I’ll Never Homeschool, My Kids are Fine, & Other Parenting Certainties That Have Gone Toe Up

When I tell you that I had no intentions of entering my family into any form of homeschool whatsoever, I feel like this is basically the understatement of the century. Not only was I not planning on taking them out of public school, but I was fiercely against it. A handful of the reasons for that unwavering conviction (***unwavering until it utterly crashed and burned) are listed below. Feel free to raise your hand if any of these sound familiar. Also please note that I can’t see your hand, so maybe pretend like you are waving to someone across the room so you don’t look like a total weirdo randomly raising a hand.

I’ll never homeschool because…

  • Public school reflects reality.
  • For the most part, our children make good grades and are being taught the appropriate curriculum in our schools.
  • We like our teachers and the school administration, we don’t have problems with any specific families or kids, and we are zoned to one of the best districts and schools in the state.
  • Children need social interaction with their peers, and hanging with a sibling 24 hours a day simply doesn’t cut it.
  • We cannot put each child in a bubble, and pulling them out of regular school is a futile attempt to avoid conflict that they will face in reality.
  • Every school has issues so why would I want to pay money for different issues?
  • Although we are a family of faith, we do not concur with highly conservative or fundamentalist views and do not want the individual beliefs of others pushed on our children.
  • I work full-time, so even if I wanted to homeschool (which I don’t), that would be impossible.
  • I have zero patience and the news would surely be at my home within days if we were to homeschool.
  • We just aren’t the homeschool type. I don’t eat granola, my kids don’t look like they recently escaped the set of ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and F bombs are an integral part of my classy speech pattern. Public school is so our bag baby.

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For our individual family, it feels like these are seriously solid arguments against homeschool. As I said before, never gonna happen.

But there’s a seriously funny thing about using the word “never” with regard to anything in the Parentiverse. You unwittingly use the word “never” with absolute conviction in a sentence about something pertaining to choices you will or won’t make for your children. The Universe (God / Jesus / Your Preferred Divine Name Here) then catalogs those words, laughs hysterically, and proceeds to turn your world inside out just for the sake of proving you 110% wrong.

In addition to the “never homeschool” beatdown I would one day (a.k.a. now) receive, I would also be getting a bonus gift that would simultaneously lead to my eating the words below.

My kids are fine. I know this because…

  • They look happy and don’t seem upset.
  • They actually want to go to school (In truth, that one still weirds me out, but my kids have always been such complete nerdzillas.).
  • Their teachers don’t complain about their behavior to us.
  • They are in advanced classes, perform very well on average on their grades, and always score solidly on the state standardized tests (STAAR – the state standardized assessment tests that I have loathed with a fiery passion since we first experienced them several years ago).
  • If they had problems in school, we would recognize it because we are a close-knit family.

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The two sets of bullet points above have been covered in extensive detail during countless conversations with my husband, family, and friends over the years. Even as my spouse and I watched our children’s individual learning gaps yawn wider and wider with every semester that passed, we couldn’t fathom how a non-traditional program could possibly fit into our lives nor did we want to go that route. We agreed that it would never happen.

Apparently I have been using the word “never” a little too emphatically because God has since felt the need to put me on the fast track in order to change my mind. Here are some of the gems that we never saw coming that we have discovered firsthand over the past two weeks.

I’m so sorry that I didn’t realize years ago that...

There is zero emphasis on fast facts. Seeing teenagers count on their fingers is painfully commonplace. I’m not being facetious. They literally count on their fingers. Education has shifted basic mathematical teaching to a utilization of various techniques that attempt to optimize every potential learning style. The problem is that the kids don’t have enough time to get really good at any single style, so they never get the most basic of foundations for any concept. Fast facts aren’t engrained in their base mathematical learning, and this dramatically impacts their ability to solve complex equations with any level of accuracy or speed.

As an example, I watched my genuinely brilliant daughter solve very complex equations this week. Unfortunately these equations took her an excruciating amount of time due to all of the micro-calculations one would expect to be automatic by that point in her educational experience. When I say micro-calculation, I mean something incredibly basic like 4×5. A student at her advanced level should easily be able to recognize that 4 x 5 = 20, right? Well I absolutely assumed so, but I watched my daughter repeatedly solve basic problems like this… 4 x 5 = 4+4 = 8 so 8+4 =12 so 12+4 = 16 so 16+4 = 20. This is not unusual for children in modern middle school (a.k.a. junior high school), but it is absolutely bonkers. Unbelievably, I came to the terrible realization that we needed to reintroduce the same flashcards that we once studied when our children were in 2nd and 3rd grade.

Although we found that our other kid could easily recite fast facts, we also discovered that he actually forgot how to solve 99% of the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems at his level without a calculator. Full access to calculators has been a standard in his classes for years. I agree that calculators are fab, but unless you are solving something extremely complicated or inhumanly possible, one should still understand how to solve those same problems via pencil and paper. Sadly, we are now working on reteaching him his entire last three years of math once more. Three. Years. He will get it again at a fast clip, but the truth is that he should already have it given the grades he achieved in those classes.

And then you have the nightmare that is composition. The kids don’t study grammar much (if at all) and consequently can’t write sentences correctly. They don’t capitalize words properly, and they don’t use punctuation. If they do use punctuation, it often appears in the most bizarre of places. One of my older children wrote a paragraph for me a couple of days ago that literally started with a comma. The comma was intentionally written before all of the words. Despite my obvious head explosion at the sight of such horror, she has since pulled this wild punctuation move multiple times (because apparently she has been doing this for quite some time). In. Sane.

Another fun note is that while I feel strongly that one is permitted to have moderate to severe crap penmanship, you still need to be able to read and write your own name with a real live signature. I don’t care if the rest of your class jumps off the block letter bridge. You aren’t in kindergarten and should therefore be able to sign your name like a big boy / big girl / adult. Countless young adults are graduating high school and college with honors yet they can neither read or write cursive nor can they sign their names with a genuine signature. I am waiting to see someone put an X on a piece of paper. When that happens, you will hear my scream of horror from whatever corner of the globe you happen to inhabit.

Don’t even get me started on spelling speling spellyng because it has gone the way of the dodo doedoe doughdough. It’s Crap Central, and wow that’s seriously not okay.

An unexpected fun game I introduced to the kids was “Can You Figure Out How the Dictionary Works?” Spoiler alert – they couldn’t. My brain almost popped out of my head watching my daughter attempt to interpret the apparent hieroglyphics that systematically covered the pages of the new Webster’s Dictionary I recently purchased for this event. I bought the book in yet another attempt to back the kids off technology. Sometimes they need to look up words, but we have always used apps or the internet. I had no clue what a mind scrambler I was handing my poor child, but she was fascinated to discover the hidden code (know to the seasoned few as “alphabetical order”). It feels like they are so dependent on technology that they have lost what should be an innate ability to problem solve, to recognize patterns, and to seek alternate possibilities.

Our children are extremely intelligent and should be able to do so much more than what I have seen over the past two weeks. Thank heavens that my husband and I still have time to break this disturbing and debilitating pattern that is afflicting our children, and we will do whatever we have to to make this change. We have to figure this out for their sake. I refuse to raise meatheads.

Each new discovery of the past two weeks has left me feeling more and more guilty. It has made me question my parenting and forced me to ask myself how I could have possibly missed so much. Thankfully I was sharing those feelings with a kind friend of mine, and her response was exactly what I needed to hear. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” What a gem of a comment and a beautiful soul! (The biggest hugs go out to you Lynda!)

She was right. Had we known, we would have done something differently. Maybe we wouldn’t have opted for homeschool, but perhaps we would have supplemented their educations. It’s spilt milk now (buckets and buckets of it but over and done nonetheless). Thankfully, we know now.

Although I know that we are on a completely new path, I still can’t tell you how all of this will work. I have no doubt that I will have plenty of mom fails in this arena, too. I feel like that’s kinda my special skill, but then again, it’s just how is goes in the magically imperfect world of parenting. However, we always continue to learn, and ideally, we do our best to help all of our little loves do the same as well.

I pray that your littles are happy and well and that they are receiving the best education that they can get. I hope that you are having better luck with regard to being able to help and coach them in that journey. And if you are experiencing anything close to what we are seeing, I want you to know that you aren’t the only one. I’m here if you need to know that you aren’t alone, and I sincerely believe that you can make anything happen if you can be brave and release the fear. We’ve got this, and the One who sees it all has got us. ❤️

Parenting is so easy, right?!? (…said no one ever) 😉

Best wishes to all of you. Jo

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LA
    Mar 05, 2019 @ 08:04:35

    Stop the guilt. Stop it right now. Or as you would say Stop. The. Guilt. Now. Just do what your heart is telling you via their education. Your families rules. Your families decisions. ❤️❤️❤️xoxo

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 05, 2019 @ 08:17:00

      It’s a funny thing making a decision like this one. The worry. The questions. The excessive reliance on caffeine based on the lack of sleep from the aforementioned worry and questions. But I’m happy with this choice, and I agree that the guilt has no business being part of the picture. I’ve yet to master releasing the mama guilt, but I promise you that it’s on my to do list (right after oooooone more cup of coffee….). 😉 Big fat hugs to you darling friend – Jo

      Reply

  2. Writer Lori
    Mar 05, 2019 @ 08:50:43

    You can do this, Jo. If you and your beloved have decided this is the best course of action for your family, you will make it happen, of that I am certain. Several of my friends have homeschooled their kids, and though it is a lot of work, they also found it incredibly rewarding. And the kids? They are da bomb. Smart, engaged, engaging, the whole package. Go get ’em, tiger….xo

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 08, 2019 @ 22:25:26

      Thank you love! It’s been a serious whirlwind of a couple of weeks, but it’s been pretty awesome, too. I have seen my kids embrace learning in the most surprising ways. A couple of days ago, my wild middle child had a friend over from her old school. I actually heard my daughter interject something into normal conversation about the Reformation in Europe in the 1500s. Whaaaaat?!?! I almost fell out of my chair. These kids want to learn! Who knew??? 😉

      Reply

  3. shoreacres
    Mar 05, 2019 @ 09:03:17

    It’s one thing to read the studies that describe what’s happening to our educational system, but it’s quite another to come up against the results in daily life: people who can’t make change, or punctuate properly,or recognize even the most basic historical references. Too many kids have parents who don’t pay a bit of attention to what they’re actually learning in school. As the basics have been exchanged for an assortment of wacky theories, it’s the kids who suffer. Good for you, for taking things in hand.

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 08, 2019 @ 22:19:49

      The really frustrating thing is that we didn’t know how poorly our kids were doing and we were (are) very involved in their lives. We pushed and asked and emailed for homework and testing details. Given that so much of their work is technology-based now, we would never see it at home. They don’t bring home compositions and they don’t do math homework anymore. We wanted the information, but we just couldn’t figure out how to get it. Even if we had seen how bad it was, I don’t think that we would have had a clue about how to go about supplementing their learning until going through the crash course homeschool experience. If we had to put them back in regular school now (which I pray we do not ever have to do), I would have them working on completely work at home to educate them more effectively. Crazy to have to do that but that’s our reality.

      Reply

  4. Blueinkwriter
    Mar 05, 2019 @ 12:06:51

    I pulled my daughter from private school after 9 years for her to start her high school freshman days as a homeschooled student. To say the least, we are still adjusting. She takes the ACT next month, and I’m hoping to be able to use it as a gauge for what she needs to finish out high school. I was homeschooled k4 – 11th grade, so it’s not a foreign concept or anything, but I was also a “Never!” parent (and I knew a lot of those Laura Ingalls kids when I was growing up!).
    All we can do is make the best decisions we can with the information we have and it sounds like you are doing just that. I think the fundamentalist types do it to control what their kids are learning, and people like us, with a propensity for snark and F-bombs, simply recognize, after a bit of humility perhaps, that there is more than one right way to educate a child and I say kudos to us for being willing to eat some crow, as we sit back and watch our kids thrive.
    Best of luck to you in this new adventure.

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 08, 2019 @ 22:28:16

      YES!!!! The funny thing is that some other fellow f-bomber and boat rocking baddies I have known have been my homeschool saviors. So many more people are heading this way. Never is a funny thing, don’t ya think?? I can’t wait to hear about the ACT. She’s going to knock it out of the park!!!!

      Reply

  5. I tripped over a stone.
    Mar 05, 2019 @ 12:28:24

    I am so glad it is you, not me!!! I’d be in severe crisis mode dropping F-bombs and pulling out every hair on my head. You are so calm!!! I can’t EVEN believe what you have discovered! Yes, its time to be a Big girl/boy. Such a bunch of crap. Sorry, I’ll calm down… eventually. I am terrified for the next generation.

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 08, 2019 @ 22:32:09

      I feel like perhaps calm isn’t really a precise word to reflect the waves of sheer insanity that have been striking at random over the past couple of weeks. I’m so good with the switch and the kids are, too. The problem is that I’m so freaking tired! I work a ton, but the kid stuff that I normally wouldn’t have to manage has to be taken care of, too. I think that we will find a groove once we get moderately caught up and more familiar with the process, but we aren’t there just yet. Nevertheless I have no question any more about the need to make the change. It’s been one heck of an eye-opener!

      Reply

      • I tripped over a stone.
        Mar 09, 2019 @ 06:46:25

        Ok, maybe not calm. Maybe it is fatigue! You’ll get a schedule established. It’ll all fall into place. You are going to need a bit more help if the kids are home all day… maybe a chore list goes nicely with home schooling? You are doing the right thing. You are one smart lady! You’ll figure it out. You got this!!! 💜

      • Jo Price
        Mar 09, 2019 @ 08:15:41

        Love it! ❤️❤️❤️

  6. A. Shepherdson
    Mar 05, 2019 @ 17:05:42

    😮 F bombs! I’m truly shocked you being such a pleasant good natured lady.

    Reply

  7. Playamart - Zeebra Designs
    Mar 08, 2019 @ 13:14:34

    A very-old ‘pending’ post of mine addresses my concern that ‘we’ are giving our powers away – to gadgets, and that it’s important to be able to add or subtract or multiply/divide a group of numbers without having to use a calculator! Or to be able to know which direction is west without consulting a gadget – duh, look for the sun and figure out if it’s morning or afternoon — or if it’s over head it’s noontime.
    I really enjoyed the part about the dictionaries – and had not thought about that being a new hurdle for students… Hopefully they find these new discoveries refreshing and also empowering!
    I admire you – and am in the cheering section!
    You’re approaching equinox time – a perfect time for a hands-on solar calendar between now and september…you’ll have a perm calendar after a year and will no longer need to consult the one in your home — or computer – or phone, as long as the sun agrees to cast its shadow!

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 08, 2019 @ 22:41:30

      That sun better play ball because I’m on a mission to do this right! 😉 I completely agree with you. People are forgetting how to do the basics. I’ve literally been hiding my kids’ calculators from them. It annoys them because they know that they are allowed to use them, but I still find that they aren’t completely comfortable with some of the basic stuff. The funny thing is that I have seen their inquisitive natures and overall creativity explode in a matter of days. Their conversations still have way too much annoying internet-isms, but they also incorporate random discussions about history or analyzing something at a completely different level. It’s fascinating to see their brains coming back on in high gear. I’m so curious to see how this looks in a few months down the road. 🙂 (And please post that pending entry. I would love to read it honey!)

      Reply

  8. karbear92rn
    Mar 09, 2019 @ 14:06:41

    Jo, I just found your blog, what a kindred spirit you are! We supplemented our 4 children’s education because although they went to one of the top-rated schools in the entire state, their education was shit. Now we find ourselves Online/homeschooling our last who is in 8th grade. She would prefer to be fully homeschooled but that scares the devil out of me as I am disabled and am currently in the process of separating from her father. I do sit and listen to her lectures, I help greatly with her homework, especially math, so she learns the correct way to do it. In fact, she just got a 95% and great praise from her English teacher for her Argumentative essay just the other day. Keep on going on Momma, the never say never mantra rings so true because I too said I would never homeschool my child. She made that decision by refusing to go to traditional school this year, she has an anxiety disorder and school just got too much. Much love, Kari

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 11, 2019 @ 17:10:29

      Well at least you don’t have anything stressful going on in your world… Giiiiirl I am so sorry that you are facing ALL of that! Despite the serious challenges you are working through, it sounds like you have a very strong and feisty woman head on your shoulders. I have no doubt that you both are going to thrive. I am always amazed at how often I see people in situations that I couldn’t imagine facing, but they manage to meander through the experiences wiser and stronger. I genuinely believe that we have these times in our lives because something so much bigger than us recognizes that we can get through it and be wiser and better for having those experiences. With that said, I would never wish to revisit some of my more trying times, but I wouldn’t strike them from my history either.

      As for the homeschool, I don’t know what options you have in your area, but loads of districts offer free options for full homeschool online. Is your daughter focused enough to be able to keep herself studying and learning for most lessons? Like you, I’m strong enough to be able to work with my kids on math (today), and that is by far our biggest time consumer.

      One other thought about keeping her in regular school. I honestly believe that I could have avoided a huge portion of the educational deficiencies if I had done exactly what you are doing. Supplementing their education would have made a massive difference. The biggest issue I have with that for my own kids is the time factor. They didn’t have much homework at all, but they were pretty tapped out by the time they got home each day. Trying to get them to add a couple extra hours of daily work would have gone over like a dirty sock sandwich. 😉

      No matter what happens, it truly sounds like you are so far in front of the issues. It also sounds like you are a badass woman. You are doing everything you can and you aren’t allowing adversity to call the shots in your life. I’m sorry that you are going through a separation because I’m sure that your heart aches and that you worry for you daughter. With that said, I’m sure that a huge part if not all of you knows that this will be freeing for you both. Life is too special to be spent in a disingenuous partnership. You will breathe easier and carry a lighter load once this is in the rear view mirror. But for today, I am sorry darling.

      I’m here if you ever need a shoulder. Best wishes to you honey. Joanna

      Reply

  9. The Random Mama
    Mar 11, 2019 @ 09:58:53

    Mama, I can totally relate to when you mention you have to reteach basics to your brilliant kids. That was also my Why as to why homeschool them. My 7 yo is fully bilingual, Spanish and English but was unable to read simple K leveled words in her mother language, not to mention she was getting A’s in her tests and assessments at school (without having reading aid) turned out she was being handed the tests during 1 whole day (missing the daily lessons and material that had to be written) until she got answers right by basically guessing… This is not a healthy learning process.
    I am a public school product. Full A’s etc. But I always lacked of the basics I need for what I wanted in my future life. So that being a plus, I am now giving them life skills and also teaching basics on everything.
    Best thing is we now get to see them grow, physically, mentally and emotionally more closer. We won’t be losing the opportunity of being there for them while they struggles and we will also get to be there when they overcome them. You are not alone 🙂 big hugs from Puerto Rico 😘🤗🤩

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Mar 11, 2019 @ 17:24:40

      Argh yes!! The same happened here! I don’t need to see As given for crappy work nor do I want them to get fluff grades that get them to a better average if they are low. I don’t blame the teachers at all because they are playing the hand that they have been dealt. They literally have no alternate options. But I do. I didn’t realize what they were missing, but I know now. Glad you do, too. It’s funny how quickly our ‘nevers’ change when we least expect it. 😉

      Reply

  10. shaunaupp
    Mar 19, 2019 @ 10:18:46

    So great! It is really frustrating that our school system doesn’t have the time/space/insight to teach our children to be active problem solvers in the world.

    Reply

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