Answering Diana’s questions

I’m going to do something that I don’t often do, which is create a new post specifically because of the comments to another post.  In the comments to this post, Diana from Virginia had a lot of things to say about homeschooling, not necessarily from a hostile standpoint, but certainly not from the point of view of an ally.  At the end of her comment, she asked several questions about homeschooled kids, which because she was respectful (if misinformed) I wanted to create a new post to answer her.

I don’t worry about socialization with homeschooled children. I do wonder exactly what happens when the bubble wrap comes off though. And it has to, doesn’t it? You can’t control their environment forever, so how does that work?

This question quite incorrectly assumes that parents who choose to homeschool are “bubble-wrapping” their children to protect them from the nasty real world out there.  Speaking from personal experience, I can say that quite often the exact opposite is true – homeschool families are teaching their kids that the world is a nasty place where lots of people don’t want to be your friend.  Honestly, I worry more about kids who are coddled by a school system that doesn’t allow recess and dodgeball because someone’s feelings might get hurt.

Are they the kids that cut loose in college? Are you going to let them go away to school then?

Any overprotected child is going to cut lose in college, whether or not they’ve been homeschooled has very little to do with it.  A child who was constantly sheltered and sent to public school is just as likely to “cut loose” in college as a sheltered homeschooled child.  An overprotective parent is just as unlikely to allow their child to go away to school whether or not they homeschooled.  However, as a personal example, myself and two of my brothers went to college.  The one who stayed the closest to my parents was 1200 miles away.  So yes, we do “go away” to college.

At what age do they get out from under the constant loving scrutiny of their parents?

If I ever reach an age where my parents no longer regard me with love and scrutiny, it will mean that they are dead.  Because I want my parents to scrutinize my actions, even now as I’m an adult.  My parents have lived a lot longer than me, and their scrutiny and wisdom can provide insight on little things from business decisions to marital advice.  I don’t want to be out from their love or scrutiny, because I recognize the value in learning from their experience, even though I am now an adult myself.  I pity the adult who feels that they are too old or too good for their parent’s “scrutiny”.

When do they get to interact with their peers,or for that matter, with anyone else, without the parents around?

I think on a regular basis, when I was 10.  In high school, I could interact with my peers pretty much whenever I wasn’t doing schoolwork, so weekends, at sports practices, church, evenings, like any other high school kid with a car and a driver’s license.

How do they know where they start and their parents end?

I can’t speak for anyone but myself (and possibly my brothers), but I knew because I was raised to be independent.  My parents didn’t raise me to be a little clone of them, they raised me to be my own adult.  My parents “end” with the teaching and wisdom they had imparted to me, and I “start” where I choose to act based on my personal experience and their teaching.

The problem with a lot of your questions is that they could just as easily apply to a child who was mollycoddled by his parents and went to public school.  You’re assuming that because you believe you were a good parent, that only homeschool parents are overprotective and controlling of their children.  I can say with utmost conviction that you’re incorrect; I have had plenty of friends who were overprotected by their parents and went to public school.  When the bubble wrap came off those kids, they had a much harder time adapting than I did.


  1. I think more public school students have problems fitting in at college. A big part of it is the rather insidious way they are taught that the nanny state will protect them and never hold them accountable for their mistakes. They don’t have the faintest idea of personal responsibilty.

    When they get to college, they think that attitude will continue. Much to their chagrin and to the amazment of their parents, they are treated as adults. They freguently can’t handle it. It’s why I arrest a lot more public school educated students and have never had an issue with one of the homeschooled students.

  2. I pity the adult who feels that they are too old or too good for their parent’s “scrutiny”.

    While I wholeheartedly agree that someone who’s been raised well by their parents and feels that they’ve gotten only loving scrutiny throughout would do well to continue to allow that scrutiny (that’s why parents are THERE, after all), that’s not accounting for those of us who didn’t have a lovingly scrutinizing parent, and thus had to separate ourselves from that parent as much as humanly possible in order to be able to do ANYthing. I still talk to that parent, and we do favors for each other and can have decent conversations now, but I don’t value their opinion on certain issues because those issues were the ones that repeatedly came up while I was growing up, and where the advice was always the same, “I’ve never done it, so you shouldn’t, either”, whether it was something perceived as positive or negative. Just as an aside…heh.

    Also, you’re right – the wilder kids at the school that I attend are either parochial school graduates or public school kids whose parents were so strict as to the point where the only time they got out of the house was for school-sanctioned events. The kids who were really social, either homeschooled or not, are the ones who continue to just be really social in college…nothing’s really interrupted for them, because they’re doing basically what they did growing up, anyway.

    If I have children, they’re going to be homeschooled. The reason for this that I give is that my experiences in public school were a detriment to me – I’m not someone who does well with a sanctioned method of learning (seeing as how I just recently discovered a slight learning disability, this makes sense), and I learn better on a smaller scale (meaning fewer students around, and more personal discussion time – that’s why I love going to a small college, and am paying so much more money to do so). Regardless of whether my potential child has the same disabilities I have, I still believe that I am the best-qualified person to take their educational responsibility seriously. And there are so many great programs for getting kids “socialized” that it’s silly to think that they’d just sit around at home twiddling their thumbs and growing more awkward by the day. Any parent who allows their kid to do that might be homeschooling for reasons that would prevent socialization, either for religious or political reasons, and I disagree with that method – don’t take your own prejudices out on your kids.


  3. I agree that if you don’t/didn’t have parents that actively tried to mentor and encourage you via said loving scrutiny that you’d be in a different situation; and those kinds of parents are generally not going to be good homeschool parents.

  4. Although I seem to have become The Defender of Homeschooling, I will also be the first person to say that it’s not for everyone; there are most definitely some parents who should not homeschool their children.

  5. I went to public school. I rarely did any homework, my parents weren’t involved at all, but I did well on state-wide tests, so I was passed along through every grade. I don’t think I learned anything useful past 3rd grade or so. Public school is just a place to put the kiddies so they stay out of trouble and so mom and dad can go to work.

    Nearly every time I tell people that we homeschool our kids, the person exclaims something to the effect of, “I could never do that! I’m so happy to get them out of the house!” I believe the majority of people don’t know and don’t really care what their kids are being taught in public school – so long as their kids are out of their hair.

    I agree with Squeaky Wheel that homeschooling is definitely not for everyone. (I would have learned even less if I had been left in the indifferent hands of my parents.) And it’s not an easy decision or an easy lifestyle. There is no little desk and chair for the well-behaved child to sit at while the teacher stands in front of a chalkboard and writes out the day’s lessons. There is no quiet raising of the student’s hand to politely ask to use the restroom. There is no hall monitor to make sure no one runs in the hallway.

    Homeschool is real life, with all sorts of loud noise and unpredictable behavior. Because of this, I wholeheartedly believe that homeschooling prepares children to handle the real world – and the people they meet in it – much better than the insulated, fake world of public school.

    I’d love to hear from Diana how she believes public school socializes children. Kids in public school sit in one building all day with about 30 other kids the same age that they see 5 days a week. They each sit behind their own desk and pay attention to the teacher. They get in trouble if they try to talk to each other or write notes to each other. The only time public school kids can be social is during lunch time and after school – after they get their homework done.

    On the flipside, homeschoolers have all day to socialize. We meet with other families at the park during the day, we talk to neighbors, we chat with the people who work at the stores we go to. In this way, my children learn how to talk with a wide variety of people of different ages and backgrounds.

    My kids are still young, but something I’ve noticed about teenaged homeschoolers is that they are genuinely comfortable talking to anyone. They’ll coo at the babies in the group, play with the younger kids, hang out with their peers, and they’ll look the adults right in the eye and have a meaningful discussion with them. I have yet to meet a public school teenager who will do more than just hang with their peers.

    As for the family that Diana mentioned that believes the world is 10,000 years old – I’d like to remind Diana that there are plenty of kooks in public school too – and those kooks indoctrinate 100 or so kids a year with their wacky beliefs. For example, most (all?) public school kids are taught that the world was created by a “big bang,” all life on earth evolved from a “primordial soup,” and that the higher life forms are now causing mass devastation with “global warming.”

    Each of these theories may not be completely wrong, but they aren’t necessarily completely right. However, they are presented to public school kids as the absolute truth in a closed environment. Other theories are not discussed. Opposing view points are ridiculed. Public school is no longer a place of learning and exploring – it has become a tool for indoctrinating our children with a single viewpoint, turning them into sheep who do not think for themselves.

    Lastly, I’d like to answer Diana’s other questions: No, I do not view myself as a “repressed minority.” And, no, I do not believe that anyone cares that I’ve taken my kids “off the grid.” I am passionate about the reasons that have led me to homeschooling, and I want to ensure that the government does not restrict my right to teach my own children, but I am not a conspiracy theorist. I think most homeschoolers would say the same.

  6. Perhaps this is an only-in-California perspective, but the after-school activities in which my public-school daughter engaged (soccer, volleyball, lacrosse) were ALL private non-school-sponsored clubs. Parents paid fees every year (big fees) for their kids to participate. Mostly this was because the public high school had NO FUNDS for any but the basic after-school sports (and if I recall correctly, things like school choir, band and orchestra received most of their funding from parents in order to keep those activities alive). And this was in a relatively affluent community….

    Anyway, as a result, although my daughter was not home-schooled, a good many of her friends were — because she got to know them from the private after-school athletic activities in which they also participated. And there was really no significant difference in the quantity or quality of socialization between her public-school and home-schooled friends, so far as I could see.

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