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Perspectives: Lessons Learned by Homeschooling

January 23, 2015
 / HCSS / 

dan-briscoeMy wife and I have five children. We’ve moved 17 times to eight different states, and we’ve tried just about every type of education available—public, private, parochial, and even homeschooling. We aren’t crazy, just flexible with my jobs in the Marine Corps and the corporate world, and we wanted to give our kids a great childhood and education.

I’m used to hearing creative ideas from my wife, but when she suggested homeschooling in 1998 after another last-second move, she had me worried. Questions like “How will our kids do socially?” and “Will they get behind?” and “What will our friends and family say?” ran through my mind.

My wife, who is smarter than me, didn’t have those doubts, so we tried it. Now 17 years later, our oldest two daughters have graduated college and are married with good jobs, our middle son is at Texas A&M, and our youngest boys are doing well in 7th and 9th grades. Along the way, we learned a lot too, debunking the top three myths we heard about homeschooling:

1. They will fall behind socially.

The top question from friends was my biggest fear. But I was completely wrong. We usually deal with too many social events instead of too few. This month, one son is on a competitive homeschool baseball team, while another is competing in a mock trial. They take classes at a local co-op, attend a weekly book club, and more. They have friends everywhere. Homeschool families are a large, very social community.

2. Kids will get behind academically.

You can get a bad education from homeschooling or from public or private schools. But our kids, like most homeschool kids I see, have excelled academically. Many are learning a grade or two ahead of schedule, due to smaller class settings with focused attention and flexible schedules. And they learn how to self-educate, which is helpful in college.

3. I’m not qualified to teach my child.

My wife has an education degree, but she is the first to say this isn’t a requirement. You do need patience, the ability for one spouse to stay at home, and a little creativity. If you have these, there are thousands of resources to help you teach your kids. For example, our kids take Spanish online using Skype with teachers from Guatemala through the Homeschool Spanish Academy.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested, email me at dan.briscoe@hcss.com and I’ll be happy to point out some helpful resources.

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