Friday, July 11, 2014


I’m sure this blog is going to ruffle some feathers. It won’t be the first time, nor the last. But those that have the stomach to read all the way to the end of this blog may actually forgive me. We’ll see.

Here it goes. In general, I’m not a big fan of homeschooling. Right now, I’m sure several peoples’ blood pressures just rose. Before you start to type a reply on all the values of homeschooling or the negative aspects of public schools, hear me out.

Although I was born in Wyoming, I grew up in Utah. My family moved to Orem when I was six. I lived in Utah until I was nineteen. I attended public school.

After graduating from BYU (which is in Utah), I started my TV production career. I worked my way up until I got a job in the NYC market. We lived in Connecticut.

Within a very short period of time, I realized that I had to work with people from all sorts of backgrounds and belief systems. It was a struggle. My experience with such a diverse cultural base was limited, and it caused a lot of problems.

What does this have to do with homeschooling?

It is my opinion that school experiences consist of more than academic learning. There is also social education involved.

While studying at BYU to become a TV director, we had a producer who couldn’t get along with anyone. One day, this producer and fellow director of mine got into an argument. What the disagreement was about isn’t important. What I do remember vividly is something the director told the producer. He said, “You know what your problem is? Because you were homeschooled, you missed out on a four year program that teaches you social skills. It’s called high school!”

“But! But! But!” People maybe saying right now. “YOU went to public school and still you had problems when you moved to the east coast.”

My response: Yup. You see, where I grew up in Utah, there was a very dominant culture influenced by my religion. That’s not unique to Utah. It’s true of many places over the world. Because I associated with only people who generally shared my same beliefs, I never learned how to deal (and work) with people who had radically different lifestyles.

Please understand, I’m not saying that public schools are perfect. In some ways, homeschooling has several advantages. In theory, homeschool students get better one-on-one attention. They are able to work at a pace that is suited for them—one not dictated by the whole class. There is a lot more flexibility in schedules for things like doctor appointments or field trips. Like I stated, good stuff.

My biggest concern for homeschooling is those parents who elect to keep their children home to protect them from the evils of the world. I think that’s great in theory but doesn’t work in practice.

I love my four daughters, and I do all I can to keep them safe. I never would intentionally harm them. At the same time, I understand that there is only so much I, as a parent, can do to teach them. There is no substitute for experience and learning from those experiences.

Yes, high school can be a rough place. There is a lot of bad language. There are drugs. There are teachers who don’t care. There are students that don’t care. In a lot of ways, it’s like the world in general. And that’s my point.

Sooner or later, children grow up and have to move on. Much of the time, they go out into the world for any number of reasons. If a person has never had any exposure to the “evil” elements of the world, it has been my observation that these folks missed out on gaining coping skills and they are then given a crash course whether they want it or not.

Warning: religious belief paragraph ahead!

I believe that our Heavenly Father sent us to Earth to get experiences because that was really the only way we could progress as individuals. He knew it would be hard. He knew there were bad things that could happen. But He also sent us help, and He is there for us. We can talk to Him at any time.

For those who choose to homeschool your children: that’s your choice. Just as it is my choice to send my kids to public school.

Still, I implore homeschool parents: please include social interaction as part of the curriculum, especially with those individuals who may be different than you. 

NOTE: these are my opinions, and you are free to disagree. However, to keep trolls off my blog, I monitor all comments before they show up below. Thanks! 


  1. When we started homeschooling our kids, I had two big concerns: socialization and how the heck were my kids going to qualify for college. All I knew was that we felt spiritually prompted that that was what we needed to do. As the years have rolled by, in the case of my kids at least, neither of those concerns amounted to anything. My oldest three have all been accepted to good universities without a high school diploma and even been offered scholarships. They've also integrated well into society proving themselves to have great people skills. Part of it might be their personalities or that we didn't 'just' homeschool but had them take a few classes in the public school (like band, choir, and some sports). I am a huge advocate of homeschooling now because even during those awkward teenage years and now into adulthood, they have always remained my kids and we've maintained healthy relationships with them. My theory is that it is because they stayed attached to the family group instead of breaking away to join a peer group which, let's face it, is not the best training for social skills.

    Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts. I hope I don't sound angry; my feathers are not ruffled. I just mainly want to say that everyone is different. From my observations, it's not homeschooling that creates poor social skills. I could go on but I'll stop there. Ultimately, though, I believe everyone needs to 'homeschool' themselves if they want to achieve success in life. We must somehow learn self-motivation to crack open the books and go above and beyond what school or society tells us is necessary. Life is a learning process that doesn't end with a diploma.

    Just my two bits. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Berin,

      Based on what you told me here, you "get" it. Sometimes homeschooling is the right choice--I don't deny that. My overall concern is that we are told to "be in the world, but not of the world." I fear that in trying to protect their children, some parents forget the first part of that instruction.

  2. Lloyd,

    Good article that raises legitimate questions.

    As you know, we homeschool. I respect your thoughts and opinions, as you know, and you didn't ruffle my feathers.

    Like Berin, I have to say that it has been my experience, for the most part, that homeschool children have no more problems with socialization than children who attend public schools. My children certainly haven't. They've been fully involved in large and small homeschool groups with kids from diverse backgrounds. They've also been, "out in the world." The older children have all done service at homeless shelters and have seen first hand the effects that drugs and alcohol can have on people. They've also been involved with community choirs and orchestras as well as other activities. Additionally, we continually have both public and national policy discussions. I'd pit one of my kids any day of the week, including the younger ones, against anyone to talk of current issues of the day.

    As far as being sheltered, I grant you that they don't necessarily have the same experience as kid is a public school. Neither do they have to put up with all the garbage that goes on there. They also have a multitude of advantages that public school kids don't have, which you pointed out.

    1) We have the flexibility of choosing our own curriculum materials. Because each child learns differently, we can adapt a course to each child to help them learn in the way that will best benefit them. That will never happen in a public school, especially now with Common Core being forced into the system.

    2) They have the flexibility of going at their own pace, as you pointed out. Because of that, my children are a year or two ahead of their peers in nearly every subject, if not all. Our oldest is graduating a year early and going to college this fall.

    3) Because of the flexibility that comes with homeschooling, the world is my children's classroom. When we lived in England and studied English history, my children not only read about places, they were able to go and visit them. We've been to Fountains Abbey, part of which serves as your blog background photo, multiple times, as well as many other historical sites. We've been able to do the same here in the states. When studying the civil war, we took our kids to Gettysburg and other civil war sites. When they were studying the US space program, we took them to the Smithsonian. We can go on a field trip at the drop of a hat if we want to. Kids in public school today are lucky if they get to go on a field trip anywhere.

    3) With the flexibility homeschool offers, our kids can go hiking and biking and spend time in nature as part of their curriculum.

    4) Because we have control of the curriculum, we can ensure that our children are learning and understanding our Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers, rather than revisionist historians, which is far to common in public school today.

    I could go on, but you understand where I'm coming from. Homeschooling is not for everyone. I can understand that, just as I'm sure you can understand that public school is not for everyone. Homeschooling is a tremendous amount of work. Kimberly has spent literally thousands of hours reviewing materials, planning lessons, grading papers, etc. If we could go back in time, however, knowing what we know now, with the choice to either have our kids go to public or to homeschool, we'd make the same choice again, hands down.

    Just my two cents!

    1. Thanks for the insight! We basically agree on my major concern: having a social aspect to the homeschooling experience.

  3. Hi Jason,

    Your post reminded me of this by Matt Walsh:

    Our family does a mix of homeschooling and public schooling depending on the student and the year and the situation. It is all about the education they are receiving or not receiving, or to adjust for individual needs. But I will say that if you looked into homeschooling a bit, you'd find that most homeschoolers are actually very social in groups and outings and classroom co-ops. So maybe you are holding a misconception there. My son made dozens of new friends from all over the area -- all of whom seemed normal and well-adjusted. Having had kids in both public and homeschool environments (our oldest is going back to public for 8th grade after being home for 7th, and two others will homeschool next year), I can tell you there is nothing lost by not sitting in a public classroom all day. If you are interested in learning more about homeschool, there are great conferences, lots of books, groups, or you could interview a bunch of homeschooled kids. I think you'd find that they are just as much "in the world, but not of the world" (sports, neighborhood friends, lots of field trips, positive interactions with adults, extracurricular activities, etc.) but just enjoying a customized education. Hey, it might make for a great fictional character! Thanks for letting me comment on your post!

  4. Thanks for the insight! To be fair, all three posts here in support of home school in certain situations are in agreement with my basic premise: school needs to include a social aspect.

    Like Berin and Randy, it sounds like you've found success in using homeschool in an effective way. Each of you have specific, personal experiences that say that yes, homeschooling and social development can be done successfully. That's awesome.

    To that point, I have had specific examples (as a student, manager and co-worker) of how homeschooling has gone terribly wrong. In each of those cases, the parents tried to shelter their kids and, in my opinion, over did it. The end result was individuals who simply had no experience with people that didn't share their exact same beliefs / culture / and/or race.

  5. Boy, Jason, did you kick a hornet's nest or what? But as you can see, those of us who have chosen the homeschooling life are very pleased with the results. But you are right, it has to be done correctly. Homeschooling is big in Alaska and is often abused. I knew of some parents who would just leave for work and tell their kids, "Read something while I'm gone." To be done right, homeschooling takes a lot of work. At the same time, I think any conscientious parent who puts their child in public school should do the same thing. As parents, it is our job to be involved in our children's education and not just toss them to other people and say, "Here, you take care of it."

    You are correct that homeschool parents (and public school parents, as far as I am concerned) need to make sure there is proper socializing opportunities for their children to learn in. Unfortunately, we live in a world where some very vulgar things are put in front of our kids. When they are 6 or 7 and hearing these things on the playground, they don't know how to deal with it. It is like throwing a soldier out into a battle with no training, weapons, or armor. Before throwing our children out into this world, they need to be prepared and armed; to know what's right and wrong and to know what their values are. When we kept our kids out of elementary school, yeah, they were a little naive at first, but we slowly integrated them into junior high (to participate in band) and then had them continue into high school. By this time, they were firm in their values and could spot the herd mentality that is prevalent in the social circles there. They managed to hold on to their own interests as they became acquainted with new people and were an influence for good to them.

    Anyway, this is a good discussion. Thanks for bringing it up, Jason.

    1. Berin,

      Thanks for the added insight. I’m glad that you’ve found a way to start to integrate your children in a public class setting as they get older.

      Why do I think that is important? Again, I’m going off of my experiences, which I’m sure will differ from others.

      I’ve worked with students who were homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. They never stepped into a “traditional” classroom. And then they went to college. Since they didn’t have any experience of learning along with a bigger class, many of them really struggled. Their grades were lower than they expected, but more importantly, their learning experience suffered.

      I’m certain some people will say, “But that won’t / didn’t / can’t happen to my kid!” My response? I’m sure the student who I described above had parents that felt the same way.

      NOTE: not every homeschooled student was this way, but from my experience, it happened more often than not.

      I guess I’m saying that it is human nature, in general, to struggle when put into unfamiliar situations. Again, in general—I’m sure there are specifics that aren’t that way, but that won’t persuade me to think my basic theory is wrong. Therefore, if we want our kids to do well in college, or “the real world,” we need to help prepare them for things they will experience.

  6. Just so I'm clear, I do agree with you. I guess I just wanted to resolve your concerns about the socialization aspect of homeschoolers. No matter what educational vehicle is used, though, parents need to make sure they are preparing their children for a successful future. That, I believe, is the main key. I've seen various students in both camps be successes and failures.

    Just one last point about preparing for college: there are now a lot of stats out there showing that homeschooled kids, on average, outperform their public school counterparts in college. Just Googling 'homeschoolers in college' brought up several articles about this.

    The one huge advantage public school has over homeschooling, though, is the teachers. Every student is different, but being in a school with several different types of teachers increases the chance that they will find the teacher who inspires them. I know, as a product of public school, I had several teachers who fired up my imagination and sent my life on a course for the better. I've loved homeschooling my kids, but that is the one thing that I can't always do.