Don’t Homeschool for the Wrong Reasons

Human beings are complicated. We do things for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we understand our motivations, other times we are clueless and often we think we understand but are only misleading ourselves.

Starting, or continuing to homeschool is no exception. My own journey began when one of our daughters became increasingly sad and fragile as she moved from kindergarten to first and then to second grade. Her automatic response to anything new became, “I can’t do that.”

At the time, homeschooling was not as well known as it is today. I was familiar with it only from boating magazines which had an annual issue about kids on boats. I knew that if we were circumnavigating the globe I could teach my children, but I had no idea that parents were doing so in the middle of populated areas.

In those pre-computer days, I sat down with a stack of postcards and wrote to the advertisers in those issues of the boating magazines. I went to our main regional library and looked in the card catalog. (I feel like I will soon be telling you how we managed during the Civil War.) There were two books on the topic, both the stories of individual families. While neither book mirrored our life in the slightest, they were inspiring and made me realize that keeping R. home was possible. Since I felt that, at that point, each day of school was a negative, it seemed to be a good idea.

This means that I started homeschooling, like so many people, for a negative reason. A lot of us do. Kids are bullied and bored, there seem to be more tests than teaching, private schools are expensive and a host of other negatives have parents pulling their children from class. Those are very valid reasons to approach homeschooling, but I hope that you, like me, switch very quickly from negative motivation to positive.

After  a while, my husband and I found that we were homeschooling not to avoid a negative but for many positive reasons. That led us to remove our other older children from school and never enroll our younger ones. We found that (most of the time) we loved having extended family time, we loved teaching what mattered to us and integrating learning into our real lives. We were ecstatic about not having to help with homework that made no sense to us, we relished being in control of our time and the list went on and on.

Today, homeschooling is mainstream and a lot of parents opt for it for the many wonderful benefits it brings. If you are one of those parents who never thought about homeschooling until you could no longer ignore a problem, I encourage you to approach it with enthusiasm and joy until you forget, as we did, that this wasn’t how you thought things would be.

P.S. There are hundreds of wonderful books on the market now. I can’t currently find one of the books I found years ago, but the first one was:

Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax


6 thoughts on “Don’t Homeschool for the Wrong Reasons”

  1. Priscilla Longworth

    This is so wonderful!! Please, please, please keep the homeschooling articles coming. There is such a huge amount of information available for homeschooling parents. But there is not much available from a Jewish perspective. As a homeschooling mother raising my children in a religious Jewish home, I often feel alone. Much of available homeschooling information is geared toward religious Christian homes. What I can find from a Jewish perspective tends to be secular. I am so excited to have discovered these articles!

    1. I very much appreciate your words, Priscilla. Our family got so much from homeschooling and I would be thrilled to be a resource for others.

      1. I’m a Christian and just discovered Daniel Lapin. Do you have anything on the role of a wife. My children are teens now and as well as keeping the home I volunteer at church to help the disabled and broken women. I wonder if I should be working?

        1. Hi Janine, I’m glad you found us. May I suggest that you browse our “Ask the Rabbi” column, which my husband and I work on together. I did a quick search for the term ‘working women’ and quite a few posts popped up. You could try ‘wife’ ‘marriage’ and ‘mothers’ as well. We have written much about the work/family balance as well as having discussed it on many of our TV shows on Ancient Jewish Wisdom.
          I hope this gives you a good start.

  2. To those who think parents aren’t competent to teach their own children I ask who will care more about these children and their education than their own parents?
    Also, are these parents themselves educated— can they add, multiply, use math, speak, write, read; do they know anything about the world and know practical skills that are used to function from day to day? With all due respect to teachers in the public schools, I know the curriculum there leaves much to be desired for preparing students for their.futures. Much of it is more for indoctrinating them into a particular ideology and for an agenda not for their good but for some someone else’s purpose, not for their benefit. Our Creator gave parents their children for them to raise, not to turn them over to others to do with as the others please. Be encouraged, parents; you can do it!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Well said, Judith,
      I know that Susan and I agree with you. Many more parents could competently homeschool than believe they could. We are always shocked by the misplaced confidence with which so many parents put their most precious possessions on the yellow bus each morning to spend the better part of the day at a G.I.C. (Government Indoctrination Camp). Sad. I hope many people will be encouraged by your uplifting words.

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