“At the time my parents were homeschooling us in the state of Ohio a certified teacher was needed to sign off that the children were being educated. They were supposed to look over the last year’s work to verify. The woman who did ours was also a member of our church and homeschool support group and never even looked at the stuff mom brought her, which wasn’t much. I even remember mom commenting that ‘P only cared about her check clearing.’”
I was homeschooled from 1988 to 1993, from 7th through 12 grade, by two high school dropouts. Kindergarten through 6th grades I went to both public and private Christian schools. My parents chose to homeschool us for religious reasons. They did not want us learning “worldly” things.
In the beginning Mom did a fairly good job educating us. I was easy, she just made out my lesson plans and I did it all myself from there. It was very boring, I’d read from my books and answer questions and then move on to the next subject. I was more focused on getting it over with as fast as possible than I was learning anything. Mom was too busy with all my younger siblings to really pay attention to me or my schoolwork. There was never enough money for curriculum either. Mom and Dad saw more importance in my younger siblings’ books than mine. They often would only buy the teachers edition of the books and make my work from that. Mom would carefully tape tiny slips of paper over the correct answers and make copies to make my tests. I was always able to tell which one she’d covered and always got the right answer, of course.
Now as a parent of two teenagers I see what I missed by seeing what they are learning. I feel like I really got no high school education to speak of. Not only was my education hurt, but also my emotional and mental growth was stunted by the isolation I experienced. As a teen everyone said I was very mature for my age but as an adult I feel very behind in just about every area of life. I looked mature because I was always caring for one of my six younger siblings. I’ve been parenting since I was 12 years old. As I got older and the babies kept coming my education became less about math, history, and such and more about “family living,” you know, keeping house, cooking, etc. College was never an option for me and was actually demonized. It was a scary, evil place where they taught lies like evolution and feminism. Even getting my GED was out of the question—a man at church implied that the GED test was linked to “big brother” somehow. And besides, I didn’t really need an education, I was just supposed to be a submissive wife who bore many children while homeschooling and catering to my husband’s every whim. That was “God’s will” for my life.
As bad as my education ended up being it was actually worse for my younger siblings. I at least had the basics from being in school through elementary. The younger kids started out being homeschooled. The next brother younger than me was very intelligent and began reading at age four, he got an okay education for the first few years. I’m sure in a school setting he would have been placed in a gifted child program and done great. Instead, as he got older Dad would take him to help with whatever job he was on at the time (he was a contractor). He was supposed to catch up on his schoolwork on other days but that didn’t really happen. So instead of being a gifted student in a real school he was busy out doing manual labor at a very young age. Soon the next brother after him, who tended to struggle with schoolwork, was out on the job with Dad too, and his education got put to the wayside as well. The last four children are girls and were in their early elementary years when my Mother announced she was leaving my father and all the kids were put in public school.
All of them were years behind in their schooling. After years of struggling and academically and being bullied, four of my siblings ultimately dropped out of high school and only the two youngest graduated.
At the time my parents were homeschooling us in the state of Ohio a certified teacher was needed to sign off that the children were being educated. They were supposed to look over the last year’s work to verify. The woman who did ours was also a member of our church and homeschool support group and never even looked at the stuff mom brought her, which wasn’t much. I even remember mom commenting that “P only cared about her check clearing.”
I feel VERY strongly that if there was someone really looking at what we were doing and being taught it could have made all the difference in my siblings’ and my own education. If their early education had been better my siblings could have had a much easier time when they were put in school—perhaps they would have even graduated. It could have made all the difference in their lives.
As for myself, who knows what I could have become had I been given a proper education? I know being isolated causes long-term damage to a person—I suffer its consequences daily. I know that simple conversation can be absolutely humiliating when something you never learned comes up—something everyone else learned in middle school.
Homeschooling has its place and if done right can produce well educated students. But it can also be the perfect hiding place for a controlling, abusive parent, and even for parents who determine how much and what kind of education you get based on your gender. There has to be monitoring, safeguards in place to make sure children are really being taught, because all children have the right to an education no matter their gender or religious beliefs.
Theresa M. was homeschooled from 1988 to 1993, from 7th through 12 grade, in Ohio. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.