Does Homeschooling Work?

Does homeschooling work? It depends who you ask.

How do you know public school works? Will it work for your kids? How do you know? How do you know that reading this blog will work? How do you know if anything will work?

I can’t predict if homeschooling will work for you any better than I can predict if public school will. But we know that for us, homeschooling works because:

1) Everyone’s happy. And by happy, I don’t mean indulged or spoiled or getting everything they want all the time. By happy I mean we are all excited to get up in the morning. We hug each other before going to bed at night. We work on projects that mean something to us. We are often inspired. We like each other and we like a lot people who are around us. We give to our community and feel a real connection to the world around us. We are happy to be alive and enjoy ourselves. We’re honest, we trust each other and we respect each other and our world. We aren’t stressed out. We don’t have much to complain about. We get enough sleep. We eat regular meals and we are able to balance work, school and fun just the way we want to. And, most importantly, we respect ourselves, and we all like ourselves.

2) The kids are always learning and they love to learn. It doesn’t matter to me so much how fast they learn, how well they learn or what they are working on, so long as they are learning. And, so long as they enjoy learning. So far, they do both. Their days are full of learning. They soak up new information without reserve and they ask lots of questions – most of them starting with “why”. They think deep and make unique, non-coached observations.

3) They know how to learn. They aren’t afraid to find information. They are confident that they can learn anything they want to.

So, to me, it looks like it’s working. And if they get to adulthood and they tell me, “Mom, you never taught me how to XYZ.” I’ll say, “Well, I taught you how to learn. So learn XYZ now. What’s stopping you?” However, I would be very surprised if they say something like that to me when they are adults. Because even now, as young children, they know their education belongs to them, and that they are responsible for their own learning. I’m here to help them, inspire them and give them ideas, but ultimately I can’t make them learn.

We all know how to learn. We all know who we are. The kids are happy. And they get along well with others. Wherever they end up as adults, if those four things stay a constant, I think we did a pretty good job. At least, if nothing else, we sure had a fulfilling journey.

What are your criteria to know if homeschooling is working? How do we know when any educational system is working for your children? And I mean your own children, not the masses. We’re not statistics, we’re people. How do you know if a system or process is working for one person, or one family?

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3 Responses to “Does Homeschooling Work?”

  1. Anna Says:

    I just wanted you to know that I found your blog a few days ago through another homeschooling mom who thought I would enjoy it. She was right! Thanks for sharing your lives.

  2. L. Smith Says:

    Homeschooling has taken on a fairly large following not because it “works” but because the traditional schoolhouse model does NOT work. Further, homeschooling has risen in popularlity simply because parents have no real alternative to schools (whether public or private) but to keep their children at home.

    Unfortunately, homeshooled children basically get the same teaching and learning approach in their own homes that they would be getting in formal schools and unless the homeschool “teacher” (usually a parent) is highly skilled and able to dedicate upwards of 8 hours a day to this task, the children as often as not do not emerge any better off.

    What is needed is a better way to enable children to learn and provide for them to do so outside of their homes and without needing for one or more parents to make a life commitment to it. Take a look at the definitive treatment of this problem developed by Trigon-International in its recently released commission report, “Education in America — What’s to Be Done?”

  3. Mugglemama Says:

    L.SMITH….how could YOU possibly know if homeschooled children “as often as not do not emerge any better off” than public schooled children? how on earth could you POSSIBLY know that? the truth is, you can’t possibly know that.

    however, we homeschooling parents can see whether or not OUR OWN children are faring better than they were in public school. and if you read what you can find, you will see that an overwhelming amount of homeschooling parents find that their children are faring much, much better than they were in public school.

    as a “for instance”, my two middle children were attending the local public school. it’s considered a fairly good school. my son’s teachers always ranted and raved about how “great” he was doing, blah, blah, blah. but when it came down to it, he was a full grade level behind due to the school’s lack of teaching! he had teachers who handed out “fluff” work, no explanations or real “teaching” before walking out of the classroom for an hour or more, OR (and this one is my favorite), telling her 3rd grade students “and don’t ask me for help because i have too much paperwork to help anybody right now”.

    we have been homeschooling for a year and a half. my son is now successfully and confidently completing a curriculum designed for students a full grade level above his own. this, despite the fact that when we began, he was performing a full grade level below where he should have been.

    you are incorrect about a parent needing to “dedicate upwards of 8 hours a day” to the task of homeschooling. LOL!!! i homeschool THREE children, and still we finish in about 5 hours per day. the rest of our time we spend at the zoo, the science center, the city library, going for walks and hikes along the river, playing with friends outdoors, and learning in extra subjects like cooking, piano, spanish, learning every country of the globe and studying the culture of many of those countries (something they would never be doing at a typical public elementary school), learning to use the computer and popular business software, as well as navigate the internet adequately, etc. etc. as many homeschoolers will explain, homeschooling isn’t just school-at-home. instead, homeschooling becomes our lifestyle, and we turn nearly every activity, chore, and trip outdoors into something we can tie into what we are learning in books. we plan our vacations around our curriculum, lol. for several months last year, my children and i studied westward expansion. then, we designed our vacation in such a way that allowed us to travel a main route that was used during that time, drive through the area where the donner party was stranded, see the small towns that were boomtowns during the gold rush, and then pan for gold in the same place the gold miners did.

    and somehow, my childrens’ educations pale in comparison to a public school education? tell me, what public school, or public school teacher, could ever provide the education to my children that i am? you can’t. because they don’t exist.

    additionally, my childrens’ educations are no longer plagued by serious concept gaps, as they once were. our education is solid, fluid, and complete. there are no gaps.

    your statement that what is needed is a better way to enable children to learn outside their homes is true. but it will not happen any time soon, if EVER. and many homeschoolers wouldn’t send their kids back to public school, anyway. because the changes will never be sufficient enough to make the public school a better learning environment than many homeschools are.

    quite simply, when it comes to homeschooling, you don’t know what you’re talking about.


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