Back To School or NOT?

Dear sisters,

Whew! My little doggies are burnin’! Why? Back to school shopping that’s why! Our ( always homeschooled )daughter is attending public high school for the second year in a row and she’s had me runnin from one end (of two of the largest malls on the south shore) to the other shopping for her back to school wardrobe. She’s a good little shopper… Only shops clearance and the sale racks! The good news is we only have to shop till we drop for one child because the other one will NOT be going back to school. Our son is in his senior year as a homeschooler. I get choked up just thinking about it. Sniff, sniff… I know many of my farmgirl sisters are already homeschooling and I bet there are a few of you out there who are on the fence trying to decide if homeschooling is for your family. Come on in for a little gentle persuasion from dear old Deb. I’ve got a few pearls of wisdom for ya!

Up until a few days ago I hadn’t planned on writing about homeschooling but even before another school year is off the ground stories of school violence, bomb threats, and school safety issues are front and center in the news already. It breaks my heart every time I hear of another school violence incident. And, whether we like it or not school violence is fast becoming one of many reasons some people choose homeschooling over public or private school education. For many it’s at the top of the list! But homeschooling isn’t a one size fits all sort of thing, any more than compulsory education is. Our daughter who attends public school has experienced the ups and the downs of the educational system. She still chooses public school because she wants a ” bigger ” school experience for herself and she likes being out and about every day with her gal pals! Can’t say as I blame her! Our son, however lives the life of a working artist right down to the late night ( often stretching into the wee hours ) writing sessions. He aims to be a recording artist and music producer one day! His dedication to his craft is staggering. This, from the boy who never wanted to do his writing lessons and spelling tests and who caused his mother a few gray hairs worrying about it too! Would you believe he writes all of his song lyrics long hand and never leaves the house with out a spiral notebook and a pen?

This post isn’t entirely about me braggin’ about my kids and how homeschooling is the end all be all. The last 13 years have flown by, the kids grew up and before I knew it I became a veteran homeschooler! I could tell you what WE did, but wouldn’t it be more fun if I busted a few homeschooling myths and answered a few questions instead? I think so too! Here goes:


Homeschoolers lack proper socialization: This is an oldie but a goodie and simply not true. Most folks know a homeschool family or two by now and can attest to the fact that they are living and walking among the masses! They participate in town sports, community art classes, archery, organized clubs and organizations, and some are attending college at very early ages, not to mention winning National Spelling Competitions right and left!

Homeschoolers are very religious: Some homeschoolers choose a secular based home education curriculum to teach their children the ways of the bible and the theories of religion along with their core courses.

Homeschoolers are lazy and will never amount to anything because they haven’t learned to get up early and ride a school bus. Just because a child doesn’t rise early and board a school bus at o dark thirty doesn’t not mean he/she is not growing, thriving and learning every day.

Homeschooler’s stay in their PJ’s all day and don’t comb their hair:

THIS ONE IS TRUE!  I wouldn’t trade the many mornings we had snuggled on the couch in our PJ’s after breakfast when the kids were very young, learning to read, and when they were able to read allowed. And just to add to this idealistic visual we DID comb our hair before leaving the house.

Homeschoolers have a hard time getting into college: NONSENSE! Colleges are looking for students who have the discipline to learn independently, think creatively, ( out of the box ) and have the drive to succeed. It doesn’t matter if you’re homeschooled or not. If your homeschooled high school student has his/her sights set on a traditional 4 year college you and your child must learn what the requirements are for the application process just like any other student. We are researching various Music Producing Schools and programs for our high school senior and learning as we go.

FIVE Common Homeschooling questions:

Is Homeschooling legal? YES!  Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states! Some states have lower regulation laws than others. It’s always best to familiarize yourself the laws of your state before diving in to homeschooling. In most states all you need to do to get started is to contact your School Department and state that you wish to homeschool and they will provide you with the proper forms and requirements for your state. In many states a simple letter of intent is all that is needed. In others, like Massachusetts for example, a formal educational plan may be required and yearly work samples or a progress report submitted for evaluation.

Where do you get a curriculum and how do you know what to teach?

The amount of learning resources for homeschooling ( online and in print ) are staggering. Many of which focus on a particular style or philosophy of teaching. I recommend reading about different learning and teaching styles before investing in expensive packaged curriculums. I didn’t use a packaged curriculum until our children were in fifth grade. I preferred to cherry pick a little of this and that from various publishers for educational work books, then sprinkled in a lot of free time for play and exploration, art, reading, music, and time with family and friends. I loved customizing each or our children’s learning materials along with what they were interested in at the time. This is known as the Eclectic approach. As our son has grown through his high school years we have become unschoolers. He has taken the lead with his learning and studies what he wants to study. He holds a part time job, works on his music, ( and has recently started performing at teen nights in clubs) participates in scouts with his father and enjoys time with his friends and is content being at home too!

What about sports? Most cities and towns offer sports. But, if your homeschooled student wishes to play sports at a local school you’ll need to see if it is approved in your state. A simple phone call to the school your child wishes to play sports for is the best place to start.

What’s Unschooling? Don’t panic, it’s not what you think! Unschooling doesn’t mean NOT LEARNING. It’s simply a more mindful, organic approach to learning. Good old Wikipedia says it best:

Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, game play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child.

What about a diploma and Graduation?

Yes! You can get a diploma and have a graduation!  You’re in charge remember? If you child is enrolled in an accredited distance learning program ( usually meaning there is a teacher or tutor on the other end who is paid to review and grade your child’s work) a diploma can be earned this way. If you have chosen a more eclectic approach to homeschooling, you can create a diploma for your child/children when they have satisfied your educational expectations. You’ll want to be sure to keep good records of your child’s work and progress/ SAT scores etc. and be mindful of creating a portfolio/transcripts that will be presentable and impressive to college boards come college application time.

How you celebrate your homeschooled child’s graduation is totally up to you! As for this homeschooling mom, I’ve been writing a speech to our son ( in my mind off and on over the last several months) but I never get too far cuz I always start blubbering after the first few sentences. I might have to email it to him if I am ever able to finish it!

I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just followed my heart and here we are 13 years later! If you feel the homeschooling bug tugging at your heart too, read all you can, talk to other homeschool friends, go to a homeschool meeting or convention and don’t miss the Mountain Farmgirl Cathi’s monthly HOMESCHOOL column in the MJF News Letter!

Which ever way you choose to guide your rascals, just love’m to pieces along the way. They grow up way too fast. Oh, just a couple more things. I need to clarify something.  Homeschoolers aren’t saints. We’re just parents who for our own reasons choose homeschooling over traditional educational options. No halos here. Perhaps it’s just an over abundance of farmgirl can-do attitude!

What about you? Are you a new homeschooler, or a veteran in the making? Go ahead and gab about it in the comments section below!

If you ARE considering Homeschooling know your state laws and investigate the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website. Some states like to play hardball with homeschoolers. The HLDA is there for your protection ( for a small annual fee) should you feel you need it.

Until our next shoreline visit~

BEACH BLESSINGS and Happy Back to School or NOT!

Much love,

Deb # 1199

  1. Diana Henretty says:

    Good Morning from Noel Missouri,
    We homeschooled for 8 yrs, our kids grew up in the mountains of Montana with goats, pets, a huge garden, and lots of fun with homeschooling.
    Our daughter graduated at 15, and because of her high score on her GED, she got a scholarship to go to any college for 4 yrs. Our son owns his own business in Tulsa.
    Yes, we stayed in pj’s half the morning, we took days off to play in the snow or go to the "big city" of Missoua for a day out. We also got the kids up at 3 a.m. to sit out in the yard to watch the glow of northern lights for hours,
    and then slept in the next day!
    They also were able to do many things their friends couldnt, like participate in activities in the local rest home and learn from many hands on projects
    public school didnt offer.
    We did join our local home schooling group that had regular activities for the kids, I would encourage everyone to do that or start your own group.
    It was a great experience for all of us, with no regrets!
    Happy Homeschooling to all! Diana in the Ozarks

    Howdy Diana!  Such great experiences for your kids and memories for you all! Love it!

    Thanks for sharing! xo Deb

  2. Raynita says:

    No halo here either, Deb…lol…next year I will start my 20th year of homeschooling. What? How on earth did that happen? We sure have a lot in common regarding our homeschooling approach. My two adult children are thriving in this crazy world and my almost 11 year old is enjoying the reward of Mom learning her mistakes on the first two..ha! My son is in college….transcripts are easy to type up. Entrance in to college was easy. He took care of it on his own with the exception of the transcript I typed up from a form I found online. I might add that he is paying for his 4 years of college himself from money he has saved working since a young age in the field of ophthalmology because his homeschooling schedule freedom allowed it. After working since age 18 full time with full benefits at a clinic, he realizes he wants to make a career as an Optometrist with the encouragement of the doctors and company he works for. My adult daughter is a musician and fiddle teacher with a band of her own and fiddles for another band. Her brother is also her guitar player and best friend. They have traveled together since they were teens. They would save money, plan a trip to New York City or Hawaii, etc. and head off together. After a few trips on their own, this Okie mom quit worrying and was thrilled they can feel confident at a young age to travel and what an education it was for them. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. Learning is always happening and more times than not it isn’t while doing "book work". I never tell anyone to homeschool, I just tell them that it works for our family with no regrets…..Raynita

    So true Raynita,

    Your comment will quiet some doubts for a newbie homeschooler for sure! It just takes time and a lot of faith to quiet those homeschooling nerves! Thanks so much for sharing your homeschooling experiences… Xo Deb

  3. nameDonna Coburn says:

    I fully support homeschooling….wish I had done it for my 3 children. Public school is tough and limited. My oldest daughter decided to homeschool her oldest daughter. She had a really bad year at public school, narrow minded, biased teachers made for a bad year in eighth grade. She lives on a farm with all the pleasures of a farmlife..(her mother is a Mary Jane Farmgirl)! She did very well, hands on learning in so many areas, whereas in public school she would be limited and discouraged to learn. So ninth grade she felt she was ready for public high school…at registration time, they immediately put her in a higher class…the reputation for homeschooled kids is amazingly higher than public she has excelled, honor rolls, and a great self confidence!!! Home school is the way to go!!


    Thank you Donna for sharing your daughters homeschooling story with our readers! I love the success stories! xo Deb

  4. Julia says:

    I homeschooled my 3 girls and would do it again in a heart beat! They now are all mommy’s, my oldest is now starting to home school her 5 year son.

    My girls are well rounded, social, intelligent young women. 2 did sports through the public school, the other did music. None had any difficulty getting into the school of their choice, and they thrived!

    I do have a hard time with the unschooling thing. I saw a show about it, and saw 13 years old still not able to read. One kid had the attitude that he wasn’t going to work, but just hang out. One parent said he wasn’t concerned that his daughter at her age couldn’t read, as she was just teaching herself by learning to text. Hmm??? I am sure these may be the exceptions, but it does concern me.

    Regardless, homeschooling was fun, a lot of work, but so worth it! I get a little sad that I can’t buy school supplies for my girls. I reckon I could go buy a glue stick or too for my grandson! 🙂

    Hi Julia! So great of you to share your homeschooling experiences with us! It’s  unfortunate that unschooling ( and often homeschooling) gets the BAD press it does from time to time. But those stories get more viewers. I wish they’d feature the homeschool/unschooled kids who are doing great things more often! Thanks for your note! xo Deb


  5. Joan says:

    Oh yes Deb and all you other ‘homeschooling’ Moms, I commend you highly!!! I was raised in an old country school with my education/learning not stopping there. My home was with my Grandparents and a maiden Aunt – she was the best book type learner and my Grandparents did some of the other learning, between them all I too was prepared to go to the world and live, learned many skills of gardening, sewing, hand crafting in lots of ways. Yes it was/is still a bit hard to not try to help people in the world, because those learning at home and those in the public facilities just are not the same people. Don’t really want to say that ALL in public schools are not as well ‘learned’ as homeschooling BUT there sure is a huge difference in the two groups. I THINK I would like to take over my 9 yr. old grandsons education, public just doesn’t seem to be what is best for him but his parents will not agree with the homeschooling so I will say CONGRATULATIONS – GOD BLESS TO ALL YOU WHO HOMESCHOOL/UNSCHOOL/LEARNING YOUR CHILDREN. God Bless

    Hi Joan! It sounds as if you have some very fond memories of your younger years living and learning together with your Grandparents and Maiden Aunt.  It sure puts a fresh spin on that old phrase Live and Learn doesn’t it? Bless you for sharing your story here! xo Deb

  6. Rebecca says:

    Deb, I know how you feel about homeschooling. I happen to be a certified teacher which doesn’t make me a better teacher for homeschooling my daughter, but gave me a few "ins" on curriculums and methods. As she went thru college I took it very personally when she had any challenge but as she graduated cum laude from a larger university I was assured that the choice of schooling for her was perfect. This year she is teaching her own class in public school. Such success!

    Dear Rebecca,

    Such a great testimony to successful homeschooling. I met many former teachers among my fellow homeschooling community who still had the same jitters we all did, but many of them were leaders in starting co-ops and other classes for homeschoolers. Their teaching background certainly added to the over all homeschool experience at home and in the community. Congratulations on your success as a homeschool mom and on being a teacher! Thanks for sharing! xo Deb

  7. Marge Hofknecht says:

    Deb, I and my husband only homeschooled our two sons for four years altogether while allowing our oldest, our daughter, to finish out her last high school years in the Christian school where all three had once attended. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and had often wished that I had begun their educational experience with homeschooling. But I felt insignificant since I only have a high school diploma. But the Christian school became more and more expensive and we came to that point of decision: homeschool or send them to the neighborhood public school. We just couldn’t do that. We found an excellent literature-based curriculum that was originally designed for overseas missionaries and their families. We lived in Philadelphia as well which was a boon. We had family memberships at the zoo and at the Academy of Natural Sciences where our boys in turn volunteered throughout the school year (and during the day hours!) in their children’s exhibit. Our boys met Robert Ballard there and he signed their copies of his Titanic books that they owned. Olde City Philadelphia was at our fingertips, so to speak, and was very enlightening and enriching during our study of the Constitution. All in all, homeschooling bettered the lives of my boys. As I mentioned before, my only regret is that I didn’t start earlier and didn’t start with all my kids. I think it would have made a world of difference in their lives. Thank you for your encouraging article. Marge Hofknecht, Crossville, TN.

    Dear Marge,

    Homeschoolers are masters at taking advantage of every museum, gallery, art center, nature center, science center, farms and community based classes with in a 50 mile radius! We are by nature, seekers of new experiences and knowledge… Having a high school diploma simply means you’ve obtained a body of common knowledge and have graduated from those years of study. REAL LIFE learning happens all the time no matter your level of formal education is. I’m so happy you didn’t let that one insecurity stand in your way of following your heart to homeschool! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your family homeschool experience. xo Deb  

  8. Sandra says:

    I enjoyed your post!
    I have been a homeschooler for about 16 years. I have had a couple of daughters attend high school, some attend high school part time, or attend vocational training.
    I have three that have graduated, one in high school and two at home going into the 7th grade. The ones that have graduated had no problems getting into college or institution of their choice.
    Overall, it has been a good experience, one that I wouldn’t change. I feel strongly that parents need to be the ones that make the decision regarding their children’s education, whatever it may be. Private, Public, Charter, or Home. The more choices we have the better 🙂

    I agree whole heartedly Sandra! You said:

    <  I feel strongly that parents need to be the ones that make the decision regarding their children’s education, whatever it may be. Private, Public, Charter, or Home. The more choices we have the better :)> 

    Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your experiences with us! xo Deb

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