I was homeschooled from the ages of 4 to 18. I was isolated and treated like an extra parent and teacher for my younger siblings. My work for the family business and around the house was underpaid or unpaid altogether. I learned more about Christian conservative politics than about core subjects like history, math, and science. I did not discover that I had learning disabilities until last year. In telling my story about educational neglect and indoctrination, I don’t want to discourage parents who are educating their children at home to provide a safe environment. There are many valid reasons to homeschool, and I can’t even speak to the educational experience of my own siblings.
For a multitude of reasons, homeschooling can be an ideal alternative form of education for children. It can help students struggling with learning in a classroom setting. Homeschooling can also offer children an escape from bullying. Learning disabilities can be better addressed when an education plan is tailored to the child. Keeping children out of crowded schools can also help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The most prominent risk on people’s minds right now is domestic terrorists targeting schools, or school shootings.
It’s important to acknowledge that my experience is unique. When I tell my own story, I am not saying this is how it is for everyone. I don’t speak for all abuse survivors, all escapees from fundamentalist religion, all homeschooled children, or even any of my siblings. Most of my siblings were partially educated outside of homeschooling. My older siblings had a few years of school before my parents married. Only two of us were 100% homeschooled K-12. The rest of our younger siblings were put in school for some time, and I don’t know the exact details about that. I can only speak to my own experience. Reading my work may lead to relatable memories or resonant emotions, but that doesn’t mean I’m making statistical claims (unless otherwise noted and cited).
I was homeschooled between 1997 and 2011. Much has changed since then, and many individuals had different educational experiences within that time frame, too. In the decade since I was declared a high school graduate, technology has improved exponentially. Many educational resources exist now that didn’t back then. Acknowledging these changes is vital to the overall discussion about homeschooling. Homeschooling itself is not the problem behind child abuse, indoctrination, or educational deprivation. These things can happen in any setting. While some guardians may use homeschooling as an excuse to conceal signs of abuse, others may do just the opposite, providing a respite from bullying and abuse.
My aim in telling my story is not to attack homeschooling itself, but to bring attention to the dangers of a very specific brand of fundamentalism: Christian conservatism. This subculture moralizes, justifies, and conceals abuse from outside accountability. It declares that patriarchy and racism are the natural order, while refusing to acknowledge that hurting children is abusive. Child abuse is in fact demanded, and abstaining from child abuse is frowned upon. These people are not interested in making home a safe place to be for their kids. They are more concerned with indoctrination than education.
Parents might find my site while searching for answers to questions about how homeschooling works out in the end. Is it possible to give your own children a thorough, well-rounded education? If you’re doubting your own capacity, you are already demonstrating that you don’t have the hubris of people like my parents. There are options, like online resources and virtual tutoring, to help you provide a good education. It’s also possible to avoid isolating your children in other ways like with extracurricular activities, sports, and non-religious clubs.
Homeschooling is a very broad term. Every student has a different experience with education, even if they attend the same school or are in the same family. There are many valid reasons to homeschool, and providing a safe environment is certainly one of them. I write about my own upbringing because there are many parents who keep their kids out of school for the wrong reasons. While some parents homeschool with an agenda for Christian conservative indoctrination, not all homeschooling parents are alike. I am working on more in-depth research about what I wish I’d had access to as a homeschool student, and what I think parents should know who are considering homeschooling. New articles on these topics will be posted here soon.
Side note: I’ve been getting questions about when my new site will launch. The beta site is here, and the fundraiser to help get the site launched, along with getting my name legally changed, is here. I hope I can stop using my deadname soon! Thank you all for your support!