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Friday April 19th 2024

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Yes, You May Have to Give Up Some THINGS to Homeschool

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Yes, You May Have to Give Up Some

THINGS to Homeschool

By Linda Dobson


We gave up new clothes, and in their stead we found the beauty inside the individual.

Every day – I mean, every day – my e-mail box fills with more and more and more horror stories associated with public school attendance. Before I finished this morning’s coffee, I saw a video a high school student made of another student getting arrested for taking his sister’s purse, in jest, after the principal had it in his possession. I read the story of the teen who got kicked out of AP English class for writing a sarcastic essay or two that contained truth. Some school superintendent recommends tasers for the policemen in the school. Massachusetts to standardized test all incoming kindergartners. And a real tear jerker, “The Heartbreaking Point.” Been there, done that.

Then, I read the story of “Linda Walker, Illinois Kindergarten Teacher, Hangs Self In Classroom.” Just how hopeless has the school system become?

As parents, it’s never been more important to ask ourselves just how much we’re willing to put children through for what is increasingly becoming a broken, empty education that leaves increasing numbers illiterate, lacking life skills, and incapable of self-sufficiency.

You May Have to Give Up Some THINGS to Homeschool

Just this week I witnessed two parents get into an “I’m poorer than you” match when, as it always does, the criticism of homeschool as “only for the rich” reared its ugly head. It’s a criticism (or, perhaps more honestly, a reason given not to homeschool) that’s been around  as long as I can remember, and I peg the start of my homeschool advocacy at 1986.

See also “Four New Education Bills Introduced: Rearranging No Child Left Behind’s Deck Chairs

The truth is you don’t have to be rich to homeschool and, indeed, many current homeschool families are anything but. Here’s the other part of that truth: You may have to give up some things in order to homeschool.

When I could no longer bear what was happening to my son in public school kindergarten, we made the decision to homeschool him. It entailed, in no particular order of importance:

  • No full-time job for me
  • Got rid of second car
  • Life below the poverty level
  • Moved to a much less expensive, much uglier house
  • An hour drive one way for a big monthly grocery shop
  • Second-hand clothes
  • If there was any to be had, it was because I baked bread, cookies, cakes, pies, etc.
  • A large garden
  • Picked wild fruit in season
  • No dinners out
  • Homemade gifts for all
  • Staycations instead of vacations
  • Woodstove for heat

I could go on, but you get the idea. And you know what? I knew we were “poor,” but I never felt poor. In fact, whenever I had cause to compare our family life with another, I found us rich beyond belief. We didn’t always have what we wanted, but we had what we needed of THINGS, plus a cornucopia of life’s greatest gifts.

Only an empty cup can be filled. We gave up a full-time job and in its stead got a healthy child when the stress of school was gone. We gave up a second car and and in its stead our children were spared “teaching to the test” to receive a true education. We gave up a nice house and in its stead grew children with lots of time for play and exploration. We gave up convenience foods and in their stead grew healthy vegetables for the children’s plates. We gave up new clothes, and in their stead we found the beauty inside the individual. We gave up dinners out, and in their stead we shared the fruit of each other’s growing life skills. We lived below the poverty level and there we quietly – and gladly – replaced THINGS with protecting our children from arbitrary violence, bullying, cheating, labeling, excessive testing, kindergarten sex ed, lousy and rushed lunches, sick buildings, lack of exercise, peer pressure, and brain washing.

Yes, you may have to give up some THINGS to homeschool.

I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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14 Responses to “Yes, You May Have to Give Up Some THINGS to Homeschool”

  1. Amy says:

    We gave up that second income when we had our children because we did not want to put them into daycare. Then when we made the decision to homeschool. We have given up a lot but it does not feel like a sacrifice. Like you we are a one car family,I cook from scratch, we buy second hand….But all of those things really align with my environmentalist attitude, and our desire to not buy into the consumption driven society. It’s all good, even though we are considered “poor”.

    • Hi, Amy, That’s an interesting point you bring up; that “giving up things” supports a lifestyle you believe in with or without homeschooling. That was the case with me, too. Perhaps that makes us the “most willing” to do without, since those things aren’t our priorities anyway? Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. Lilypad says:

    Well said, Linda! (As I sit here in my literally threadbare pajama pants, wool sweater missing many buttons, and wearing slippers handed down {up??} from my son!) I have given up plenty of things (certainly any sense of fashion, and some days, my sanity) but the result is this: my son, who was miserable and as violent as a wild animal when he was in kindergarten and 1st grade, is now a confident, funny, sweet young man who said to me the other night, “I love my life”. And that’s priceless.

    • What a wonderful gift your son gave you with four little words! And it sounds like you wrote this while wearing one of my outfits. One of my favorite articles of clothing is STILL the denim shirt that my son outgrew and became mine. We’re physically far apart now, so it’s extra nice to take it out to wear and think of him each and every time. Thank you so much for reading and taking time to share what you found by giving up some things.

  3. Arwen says:

    I don’t think giving up things is a bad thing. On the other end of things, though, it seems to me public school gets pretty expensive. My sister-in-law was telling us this morning how much she pays just for school lunch for her kids.

    I also think of the study which found that (unlike public schools) the above average scores of homeschoolers were consistent across demographics, regardless of race, income or mother’s education level. It makes me wonder how some families can afford not to homeschool.

    • Yes, you’re right – homeschooling success doesn’t appear to be dependent on income, etc. And public school attendance picks at the pocketbook in small increments CONSTANTLY! I think our current growth in numbers has at least in part to do with families figuring out they can’t afford to not homeschool. Long live homeschooling! Thank you for reading and sharing here!

  4. Helen says:

    Great article – I haven’t home schooled, personally I couldn’t do it – but I have to say I have struggled with the school system but Im fortunate that my two children have found their way and have done and are doing very well.. You don’t have to give up things – you can always run a home business and work the hours that suit you….

    • Hi, Helen,
      Thanks for sharing! I did work from home after my kids got older. Still had to give up some things, but then folks who made more (and charge more) may be able to compensate. Very happy to hear your children are doing well…that’s what we all want for them as parents!

  5. mrs. dani says:

    You forgot to mention having no cable (GASP!!!) I have had parents look at me as though we are from Mars when I tell them we have no cable. (that is over $60 a month)

    Plus, we do not have the expensive cell phones! We have a trackfone for emergencies only; Pay as you go and no texting)

    • You’re right! Cable could most definitely have been on my list. (I’ll go back and add it if I can find the time.) In fact, my kids were still pretty young when cable was preparing to come to our rural town. A representative went door to door surveying people to see how many would use it. I told him, “Pay for television? You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s just not that valuable.” The kids grew up fine without it. Trackfone is a very cost-effective alternative…good for you! Thanks so much for reading.

  6. Sheila says:

    I thought that a single parent (sole support) could not homeschool. I can. I have had to do a lot of things for childcare that I didn’t like when my daughter was younger but NONE of them was as bad as what was happening in school before we quit. For example, I drove 45 minutes each way twice a week for a childcare provider we loved, and I worked 10 hour shifts those days. I paid a college student to sleep with her while I worked night shift and never slept. Later, I paid someone $10/hr to come to my home between 11 & 2 and make lunch and also do some gardening and bathroom cleaning and wash dishes. and hang out. Now, my daughter can look after herself and she is eager for me to work for money so we can buy music, movies, etc. She knows where money comes from and she knows how to budget.

    • Wow, Sheila, look what you went through to homeschool…my hat is off to you! Thank you for being a wonderful example of “It CAN be done” when you make it top priority. Give your daughter a hug for me, and thank you for reading and sharing your inspiring story!

  7. Well said Linda!!

    Everything in life is a sacrifice whether you homeschool or not…What are you really willing to give up for the good of the family is the question.

    • Absolutely right, Amanda! It’s whatever is your priority. If it’s front and center and important, you do what’s necessary to accomplish it. Be sure to read what Sheila shared she had to do to homeschool. No one could doubt it was important to her! Thanks for reading and sharing!

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