Response to the
Homeschooling Naysayers

by Ronnie Ugulano
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Over the years, we've heard many objections to the concept of homeschooling. I think it's safe to say that we've pretty much heard them all. Here is one of the many comments we've heard - and my response.

"I have been privy to many people who homeschool their children. There are so many fundamentals that are left out, such as socialization skills, kids who are set apart from other kids, laziness (get out of bed and come down to "school"). You can't shelter your children from the real world. I know that most parents who homeschool are not going to change their minds, but they should think of their children. We all have our choices in life but I don't care who you are, you are not skilled in all areas of science, math, etc."

Here's my response:

Each and every year, thousands of homeschoolers reach adulthood. Those homeschoolers are accepted into colleges, trade schools and jobs.

My own son graduated from our home-grown private school in 2002, and when he finished at home with us, he attended a (very high end) trade school 8 hours away.

When we first chose to homeschool, many of our friends thought the same things you are saying out loud. We knew they thought that way because of all those dead silences every time the topic of school came up. They thought we were crazy, they thought that my son would not be able to function normally at all when he approached adulthood. They were wrong. Why?

First of all, homeschooling doesn't separate a child from the world. They just don't go to public school. We live in the world, and our children do, too. Our children deal with all the people around them under real conditions - at the grocery store, among friends and neighbors - they just don't deal with them in public school. They have friends, they just don't meet them in public school.

Do you really think it's possible to keep a kid in a box?

Picture in your mind a big box with lots of room, but with low sides, say 18" high. Put a 3 year old in it. What is the kid going to do? Climb out. Pick up the child, put him back in the box. He may get entranced by something else in the box, but a few minutes later, he's going to climb out again. Put him in again. He climbs out. Are you seeing a pattern here? It's the same thing with the world in general. You can't really keep a child separate from the social world under any kind of normal circumstances. They're going to "get out" and mix with other people. If you try to keep them from doing that, you're going to exhaust yourself, and trust me, the kid has more energy than you do.

"We all have our choices in life but I don't care who you are, you are not skilled in all areas of science, math, etc."

You are right. We aren't skilled in every area. However, we have found that there are many ways to circumvent this issue. We can learn whatever it is along with our child, we can find a friend to help, we can hire a tutor, or we can let the child explore the subject on his own.

For example, our son wanted to learn woodworking, but we had minimal experience. We got him a scroll saw, taught him important safety measures, and within weeks, he was learning on his own. He submitted some of his work to the trade school he wanted to go to, and on the basis of it, and the high school transcript that we wrote for him, he was accepted.

Before you reiterate that negative comment, that "it won't work", consider that these options have worked for homeschoolers for generations, and studies have shown that the educational level of the homeschooling parents has little negative impact on the student, even if the parent only finished high school. In other words, high school educated parents are producing college-worthy children.

I know that deep down, your response comes from the fear that a whole generation of children might not get a decent education and you want to prevent that. But consider: Are public schooled children doing any better? Um, not really. A young man that graduated from public high school about the same time our son graduated from our high school, could not read at all. In fact, for many years, I have been a remedial reading teacher, and all of my students come from a public school that has failed them in one way or another.

My point is not to denigrate the public school system. Public schools are doing the best job they can under their circumstances. But they don't hold the only lease on good education.

It is these failing conditions in the public schools that have spawned some of the latest entries into homeschool. One of the fastest growing segments feeding the homeschooling movement these days, are families that have exhausted the public school system. These people would have never considered homeschooling, until they exhausted every option at the school, could not get help there, so they chose to homeschool.

I've raised and educated my own child from preK-12. I've been involved with other homeschoolers since we began ourselves. I know that homeschooling is not a simple easy answer to every problem in public school. I also know that some families would be better served by the public school system. However, vast numbers of homeschoolers are doing very well. We have already shown it, and colleges across the country have acknowledged the value of homeschooling by accepting our children into their ranks.

Despite your fears, we're doing OK. Honest.