Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: The BEST thing/ What was missing

If you homeschool or are considering homeschooling, sometimes fears or uncertainties or just generally being overwhelmed by choosing a curriculum, lesson planning, or keeping up with all that socialization can sometimes make you forget the “big picture” of why you wanted to homeschool in the first place. 

This post is the “big picture,” the reasons that former homeschoolers list as the BEST THING(S) about homeschooling.

The second half of this post is the responses of these adults about what they wish had been different about their homeschooling experience.

I hope this post encourages you and gives you some food for thought as well.

Survey Question: What was the best thing about homeschooling? 

Source

Here are the top three answers:
#1: Closer Family relationships (15 responses/ 34%)
#2 & 3 are tied:
Flexibility (10 responses/ 23%)
Freedom to pursue interests (academic and extracurricular) (10 responses/ 23%)

Almost everyone mentioned more than “best thing.” I have divided all the responses into these five categories (the numbers listed are how many people mentioned each one):
Family

Closer family 15
One-on-one time with parents
Greater appreciation for parents

Academic
Freedom to pursue interests (academic and extracurricular) 10
Ability to work at your own pace 7
Laid back schedule 2
Fewer interruptions
More time efficient
Better Learning
Reading
Never stopping the learning process
Getting college credit in high school
More attention
Learned how to think for oneself
Learning for learning’s sake and not for grades
Freedom to adapt to personal learning styles
Custom education
No wasted time on “busy work”

Personal

Flexibility 10 

Promoting Independence/ independent thinking 3
Sheltered from bad influences
Reduced Peer Pressure 
More confidence/ less social pressure
Having “real life” experiences
Self-motivation
Learned strong work ethic
Matured quickly
Social 

Being able to travel 2
More time for volunteering 2
Unique experiences (field trips, etc) 2
More free time
Meeting lots of different people

Religious
Bible Education 3 

Closer walk with God 2
Faith integrated into every aspect of learning

WOW! So many “best things” about homeschooling! I hope these lists are encouraging to you.
The second survey question I asked in my survey was this:
Do you wish anything was different about your homeschooling experience? 
Here is the statistical break down: 
43% (19) said “No, they couldn’t think of anything they wished was different”
56% (25) said “Yes, they wished ‘xyz’ had been different”
The answers were both fascinating and widely varied. 
I have divided the “Yes” answers into Academic and Social categories.

Academic:

J. M. 30 from TX: I wish my folks had spent more time on math and science. (even though I was ready for collage level study I feel like I could have done even better if we had)


R. M. 23 from OK: I wish we had done more science.

M.G. 26 from VA: Looking back, I think that my education lacked any real writing component. However, I have compensated for it since.

J. D. 18 from VA: Sometimes I just wish I had a teacher to help me through situations that I didn’t understand the material.

M. W.  27 from GA: I wish there had been more structure and a more complete curriculum.

R. P. 30 from MS: When I got to high school I would go to the homeschool convention each year and pick out my books for the coming year with my mom. I then went through the text books pretty much on my own. I wish my mom had held me accountable a bit more because I didn’t end up finishing as much as I could have (although in the end I was completely prepared for college). Also we didn’t do science labs in high school, which I wish we had even though that tends to be hard. In WA state we have a program where you can go to community college for free for the last two years of high school and graduate from high school with an AA. I kind of wish my mom had pushed me to do that, but it may be that I wasn’t socially ready at that point.

E. M. 26 from FL: I highly recommend co-op. I wish we would have done more of this early on in my experiences. It provided more structure.

E. H. 19 from GA: Not much, just that maybe we had been part of the co-op longer and we had been stricter on keeping grades.

M. M. 29 from CA: I honestly kinda wish I wasn’t [homeschooled]. Although I wouldn’t be who I am today, but I really felt I was jipped in the education area.


Social:

Several people mentioned that they wished they could have been involved with sports:

Kelly C. 29 from VA: I wish that it would have been easier to get involved in sports. The only option for me was a rec league and the one time I got involved in a rec league it was all boys (on a boy/girl team).

Beka R. 25 from KS: I look at my younger siblings all involved in basketball, and I wish I had given it a shot . . . looking back I think I would have enjoyed that very much.

Samantha C. 24 from MO: Being able to be involved in competitive sports, like softball, would have been nice.

Others focused on deeper social issues: 

S. G. 29 from VA: I do wish I had been forced into more social situations. That could have made the public sphere less trying. Even today, conversing with people remains difficult for me; I believe my schooling experience plays a large role in that difficulty.

J. C. 28 from KY: I wish my parents had been more involved in my schooling and in making sure I was involved socially, not just by putting me into social situations but by training me in how to act in those situations.

B. H. 23 from VA: That I would have had a bit more contact with other homeschoolers, but I did have adequate social activities in Youth Group at Church.

K. C. 24 from VA: I wish that I had a better homeschool group in high school. Having a good local group is key to not feeling isolated.

S. M. 29 from WV: I wish it had not been illegal at the time and that it had been more widely accepted. My brother and I were teased and bullied mercilessly by public school kids about being homeschooled. My two younger brothers have had a completely different experience because homeschooling is so common now.

O. G. 29 from KS: I kind of wish I had been pushed to try more things. I was a little timid.


M. V. 27 from IA: I wouldn’t be homeschooled. I wish I’d been sent [public school], actually. If I had to still be homeschooled, I wish my parents had pushed me into doing things besides choir and 4-H and work, to try new things instead of just doing what was immediately available. 


I suppose another angle of this is that I wish I had spent more time doing things with people who were not homeschooled and who were not like me, so I didn’t have the huge learning curve post-high school graduation. 

I think this is an often-overlooked disadvantage of homeschooling: Sometimes homeschooling students get jobs or are pushed into service activities and spend too much time doing adult things before they are truly adults, and missing out on important kid activities instead. 

In my 10th grade year, my mom took on responsibility of two young boys for a lady in our church who worked; we essentially became a two-kid daycare . . . I didn’t enjoy it (I’m not much of a kid person) and school had to be fit in on the sides. I have heard my parents’ current pastor’s wife say that she prefers her daughter, who does like kids, to not always be babysitting, because she doesn’t want her daughter to grow up being a sort of pseudo-teen-mom. And I think that happened to me a little in my 10th-grade year. I also worked a lot (at the Y, which was fun), but sometimes that stood in for other social activities. I didn’t actually have to work. So, different: not so many adult activities, so soon.
Finally, one responder gave this answer which I though was really interesting (and I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize it):
C. R. 35 from VA: Yes, I believe that it is a really struggle for homeschooling parents to release their children once they are grown.   

I think these “wishes” are very enlightening. Some of them are more tied to being a “first generation” homeschooler than others. For example, there are more co-op opportunities and sports opportunities today than there were 15-20 years ago. 
Perhaps these other academic and social “wishes” will help give current homeschoolers insight into where they can pursue conversation with their children or perhaps make changes. 
What about you? 
If you were or are homeschooled, what is the very best thing about it?

As an adult homeschool alumni, is there anything that you wish had been different about your homeschooling experience? What advice would you give to homeschool parents today?

Please feel free to comment or ask questions! And please share this series if you think it would be interesting or helpful to others by linking to Facebook or other social networking sites (you can “like” this post by clicking below”)
Missed a post? Catch up here!

Part 9: Do former homeschoolers want to homeschool? 
Part 10: Stereotypes: Better or Worse?

  1. Anonymous

    There was a longer comment on this post I read and it is on my mind and I wanted to share my comparison. I was not homeschooled, but I really wish I had been for many reasons. I think any person, in hindsight, is going to see things in how they could have been if they had only known _____. I took 4 years of Spanish in HighSchool – I should know Spanish! I worked a job right after school and I am so glad I did eventhough other kids had time to just play – that is not how real life is…life is work – I didn't necessarily think that at the time. The sooner you learn to love work and life the more enjoyable life is. My parents let me be involved in a lot, but I still wish I could have done “xyz” too – I wanted to do and be everything and that was of course impossible. I was very friendly and social: Class officer, club presidents, honors society, etc. but I was also very shy and nervous in a way (nobody knew) if that makes sense…school did NOT teach me anything about that – at all. My husband covered up his discomfort or childish insecurities by putting others down in a way that made him still look good – that is what public school taught him. Learning doesn't end after grade 12 or college and if there is something you didn't learn…quit moping and make the most of your time now. Another thing people mention is mom being too busy or too ___ to do it this way or that. Moms of many public schoolers make them tend all te time or are so busy with their own things it turns into the same thing. My daughter has friends that are begging their parents to homeschool them and their mom's just don't want to or don't have time. I think it is too bad that many other either “side” think it is Home vs. Public, I think it is that we grow up a certain way and learn from that to the degree we understand – which can be skewed a bit, or a ton, from our paradigms. We then can choose to continue that if it is something we would like to continue, change parts we didn't like, or try something totally different and even when we try our best… there are going to be things we wish we could have or would have done differently. It is just about atmosphere. We can blame others or move on and take responsibility for what is now ours. No matter our age we will be nervous or uncomfortable in unknown situations for the most part. And no matter how comfortable I want to feel I would not want to know how to 'fit in' with many of the people in the public schools. I have so many public schooled friend that won't do stuff because they don't have someone there holding their hand or they are just too scared to do it wrong – sad! These are middle aged people. There are so many great things to learn and do and more of a person to become for us and for our children.

  2. Thanks for your comment! I agree social learning or learning in general is learned throughout life and is not exclusive to either the home or public school. Also, shyness or social fears are not regulated to homeschoolers.

    Both homeschooling and traditional schooling have their pros and cons and I hope that this survey/series helped to shed some light on some of those unique challenges and benefits of homeschooling by sharing the personal experiences of adult homeschoolers.

    Thanks for reading! 🙂

  3. I love to read about your experiences! You write beautifully! I have enjoyed reading your articles. They are very well written. It looks like you spend a large amount of time and effort in writing the blog. I am appreciating your effort.
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