I was homeschooled from the youngest age all the way until high school. There is surely no universal answer to the question of whether homeschooling is “good” or “bad” for a child. I believe it will vary from one individual situation to the next, but it will depend a great deal on the methods employed and the personalities/teaching styles of the parents. My experience was a mixed blessing. Overall, if homeschooling is done right, I believe it can provide children with phenomenal advantages that far outweigh any minor disadvantages.
My own parents were strict Christian fundamentalists. My education was left, more or less, to my mother. The curriculum my mother used was mostly from Bob Jones University Press and A.C.E (Accelerated Christian Education). Scripture memorization was a regular part of my daily study. The homeschooling groups and social activities my parents involved me in were all with likeminded families who were seeking to raise their children the same way my parents were: conservative Christian. We did not have a television at home. For entertainment, I had the World Book Encyclopedia.
First, I’ll give the good news. I believe that homeschooling conferred on me some profound benefits that will last me my entire life. For one thing, I learned to learn. That is, my mother taught me by basically handing me books and then answering any questions I might have as I read the books for myself. There was really no “lecture” style teaching. I learned to absorb information through reading. I believe that this is a skill of monumental importance which is terribly lacking in most students today, and is the reason why many students begin to struggle in college. In college, many students expect to get all their information via “taking notes” in class. I have almost never taken notes in class, and my cumulative GPA after four years of college is 3.88. The only reason it isn’t higher is because, for better or worse, I partied too much in my earlier years of college. This isn’t to say that taking notes is universally bad or not to be practiced. I can only say that I believe I have succeeded in college because I love to read and absorb new knowledge through reading. I usually finish reading the required textbook before the semester begins, so that during the semester I can focus my energies on thinking critically about the lecture information, and interacting in class rather than mindlessly and frantically trying to copy down the lecture material.
My love of reading, I believe, was also largely instilled in me by the
fact that we did not watch television. Reading was my primary source of
entertainment. As a child, I learned to love reading, and to do it
voraciously. This habit has not left me. As extreme as it may sound, one
piece of advice I feel I must give parents is cut out the television, This doesn’t necessarily mean you must rid your home of it altogether, but please, limit television time to a reasonable
amount, and monitor what your kids are viewing. When kids get to watch
two or three hours of reality shows a day, instead of reading, will it
come as any surprise if they don’t particularly care about learning and
critical thinking as they grow older? Looking back at my life, I can not say I regret the lack of television in my childhood, or feel bitter towards my parents for it. Rather, I'm quite thankful towards them.
But for all the intellectual advantages I’ve received from being homeschooled, I’ve suffered enormous setbacks in social skills. These setbacks have followed me into adult life and have caused great difficulties and have been quite challenging to overcome. While this was the case for me, personally, I absolutely do not believe this to be an inevitable result of homeschooling. My parents homeschooled me in a way that effectively put me in a bubble of social isolation. Sure, I had the occasional social outing with like-minded homeschooling families, but the killer words there are “occasional” and “like-minded”. If you’re going to home school, you should provide regular, not occasional, opportunities for real social interaction. Growing up must be as much (or perhaps more) about learning to interact as a member of a social species as it is about growing in knowledge. For most children, this socialization process comes largely from school. If you’re going to take this avenue of socialization away from a child, you must adequately replace it.
I also pointed out that word “like-minded” in the prior paragraph. My parents tried to shelter me from anything ugly or potentially non-Christian. They didn’t want me to lose the positive values they were trying to instill in me. From the curriculum they used to the children I was allowed to associate with, mine was a life within a fully integrated, seamless Christian bubble. But here’s the catch: I grew up. And upon growing up, I ventured out into the world and was shocked to discover that not everyone thinks, believes, or behaves exactly the same. In fact, some people aren’t even all that nice or “Christian” at all. I learned this the hard way, being conned and hustled and taken advantage of.
I also had considerable difficulty fitting in with people, because I had only really experienced one type of “people”, and now I was thrown into the real world, where “it takes every kind of people”. So finally, dear parents, although it is admirable to want to shelter your children from some of the uglier aspects of life, please do not over-shelter your kids. A part of growing up--indeed, a vital part of “education”--is gradually being prepared for real life. Grown up life. And real life has some harsh aspects. It’s also big, diverse, multi-faceted, and often ambiguous. It is not black and white. It is not simple and reducible to an all-encompassing ideology. And if we, as adults, find ourselves thinking or even wishing that it were, perhaps it is because we still have some more schooling to go through in the school of life.
May yours and your children's be everything that it can be. Life is beautiful. Much blessings.
- Social Opportunities for Homeschoolers
This is one of many pages on the web that suggests ways to adequately socialize your homeschooled children. For additional information, a Google search for "homeschooling socialization" can be quite informative.
Mia Town on May 30, 2016:
I home educated both of my kids, but not for religious reasons. We went through a school sponsored home/school co-op so my kids were in enrichment classes with many christian fundamentalists so I have seen how isolated they can get. Unlike most religious home-schoolers, my kids were part of the choice. Each spring we evaluated our program and our lifestyle and chose what we would do for the next year. My daughter chose to do 1st grade (just the last quarter) and loved it so much she did all of 2nd as well. In 3rd it interfered with her involvement in the local drama group so we returned to the homelink program. It has always been about getting them the best education without stealing their childhood. The local school is very small and the time and funds go to kids who need to catch up, not those who start out ahead. When my kids have been in the regular program they have always been ahead of most of the kids who have been traditionally educated. As for socialization,community volunteering, scouts, karate, sports, drama, and a huge variety of other activities have kept them socially well rounded and exposed them to people of many different ages, cultures and beliefs they would not be exposed to in our mono chromatic, 2 religion (Christian and Mormon) local school. Every time I meet teens or adults who were home educated I ask for feedback on what they liked or didn't and really listen. My daughter wanted to be in band and sports, so in 5th grade she started full time public school. My son wanted to use take weight training, as well as have a broader social circle (meet more girls) so he started full time public school his sophomore year. Both are straight A students, one is in the Honor society, the other was in the gifted program until aging out. I definitely believe they got the best education they could get through home education. They have taken the school tests every year and scored in the highest percentile. Other kids are always shocked to discover they were home-schooled, because they act so "Normal". I truly think the socialization issue is particular to religious home-school families and not relevant to home education in general.
Daniella Lopez on August 02, 2012:
Thank you so much for sharing this! I too was like you, homeschooled K-12 by fundamental Christians. My siblings and I had very little social skills. When we went to college, we struggled. However, we've all managed to do okay despite all of it. I do plan on homeschooling my son, but I plan on doing it in a completely different way than that of my parents. Thanks again for sharing!
LT Wright from California on April 12, 2011:
I'm a nonreligious homeschooler. I am a strong supporter of homeschooling but strongly disagree when people use it as a means to protect their children from people who aren't like them or from ideas they don't like. That can be incredibly damaging for the child and may not properly prepare them for the real world.
hemustincrease on January 23, 2011:
Interesting to hear from a graduate homeschooler. :) I am a single parent just now, homeschooling my three children. I had the exact opposite experience in my own life. I was raised in a Christian home but sent to a public school. Bad idea! 8 hours a day in an evolutionary, humanistic establishment is not made up for with a Sunday school class once a week. I WAS socialised. But i truly don't think i was any better at 'relationships' as a result of that. I think the balance comes from encouraging home schooled children to relate with all ages under much supervision, at least initially, so that the parent can fine tune the skills! No diverse interaction provides no skills. But much interaction (often not diverse but all peers) without Godly teachers (parents) to hone and correct leaves children just as unskilled, albeit in very different visible ways.
It is certainly not my objective to raise my children to 'fit in' with unbelievers. But i DO strive to ensure that they are not naïve as to what this world is like. And i would agree that a head knowledge without any skills in relationships is going to be a heavy burden.
I threw out the TV when i was saved (at 26) and so my children have never known life with one. Nor do they have computer games or any of the other things like that. They read and they are read to and they use their imagination. ;-)
I want my children to be well prepared for life. Every aspect of it. But i want that to be founded ONLY on truth. The Bible gives lots of gruesome details of real life. I WANT my children to be shocked by sin. I dont want them to grow accustomed to it. I WANT the most minor of wrongs to pain their hearts because it nailed Christ to the cross. If they 'fit in' with sin they will never love or cling to the cross. But in keeping them from evil 'influence' i seek to prepare them to be a witness to the lost and to have hearts filled with compassion for them and able to take any pain from wrongs done to them, to the cross and know peace and joy that passeth all understanding. :)
But having said all that. I have no doubt that i am going to get MUCH wrong in my parenting. I am certain of only 2 things. My sin and my Saviour! Much of the rest is prone to change. But for what its worth, this is today's thoughts. LOL It is interesting to hear your journey because is is so vastly different to my own. And i will certainly take from it and seek to apply it to my own parenting. And you are right. Life IS beautiful. :)
FriendofTruth from Michigan on January 20, 2011:
I appreciate this article as a homeschool parent, and I totally agree with you, while we educate our children and rear them up in the ways that we believe, we should also allow them to learn to handle the experiences of the world around them. This is how they learn to deal and manage and to be strong. We personally have our children in sports that is not from a religious group, and our children are learning how to handle life and situations with their Christian foundations as their guide. We cannot isolate our kids, we should protect them, but also help them to be able to handle the life that they are going to be a part of.
Thanks again, God bless!
Rismayanti from Tropical Island on December 23, 2010:
great experience for share to people like this,, thank you for share. Personal Social ability always become a disadvantage for homeschooling..may there other way to overcome this from beginning, so the kids will develop their social culture that very important latter
mkvealsh on December 23, 2010:
As a homeschooling parent, it is interesting to me to read about this topic presented by the homeschooled child's point of view. Thank you for your candid opinions and ideas.
catwoman89 on December 22, 2010:
This was really interesting. I have always thought that one step that would dramatically increase the efficacy of the education system in the U.S. would be simply, as the bumper sticker says, "kill our televisions." and this step is something over which the teachers do not have control.
Justin Aptaker (author) from United States on December 18, 2010:
Thank you both for your encouraging comments! To answer your questions WildIris: Yes, I would homeschool my own children. As for how one would adequately replace the socialization through public education, a few ideas come to mind: sports, boy scouts/girl scouts and other social clubs, extracurricular classes in arts/crafts/music, church groups, drama clubs, volunteer work, and homeschool groups (in my case the groups were not so effective because we didn't meet with them frequently and when we did, my parents always found a rather tiny homogeneous sub-group to associate with to the exclusion of the group at large). Here is a good link:
WildIris on December 18, 2010:
What a valuable evaluation of home schooling from one who was home schooled. Thank you for articulating the otherwise silent voice in the home schooling community. "If you’re going to take this avenue of socialization away(going to school)from a child, you must adequately replace it." This sentence brings up the perennial argument against home schooling--Socialization. Above and beyond academics, the lack of social integration home school students experience becomes apparent when they leave the nest. It leaves them vulnerable and naïve, but not always. I am curious, would you choose to home school your own children based on your experience of being home schooled, and how does one "adequately replace it(socialization through compulsory education)?"
johnnyco12 from Pascagoula, Ms on December 18, 2010:
I have never heard the home school Argument presented so well, bravo! I think that for some home schooling might be the way to go, but for the most part I disagree with homeschooling for the very reasons you mentioned in your last paragraph,because the bible tells us that we are the light of the world a city sat upon a hill cannot be hid. For some children the only God they see is in these Christian Children. If we take all the Christian children out of public school then who will light the way to Christ? As for reading, I say again bravo! I am an avid hater of TV and feel it is an immense waste of time. Helping your child become a good and avid reader is one of the best gifts you can give them.