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The Dangers of Homeschooling for Too Long

Updated on June 4, 2016

What went wrong with our plan

Home schooling was an exciting time. I enjoyed being able to teach my children at home when they were younger.

But it became progressively more difficult, especially as they entered their teenage years. Somehow, I had thought that adolescent turmoil wouldn't hit as hard because my children weren't enrolled in a public school. That might have been true, to a certain extent. But the natural progression is for your offspring to grow up and become independent. A certain amount of rebellion is normal and probably necessary.

Although it was surprising when teenage behavior kicked in, with a vengeance, it shouldn't have been. It also meant some serious adjustments in our plans to home school right through high school.

It was becoming progressively more difficult to teach my children. They resisted, unlike before, when they were eager to learn. In the beginning, they seemed to like being taught at home. I remember one morning in particular when my son just flat-out refused to do his work. I don't think he started anything until mid afternoon. This made me wonder just how long we could continue.

But I'm very stubborn. I persisted at least a year longer than I should have done, with our home lessons. That last year we tried this, my son would start his work very late each day. He's just as stubborn as I am, if not more so, so it became a battle of wills.

Then, in typical fashion, he would fly through his assignments and complete them around 9 pm. But not very happily. This was our pattern day after day.

We home schooled for religious reasons, so I prayed hard for relief. Some days it didn't seem as if God heard my prayers. But He did, because when it was really time to stop teaching my children at home, He made sure it happened.

(Morguefile photo by jdurham)

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The Math Curriculum Was Over My Head

My son is very good at math, so he was able to follow the packed program we had ordered from a Catholic home school company. He didn't need any intervention on my part, which was a good thing because it had been a long time since I'd been in school, and I had forgotten high school math concepts. Although my youngest was only in the seventh grade, this was an accelerated program, and the lessons were probably more suitable for high school students.

However, my oldest child needed a lot more help in math. I was unable to help her. So I had to wait until my husband got home from work each night, exhausted after long hours and a long commute on top of that. Then, he'd have to teach her. Even though math is one of his strong suits, he's been out of school for awhile as well. So our efforts to teach our children at home became increasingly impossible.

Our academic program was rigorous. If you missed a day, or didn't get as much done as you needed to, you had to make it up. Not surprisingly, the last year of home schooling extended way into the summer.

I wish I had access to a better program and advice from someone else who had managed to teach teenagers at home. In retrospect, we would have instead embarked upon something called classical education, likely cutting out a lot of the correspondence school busywork.

I Chose a Very Frustrating Program

My daughter was a freshmen in high school and had always been a good student. The program we used was, in some ways, ridiculous and frustrating. One former high school teacher who looked at the math curriculum thought it was too advanced for her age. Yet, we persisted and struggled through this.

Part of the problem, undoubtedly, was the particular correspondence course we had chosen. The assignments were graded by an in-house staff. My daughter needed to do a long research paper her freshman year, which required particular attention to detail. It was returned, as unacceptable, because a certain number of references were required on an obscure topic, and one of the references she used was the second volume of a two-set book package. This was only counted as one reference, despite the fact that books on this subject were very limited.

(Morguefile photos above and below by gracey)

Lack of a Support System

Another reason it became increasingly difficult to continue with home instruction is that our support system had eroded. Many other families we knew had put their children in school. So there were far fewer opportunities for socialization.

The private Catholic schools in our area weren't right for our family. So our only option was a public school. We chose a charter school because it was smaller. It certainly wasn't perfect, but both children met really nice people and made good friends. Many times the right decision becomes apparent only in hindsight. From the perspective of looking back upon it, this was the right choice, and I'm happy at how things worked out.

However, one caveat. Charter schools are not perfect, and my children's educational experience there wasn't perfect either. But I'm happy with how my children developed socially while attending that school.

Home Schooling for Dummies

Home schooling really isn't as hard as it sounds. The average person with little to no formal training as a teacher is able to home school, because, in reality, every parent begins to teach their own children from the minute they come into the world.

Home Schooling for Dummies is a comprehensive guide for people seriously contemplating taking their children out of school and teaching them at home.

Turning Things Around

Despite the fact my daughter's freshman GPA was horrific, she was able to turn it around in her sophomore year. I deeply regret the fact that this happened though.

That's because the college acceptance process has become very competitive, and this could have hindered her chances of being accepted to a four-year institute, and it also could have negatively affected the scholarships and financial aid she received. College today is necessary, for students of both genders, because it is very difficult to find even entry-level work without having a degree, or a marketable skill such as plumbing or carpentry.

Fortunately, both children were academically advanced when they started going to a regular school. One of their teachers, who home schools his own children, took me aside and told me this was because they were taught at home.

Recently, my son admitted that the accelerated math program has given him an edge in computation. In college, he plans to major in math. My daughter also said that terrible freshman research paper has made college papers seem relatively easy. Both of them are also decent people who are kind and helpful. So, "yes," I'd do it all over again.


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