Last updated Feburary 11, 2005

"Why on earth do you teach your children at home?!!!"
This is a typical question asked of most home schoolers. With schools filling our towns along with educated teachers to do the teaching, many people are puzzled about the home schooling effort and wonder why anyone would want to teach their kids at home. Many see the public school time as a “break from their kids, and a time to relax and forget about the squabbles and messes and difficulties that being with your children twenty four hours a day presents. Many parents feel having their children with them all the time, fulfills their role as a parent. They recognize the fact they have taught their children from birth and want to continue doing so.

When challenged by others concerning her ability to homeschool one friend answered her friends and neighbors questions with the following statement, “After all, who teaches the child on an hourly basis from the moment they arrive in the family unit?” What better way of making others think than to get them to realize they teach their children constantly.

One major question that is brought up, usually first, is, “What about your child's social life?!!! They need to socialize! How are they going to get the needed socialization if you teach them at home?!!!”

Of course children need socialization! Without it, they will be introverts, hiding behind themselves in a world of people. However, if you home school, does that mean you are never going outside the realms of your home, or yard? NO! That is totally unreasonable. You teach your newborn to trust you by being there to care for him. She learns that when she is hungry and cries, her needs are met. He learns that diaper changes are given when he lets you know, his needs. She learns that when she needs cuddling and attention from mom, she is there to give it. As our children grow, we teach them basic skills in language, crawling, sitting and mobilizing around. We teach them to play with toys. We take them for strolls through the park, or other areas where we point out animals, birds, flowers and teach them that some weather needs added clothing and warmth. Other weather needs less clothing, but may need skin protection. We teach our children to dress themselves, to tie their shoes.

So, why not teach them skills that require them to be around other people too? Do we attend church, where the children are around others? If not, now is a good time to consider church attendance as part of the children's socialization. We all shop and need groceries on a regular basis. Teach them about nutrition, why we need vitamins, minerals, etc. Teach them what the basic nutrients do as well as lack of these nutrients. Make out a shopping list according to your family's likes and nutritional needs. Teach your children shopping skills. Take them to the store as a class, explain to them the value of the dollar, how to find the best deals, how to pick out the best of the foods available to them. Teach them how to recognize which fruits and vegetables are fresher and have the best food value. Have them pay for the food, being there to assist as needed. Children who learn these skills young, will develop good habits for later in life when they need to be able to shop on their own. They are gaining social skills as they will have to communicate with adults as they shop.

There are always other homeschoolers you can join forces with that help to teach skills you may not be mastered in, to provide tours, field trips and other organizational activities. Seek these out by searching on the Web. When children are surrounded by other families who have the same ideas, standards and belief's, they excel, as they find homeschooling more interesting. This also keeps those so-called, experts off your back who are always asking about your child's social skills and reminding you that homescholing hampers this progression.

Social skills learned in the public school system are not always the skills we want our children to learn. How many times have our children come home with words, actions and expressions that shock and deplore us? Are these the skills we want the children to learn, or are they skills we want to protect them from? Do we know what is being taught in our child's school? Some schools are teaching “Gay Rights- It's okay to have two mommies or two daddies”, some are teaching sex education and prevention of pregnancy at alarmingly early ages! Do you want your child learning these things from a stranger in a manner you may not want them learning? Does you child's school send notification to you before these subjects are taught? Do they send notice at all?

There are many reasons we choose to teach our children at home. Safety is key number one. In my days of growing up in school, the school was considered the safest place for anyone to be. Bad weather, threat of community disasters, violence, you name it, the school was a safe haven and kept children from the turbulent situations outside the safety of the classroom. There was no question about it. We never heard of a child being taken from the playgrounds, from within the school, from a bus waiting area or anywhere connected to children. If a scuffle broke out between students, it was easily broken up, the guilty disciplined and class went on. Today, that is not the case. Children are being taken from within the school walls. Teachers are threatened even by their own students. Students are threatened by teachers. Violence has killed many students and teachers within the perimeters of their own classrooms. The number one concern of most people today is about school violence, will their children's school be the next to be hit?!!!

Children are cruel to each other and to themselves. If a child is sent to school wearing decent, modest clothing, he or she can be ridiculed by other students. It does not matter if they are in the same grade. "You aren't with it", they are told. "If you want to have friends, you have to look like us!" The comments keep flowing, "Only geeks wear that stuff!" ... "You are stupid or you would wear neat stuff like we do!" ..."Awww come on! Your parents are old fashioned, they don't know what life is like today! Just try this, you'll see!" Children who are lucky enough to have a mother who sews their clothing for them have been attacked by comments such as, “What do you mean, YOUR MOTHER MAKES your clothes? You are missing out! You have to have a name brand label or you're nothing!” Soon the child feels as if he or she has no friends. All kids want to have friends, and all kids need friends. Soon the child feels if he or she is to have friends, he must be like the others. For adults, it does not matter if we don't conform to the rest of the crowd. Kids however, need to be accepted by their peers. It makes them feel that THEY matter, that they are important. When one child begins ridiculing another child, others are quick to join in. Soon the child being picked on feels he is not wanted, he is not good enough for the others. He or she feels left out and unappreciated. Soon the child feels badly about him or herself to the point he or she is willing to change what ever is needed to be allowed to be in with the crowd, to be accepted and loved. These changes are seldom ones we as parents want to see. The child, young enough not to be able to reason that complying with mediocre behavior will really not get him what he is intending on having, happiness and good friends is soon heading down a path of trouble and mischief making. The kids who are strong enough to live up to the standards set in the home, and not be persuaded by outsiders, often times are the ones who do not have close friends at school. These children will not participate in the cruel behavior that leads others to feel such a driving need to lower their standards and become like those who are pressuring them to be friends with.

Another major problem today is the fact that many of us do not have the same outlook on life. We grew up in a world where morals were strict, and standards were high. We obeyed our parents, and did what they asked. That was life. Today, there is a different attitude that prevails. This attitude seems to reach out and grab the kids telling them, "You are your own person. Be what you want to be. Do what you want to do. Your parents are old fashioned, don't listen to them. If you want to have fun and be a real person, you can't listen to them." That is probably the biggest factor of all why so many of us are teaching our children at home.

Other reasons include the following:
1- We love having our children around us.
2- We want to teach our children in a more religious realm, which is not permitted within the public system.
3- We want to know and have control over the subject matter and content our children study.
4- We have the ability to teach the child on his or her level or levels.
5- Too many schools are handing out medications to calm down children they feel have ADHD and don't have to inform the parents they do so. Amanda Gardner a Health Day Reporter examines the medication used for this disorder.
6- In case of disaster, we have our children with us and do not have the added worry about how they are doing, where they are and if they are frightened not being with us.

For an example, at the time I first put this site on the Web in 1999 we had three children being taught at home, one teenager, age 15 was using college level, our 12 year old was in 8th to 9th grade level, while the youngest, then 9, was 3 using books for 5th /6th grade level. Homeschoolers are able to take the time to teach their children at what ever level each individual child is ready for in any given subject. So what if a 10 year old needs 2nd grade math. The same child may be in 7th grade level English. Teach at the level he or she needs. Soon he will catch up any subjects he or she is behind in and most likely surpass his grade level by the next year. Homeschooling gives us the advantage of teaching each child at his or her intellectual level, not “the assigned grade level”. Homeschooling most always allows us the freedom to select the subject material. Many states have requirements that need to be met, but we are free to use what ever material to teach those classes we choose. Some states recognize the fact that the homeschooled children excel greatly and far surpass the education level of their public schooled friends.

I'm not a college graduate! I can't teach my children! Is it even legal?”
Many who question Home Schooling will say, "But you have to go to college to learn to be a teacher." This is simply not the case. We went to school, we learned and now we can teach our children what we learned. Think about your own education for a moment. Did you stop learning once you received your graduation certificate? No way!!! We all learn much more once we are out of school, and there are many good reasons for t his continual learning. We don't have to attend college to gain our knowledge either. Now, what about some of the new things you need to teach your children, you may not have gotten in school, or maybe wasn't important enough at that time to learn and retain it. We learn right along with our children. This is true whether you are homeschooling or not. Yes, we do learn with them. We also learn from them. Nothing gives greater joy than to sit at home in a learning environment and teach each other. Let the children help teach you the things they know. Even if you know it already, give them an opportunity to teach you what they learned. You will see how much they have learned and give them a chance to teach and feel the goodness of having done so. Children all have areas of knowledge, we are rusty or totally out in left field over. How great a confidence builder it is, when we can teach our parents something! Kids are very smart and when the opportunities arise, they have a lot to teach us. Who is it who always manages to come up with solutions over situations we are baffled over? The kids, of course! Children are very bright and willing to share their knowledge. They have the advantage over us that they are not responsible for their well being, for housekeeping, for income and health care. Their brains can unleash all the energy towards learning. Their brains are like sponges just pulling in every bit of knowledge it can muster. You simply cannot stop a child from learning! Give them the basics, be there to answer the questions they have, research the answers with them and they will keep on learning.

What about the subjects that come up that we as parents don't know? That is not so hard to combat, either. Take a trip with the kids to the library. Check out books on the subject, a video or DVD. Make it a family learning time, centered around the entire family. Contact someone who is knowledgeable in the area and ask them if they would be willing to come to your home, or for you to take your child or children to their home, or place of business, to learn about the subject from them. This gets the community involved and makes them realize they are an important part of the education of the children as well!

But, I am not a teacher! I can't teach my children the way an educated teacher would!
Who is it who taught those children from the moment of birth? Did you hire an experienced mother and father to come parent your baby? No! The thought of that is unreasonable! Did you go to college to learn to teach your baby who you are? ... How to respond to you? ... That you love him or her? ... That you are there as you are needed? NO! Did you go to school to learn to feed, bathe, dress your baby? What about potty training? Who taught your child how to recognize the signals and to make it to the potty chair? Did you hire a teacher to teach your child to tie his shoes? Button her coat? Do we call a religious leader to come teach our children about God? To read the Scriptures? Who teaches they how to live a good, honest life? Kids are very smart and when the opportunities arise, they have a lot to teach us. Who is it who always manages to come up with the ideas of how to do something we are baffled over? The kids, of course! Children are very bright and willing to share their knowledge. You simply cannot stop a child from learning! Give them the basics, be there to answer the questions they have, or research the answers with the children, and they will keep on learning.

What about moral standards? Do we want the public system to teach our children their standards?
We want to teach our kids the things that are most valuable and precious to us, and we are the only ones who can do that. We want to instill good, strong moral standards in our children. Again this is something the public schools are not allowed to teach. They are not allowed to teach about religious beliefs or read a simple verse of scripture. They are not allowed to talk about prayer, about God, or anything that has a religious tone.

One of the tragic events of teaching today is the fact the schools now teach our children it is okay to be gay. It is okay if you have two mommies or two daddies. That is supposedly an okay thing in this world and is to be taught there is nothing wrong with it! Can you imagine the problems you are going to face trying to tell your children that the teacher is wrong? Do we want our children learning about sex in kindergarten? Do we want them to learn that sex is okay as long as they are properly prepared? Or, do we want them learning that their bodies are sacred to be kept clean for that special mate at the time of marriage? No wonder we have so many children having babies! Sex education and teaching of gay rights are a standard in many schools across the nation today.

What do I teach and how will I find the materials to teach my children from?
We as home schoolers face many difficult tasks throughout the day. One of them is the decision of what to teach our children. There are many companies out there to sell you the “best curriculum available”. While the course may be very good, it is not necessary to buy these in order to give our kids a good education. Prepared curriculum plans are usually very expensive and often parents are dissatisfied once they actually get the study courses and see what they are. The whole idea of teaching our kids at home is provide a good education with the freedom of teaching them what they need as well as the way we want. If the expensive programs are what you want, go for it! If you want to save as much money as possible, yet provide a good education for your children, read on!

My husband and I were married in 1995, bringing a “blended family” situation. His first wife died, I had been divorced. Both of us had homeschooled our own children prior to our knowledge of each other and our marriage. Ironically we both started teaching our children about the same year. My husband had been teaching public school at the time he homeschooled his own children at home. Oh Yes, That did raise a few eyebrows, to say the least!

The past few years when we still had 3 of children in homeschool, the cost of their education was minimal. We spent no more than $175.00 each year for all the kids. Since this update of September 3, 2003, we still only pay no more than $60.00 a year for our one daughter's supplies. This is for paper, pencils, erasers, books, notebooks, and everything used for her education. Today, the cost may be a bit higher as prices have gone into orbit since 1999. There are a number of ways to keep the cost down, however.

How do we do it?!!!!
First, we went to the school district surplus center and found text books that had been discarded as the new ones arrived. That district was just giving the books away. We reasoned that the if books were good enough when they were first purchased and because basic education does not change, the books had to be okay to use today. 1+1 is still 2, and so on. We checked through the stacks of books and found the ones in the best shape. It cost us nothing but a few hours of time to browse through to locate what we wanted. Call the school district offices to find out where they have the surplus warehouses and/or sales in your area.

Second, we bought some work books (1999 prices) for only $7.95, put out by McGraw-Hill, one of the leading companies dealing with text books for education. (today, they may be as much as $10-$30.00 each) Ironically, many of the books we selected from the district warehouse turned out to be McGraw-Hill books. In fact, it was through those books we were able to learn about the company and their selection of educational materials available to the public.

Third, we check out subjects on the Internet about the latest news for current events, or what ever we want to learn about. There is a world of information at our fingertips. (Pun intended! They are there at our fingertips for real!) We do not have the children use the computer to do their daily lessons from, as they quickly memorize the location of the correct answers, and do not have to actually learn anything. If children only learn where the answer is, they do not gain knowledge, therefore are not really learning anything, but how to "use" the system and get away with it.

Fourth, we check out books from the library to supplement what we do not have at home already, and for those little extras in learning about a new country, the latest walk on the moon, or what ever is going on we want to learn about.

"B-B-B-B-But, teaching my own kids is scary!"......
This is a common reaction of many parents as they begin thinking about the task of home schooling. It can be quite a challenge, but it is nothing to be afraid of. We just realize a few things before beginning the adventure.

First of all
Kids are very bright, but that is not a reason to be afraid of teaching them. We learn right along with them even when we are teaching subjects we already know very well. As we teach the basics, the tougher material is easier for us to attain, just as it is with our children. If we are starting out with young kids, they will never get a hint of a fact we are not at a college professor level. Young kids think their parents are smart and follow them carefully. If the kids are older, there is nothing at all wrong with saying, "You know, I am not as sure as I could be on this, let's learn about it together." Not only are you telling the child, you are willing to learn with him, you are building a trust that will last a lifetime. This trust will come back time and time again as your children grow, and have their own families. It is fun to learn with your kids. Let them tell you what they know in areas they can. They do pick up on the latest and newest news about our world around us. How well I remember the day my kids came to me with news about the new moons found in our solar system. We did not have television, and I had not turned the radio on that day, so I had not heard the news. We had an exciting 3 or 4 hour discussion about the things they had just learned. How excited they were to have taught their mother something she had no idea of! It makes kids feel good to know they can teach their new found knowledge to their parents. Just watch their faces, no matter what age your child is. Their whole being just glows and they excitedly tell us about things we did not know. It is a most rewarding experience. Their eyes glisten, their voices are filled with excitement, some can hardly gain the ability to take a breath as they tell of new things. Do not let those precious moments pass you by. All too often we are telling our children, "No, that is not the way it goes, don't try to sound like you know about something you really have no idea of at all." If they are wrong, let them know gently without destroying their thirst for learning. “Hey, lets go check out a book, or a movie on the subject and see what we can learn!” A simply comment like that will help them learn and not put that flame of desire out, making them feel rejected or unimportant. Cherish the moments they can teach you. They will remember and cherish these moments forever. Later, when they have children of their own, they will remember those moments and pass them along to your grandchildren. You will be able to take pride in the ongoing process of the learning experiences you gave your children, knowing they are being passed along your little grandchildren. It is a joy that is equaled by no other experience and can only be brought about by teaching your children in the home.

Second, you are a "Home School". Dispense with the idea you have to put hour per hour into teaching your children that is found in the public school system. Homeschooling just does not work the same. Let's take a good look at this idea:

A child in public school begins the day at, say 8:00 A.M. The elementary levels have the same teacher throughout the day. (Or that is how it was when my kids last attended public school.) They will go from one subject to another and the teacher is allotted about 45-50 minutes per class. She has about 20-30 students in the class to teach. (I hear today, 2005 it is as high as 45 with one teacher's aid to help her out!) As she begins teaching, Johnny decides he wants to create a bit of havoc. He turns to Sally seated behind him and makes a few faces to irritate her. Sally thinks it is funny and begins to laugh. He was not expecting her to be amused, so he picks on Tommy in front of him, putting a spit wad down his shirt. This is sure to gain some audible attention.

Johnny guessed that one right! Tommy is disturbed. Kids around them are laughing and Tommy hollers, "YUCK!!" Now the teachers attention has to turn to discipline. She spends the next 10-30 minutes dealing with that problem. Across the room another child decides to gain some attention and begins acting up as well. Now, the teacher is giving the whole class a lecture and has spent most of the time she could have been teaching, with discipline problems. Sound familiar? Did you create a situation or two when you were in school? I know I sure did! I was an expert paper plane maker! Even the boys turned to me to learn to make those super planes that would fly from the back of the room and smack the teacher on the tip of the nose!

Studies have shown that the average homeschooled child will learn in 7 minutes what it take the public school teacher a full class period to teach. Why? There are many situations that come into play. Other students asking questions, often the very same questions are asked repeatedly, just in a slightly different form. Then there is the basic discipline problems that must be dealt with at the time each arises.

"When it comes to teaching about the Declaration of Independence, I knew nothing. I was not interested in it when I was in school. That is a subject every State requires the kids to learn about!” In the study of it, I learned our family has two people who are signers of the Declaration of Independence! That made things much more interesting to me. My children enjoy knowing that they are related to these famous people as well. Now, when we teach history, we can teach about the war and other historic events, and make it more meaningful as they are related to many of the forefathers who founded our great nation. Not only are they learning the history needed, they are learning about family history as well!
Relax! Not a problem at all! We have a Web site to will help you out! Just click on the link above and you will see enough information to keep you and the children busy learning for some time. This is the glory of the Internet. Make use of it and search out the sites that help educate the children and you too!

“My English skills stink! I want my children to learn better than I did. I need to send them to public school to learn that!”
No, you really don't need to send them to public school for English skills! Hit the Internet again! Grammar Check, is a site that will help you with English. If you have questions, you can e-mail the company and ask, they will either e-mail back to you or put the question on the site with an answer. You can subscribe to the newsletter and have Grammar Check as a regular weekly newsletter to help you teach your children.

We are constantly receiving e-mails from individuals asking us if we think they will make a good homeschooling parent. This is a very individual situation and one that we cannot answer. We do address this question at: Is homeschooling right for me?

Next Home Schooling Page

Click to E-mail
Fotheringham Home Page

of the

This page was designed by
Vicki Fotheringham