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What I Learned as a Homeschooling Parent: Linda Dobson

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What I Learned as a Homeschooling Parent: Linda Dobson

By Linda Dobson


You can choose to allow your children to remain in the world.

I wish I’d had the opportunity to learn what I’ve realized through homeschooling much earlier in life. That’s probably why I look at homeschooling children, including my own, with awe and respect and optimism. I emerged from high school confused and unsure, told to jump into a new world when I didn’t know if or where it had a place for me. These children, on the other hand, generally finish homeschooling comfortable and confident, moving gracefully through growing independence into a world where their place is well established through years and exposure.

What was the vital difference between my experience and theirs? The answer is as clear as the stars on an Adirondack winter night. You see, the homeschooling children were never forced away from the world in the first place. And this has made all the difference.

Homeschooling, Educational Freedom, Remaining In the Real World

Homeschooling children have experienced educational freedom in as many forms as their freedom implies. Educational freedom means children’s minds, hearts, and hands are delivered from restriction, schedule, and agenda externally imposed. Thus freed, the children have room – lots of space and time – to discover self. This discovery is a necessary foundation, an essential first step before any learning can possibly become meaningful and significant.

This step leads to the ability of self-determination. It’s the self-determination of which Thomas Jefferson spoke so eloquently when he imagined an educated populace charged with electing forthright government representatives, the same self-determination implied in the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet self-knowledge and self-determination are made impossible by the very nature of any educational “system,” most notably one that locks children away from the world.

Homeschooling and the Gift of Self-Determination

This, I believe, is one of the most important of a long list of homeschooling lessons I’ve learned. When an educational system is set up to discourage self-determination from the start, and when I must financially support this discouragement of self-determination under threat of losing my home, then connections to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness have been severed. A system like this must be a vehicle for something else. The evidence, too plentiful to include in this short piece, points to a “systematic” replacement of self-determination with dependence. The system serves up a curriculum – no, a lifestyle – that readies children for dependence on government for, just to name a few, increased police protection, health care, child car, jobs, housing, and food: in short, survival.

Three other parents answered “what did you learn as a homeschooling parent” when asked, and there was a common thread running through all of their answers.

Mary Griffith wrote: “[My children] often find solutions I’ve missed for problems we’ve faced.”

Mark and Helen Hegener wrote: “Sometimes our children have better answers than we do.”

Rebecca Rupp wrote: “Our son’s don’t always think like we do.”

This is anecdotal evidence of homeschooling children’s self-determination – from three out of three families. These children are not being educated for dependence on government or anything or anyone else. If you prefer scientific evidence, I know of only one formal study of adult homeschoolers, which was undertaken by J. Gary Knowles and reported in 1991. None of the adults who were homeschooling as children that Mr. Knowles surveyed were unemployed (a large percentage had their own businesses), and none were on any form of welfare assistance.

The lesson is elementary: An education that starts with self-determination will finish with self-determination. Homeschooling parents and children alike are pressing the concept of educational freedom against its boundaries – and beyond – and reclaiming our ancestors’ promises.

The value of educational freedom is a lesson too important to keep to ourselves. If you appreciate your home, you may be forced to keep supporting the system with your money, but you don’t have to support the system by feeding it your children. You can choose to allow them to remain in the world.

And this will make all the difference.

Homeschooling Book of AnswersYou can read much more like this by dozens of the most respected voices representing over 500 years of homeschooling experience in the timeless Homeschooling Book of Answers edited by Linda Dobson.
Answers from Rebecca Rupp, Mark and Helen Hegener and Mary Griffith coming up this week…don’t miss them!
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3 Responses to “What I Learned as a Homeschooling Parent: Linda Dobson”

  1. Suzanne says:


    I absolutely love this thought from your blog:

    “I emerged from high school confused and unsure, told to jump into a new world when I didn’t know if or where it had a place for me. These children, on the other hand, generally finish homeschooling comfortable and confident, moving gracefully through growing independence….”

    I was given one path to follow when I left high school – college. Anything else was presented as a path to failure. But, I wasn’t ready and I failed more than once to make that transition.

    Now that my daughter is 17 and growing more and more independent, I am so enjoying watching her make choices and consider every option with a positive outlook.

    And I’m so glad that as she’s grown, I’ve encountered people like you and Wendy Priesnitz and Helen Hegener who provided support and resources that have helped me trust my kids to learn and find their own way.

    My kids are so much more ready to live independent lives than I ever was and will do so without pushing so hard to get away from the influence of their parents like I did (at least, that’s what they tell me, and that’s joyful to hear).

    Really enjoyed reading this today. Thank you.


    • Suzanne, such a sweet comment; thank you so very much. I’m glad to learn that my friends and I have been of help in that most important act of trusting our children. I’m ecstatic to hear that you have a 17 year-old daughter who is ready for independent thought and decisions. I wish many happy days ahead for your family!

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