Let's just get this out of the way right up top. The vast majority of people can homeschool. They just don't want to. And the vast majority of homeschoolers don't care.

Debating a 6-Year-Old

I was a 30-year-old college graduate and mother of three (6,3,1) with a desktop publishing home business when my precocious (and verified “gifted”) oldest daughter began harassing me to homeschool her. I countered with the “facts” that all homeschoolers are freaks and weirdos, that she would have no friends, that I didn't have the time or temperament, and everything else you can imagine.

She won.

Then I had to figure out what in the world to do.

You Can Homeschool - You Just Don't Want To

Generational Brainwashing

After much thrashing about and many sleepless nights — and actual research and practice — I came to the realization that we have all been brainwashed. (Myself included, as anyone who knew me pre-homeschooling can attest.) With combined forces of the NEA and other state and local teacher's unions, government bureaucrats and layers of bureaucracy, level after level of administration, teachers themselves, and anyone else with livelihoods and power bases dependent on the government education system, we have been taught for decades that we can't educate our children and that we need “experts” to tell us what is best and what must be learned.

The disastrous new Common Core is just one more manifestation of this. 

This miseducation has persisted generationally to the point that parents, too, are complicit in the lie. They claim — and actually believe — that educating children is beyond the scope or regular parenting. Expertise — in the form of largely meaningless degrees — is needed to properly educate.

These parents claim only some, select few parents can really manage the Herculean task — and often concede that point just to avoid saying what they really think about those awful parents who “deprive” their children of public school. They believe it “takes a village” of education majors to get the job done, along with lots of taxpayer money from other people.

Even in so-called “conservative” states, when it comes to cries for more money for education, no one thinks it's ever enough.

Hogwash.

Requirements to Homeschool

It's not rocket science. In general, there are only four real requirements to educate your children at home at least as well as education majors do in an institution. Here they are:

Reasonably Good Health

If you are chronically ill and incapacitated, it will probably be an impediment to home education.

Although I do know at least two women — both dying of cancer — who homeschooled until the end of their lives, it was difficult and required an extraordinary amount of commitment. They went above and beyond what most would, and probably could, do.

For the record, I've had chronic sinusitis since 1998. It was unaffected by endoscopic sinus surgery. It's stinks, but that's not the kind of thing I'm talking about. If you're relatively able-bodied and functional, you're good to go.

Average IQ or Thereabouts

The average IQ is 100. Here are the approximate IQs of those generally labeled as “qualified” to teach:

  • Kindergarten/elementary school: 85–121
  • High school: 92-124

If you'd accurately be characterized as an airhead or fairly slow at figuring things out, homeschooling might not be for you. Or, better said, it might not be for you alone. You might need help — readily available — to make sure your kids are progressing academically.

Conscientious Attitude

Here are some homeschooling deal breakers:

  • Your children don't respect your authority and won't listen to you — and you have no intention of changing this
  • You really can't stand to be around your kids all day — and you will not work toward creating better relationships
  • You aren't “patient enough” to homeschool — and you see no reason to learn to deal better with frustration
  • You don't want the mess involved in education — and you don't want to learn how to better manage it
  • Changing your lifestyle to accommodate your children would make you angry and resentful — and you won't resolve to adjust your attitude in the matter
  • You have lots of children — and you think learning to manage multiple ages is too onerous
  • You don't want to take on the responsibility — and won't adjust your desires
  • There are other personal problems — and you don't want to fix them

Availability

There are ample examples of people who work and homeschool. I've been working from home since 1987 (now running a website setup service, blogging professionally, and also as the CFO of an engineering company), but others work outside the home.

If you are willing to figure out the logistics, this can be done, but if there isn't someone home and someone who can make themselves available on a regular basis, homeschooling might not be an option. This is particularly true with younger children.

“Normal” Children

Children who truly have special needs may require special help. Children with enormous, out-of-the-norm behavioral problems or those with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities may not be best served in a homecshooling environment.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

We Just Want to Help

The truth is, most people can homeschool, they just really don't want to.

If you tell homeschoolers you don't want to homeschool, most will shrug and say, “Fine.” For the most part, we really don't care what you do with your family.

If you tell them you can't because X, they are likely to try to help you solve X. (As any good friend would!) And then, the non-homeschooler, usually gets angry and defensive and comes up with another X that is the supposed cause. (That we also try to solve. And that also results in anger and defensiveness.)

Homeschoolers have “in jokes,” too. Many of them revolve around all the reasons people come up with for not homeschooling when they get in that do-not-make-me-feel-guilty-because-you-homeschool-and-I-do-not mode.

Most of these excuses come unsolicited from public school parents who feel the need to justify their non-homeschooling status when they find out we homeschool. As if we care. (A reaction which speaks more to some kind of internal guilt than it does to extreme external pressure to homeschool.)

“Oh, I'm just not patient enough to homeschool.”

To which I want to scream, “Look at who you're talking to, lady????”

Honestly, when I didn't homeschool, it was because I thought homeschooling was stupid, lame, unpatriotic, and generally unsound. I never justified my aversion of homeschooling to anyone. And even if I'd thought it was a decent alternative that just wasn't for me, I still wouldn't have justified not doing it. I don't ever say to my friends, “Oh, my, I think it's awesome that you can manage having your kids take tuba lessons. We're just not meant for tuba.”

So if you don't want to homeschool — which is generally the case — just go with the honest answer. Because otherwise we will assume that you really think X is a barrier, when most Xs aren't, and we'll try to help remove the barriers.

Solving X

Recently a friend, Shelly Davis, shared a link to my 12 Steps to Start Homeschooling Tomorrow essay on Facebook. She accompanied it by this comment:

Shelly Davis

I liked this article. I've never told anyone this secret before but…it really is this easy. Getting up early, dealing with schedules, costly fees, problems with teachers, other kids, administrators, disagreeable subject matter & teaching methods, that's hard.

One of her friends responded with this:

Commenter

I've got to think the more kids you have the more complicated it becomes. Having a newborn and a high-schooler as well as a few in between just would never work for me! And I've gotta say that it's good for kids to learn schedules, and they definitely wouldn't learn that well from me!

Me

[Name], I'm the author. I have six kids with a 16-year span. Yes, I did the high schooler with a newborn and four in between. 🙂

You see? I think I'm helping her solve her X. She thinks having five kids — with a newborn and a high schooler — means you can't homeschool. I did it, so I know that's not the case. But she didn't like my answer. (Even though I added a smiley!!!)

Commenter

That's awesome that you're way more capable than I am. Just realize that this is a talent/gift that many of us don't have.
(And lest you think I'm a total downer, I have talents in many other areas that you probably don't. It's the joy of differences.)

OK, yes. That was my point exactly. I am way more capable than you, you big fat loser woman. Go die. And also, yes, homeschooling is just a magical gift from the sky. Not a choice that includes sacrifice and personal change.

I responded with no semblance of brevity (brevity being one of the very few magical gifts that was not bestowed to me from on high).

Me

[Name], not to be argumentative (not that I mind being argumentative, mind you), but no, it's not a gift and if it's a talent, for most of it is hard won.

I'm not a “kid” person at all. And I'm not a cute crafty homemaker. I hate most domestic things and I'm not patient or any of that. Of course we both have different talents (I'm a computer nerd and a singer.) But that really has nothing to do with being able to educate your own children.

The truth is, teacher's unions and schools have — no hyperbole — brainwashed people into thinking educating children is rocket science. It's not. At all. It's elementary. (And junior and senior.)

For example, you said, “And I've gotta say that it's good for kids to learn schedules, and they definitely wouldn't learn that well from me!”

  1. Apparently schools didn't teach you schedules after all?
  2. Why do they need to learn schedules if you didn't?
  3. Are you saying that you can't accomplish anything without a schedule (and what does that imply about you?)
  4. Are you saying that you think schedules are important but you are incapable of creating and/or following one?

Please don't be offended by the questions. I'm honestly not trying to be offensive, but those questions naturally follow from your statement and they beg to be answered.

It's not about who is most patient or who is the best teacher (augh — I think el ed is the most useless major on earth — shoot me) or who can do bulletin boards or who can juggle stuff.

Frankly, as Shelly brought up, dealing with lousy teachers, inane curriculum, bullying, PTA, school board, schedules written by idiots, rules that are nonsense, constant peer pressure, and now the feds…is much more arduous than teaching a kid to read. Seriously.

So, here you go. I'll put this out there (I warned you I don't mind being argumentative). Any parent who is marginally intelligent and conscientious can homeschool with results better than schools. I understand that not everyone wants to, but that's an entirely different issue.

Here response was almost as lengthy as mine. (Not that I mind, you know, being in the non-brevity club with some other bright women.) But at least I included paragraph markers. (I blame Facebook for keeping the “how to make paragraphs in comments” a secret.)

I'll only post what I think is relevant of her comment, but if she sees this and think I took her comments out of context, I'll be happy to add it all in. She mentioned that she was smart enough to homeschool and that she could actually keep a schedule. Then said:

Commenter

However, I can't keep six schedules at the same time (mine and five kids).

I didn't respond on the Facebook thread again, but I'll post my answers here. She's given me an X again. And an X begs to be solved. So, here it goes, even though she probably doesn't want to hear it.

She already does keep six schedules at once.

True, her current six schedules might not be as involved as my seven schedules were — given that her kids are gone a huge chunk of the day, half of the year. But I'm assuming she knows where they are when they are gone. And I assume when they have presentations or homework or tests or early days or days off or whatever, she knows about it. I assume if they are in scouts or swimming or piano lessons, she knows about it. Which means she is keeping six schedules.

If she really wants help keeping an educational schedule, I could give it to her. As could about a billion other homeschool moms of many kids with a wide age range. Or she could attend one of my organizing workshops. Or read one of about 400,000 articles on the subject. Again, it's not rocket science. (I use an excel spread sheet.) But it does take some time.

So, no, I don't think it's because she can't keep six schedules. More likely she doesn't know how to do so now and isn't interested in learning and employing this skill.

Commenter

There is no way that you're teaching the teenager and the baby the same things — and with constant pre-schooler interruptions I've started to feel like I have ADHD since I can't concentrate on anything.

I'm unsure why she needed to assert that babies and teenagers aren't learning the same thing. That's probably obvious to all. But are there ways to deal with educating a teenager with a pre-schooler who interrupts? Again, it's a matter of educating yourself. I would hazard a guess that how to homeschool with preschoolers is in the top 10 all time with regards to number of articles written to address it.

In truth, it's not much different than how you manage a preschooler and a high schooler in any other situation, but there are ample places to learn how others address this (very real) issue. If you want to learn how.

Commenter

I agree with you 100 percent that what you know is hard-won knowledge — which is contrary to your original post about how “easy” it is to homeschool. If I wanted to do it right, it would take a lot of effort (to start and to maintain).

She's either conflating issues or people. My post actually said it was easy to start homeschooling. It is. And something being “hard-won” doesn't mean it's out of the scope of normalcy or possibility. It means that being a good parent means changing yourself for your child. Like learning to be patient and learning to manage multiple schedules.

I finished the Insanity workout last summer. That was hard. I ran a marathon to celebrate my 40th birthday. That was hard. Learning to extend schedules to include topical matter? Not so much.

X Goes Down the Rabbit Hole

Commenter

However, I know I could do it if I was meant to. However, some of us are not meant to homeschool.

No idea. But I can tell you, I was not meant to pay taxes or go to bed before 3:00 am. Or to refrain from chocolate. But I digress.

Commenter

And although your hard-won knowledge took time, some people really are naturally more organized, better educators, more strict with their children, etc. and that is not something that should not be minimized.

Apparently this woman believes — I think I'm reading this correctly, since the segue from the last comment to this was immediate and within the same paragraph — that those who can be said to be more organized, better educators, and/or more strict (by some criteria I'm unsure of) are those who are “meant” to homeschool.

I don't recall anyone minimizing such qualities, but, again, the assumption that those who take the responsibility to homeschool (or who are “meant” to do so) are those who naturally have these qualities is just b.o.g.u.s.

I teach organizing classes because it wasn't natural and I had to learn how to do it in spite of my natural affinity for chaos. I had no idea who to manage six schedules, let alone seven, so I read a book to figure it out. Now I teach my modifications.

Commenter

…all of the kids get a much broader knowledge base than I would give them (since I tend to do as little as possible, and sadly educating my kids wouldn't be any different) — and they get educated by people who are excited about the subject they're teaching.

And there it is. As I say above (under “Conscientious Attitude), if you “tend to do as little as possible” and don't intent to change, then I agree homeschooling isn't for your family. But let's admit that's a choice, not an immovable barrier.

As for being excited — that's another X — here's the solution. Choose one.

  1. If the subject isn't exciting, why would you make your kids learn it?
  2. If the subject is exciting, but you're a dolt, give yourself a kick in the backside and get excited.

Bottom line. There truly are not very many people who cannot homeschool. There are millions upon millions who do not want to. We'll avoid a lot of arguing and misunderstanding if you just tell the truth at the top.