understand how that question is impossible to ask because there isn’t one single thing. You mentioned some tools you felt they couldn’t obtain (not lessons) and even those are obtainable by homeschool parents if they desire them for their children. With online resources growing more each year, they are becoming easier all the time for parents to obtain and utilize them in their home. I truly do appreciate your taking the time to try and figure out one thing that would answer that question. I feel our conversation is going in circles as we are both very passionate about our views on this. So I will end it now on my end.

May God bless you each day and may you seek His face in all you do. God bless.

Kacie April 20, 2013 - 2:20 pm

The title of the post:exactly! As a public schooled kid from k through college… It is nothing like the real world. Not even a little. It took some time to adjust to the real world after I graduated.

6 arrows April 20, 2013 - 3:41 pm

It was funny to see this post today. I’m a former school teacher, and I had a dream last night that I was back at one of the schools in which I taught, looking for “my” music classroom, finding it in a different place, seeing someone else using it, needing to use a different room with no instruments, books, recordings, yada, yada, and seeing NO SCHEDULE posted to know which classes were coming when 🙂

What a relief to wake up and realize I’m a homeschool mom! I can plan my day the way I want. I can be spontaneous with my kids, and they with me, when the mood strikes. Instead of watching the clock and sending them on to something different exactly 30 minutes later, I can sit down at the piano, for example, and play Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata all the way to the end if I want, no matter how long it takes, drawing my children into a world in which they want to participate. One or the other (or sometimes both) of my two youngest children will almost always pull up a chair next to me at the piano bench and improvise on the high keys. They’re learning the intricacies of dynamic shading and the rhythm of the melodic line, articulation, and how high to place one’s hands above the keys before striking the strong chords Beethoven is famous for. Fun stuff! And, without knowing how to read any music yet, my 9-year-old knows where all the page turns are in that 20-page work, and after he turns a page, he goes right back to improvising with me, copying my expressions and occasionally groaning at the end of the final passage, as he’s heard me do, “Ohhh…I missed it!” I don’t always “stick the landing” 😀

Can you tell I love music? 🙂 My kids love it this way, too. That is life at its best…spontaneous and joyful in just the way it unfolds. Nothing wrong with having a general framework around which your day is scheduled, but it’s so freeing to have the flexibility to deviate from it when creative urges arise, or when “life happens”, or what have you.

On another “note” — ha, music on the brain 😉 — my husband laments how so many of his young coworkers have no idea what to do with themselves at work. They need constant direction about what to do when. They seem incapable of seeing needs and responding to them without being specifically told. The concept of being thorough, going above and beyond, etc. is totally foreign to most of these young people. I believe traditional schooling plays a role in this handicap. Go here at this time, do this at that time. They don’t get accustomed to organizing their time, prioritizing matters of higher importance over lower, thinking for themselves, and so on. They’re dependent on others (teachers, then employers) to lay everything out for them. Very frustrating that so many adults are this way, having little self-direction or leadership abilities.

That is why I think homeschooling is so good for developing strong, competent future leaders. The children learn to organize and prioritize and don’t have to be spoon-fed everything they ever learn. My two homeschool graduates, a 22-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, have both been promoted at their workplaces to supervisory and/or positions of greater responsibility than the levels at which they began. My son is now a shift leader in the convenience-store chain for which he works (funny aside: instead of sending him a new name tag that said “Shift Leader”, the company sent him one that said “Store Leader” 🙂 He and his boss had a good laugh when he told her things were going to be different around there now! 😀 )

Anyway, I do believe that homeschooling, rather than handicapping a person to live in “the real world”, provides the best preparation for doing just that. Good post!

Word Warrior April 20, 2013 - 4:30 pm

6 arrows,

” They need constant direction about what to do when. They seem incapable of seeing needs and responding to them without being specifically told. The concept of being thorough, going above and beyond, etc. is totally foreign to most of these young people. I believe traditional schooling plays a role in this handicap. Go here at this time, do this at that time. They don’t get accustomed to organizing their time, prioritizing matters of higher importance over lower, thinking for themselves, and so on. They’re dependent on others (teachers, then employers) to lay everything out for them.”

I’ve heard so many employers say this. Originally, school was a great fit for the industrial age/factory worker/assembly line world we once lived in. School WAS designed to create this type of citizen (down to the bell-conditioning) because he would make a good, compliant, obedient worker. But as you pointed out, that conditioning is problematic in most situations.

Keri April 20, 2013 - 7:26 pm

Six arrows..That is Great!! Love those examples..

6 arrows April 22, 2013 - 7:27 am

Thanks, Keri. There’s so much to love about life!

Eva April 20, 2013 - 3:47 pm

This is so much like my experiences being homeschooled, especially as a little kid. My mom taught us stuff that was interesting to my sisters and me. If on one of our walks, we asked how bees made honey, we would learn all about honey bees for the next week. We would look at pictures, read books, and of course, catch bees to observe. Our old neighbor kept honey bees so we went to her house and looked at them, and ate honeycomb just like the Savior did. When kids are just beginning to learn about the beautiful world we live in, the last thing they need is for their interests to be squashed so they can be in a classroom for hours every day, learning multiplication tables that they don’t need to know till they are older. I think God gave kids their curiosity for a reason.
Another benefit to homeschooling that I didn’t realize until now that I am a senior in high school, is that parents can put God in their children’s lessons. I didn’t realize this when I was little, but my mom was constantly teaching me about God. When we learned about evolution, instead of learning how humans are descended from apes, we learned that God gave each of his creatures the wonderful power to adapt to their environment so they could survive. One of the first things I ever remember learning is how to recognize the big dipper. I remember my dad pointing it out to me and saying “God must have thought it would be fun to make shapes out of the stars.” Now that I do an online public high school, which is great by the way now that I have a firm foundation to built upon, I realize how scientific everything the world teaches is. Whereas I look at the stars and think how amazing God’s creations are, my science class teaches how there was suddenly a big bang and there they were. (I do actually believe that in a way. God said “boom” and everything went “bang” 🙂
I guess the point I am trying to make is who cares if your kids have 100 friends, or if they don’t know the f-word? They can learn so much more important things being taught by you than by anyone else.

Kelly L April 20, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Really good points, Eva. Glad to see a perspective of a teen currently being home schooled.

Keri April 20, 2013 - 7:24 pm

I can remember when people used to ask me all the time,how my kids were going to survive in the “Real World”. Well, four of them are in their 20’s now and are surviving just fine.

I’m going to say it again!! Let it go and just keep doing what the Lord has called you to do. I could tell story after story of how they are surviving! Keep at it Moms!!

Kristen April 20, 2013 - 11:15 pm

Great post, Kelly! I had a long talk today with a wonderful jr. high teacher who is doing her best, but the situation she is in…. I am so glad I am homeschooling. She told me, “Things are so bad, the admin. doesn’t discipline and even the few good kids have to be bad, just in order to survive!” And she’s not at an inner city school. She’s at a small town school. You and I have two entirely different philosophies of education, but I am on the same page with you as far as keeping my kids out of public schools!

Annie D April 21, 2013 - 7:14 pm

Fact Checker here:

Bill Gates didn’t write those rules. Charles J. Sykes put them in a book called “Dumbing Down Our Kids.”


: )

Laura April 22, 2013 - 6:32 am

Just thinking of my own family’s general schedule…my hubby generally works second shift. That means 2-10 or 3-11, and he gets home late. Also, however, his work has him on a 5-week swing shift…where every week is different, but repeats every 5 weeks. It occurred to me this morning that if my older boys went to school away from home, they would see daddy, most weeks, for a few minutes before saying good bye in the morning, and not again til the next morning (because hubby would be gone when they got home!), and that would be a whole week’s pattern! And since he works 2 weekends out of 5, (12 hour days no less) the off days that he would be home on a week day, wouldn’t be any better because they would be at school… And boys NEED their daddy! No wonder young men in this country are struggling the way they do…Industrialization/modern economy and public school have virtually separated them from their fathers, and put them in limited environments with WOMEN for 8 hours a day… I’d be interested in a long term study of fathers/sons who were given the opportunity to pursue an agricultural/hands on employment where sons HAD to come with them… hmmm…

6 arrows April 22, 2013 - 7:26 am

Laura, that’s exactly the reason we started homeschooling — when my husband switched from a first-shift job to a second-shift one. Of course, there are a lot more reasons than just that one to keep homeschooling, and we would continue to do it even if my husband ever went back to working first shift. There are so many benefits to homeschooling that we’ve discovered in the almost 15 years we’ve been doing it.

Kari April 22, 2013 - 9:30 am

I was laughing at a Tim Hawkins video this morning. He said that one of the biggest lines his family hears is “what about socialization”. He said in homeschool you actually get to socialize and in public school you get punished for doing so (yes, he said it much funnier than I did). But it’s true. Unless you are at recess, between classes, or on your short lunch break, you are NOT socializing at all. You are sitting, listening, hopefully retaining, and hopefully learning. My children don’t do that 6 – 8 hours each day. They are learning, they are listening, they are retaining, but they are doing so much more and often in the “real world”. Oh, and they have many more hours to work on socialization than the typical public schooled child.

Kelly L April 22, 2013 - 12:07 pm

Love Tim Hawkins and his homeschool bit!

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 4:46 am

Actually, there are more than a few times that teachers group kids together and do team-work.

Melissa April 23, 2013 - 1:12 pm

I’m sorry, Jennifer, but group work is not socialization. Group work is a horrid excuse for learning, where one or two kids get to do all the work and the other three or four share the credit. Always hated it, always will hate it. True collaboration happens when children with similar work ethics and interest work together toward a goal that they are excited about. I didn’t see that in public high school, and doubt it exists anywhere but in a homeschool setting.

Having seen both sides (was homeschooled until the end of grade 11, then attended a public high school for grade 12, and went on to university to study elementary education…which I abandoned after my eyes were opened to the insanity of working within the public system), homeschooling is a far superior option, and I will continue homeschooling my own 6 children for as long as I can. Easy, no. Best, yes!

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 2:25 pm

Good grief, Melissa; I’m sorry you rate all such groups as having spoiled children. That’s certainly not been my experience, from elementary school upward; both games and learning activities were very stimulating and helpful the majority of the time. In my experience, your swooping opinion is flat-out wrong.

Kari April 23, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Yes, occasionally a teacher will allow for small group work that could lead to some limited socialization. Most of the time, however, that’s not how classes are run.

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 8:55 pm

In one-class elementary school levels, they’ll have socialization activities of some sort all day. Middle and highschool have different class activities and advanced gym periods, which function at least half the time by teaming up kids.

Kari April 23, 2013 - 9:00 pm

That’s neat. Please know that’s the exception to the rule in public schools, not the norm.

Jennifer April 23, 2013 - 9:31 pm

Really, because my experience and observations say exactly the opposite. This is how classes work, unless things have bcome more like factory work.

Kari April 24, 2013 - 6:50 am

You are quite blessed to have only known these manners of class. I remember a few times in my education where this happened, and it was limited to what we were working on, not socialization in general. It was very focused and we would have gotten in trouble if it was truly socialization that was going on in our groups. I know with tightening educational standards and manners of teaching in our nation those types of settings are becoming more and more infrequent. Sounds like in your area they are still attempting to go against the grain. Good for them. They should. The grain is not a good way to teach or learn.

-- l April 23, 2013 - 11:08 am

Taste Test by Nancy Leigh Demoss:

I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. – Romans 16:19

Satan uses some of the same tactics with today’s parents that he used with Eve in the Garden of Eden. Remember how he convinced her that by eating the forbidden fruit she would learn something she needed to know? “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened…knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). And he was right. When Eve ate, her eyes opened. She did learn something she hadn’t known before: the experience of evil.

But see how clearly the Bible tells us whose goal this was? Not God’s. He never intended that we should know evil by experiencing it for ourselves. Satan, on the other hand – even this many years later – has never stopped employing this tried and untrue approach. He still says to us, “here you need to taste this.” And he says to parents, “Your children need to taste for themselves too. If you shelter them from the ‘real world’ they’ll never be able to fit in and survive.”

Is that a parent’s calling though? To rear children who can ‘fit in?’ The longing of every Chrisitian parent is to bring up children who love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength – children who satnd out as bright shinning lights.

Believing Moms and Dad should be seeking to raise up not just “good kids” but children who enthusiastically embrace the truth, who love righteousness and hate evil, who will be used by God to change the world, not just survive within it.

Of course parents cannot control the hearts and choices of their children; but should we not plead with the Lord to give the next generation (and their parents) this kind of heart?

What firsthand “knowledge of evil” do you wish you never tasted? How can you aspire to be “innocent as to what is evil,” while still living and serving in this world that loves and promotes evil?

Taken from, “The Quiet Place” Taste Test, Oct 2nd by Nancy Leigh Demoss;

Word Warrior April 23, 2013 - 12:01 pm

I–this is such an excellent observation.

Kari April 23, 2013 - 7:13 pm

I love this. I pray over my children every single night. I never pray for them to fit in, ever. I do pray for them to grow to be Godly adults who humbly follow Him each day of their lives, living their life to hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant” when they meet their Savior. I don’t care if they fit in. Christ didn’t fit in. His disciples didn’t fit in. The women very often with them didn’t fit in. I want them to be men of God. If they reach that one goal, I will have been a successful parent.

Word Warrior April 23, 2013 - 8:05 pm



Summer April 24, 2013 - 11:10 am

Kari, Thank you for your comment. I totally agree and it was encouraging to be reminded of one of the main reasons that I chose to homeschool.

Kim M April 27, 2013 - 2:13 pm

Great thoughts. The ones who do not fit in are the ones God uses to do amazing things: Joseph,Daniel & the 3 Hebrew boys, and David are Biblical personalities that immediately popped into my head.

Lisa S. April 23, 2013 - 12:55 pm

Thank you! I have a 19 year old who graduated from a public school. I also have two young daughters (12 and 10) who I pulled out of public school last year. Both were doing above average, but I wanted more for them. I have become stuck in the habit of “doing school” and have been doing them a disservice. I wanted them to be homeschooled so they could experience things, learn in the real world, interact with people of all ages, etc. Instead, I was scared I’d screw up. I did great over the summer, but when fall rolled around, I tried all sorts of curriculum to figure out what worked best. None of them did. Well, I love their math. 🙂 Thank you for reminding me that learning isn’t just about school and I need to get back to my true reasons for homeschooling my girls.

6 arrows April 24, 2013 - 3:11 pm

I have followed with interest the conversation between Jennifer and Kari. As a former public school teacher and current homeschool mom, Jennifer, I would like to add my 2-cents worth to Kari’s well-reasoned commentary.

You mentioned trained, experienced teachers in the public school system, Jennifer. You may be surprised at how little “training” a teacher education student actually receives in college. Walking out of college with a teaching degree and a certificate does very little to prepare one to stand in front of a classroom of students, I have learned. Most of the training and experience of which you speak come on the job.

Homeschooling parents also get training and experience on the job, but, as parents, they acquire that experience a lot faster because they are with their children so much more than any one teacher would be, who only has his/her students for a fraction of the children’s growing-up years before passing them along to someone else.

There are undoubtedly teachers who become very good at what they do, acquiring a high degree of skill in whatever grade level or subject area they teach. Yet through the specificity of their focus, they only reach a limited part of each child they teach. They may do very well reaching a child with their area of expertise, but they can’t educate the whole child as a parent can, who knows and loves the child, sharing life together and seeing the child’s education as part of the larger context of the child’s whole life.

I liked this that Kari wrote: “I am taking the one-on-one time with them, working with them, customizing their lessons so they can understand them, and learning my children inside and out at a young age so I can help teach them how to learn and how to have a passion for learning.” That is the beauty of homeschooling. Only parents could so thoroughly learn their children inside and out, and be in a position to determine how best to meet every need the child has. And if delegating parts of their children’s education to others is beneficial, then loving and attentive parents would be the best ones to determine that.

I think the bigger picture here is that God equips parents for the task of raising their children (His children). Educating our children (and we ALL teach our children, whether we homeschool them or not) is part of that raising. Really, they’re learning all the time — that is their life — and so are we. It is the rare child, coming from a loving family, who is better served by the school system for his/her entire education, getting bounced from teacher to teacher who, as skilled as some of them may be, get only a passing glimpse of who that child is.

The richest education that most children could ever receive would be the one administered and diligently guided by loving parents.

Kim M April 28, 2013 - 6:33 am

Your homeschooling posts are always so encouraging. I haven’t bought my youngest a language arts or phonics workbook because of finances, and it has been killing me. Most of my friends do private Christian school (run by our church), and I’ve always had the fear that if something happened and they had to go back, that they wouldn’t test on grade level. I think I’ll just wait awhile…. thank you so much!

Erica May 2, 2013 - 4:19 pm

After reading through this posting – and the comments – and then doing it again. I am thankful to be able to read a blog about topics such as this. I was a PS *brat* with a top notch education in what is considered one of the best school districts in our state. I sent my kids to PS for some years – up until my oldest hit 6th grade when I made the decision to pull them out of PS and homeschool instead.

I have children with varying degrees of ADD/ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and the PS way of dealing with them…label them and give them an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in which the teachers are SUPPOSED to individualize their lessons so that the children are learning from it instead of not. They strongly suggested I medicate my children so that they would get more from their educational experience. I did. They had me come in 3-4 time a week to “help” and observe. I did. When all was said & done I realized that as much time as I spent there I should just do it myself. So again, I did.

Since making the call to homeschool my children I can happily say that not one of them is medicated for any learning issues. They are much happier, learn more, and I can be more thankful for the decision I made. There is not one aspect of PS that I wish for my kids to retain or copy off of in our home. There is nothing of value within the walls of a PS building that I can not do/give my kids on a much better level. I am able to personalize everything. My kids now foster a love of learning whereas before it was always a fight to get them out the door each day. My oldest is actually looking forward to college instead of fighting against the thought of it. (He’s going engineer direction so further education is needed.)

No teacher can work one-on-one with our kids. Not even with an IEP. No child will foster a love of learning when all they do day in & day out is memorization. Because that is what our schools have become. You memorize. You test. And that’s how our kids are taught in PS today. Sad really.

Garry Volmar November 22, 2013 - 1:34 am

El problema es la cantidad de gente puede relacionarse. Puesto que soy “fuera de contacto” Todavía tengo que averiguar qué mensajes tendrán un montón de comentarios y cuáles no. De hecho, por lo general, cuando escribo lo que pienso que es un gran mensaje


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