We’ve all dealt with young cashiers unable to calculate your change unless the cash register tells them how much to give back and we’ve seen confusion erupt if we give them a ten-dollar bill and a quarter to pay for something that totaled $10.15.
My own thirteen-year-old (middle school) has questioned me about why public school doesn’t teach her any “real” skills she needs to live on her own such as how to write out a check, balance a checkbook, create a budget, or open a savings account. These are skills I’ve started teaching her myself of course, but it’s just one of the many reasons to consider homeschool. As the government entities issue more and more regulations on curriculum, our kids in public schools are falling through the cracks in a number of ways.
As parents, we want our kids to learn everything they need to know to be a well-functioning member of society without putting their personal health and even their lives at risk. When our children are forced to spend six hours or more a day in schools, it limits the number of things we can teach them as parents.
In addition, today’s public schools are increasingly focused on test scores rather than critical thinking skills and practical knowledge. Controlling the mind as you know is one way of controlling the people. If you’re a prepper, it’s easy to surmise that the ultimate hidden agenda of the education system today is to produce generations of adults that are conditioned to conform and follow orders rather than think for themselves.
With the increase in violent attacks in schools and other public places, it’s also getting tougher to send our little ones off to school, with a teacher we don’t know, in a building full of people we don’t know, and in a location, that is away from our watchful eyes. As preppers we know that one of the most dangerous threats during a catastrophe will almost always be other people. How can we possibly protect our children when SHTF when they are surrounded by strangers and aren’t even within our reach?
Public schools and even many private and charter schools are fraught with dangers, including the potential for school shootings or terrorism as well as more common threats like bullying, eating disorders, depression, racial tension, sex offenders, exposure to drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, anxiety, unexpected exposure to allergens, etc. These issues seem to be virtually unavoidable in public schools.
Many parents are turning to private and charter schools and find those lacking as well. In fact, the homeschool movement when it began and through the early 1980’s was primarily Christian families looking to shield their children from the negative secular influence. Now, more families are turning to homeschool as a way of reducing the negative influences and peer pressures that kids are inundated with in the school systems.
Homeschooling is growing in popularity for many parents seeking an alternative to traditional education for their children. According to recent reports by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), there were just over 2 million homeschooled students in 2010, an increase of more than half a million from 2007. In fall of 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) predicted just over 50 million students would attend elementary and secondary public schools. The reasons for this growth are not just religious based as you will see in a future section.
What is Homeschooling?
The first thing to understand about homeschool is that not all homeschool programs are the same. Some programs are very structured with step by step lesson plans down to the day and even the hour. Other homeschool programs are extremely flexible and basically require you as the parent to design your program and lesson plans based on what works for your child and your family.
Some homeschool programs are entirely structured around the computer and include a curriculum of multimedia lessons and tests that your child participates in online. These are called e-learning homeschool programs and are generally more structured. On the opposite end of the homeschool spectrum is “unschooling”.
What is Unschooling?
This is a type of learning that is completely flexible and in most cases 100% child-led. Parents who “unschool” believe wholeheartedly that children will learn what they need to know when they are interested and ready to learn it. There is no “curriculum” to follow.
If a 3-year-old is interested in reading, they will learn to read but if that interest doesn’t come until age eight that’s okay too. The engaged unschooling parent provides opportunities for learning but doesn’t force learning on their child if they aren’t yet ready.
More Reasons for Preppers to Homeschool
There’s no denying that one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility of the schedule. Homeschool families are free to travel at any time of the year without worrying about missing school. School work can be completed at any time of the day or night which leaves children free to get involved with chores around the homestead or compound.
Homeschooling can happen in just about any location which means strategic relocation, work transfers, and other reasons that require a “move” won’t interfere with school progress.
Benefits for Child (Reduced Pressure and Anxiety)
- No more anxiety and trauma over changing schools
- Homeschooled kids aren’t impacted by snow days or quarantines, teacher strikes, etc.
- Homeschool students consistently rank higher on ACT and SAT tests
- Limited exposure to drugs and alcohol.
- Reduced exposure to bullying and peer pressure that can impact learning
- Better prepared for real world with more time for learning and practicing practical skills.
More Quality Time with Family
- Opportunity to strengthen family bonds
- Increased opportunity/time for spiritual development
- Provides time for parents to teach practical skills and prepping skills
Homeschooling is possible anywhere in the United States and in many different countries all over the world. In the United States, there are several homeschool law categories you need to know about. Laws for different states can be very different.
- Home Education Laws
- Private School Laws
- Equivalency Laws
Before you make the decision to homeschool, make sure that you thoroughly understand and are ready to comply with any state and local reporting and testing requirements for homeschooling in your area. Some states require homeschoolers to not only register their intent but to also submit attendance and a detailed work portfolio or other reports that document learning. Failure to comply with laws regarding education can land you in serious hot water with the juvenile court system.
Know Your State Education Requirements for Record Keeping
Some states will require portfolios that include sample work. Above all, make sure you know what records will and will not be required in your state.
Recordkeeping Resources for Homeschoolers:
- Free Homeschool Deals
- Homeschool Connections
- CHASE SC (Christian Homeschooler’s Association of South Eastern) South Carolina
- The Complete Homeschool Planner and Journal: A 180-Day Record Book for Homeschoolers and Involved Parents by Larry Zafran
So, You Wanna Homeschool, Where to Start:
If you are interested in homeschooling, before you begin it’s important to connect with the resources that are available for homeschoolers. These resources can help you to further determine whether non-traditional schooling is an option for you and which approach will best suit your family’s needs.
State and local homeschool groups
Online Homeschool groups
- Homefires: The Journal of Homeschooling Online
- Homeschool Central-National Directory
- Homechool alumni Reaching Out (HARO)
- The Old Schoolhouse
- Practical Homeschooling
- Home Education Magazine
- Homeschooling Today
- Home School Digest
Read Up on Homeschooling
I combed through more than ninety pages of Homeschool Books and Resources on Amazon to put together this short list of most popular books:
- Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School by Rebecca Rupp
- The Unhurried Homeschooler: A Simple, Mercifully Short Book on Homeschooling by Durenda Wilson
- 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
- 100 Write-and-Learn Sign Word Practice Pages by Scholastic Teaching Resources
- 5th Grade U.S. History: Famous US Inventors
- Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie
- Story of the Orchestra: Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music, and the Composers Who Wrote the Music! By Robert Levine
- No-Nonsense Algebra: Part of the Mastering Essential Math Skills Series by Richard W. Fisher
- Natural Disasters, What & Why?: 1st Grade Geography Series by Baby Professor
- Everything You Need to Ace Math in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide by Workman Publishing, Altair Peterson, and Editors of Brain Quest
- Summer Bridge Activities, Grades 1-2
- The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family’s Method to College Ready by Age Twelve by Mona Lisa Harding and Kip Harding
- Getting the Most Out of Your Homeschool This Summer: Learning Just for the Fun of it!
Research Curriculum Choices
As you begin to interact with local and state homeschool groups you will learn the laws and homeschool reporting requirements for your area. You will also begin to learn a lot about the different foundations and approaches to homeschooling. Some homeschool curriculum programs are faith based, some nearly mimic the traditional school curriculum while still others are completely designed by the parents and students.
Here are just a few of the examples of homeschool choices:
- Ambleside Online (36 weeks, completely free but must pay for books or get them free online or in used bookstores, based on whole child education–not just the mind.)
- KONOS written in 1984 by 2 homeschool moms. Each volume $110 or more. Can buy entire 8 years for around $500.00 if bought all at once.
- Calvert Education a fully accredited complete homeschool curriculum that serves as the foundation for learning for kids from Pre-K through grade 12 all over the world.
Virtual or Online Schools
These are non-traditional learning programs, sometimes referred to as “homeschool” which are largely online based programs that use testing for evaluation and documentation of grade level progress.
Homeschool Success Stories:
Although homeschool can be a very non-traditional approach to education, there are hundreds of successful people who have been homeschooled during all or part of their educational career.
Some of these successful and determined homeschool students include:
Christopher Paolini from Los Angeles California. He’s the author of the Inheritance Cycle and the Eragon series. He and his sister were home schooled and he graduated high school at the age of 15 years old.
Bethany Hamilton, is also known as the “Soul Surfer”. A documentary movie was made about her story. She was attacked by a shark and lost her arm and was able to return to surfing. Bethany was home schooled for middle school and then chose to return to public high school.
Corey Cogdell from Alaska is a trap shooter who was homeschooled. In fact, many Olympic athletes are home schooled to allow for their rigorous training schedule. Corey won the Olympic bronze medal for the Women’s Trap event in 2008 and 2016. In the 2007 Pan American Games, Corey also brought home a bronze medal for the Women’s Trap event.
Dakota Root, the Fencing Champion from Las Vegas was homeschooled, earned perfect scores in reading and writing on the SAT test, and was then accepted to top schools including Stanford, Columbia, Cal-Berkeley, Brown, Penn, Duke, and Harvard. She chose Harvard and was a top student and on the elite fencing team.
What Extracurricular Activities Can Homeschoolers Do?
One of the popular arguments against homeschooling when it first began back in the 1980’s was that homeschooled children missed out on participating in extracurricular activities, special events, and team sports or clubs available through the public school system.
Thanks in part to many parents who have advocated for homeschoolers to be included in public school activities, laws in many states have changed so that homeschooled children can participate along with their peers. Even in states where public schools don’t include homeschoolers for extracurricular activities, they can participate in a number of community activities including:
- Rowing teams
- Swim Teams
- Ballet Classes
- Homeschool baseball
- Horseback riding lessons
- Archery teams
- Book clubs
- Sewing classes
- Homeschool drama clubs or community theater
- Piano lessons
- 4-H Club
- Boy or Girls Clubs
- Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts
- Music lessons
What Prepping Skills Can Be Learned?
Since the homeschool schedule is flexible as to what texts and other activities are used to teach concepts such as math, science, language, etc., homesteading and prepping skills can be used as fodder for learning. This makes homeschooling an excellent option for homesteading or prepper families.
For example, a child being taught to bake and cook from scratch will learn fractions as well as how different ingredients interact to create the final product. A child learning foraging and gardening learns how to find or grow their own food, they learn how to identify plants, and other things covered in the standard science curriculum. Learning becomes a bonding experience for parent and child. With the proper adult guidance, all of these types of homesteading chores and preparedness lessons can be turned into “school” lessons.
- Canning and other Food Preservation Methods
- Fishing and Hunting
- Animal husbandry
- Livestock Care and Maintenance
- Building projects
- Security techniques
- Endurance activities
- And many more!
The Homeschool Budget
For those who aren’t careful, homeschooling can cost a fortune. There are many companies in the homeschool market that prey on inexperienced homeschool parents. Compared to the costs of public and private school, homeschooling is a much less expensive alternative.
Before you buy anything, whether it be curriculum or materials, make sure you’ve thoroughly done your research. Many of the resources you need for a good quality homeschool program can be found for free or for very little cost. As a parent, you must make use of the free resources available whenever possible. Utilize online resources, public library resources, virtual libraries, etc. to locate the materials you need to support the homeschool curriculum you choose for your family.
How to Choose the Best Homeschooling Program
- Review and understand the homeschool program goals to ensure they fit with your own needs and goals.
- Do you agree with the principles the program is based upon?
- Who wrote the curriculum and has it been updated recently?
- Does it include hands-on learning activities?
- What portion of the time will be spent on the computer?
- Are children at different grade levels taught together or is every grade separate?
- What kind of support or network is available to parents using your curriculum?
Sometimes the Best Homeschool Program is a blended approach that meets state requirements but suits your child’s learning style best. Lessons can be in various formats including worksheets, craft or art projects, field trips, discussion questions, computer based activities, and hands on discovery activities. Look for short lessons with interactive software or multimedia . Look for a program that provides you with the flexibility to incorporate practical prepping skills and homesteading lessons into the curriculum.
When Homeschooling Goes Awry
- Your kids may experience situations where they are outsiders.
- Other people may judge your decision to homeschool and think you are crazy
- Your child may miss out on some “traditional” field trips and dances
- School is not always fun
- You don’t have free time while your kids are “at school” like other moms.
- Your privacy is very limited since kids are home all day and night.
- Friends and relatives may be quick to blame homeschooling for any of your child’s shortcomings.
- Homeschooling still takes time!
- You will have to seek out social opportunities for your kids and use them as teachable moments
- The responsibility for your child’s education is all on you!
All of these downsides to homeschooling can be alleviated with preparation and advanced planning. The only reason not to do it, is if it doesn’t suit the needs of your child. If you do your research prior to making a commitment to homeschool, you’ll find it a very rewarding experience not only for your child but for the whole family.