BAM Family

BAM Family

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: 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!)

Photo courtesy of this website
(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 saidThey 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. 


Ellen said...

I am loving reading your blog, Brittany! I chose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, but at least in part due to some of my own school experiences. I generally enjoyed school and did well at it, but there were two negatives that stood out to me. One was that while I received an ok education, I seemed to just learn how to spit back information. One of the things I love best about homeschooling my kids is reading great books together, and then talking about all the interesting questions they raise. The other big negative I remember from my elementary years was the negative peer influences. My friends would share all the latest dirty jokes with me at recess, and I generally just went along with whatever the strongest personalities pulled me toward. I also participated in making fun of other people (again, going along with the crowd). I never remembered being corrected by teachers for these things....I was a "good" kid who followed the rules and didn't get into trouble. At least part of my problem was not having a strong connection at home, parents knowing/ asking about my life at school. But I also think so much happens in that school world that shapes us, and that adults are clueless sometimes about what goes on.

Brittany said...

Ellen, thanks for your comments! And thanks for reading too. :) Your experiences give me some good food for thought, especially about negative influences in elementary school. You usually think of bad peer pressure coming later on, like in Jr. High or High School but this is not always the case.

Lauren said...

My mom started homeschooling me for first grade in 1995 (not sure if that counts as first generation or not) and the big reasons were religious convictions, the fact that I was a shy kid who was easily lost in the crowd, the fact the school I was in thought I had a lisp (no more than anybody else in K) and wanted to put me in speech development, and the fact that I was one of those kids that caught every germ that ever went around (I ended up with pneumonia in K). She homeschooled me all through high school (and my sister as well. My brother is now in 2nd grade, but the plan is to homeschool him all the way through as well.)

Brittany said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Lauren! I always love hearing other people's stories about why they or their parents decided to homeschool.

Anonymous said...

We did it because we didn't like the bullying in public/private schools by both teachers and students at the schools where we live at. If we lived in another school district this may not have been out choice.

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