Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Part Three, Top 3 Reasons Parents Homeschool
Also in this series: Part One: Why I Wanted To Write This | Part Two: Survey Stats and Large Families | Part Three: Top 3 Reasons Parents Homeschool | Part Four: Academic and Emotional Experiences, K-8 | Part Five: The Highschool Experience | Part Six: College? Prepared or Not? | Part Seven: What About Socialization? | Part Eight: The Best Thing vs. What Was Missing | Part Nine, Do Former Homeschoolers Want to Homeschool? | Part Ten: Are the Stereotypes Better or Worse?
Part Three, Top 3 Reasons Parents Homeschool
While growing up, I heard my mother describe homeschooling as “a lifestyle” countless times to curious inquirers who wondered why anyone would embark on such an endeavor. In the late 1980s, when my family started homeschooling, the question of “why” was very apropos, considering that homeschooling was illegal or newly legal in many states.
Keeping in mind these historic details, I was very intrigued to discover the answers to the question “Why did your parents choose to homeschool, from your understanding?” from first generation homeschoolers. (To learn more about why I decided to explore these questions, click here!)
(While reading, please keep in mind the last part of the question: from your understanding. All of these responses come from the adults looking back on their experiences and to understand why their parents decided to homeschool).
An example from my own family might give insight into the wide variety of answers I got:
My oldest sister, (Amberley, 33 years old), gave this answer:
Well, homeschooling was not legal in Nebraska when I started school, so I don’t know if Mom would have homeschooled me from K or not… But she said I was a brat and wanted me to get along better with my siblings. But I think there was also the religious aspect of things, where they wanted me to be able to study the Bible and learn about things from a Biblical perspective (ie. Bible as a subject, creation).
My second oldest sister, (Chelsea, 30 years old) also mentioned the “getting along with siblings” part, as well as religious reasons.
I, personally, don’t remember my sister being “a brat” (that just makes me laugh a bit). However, the following story is what I remember my parents telling us about why they started to homeschool:
My oldest sister was in the AWANA program (a church based Bible memory club) that met on Wednesday nights. Amberley was so tired in the morning that she had a very difficult time getting up for school. My parents decided that Biblical education (like the AWANA program provided) was of greater value that academic education that required my sister to get up early in the morning. These circumstances greatly influenced my parents’ decision to start homeschooling.
My younger brother (Kellan, 23 years old) gave this reason:
Well, all of you guys were homeschooled so by the time I rolled around I guess they just had to.
My brother’s answer, of course, is very tongue-in-cheek, but I think it gives a good example of how siblings can have different perceptions of the same event.
Most of the homeschoolers who took the survey cited multiple reasons that influenced their parents’ decision. But the # 1 reason for homeschooling on the surveys mirrored my own family’s reasons for homeschooling: Religious Reasons or Convictions.
Here are some direct quotes from the survey:
Melissa Ann G., 26 from VA: Parents decided to homeschool us for religious reasons.
Christine M., 31 from KS: [My parents] wanted us to have a religious foundation to our education
Jeremy D., 18 from VA: My parents didn’t like “ungodliness” of public school . . . they felt God calling them to homeschool us.
Emily M., 26 from FL: I believe it was primarily because they are very conservative and strong christians and they felt that public schools taught things they didn’t believe and they also thought that it opened up a lot of room for temptations and misguidance.
Elina C., 25 from KS: They didn’t like the evolution stance that was being taken in the school system and wanted to have the freedom to teach us creation.
Jenna C., 28 from KY: [My parents homeschooled] to keep us sheltered from many of the negative influences of the world, and to instill a love of God in our hearts.
And many others:
- 12 people (myself included) specifically mentioned “religious conviction”as a primary reason for homeschooling
- 6 people said that their parents wanted to protect them from “worldly,” “ungodly,” or “bad influences
- 3 people stated that their parents “wanted to teach the Bible”
While religious convictions was the # 1 answer, the next highest response was related to Academics or dissatisfaction with Public or Private Schools.
Stuart G., 29 from VA mentions academic reasons along with others:
My parents were unhappy with the public school environment and the quality of education we were receiving. The straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident in which my sister was being bullied and the administration was ineffective in dealing with the perpetrator. After this incident, my parents decided to try homeschooling on a trial basis. After the first year, it was clear that homeschooling was the right way to go for our family.
Elizabeth J., 24 from VA stated:
My mother wanted to protect us from the negative influences found in public schools, and later (after my sister spent 3rd grade at a private Christian school) to give us a more personalized, at-our-level, education. My mother taught us at the level that we were capable of, not holding us back or going on ahead of us. She also wanted to avoid the bullying and cliche-ishness that were in the schools.
Kaitlin G., 22 from KS explained that “My brother and I needed more 1 on 1 attention in certain subjects and we were not getting that in public school.”
- 7 people stated that their parents believed “they could do a better job” than public/private school
- 5 mentioned that parents “didn’t like the public schools”
- 2 cited that the parents wanted to have more control over their child’s education
- One mentioned being “bored” in school
- One family had a child who was academically advanced
Finally the third highest response after Religious Convictions and Academics was because parents did not want their children being taught Sex Education (5 people mentioned this, though this reason was primarily coupled with religious convictions).
One participant said: They believed it was God’s will for parents to take active responsibility for their children’s education. This was precipitated by early sex-education in my older brother’s second grade class.
Kelly C. 29 from VA also gave this reason: [My mom] did not want the public school system’s influence (in particular evolution and sex education) on my education. She preferred being able to teach me with a godly influence.
I found these top 3 reasons for deciding to Homeschool fascinating. Other reasons included:
- Military/ lived overseas (4)
- Bullying (3)
- Private/ Christian School too expensive (3)
- Family closeness (3)
- Flexibility (3)
- Disagreement w/ school
- Thought it would be fun (I particularly liked this answer!)
In closing this very long and informative post, I wanted to share what, I believe, is is a uniquely insightful response for why parents decided to homeschool.
Christy L., 28 from CA said:
My mom started out homeschooling (I am the oldest) and did it for my first two years of school. Before I started second grade she decided to put my brothers and I into public school for two reasons 1. She does not enjoy teaching kids how to read 2. My brother was chronically ill and it was getting to be too much to homeschool and care for him. My parents then decided to homeschool all 5 kids during 6-8th grade. They wanted to ensure that we had a good bible education and felt that middle school is the time that kids really pull away from their parents and they didn’t want that.
I so enjoyed this response because I believe it shows wise parent(s) who knew her likes and dislikes (nothing wrong with not enjoying teaching kids to read!) personal limitations (having a child who was chronically ill), and their own personal convictions about teaching the Bible and their faith, as well as developing family closeness. Christy eventually went back to public school from 9-12 grade and felt prepared and grateful for this new experience as well.
What about you?
If you were homeschooled, why did your parents choose to do so (from your understanding)?
If you homeschool your children today, what are your primary reasons for doing so?
Please feel free to comment on the above responses, or ask questions! I will do my best to answer them and provide what insight I may.
To be continued.