The Big Getting-Ready-to-Homeschool Question

Homeschool Detox NecessaryWell over a decade ago, when we lived in Florida, a friend (whose kids were in public school) called in desperation. Two of them were tanking in school and, given the environment, feeling worse and worse with each passing day.

She wanted to pull them out at the end of the semester, right after Christmas, but was wondering if she should leave them in school until the end of the year.

“If they stay in school until the end of the semester, what will they learn? What good will come of it?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she responded.

“Then why not pull them out tomorrow?” 

She did and never looked back. Sometimes there is a good reason to stay in school. But few people consider homeschooling if they see ample positive results from public school.

Yesterday in a homeschooling Facebook group, a woman said she wanted to start homeschooling right away, but her husband wanted her to wait until she was “organized and ready.” She asked for opinions on the situation. She also asked, “How much detox was required, if any?”

From what I've seen in the last 19 years, neither is required to begin homeschooling successfully. So I responded:

I don't necessarily think they need a detox because honestly, I don't know what that means. I see no reason why a kid who leaves school needs to (as is usually implied) sit around for X weeks doing nothing. I don't think it helps them feel better.

On the other hand, I don't think missing a month of “school” matters all that much. It's a month. Schools get almost nothing done in a given month.

If your kids are hating school and doing terribly, staying there doesn't do them an ounce of good. No need to keep them there for any reason.

Let them come home, help plan out what you are going to do, go to the library, read, draw, sing, stuff like that.  Then work your way into whatever you are going to try first. And leave room to adjust as you figure out what works for you.

Within an hour, a woman using the name “Megan Keller” responded thusly:

Your post was rude and highly offensive. If you don't know what something means. Try not to comment and offend people.

I don't know anyone named Megan Keller, she doesn't show up in the group list, and I was unable to respond to her objection. The bottom of the message had this notice:

You cannot reply to this conversation. Either the recipient's account was disabled or its privacy settings don't allow replies.

Apparently “Megan” was using a fake name to give a cowardly slapdown followed by closing the account. Either that or she sent the insult and then blocked me to avoid any kind of real conversation. Either way, apparently she found it highly objectionable that someone would be of the opinion that detox (or prior organization?) might not be necessary. I found that notion interesting and worth discussing.

Do You Need to Be Organized to Homeschool Successfully?

Anyone who knows me at all, knows I am freakish about organization. I teach classes about it, I write about it, and I like doing it more than almost anything. Ultimately, yes, I do think “we live better and learn better with organization than with chaos,” as I say in my Organized Homsechool conference speech. (Yes, I also speak about it!)

But that's not really the question at hand. What the woman asked was if she needed to wait to homeschool until she was organized and ready. And to that question, I almost universally say, “No!”

In my personal experience, every single time a parent asks if they should pull their kids out of school mid-year, the child's school experience is so negative that staying in school (for any length of time) will do more harm than good. And if that's the case, why bother?

While it's good to be “organized and ready,” there is no reason your child should be in a negative, harmful environment while you get there. As I said in my (rude and highly offensive) response, there is plenty of positive — even educational stuff— your child can do while you are organizing and readying, including helping you get organized and ready.

Do You Need to Detox to Homeschool Successfully?

In the homeschooling world, “detox” is one of those generally nebulous words. It's defined only to the point that it serves a purpose, but then becomes undefined when it requires explanation or clarification. Kind of like “unschooling.”

Most of the time, however, it's used to mean some kind of “adjustment period” where kids can't possible be asked to do anything that look, smells, or feels like “school” because they are so toxified by anything educational that it will cause them to implode.

So, yes, “Megan,” I do “know what something means,” I just don't think the term is used consistently or logically. And I think both those things hurt homeschoolers, particularly new homeschoolers.

What I tend to see, instead, is that what the kids need to be doing right after they leave public school is pretty much what they'd need to be doing a year or two or three later. Reading, learning, finding out what's interesting, and (even) figuring out why something is required and how it could be useful.

In other words — unless you've actually got a child with drug or serious mental health problems — if anyone needs detoxing, it's probably the parents who think public school is the one and only right way to be educated.

How organized and “ready” were you when you began homeschooling. (Can you ever be ready?) Did you employ some kind of “detox” before you began?