Q & A Part 1: “I’m Interested in Homeschooling. But Won’t My Kids Miss Out?”

“My kids go to public school but I’m really interested in homeschooling and I was wondering if maybe you guys could answer some questions for me?

Do you ever feel bad about your kids missing out on things like marching band, choir, clubs, high school sports, the prom, and graduation?” -Tonya

This was actually one of my initial concerns when we were considering homeschooling. And like so many other fears, I’ve come to realize it’s partly a result of our own conformity to a way of life, and associated peer pressure.

The first answer is that homeschoolers don’t miss out. Their options for extracurricular activities far exceed those of a child limited by time restraints of school. Depending on what families choose, many can even participate in school sports, put together their own proms, have bands, clubs, graduation and more.

Many parents considering homeschooling somehow think his child is the only one and will be alone in his journey. They quickly realize, though, that they are part of a huge, rapidly growing community, with more people, activities and opportunities than they will ever be able to join. (There are currently more than 2,010,198 children being homeschooled in America.)

Secondly, once a family steps out of the “school culture” they realize how empty many of the peer-dominated activities were and are thankful the pressure is off.

Youth is a fabulous time of growing, learning and experiencing life. Homeschooling affords more time and availability to pursue interests a young person would otherwise be too busy for. As parents adapt to a [homeschooling] world they never knew existed, missing the prom or the marching band becomes a trivial, can’t-believe-I-ever-worried-about-that, non-issue, replaced by more productive, meaningful opportunities.

I think about how this played out for me personally, and the contrast I can now see as a homeschooling parent of teenagers. As both a cheerleader and later a cheerleader sponsor, I experienced the inordinate amount of time we spent doing something that, well, doesn’t prepare for life. Yeah the team work thing, but that can be easily gained in a normal family setting, if we weren’t so busy with our extra curriculars.

At one point in high school, we were required–in addition to all day practices–to spend Sunday decorating lockers for Homecoming. (Because that’s important.) My Dad felt like it was inappropriate and I told my sponsor that. I’ll never forget my *Christian* cheer-leading sponsor grabbing me by the front of my shirt, pulling me right into her eyes and saying through gritted teeth, “You decide if cheer-leading or a family rule is more important.”

Now that I’m a parent, I’m so grateful for the time my older children have to pursue more meaningful activities, still maintaining close friendships and enjoying fun events, but spending the bulk of time doing more productive, real life things–learning to run businesses, honing their talents and gifts, learning to serve the community.

I would encourage all parents to carefully consider whether we are steering our children towards activities that are productive, useful and tending to growth and preparation, or if we, too, are being swayed by a peer pressure of our own, tricked into thinking they’ll “miss out” if we don’t follow main stream.

Think Outside the Classroom

 


Are you stressed out with homeschooling? Do you want to homeschool but are afraid? Read more...

52 Responses to “Q & A Part 1: “I’m Interested in Homeschooling. But Won’t My Kids Miss Out?””

  1. Cindy says:

    That’s kind of funny, considering that the prom is one of the things that I am absolutely adamant that my children will be missing out on. Hundreds of teens on dates in fancy, revealing, grown up clothes with a handful of chaperones who don’t know them and all-night parties afterwards? Recipe for moral growth, right there. ;-)

    All kidding aside, our local homeschool group has a family cotillion every year. Our bands don’t march, but there is a homeschool orchestra that is lots of fun and very good. Co-ops and private lessons do cost money and time, but most families find them to be worth it. (At this juncture, I do not, but I’m waiting for my kids to show more interest before I shell out for it.)

    If these things aren’t available in your area, and they’re something you really think your kids need, you could do it the great American way: start something yourself!

    • “prom is one of the things that I am absolutely adamant that my children will be missing out on”

      Yes, thank you. How were parents ever convinced this was such a fabulous thing????

    • Kelly L says:

      Our group has a teen formal. They go to a nice restaurant, have a “dance” and desserts when they come back. The thing is, all of them see each others as brothers and sisters in Christ. There is not boy girl dancing or anything like that. It is a fun party. It is a fun alternative to prom for them.

  2. Jan says:

    I had so much fun in school. I do think homeschoolers miss out on being with friends. I loved that. Maybe it’s worth it, but it’s silly to deny that they don’t miss out on fun things. You were homecoming queen, weren’t you, Kelly? I am sure Bria would have liked the chance to experience that.

    • Jan,

      Homeschoolers don’t miss out on being with friends considering that they HAVE friends. What’s silly is that anyone thinks a school building is the only place where friendships are possible. That’s a blaring indication that we have been so segregated from real life we can’t even think outside of the facade.

      Same goes for “fun things.” My children would think a statement like that is insane. They can’t imagine how it could be fun to get on a bus in the morning, be transported to a prison-like place, defend themselves against mean children, to be told everything to do, where to go and how to do it, for 8 hours, and then come home and still have “school” to do. With all the fun things they get to do, you would not be able convince them they were missing any fun.

      Now I will agree that homeschoolers miss out. They miss out on learning to use vulgarity, learning to be disrespectful, learning about sex in a perverted context, learning that Brittney Spears is someone to be emulated, learning about drugs….I’m getting tired.

      Bria has asked me why I subjected her to her first two years in school, where she was Kindergarten and first grade “homecoming queen.” I’m thankful she is wise beyond her years, and sees the shallow, ridiculous practice of exalting one person over another and ascribing worth to an individual on the basis of looks and/or popularity. We should all be ashamed that we even still allow the practice. When I asked her if she would “like the chance”, she said, “that’s the studipest thing of all.”

      • Cindy says:

        LOL. We just spent a whole morning with our friends! I remember being told constantly by my teachers that “we aren’t here to socialize”. And what socializing we did do doesn’t seem to me to be very healthy, looking back on it.

      • shannon says:

        *Like*. You need to move your comment here to the top. Well said.

      • Jan says:

        I am sure you found it fun at the time. I did. And no harm came if it. I was raised properly. Just saying, they DO miss some good things and they get good things (individualized attention for ex) I’ve offered to homeschool mine and the kids beg to stay in school with their friends. They feel sorry for the homeschoolers we know. Different perspective, I guess.

        • Why would they with a mother telling them “homeschoolers don’t have any friends and never have fun.” Geesh.

          And much harm came from my “fun times in school”, despite being raised, not only properly, but from a devout Christian home.

          Individualized time is definitely not one of the good things that come from ps. It’s not any part of it. That’s much of what makes homeschooling so successful.

          The advantage I have that you don’t is that I’ve been on both sides–as a student and a teacher. You only speculate (and fabricate) about an idea you know nothing of.

          Your comments would have more merit if you took the time to educate yourself about homeschooling, at least to some degree.

          • Jan says:

            Actually, no, I think homeschooling my kids would be fun and I occasionally offer it to them. I hear a resounding “NO THANKS” when I do! I am not about to force it when they are getting a fine education and are happy where they are. They’d miss seeing their friends everyday, and I can understand that.

            • Meg says:

              My husband and I do not allow our children to decide for themselves how they are to be educated. While they are still children, they cannot possibly be mature enough to weigh the pros and cons of a public school versus homeschool education. God entrusted US to rear them, not to ask mere children for their preferences in how they would like to be reared.

        • Cindy says:

          I guess you’re not worried about what good things public schooled kids might miss? Because they do. Also, worrying about what other people might be up to and fear of missing out are two big symptoms of unhealthy peer-reliance.

          • June says:

            Wow, this is just what I needed to read right now!I taught for 15 years in public school. This is my first year homeschooling my 3 children. Cindy, especially your comments about unhealthy peer-reliance. Hmmm…that has me thinking. Thanks ladies!

      • Alana says:

        Where is the star rating for this reply? I would give it 5 stars plus!

      • Alana says:

        Where is the star rating for Kelly’s response about homecoming, etc. I would give it 5 stars plus!

    • Jan, we have at least one playdate a week with friends (both homeschooled and traditionally schooled–we often pick up my oldest daughter’s friends from the local public school, and they love it because they don’t have to ride the bus!), in addition to my children’s faith formation classes at church (Monday nights) and time with the youth group teens and alum that my husband and I volunteer with (usually 1-2 nights a week). We also have a co-op where my children take classes with about 10 children per class, a teacher and a teacher’s helper every Tuesday. Yes, I have to work to arrange these things, but it’s fun for all of us! I would definitely not say that they are missing out on friendship.

    • Kelly L says:

      Jan,
      My daughter has a group of 7 HS friends. They get together about 3 times a month together, and more just one on one with some of them. She’s also friends with neighborhood kids whom she sees often. In addition, she is in softball and has those girls 3 times a week.

      That being said, I think the belief that kids need to be around friends all the time is a dangerous thought. Peers rarely offer wisdom, guidance, ideas of forgiveness or self sacrifice. They do lead to a pack mentality, Lord of the Flies, that can lead to cliques and bullying. It is also the this thinking that leads many to say “They are teenagers, they don’t like being around their family. It is normal.” It may be normal, but it is a far cry from what is right.

      Homeschooling, being around your family for most of the day, allows kids to gain wisdom about situations instead of peer opinions. It enables the child to develop and form their own identity far more easily than being in an environment that is cruel to those who don’t fit in. It also allows her to pick friends based on character instead of being forced to choose from those in her class or school.

      Also, school is for learning. If they are getting that much socialization, they are doing it wrong. Thus the hours of homework schools assign after a whole day with them.

      • Kelly–I’m glad you brought this up. I was going to talk about that (wish I had more time!), but the whole idea of children *needing* friends is way, way overrated and once upon a time, would have seemed silly.

        Negative peer influence is, in my opinion, one of the most detrimental forces in a child’s development.

        Not that we’re opposed to friendship–they are good, but they have their place, and even without many friends, as you said, a child can thrive in the safety and friendship of family.

        • Jamie says:

          Well, I need friends, so I am sure my children do, too.

          It may inconvenient, or even scary, to have your child have a close relationship with someone outside the family. However, this should not stop us from allowing children to have friendships. They bring great joy, and it is certainly a need of mine!

          • Jamie says:

            I mean, once upon a time, *needing* piano or art lessons or more than one set of clothes or a toilet inside the house would have seemed silly too. But I’m glad my kids have these things!

          • Kelly L says:

            Jamie, no one said anything about our kids not having friends (I was really clear about that) or being afraid of our kids having friends. We are wise enough to not allow friends(and those relationships) be the center of their universe. Family should be the center. A more stable child emerges from a strong family unit than from a strong friend group. Both dictate self identity and worth to the child. One exceedingly, abundantly more beneficial than the other.

  3. Katrina Sampson says:

    54 million homeschooled children in America. That’s incredible! Is that a typo?

  4. You know what, I think I did read the chart wrong. *blush*–The first column is total children in the US, while the second is homeschoolers. I better fix that! At first glance I was reading “total # kids” to be total kids homeschooled, and “Total homeschoolers” to be families. Sorry. http://a2zhomeschooling.com/thoughts_opinions_home_school/numbers_homeschooled_students/

  5. laura says:

    Prom is a lure from the enemy…… Not worth a homeschool family time.

    I have heard of a special “dance class” and such that teaches old waltzes and such for homeschool groups. All modest clothing required. That seems a little more within range.

    All in all I think a child’s spiritual growth is most important compared to peer activity.

    • I agree–we do a lot of dancing and my kids really love it. They just took a West Coast Swing dance class at our church last week, and we have several balls a year where they learn older dances like “The Virginia Reel” and others like that. It’s one of their favorite things. And for “homeschoolers who don’t have any friends”, one of our local dances–just a few miles from here out in the country, had over 500 people last year.

  6. Smitti says:

    I was just talking with my oldest daughter about something similar to this! : )
    I spent 4 years worth of time, money and effort becoming one of the best pom pon/drill team members in the state, and also was voted by my peers to be on a school dance ‘court’. Since the day I graduated over 20 years ago I have used ZERO of those skills. I saved some of the t-shirts from poms (in case my girls would ever want to wear them), and they are now pajama tops! ; ) The shoes I wore on ‘court’ have been dress up shoes for about 14 years (they are still in great shape – b/c they are too high to walk in!).
    I have always tried to emphasize activities my girls will be able to do in the future, with their families and WITH children, and not just for the next few years. It’s important to me that they see the Benefit of what they do in school now as it Directly relates to the lives they will lead for the next seventy or more years! Not to mention that some things don’t ‘translate’ well into being a grown up.

  7. Claudia says:

    *Stunned* by your cheerleading sponsor’s response to you when you told her what your dad said! Scary, really, but then again, I remember my own experiences. I remember some very *crucial* things I got from high school that I’ll do my best to have my kids miss out on: Inappropriate comments from male teachers, girls feeling pressured to sit on teachers’ laps, ample opportunities for drugs and sex, and introduction into bulimia. Still, there was more: competitions over who could go without food the most days for lunch, embarrassed TO be eating lunch, and intense backstabbing by “friends”. And I was part of the “popular” group. Maybe that was the problem:) These were standard in two different public high schools I attended in the Midwest. I think Christian public school parents have it so much harder if they are staying on the pulse of their son/daughter’s life. I’ve seen it done, but have heard parents say it is exhausting. And the prom-for me- was a night of comparing dresses and intense drama and that’s the most G rated part of prom I remember.

  8. Cindy says:

    Also, Kelly, I love your pinnable graphics on all your posts. I wish I had that kind of talent. :-)

  9. We have a large homeschooling community in Western Washington. Incidentally, we have homeschooling options for every single thing Tonya mentioned.

    In WA, schools are also required by law to allow homeschooled children to participate in any class or extracurricular they choose, free of charge. For example, my 6yo who has trouble with pitch and tone takes general music class 2 days a week for half an hour at our neighborhood elementary school. I just walk her over and sign her in, and when class is finished, I sign her back out. I know many teens who have put together proms (or just gone to the one arranged by their co-op), played team sports (most at the Varsity level), etc.

    And like Kelly said, since they aren’t limited to the time frame of a regular school day, most also have steady jobs, participate in hobbies that excite them, participate in local government and civic projects, and attend college courses by the time they graduate–and they have graduation ceremonies with their co-ops, or another co-op that they “latch” onto for senior year just for this perk.

  10. Laura(yet another) says:

    While I understand the possibilities for these things, most of them don’t work out for our family, and this DOES frustrate me greatly. We can’t afford music lessons (at about $12/half hour), and having one car means that when hubby leaves for work, we have no way to get anywhere. Which means co-ops a not a possibility for us. Not to mention that even if we had the car available, the extra gas would not fit into our budget. No one else in our church homeschools, and even if they did most of them live more than 20 miles away. We know no one else in our town that homeschools and don’t know any way to meet them. We’ve lived here and homeschooled since the beginning, and there are days when homeschooling the way we do DOES feel like they are missing out–not on the bad things, but even on minimally participating in some of the good things available. My oldest is 9 years old, and I’m feeling the crunch that very soon, staying home with mama all day doing schoolwork and housework/yardwork just won’t be sufficient to hold his inerest over the long haul… And unfortunately, Hubby’s work is not something that he can include them in (he works as a counselor for a company that provides rehab for troubled boys–but let’s just say mmm… troubled in ways that we wouldn’t want our boys exposed to). He has no other training than to be a pastor of a church… but God doesn’t seem to be leading in that direction. And we are expecting baby #5 soon. Pressure from so many angles, and not sure how to meet them…

    • Annie D says:

      Ah, sweet child. God knows where you are, and He knows what your son needs and He will provide what you need when you need it. Two of my three kids are special needs kids, and even if there WERE opportunities nearby, I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of them, because my boys just can’t participate the way other kids can.

      So we live in a “wilderness”; at least it feels that way. We were forced to surrender all our expectations about how life is “supposed” to be and that has made all the difference. We enjoy what we have where we are and everyone is happy. One day God will change your circumstances (Joseph went from being imprisoned to be Prime Minister in one afternoon!), but in the meantime, bow down and learn what He has for you out here in YOUR wilderness. Great things will result from this time being set apart, I promise.

    • Laura,

      Don’t lose heart. The first homeschooling family we ever met was here when we moved to this area and they had been homeschooling for about 10 years, the ONLY family in the entire county.

      They had just moved from a populated city area to a remote rural area. The mom shared with me how she thought it was going to be so hard but then she was able to look back and rejoice that God had given her so much sweet time with her children, without outside distractions, which bonded them together.

      Outside activities are good, but they are not essential to living a full, productive life. Most times, they become more of a hindrance than an asset.

      I would seek to invite others over to your home, maybe, for social reprieves, attempt to build some friendships that way, and then praise God for the place He has you and begin to see it as an advantage.

    • Lindsey says:

      Laura(yet another),
      Just know you’re not alone. I feel the same way as you (oldest will be 8 soon and just had my 4th baby) yet we do have 2 vehicles and live in a big city. However, for whatever reason, I haven’t felt comfortable joining a co-op or anything. I feel very alone in this homeschool world/life and often feel like it’s unsustainable. I also have the same feelings as you regarding my son (he is the oldest) and getting tired of being around just mom all the time. Our church is large and I know of no other homeschool families on a personal level and money is an issue for us also so there are definitely no private lessons going on. I just want you to know you are not alone. It gets very lonely and very hard. If only it were as easy to meet homeschool friends in real life as it is in internet land. Praying for you.

  11. Carolina says:

    I live in the Buffalo area. It seems that homeschooling is blooming here, and you have activities, FB groups, co-ops and similar popping up all the time. If I wanted, I could almost go somewhere every day!
    I choose our activities with wisdom, realizing how wonderful it is that my children actually enjoy being home and having nothing planned! Don´t get me wrong; we all love company and going out, but we just love being at home too. One of the problems with school is that many children need to be entertained continually, need to have their time planned. My children do not have any problems in finding things to do with their free time.
    From October to April we go to a weekly co-op, just 10´from my house.

    • Carolina – This made me so happy! I grew up in Rochester, but homeschooling was very difficult there and very isolated. Nice to know the tides are changing in Western NY!

      • Carolina says:

        Bethany, Rochester has a large homeschool community too! In fact, there is a FB christian group called Homeschooling in WNY. It is open to everybody now.

  12. Keri says:

    I just wanted to share that I have four adult kids in their 20′s that were all homeschooled. They don’t feel that they missed out on an!!ything.

    When they were younger, I was worried about the social aspect of it all. They had friends and good activities but I finally realized we had so much socialization going on(because of others comments and my fears) that we needed to get school done too!

    We didn’t do any kind of prom thing or dancing thing although they were available to us as homeschoolers. We don’t do the dancing thing but we know how to have fun anyway!!..lol. We would see the pictures later of these events and my kids would be shocked at the dresses the girls would be wearing. It was almost as if they they were trying to see who could be the sexiest. Not all of them but many!

    I would just say provide some good field trips, fun times as a family, have fun with good friends and they will pretty much grow up to be pretty balanced in life and not “scarred for life” like many people would tell me they were going to be.

    We are all not perfect here, but I’m telling you that they are Wonderful Adult Children who are very responsible. To God Be The Glory For That!!

  13. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It has encouraged me and reminded me that some of the choices I have made recently regarding extracurricular activities were in the best interest of my child :-) We are in our second year of homeschooling and my soon-to-be 11 year old daughter always talks about how much more she gets to do being homeschooled as opposed to going to school. She recently interviewed for a junior zookeeper position at our zoo and was offered the volunteer job, which wouldn’t have happened if she was in a traditional school. Considering she wants to work with animals as a career one day, it was a perfect opportunity. We are working on weighing what activities are “beneficial” and what activities we do just because we feel that’s what everyone else does. It is a learning process along the way but we are so grateful to God for amazing support groups, both online and in person. Thanks again!!

  14. Michael says:

    I think Tonya’s question gets to the heart of the concern a lot of parents have. It is completely possible for parents to use homeschooling as a means to anti-socialize their kids, but that’s the exception. Almost every parent intentional enough to homeschool their kids are intentional enough to find the opportunities to connect their kids with other activities and families and co-ops, etc. that are around them.

  15. Kristen says:

    We homeschool and it’s good for us. And yes, there are some things my kids are missing out on by not being in brick and mortar schools. I wish my oldest son(5th grade) had someone else to be accountable to besides me. That he’s a difficult student is an understatement. I also think they would be more independent learners. It’s too easy to have mom around all the time to ask for help. A teacher a little less available, I think would be a good thing. I also think having a teacher a little less emotionally involved might be a good thing. However, when weighing the pros and cons of homeschooling vs. a brick and mortar school, homeschooling won, hands down. It’s like everything in life, there’s give and take. IMO, my children are gaining more by being schooled at home than they are losing.

  16. Tiffany Angus says:

    I agree with this post because it’s so accurate. The Lord knew no matter what age of the world his children lived in, the first two of the 10 commandments would be most important. Way too many people are heavily involved in extracurricular activities that don’t have great purpose and often they become our “graven images” if we are not careful. I have only one child who is school-age right now (out of three children – 7, 4, 1), but I’ve always believed home is where education should primarily be taught. Whichever choices you make in “formal” education, home is where love of the Lord and true discipleship are the place to teach. However, there is a perspective on public schooling that I think is often not considered. I graduated in Social Work. After having multiple experiences in the “real world” of many people who have no connection with Christ, there is a huge spectrum of people in the public school arena that need strong Christian’s examples and love in their lives. Our own personal family life was full of these examples of people who do not know God or his great love and goodness. There are people making bad choices everywhere, but we are trying to raise our children knowing that the greatest work they will ever do is serving others as Christ did. For us right now, homeschooling limits them from being with people of all walks of life. They will learn bad behaviors from other people, but they also learn bad behaviors from me and my husband. We cannot keep them from every person making bad decisions. We will never knowingly put our children in unsafe circumstances. I want them to have strong Christian friends who will stand with them, but they also need to be able to share their love of God with those who don’t know it, and we are part of that with them at their schools. We are heavily involved with our children’s schools on an almost daily basis. As their parents, we are responsible to teach them how to figure out truth from error. I have many friends with children in public school whose children come and talk to them about bad things their classmates are doing, and they have discussions and study God’s word to figure out together what’s right and why. Those are amazing teaching opportunities. I also have friends that home school and their children are learning amazing things that the public or private school sector can never replace. I also know people who have a combination of some children in public and home school others because they are trying to do what’s best for each child individually. This is where our life experiences have led us, and I think everyone has to figure that out for themselves. Our “formal” educational choices for our children may change as life experiences take us in a different direction. There are people everywhere whether homeschooling or public/private school that have loving, kind and smart children. I don’t think is there is just one “right” choice. Christ spent a great deal of time with people who did not know the Lord and we just are trying to follow that example the best way we know how.

  17. Kim M says:

    This post and the comments were very encouraging me for me today. I can relate to a lot of the comments here. Thank you, Kelly!

  18. Klecia says:

    Loved this post – we too are always told that homeschooling means they won’t know how to survive in the ‘real world’. That they’ll rebel as soon as they get the chance (ie. old enough to go out) because we have them ‘cooped up’ all day. It’s kind of amusing. Sometimes I feel like we have too much ‘stuff’ going on and we need to get some schoolwork done! Our school-aged children each play an instrument, one has lesson, the others play instruments that can be taught by their Dad;)
    They each go to a girl guides/boy’s brigade each week (run by a local church). We are also involved in a homeschoolers group which has about 35 families involved in total. Through this we have swimming lessons, excursions, sports day, art days, afternoons at the park, end of year concert, and family camps, etc. They also have a graduation dinner for students and their parents, they get dressed up and eat somewhere fancy, get their certificates and a special letter from their parents.

    I asked my 15 year old daughter if she felt like she was missing out, she said “on what??” She said she couldn’t imagine being at school all day and not seeing her two baby brothers all day, then having to spend all evening doing homework and assignments for school. She also sees how immature most Christian School going girls are, and how focused they are on boys and fashion (we have alot of them in our church:().

    Sorry didn’t mean to write an essay.

    • Klecia says:

      I was also going to add that our group is a wonderful group of Christian Homeschoolers who have great kids that I love our kids to be friends with:) They often write back and forth to their friends over the holidays when there aren’t any activities on. Also by their examples of how their adult children have turned out, it gives me more confidence about refuting people’s opinions that our children are more likely to rebel against us being homeschooled than regularly schooled, which I found to be a ridiculous conclusion anyway.

  19. [...] Part 1, “Will My Kids Miss Out?”) “I’m thinking  of homeschooling and have a question: How do you teach a subject that [...]

  20. [...] Q and A Homeschooling – But Won’t My Kids Miss Out? [...]

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