Linda P.: “I wish I could paint a happy ending to this story”
“I want families who choose this route to have a tremendous homeschool experience. After hearing about the Turpin case, like many others with homeschool experience, I believe changes needed to be made in the laws.”
My name is Linda. I have raised seven children and am currently an artist and community volunteer. My decision to homeschool was not a thoughtful one. Over time, homeschooling proved detrimental to myself and my family. Here is a bit of our story.
When we had our first child in 1988 we became interested in the homeschool wave that was gaining momentum. As our family grew, our friends were also homeschoolers. We participated in a homeschool church for several years with other like-minded families. We had created a hedge of homeschoolers around us to protect our children from the ‘outside’ world. We might not have admitted it, but that is what we were doing. Most of our friends seemed like they were scheduled, and kept up academically, excelling in areas of their children’s’ interests. Our efforts to provide our children with a balanced upbringing proved exhausting.
As a homeschool mom, I had very little time for outside interests and friends. My parents and siblings would often ask about my hobbies, wanting me to not be too immersed in my family life. It is clear, looking back, that I sacrificed much of my own interests and personal development and ignored issues within myself that needed attention. I enjoyed the time with my children. But as our family kept growing, my time spent just playing with the younger children was limited and, as is the case with many larger families, the older siblings took on parenting responsibilities out of necessity.
Within a few years, I began to wonder about the potential downfalls of educating at home. Between laundry, cleaning, dishes, and putting meals on the table, I was spread very thin. Of course, the kids helped and I always reminded them that we couldn’t homeschool without their help. I believed that my husband would take on a share of the homeschooling load. But this did not prove to be the case. While he did much to educate our kids informally, through life experiences, formal education fell to me. In addition, we did not make it a priority to become involved in most of the homeschool activities that were offered in the area. As adults, my oldest three have problems even now feeling comfortable around and relating to their peers. I believe they were hurt by not being socialized and dealing with problems that arise as kids go to school together.
I began thinking more and more about sending the kids to school. There was a local charter school that was touted as being a rigorous, “values-based” public school that offered classes two days a week for homeschooled children. One of the older kids had a lot of trouble adjusting to school. After several attempts to get accommodations for him, we pulled him out and homeschooled him until high school. I was very lax and did not require very much of him. Another child went to five different schools in five years. We were floundering in our transition out of home education.
I wish I could paint a happy ending to this story. I tried really hard and kept at it for a long time. But the truth is that our family was not equipped to homeschool effectively.
On the topic of oversight, neither us nor any of our homeschooling friends received any oversight from state or local institutions. Requirements for testing and filing homeschool intent were ignored by most of our circle. No one, to my knowledge, was ever contacted in these matters.
I want families who choose this route to have a tremendous homeschool experience. After hearing about the Turpin case, like many others with homeschool experience, I believe changes needed to be made in the laws. We can’t let homeschooling be a cover-up for neglect. I agree with the recommendations for change that CRHE has outlined. I also feel there should be no hesitation for current homeschoolers to embrace these changes, as it only helps them to be more accountable without being unjustly controlled. I believe that the CRHE recommendations will help protect children from those parents who use this option to hide and continue their neglect.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story and express my viewpoint.
Linda P. homeschooled her children in Colorado from 1994 to 2006. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.