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Our Public School Experience

by Nancy

My children had always been in public school. I had never heard of homeschooling nor did I know any homeschoolers. Our struggles began with our middle daughter around 2nd grade. I had noticed that her reading was not even close to her classmates and she made frequent letter reversals. I was a bit concerned. Her teacher said it was normal at this age and that she would be fine. So, we went onto 3rd grade, and the problem, to me, was not improving one bit. Again we went to the teacher, who said she was fine, but I was having serious doubts.

Now onto 4th grade. It was very obvious by 4th grade she was seriously behind--at least 2 years in reading, spelling, language, and a year in math. She would go to school all day, and come home with about 2 hours of homework a night PLUS be required to read a half hour a night. Her 4th grade teacher was somewhat concerned, but didn't quite know what to do. (He did assign her a peer to help her organize her work.)

Then I saw an ad in the local paper for a tutor, and we began to have her tutored once a week. It just so happened that her tutor homeschooled her children, and I noticed this in the ad, so I asked her about it. My first reaction was "NO WAY!" But then little by little the idea sank into my head and I began researching it thoroughly. By the end of 4th grade, I had made up my mind we were going to homeschool her and her younger sister. We homeschooled the following year and it was great- we caught right up in math, and were getting better with our reading. My youngest daughter has no academic problems- she flew through the year with ease. I loved it, my kids loved it, and I got to know my kids much better.

This past year (September of 2000), my son decided he wanted to try and homeschool. Also at this time my work schedule had changed: I went from three 8-hour shifts a week to three 12-hour shifts a week. I was unsure as to how this would work with adding a high schooler to my new schedule. It didn't work, and I burnt out quickly, felt that I wasn't giving my kids a good education, and felt they would be better off in public school. I also wouldn't have the opportunity to cut down to 2 days a week until spring, so I sent the girls back. BIG MISTAKE!!!

Here is what my youngest daughter has experienced (3rd grade): She would ask to play at recess and kids would tell her "No, we hate you," kids sitting next to her called her slow and stupid all the time (she is pokey at her work, but gets it all right). She came home everyday crying because nobody would talk to her, let alone play with her, and she got called the "F" word many times on the bus. The kids also do their work in groups of four, and when Lacy joined the group, another girl told her she didn't want to be in any group my daughter was in and then asked to switch groups. Her self esteem was crushed. She has no formal English instruction or book what so ever.

Now, for my 6th grade daughter. Socially she fared much better (was accepted). However some of the things she came home with almost gave me a heart attack. kids were dating in 5th and 6th grade (parents dropping the boy/girl off alone at the bowling alley , movies). She came home crying one day because "If I don't have a boyfriend I'm a looser." Two fifth grade girls approached my daughter and her fifth grade friend and told them they were having oral s*x because they wanted to know "what making out feels like." She was also exposed to terrible language on the bus--some older high school boys were calling her a lesbian, telling her that she has s*x with her brother. Today four boys in her class were caught on the Internet in school with a either stolen or fake credit card trying to buy and sell pot. (The whole story's not out on this one yet.) The list goes on... As for academics, they also have no formal English program or books either. Tons of homework (mostly busy work-19 reports to write this month), so again she has no time to read. I will say, however, that both girls have very good teachers (I imagine they're doing the best they can with the state's mandated curriculum) and they like them a lot-especially my older daughter.

Now that the year is ending, I can say with certainty that they will not go back to public school. I was able to finally reduce my schedule to two nights per week, and that helped tremendously. I'm also getting more comfortable with homeschooling at the high school level. My girls have been through a lot this year and I have learned a valuable lesson. I have realized that the education I was giving my kids was far better than what they are getting in school. The environment in school is not good for the most part (yes there are some good kids there as well as caring teachers-more power to them!), but I now see how unhealthy it was for my kids, and how good we really had it, how happy they were at home. We are going to start homeschooling again, and will NEVER look back!!

About the author: Nancy and her husband Mark have 3 children. Eric is a 10th grader (16), Leah 6th grade (12), and Lacy is in 3rd grade (9). Nancy works part time nights as a registered nurse and Mark is a plumber. They enjoy camping, boating, church activities, and gardening.

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