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September 21st, 2010
11:05 AM ET

Less families homeschooling primarily for religious reasons

Editor's Note: CNN Correspondent Carol Costello and Producer Bob Ruff bring us this report about home schooling from Oklahoma.

“Isabelle, you're next. What card do you need to add to 10 to get what?"

Grade schooler Isabelle Hannon is learning how to add and subtract, but not in a classroom. She’s outdoors at a beautiful Stillwater, Oklahoma park. She and her sister, Alyssa, are being taught not by a professional teacher but by their mom. And they’re not alone. The Franklin kids are there, too, along with their mom and dad who are also teaching math and science.

Welcome to homeschooling 2010. It’s no longer a solitary exercise for many parents– it’s communal. Many families are now sharing ideas about teaching and taking turns as teachers. In effect, they’re creating their own “shadow schools.”


Pascha Franklin says her kids are thriving and so is she. “When your kids are saying, “I want to do this,” and it's some kind of lesson, you smile because you're like, yes! They like learning!”

Franklin isn’t the only parent jazzed about homeschooling. According to the US Department of Education , 1.5 million children are taught by Mom and Dad. That’s up 74% since 1999.

Studies used to show that most parents decided to homeschool for religious reasons, but that’s not the case anymore. In a 2008 study, 36% of families listed religious and moral values as the main reason for homeschooling. But, another 38% said the primary reason they homeschool is because they don’t like the school environment or the way teachers teach—those numbers are also way up from a few years ago.

Just ask the Sobrals, who are homeschooling their five children. For them, “one size fits all” education just doesn’t cut it anymore. “What we've learned now is that it's unnatural fitting 20 children in a room and learning from one teacher, on the same schedule, on the exact same material in the same way,” says Courtney Sobral.

The Sobral kids each have their own interests and learn in different ways. Sobral says since she’s the teacher, she can experiment with teaching techniques to see what works best.

Her husband, Alex, says that’s not always possible in public schools. “You’re taught that you have to go to A, B, and C…and if you’re not excelling here and there, there must be something wrong with you.”

Parents also say it’s easier now to homeschool because there are so many resources available on the internet. For the Sobrals, it’s a for-profit Christian-based company called “Classical Conversations” , a curriculum that “combines classical learning—grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric” with a “biblical worldview.”

The Stillwater parents get guidance from the Home Educators Resource Organization of Oklahoma a non-profit network of support groups and families.

Other parents go with companies like K12 , another for-profit group that says it has contracts with 25 states to provide 70,000 students with a full curriculum, along with “a state-certified teacher” assigned to each student.

Still, taking over your child’s education isn’t easy.

Laura Brodie wrote “Love in the Time of Homeschooling” after homeschooling her daughter for one year. "I had a lot of success, but also a lot of fights and power struggles (with her daughter),” she says. “I didn’t find homeschooling books anywhere that were talking about that. They talked about the advantages of homeschooling, but not so much about the bad days.”

Brodie adds that homeschooling can be exhausting. It’s a 24/7 job. “You have to care deeply about your child’s education and well-being to want to spend all of that time with them, and want to find the best avenues for them. And you have to know your child deeply for you to understand what sort of education they need.”

So, is homeschooling for everyone? “No,” says Brodie. “It can be a wonderful option for some families,” but not for those “where the parents have to work full time and can’t fit homeschooling into that schedule...Parents have to make sure it’s something they want to do and get excited about, and I think a child should be willing.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Education • United States

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Angela C

    Wow David, you're quite the character lol... Do you do stand up? Those people are always great at poking fun at others. :/

    September 21, 2010 at 9:23 pm |
    • Homeschool Vet

      Just look around, there are fruitcakes in Public School & Private School–they move into homeschooling to hide their nutty ways allowing the media to lump all homeschoolers after their kind.

      September 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  2. Lynn Ferrara Penachio

    Mom of 4 also.
    I have to agree with this last post. Home Education is one of the best gifts you can give to your kids and your family. Kids need to spend time with their parents. The home educators give that to their kids and others freely. Dad's and Mom's have volunteered in Div 1 and 2 sports, in science, math, ancient civilizations, anything the kids want to learn. Three out of four of my children have valued their experience and excel in life's journeys. One has graduated college, two are in college, and one holds down a full time job. Colleges find youngsters that have been home educated are easily taught, have great communication skills, and are amicable leaders of our future generations. It's a great experience. They don't ever stop learning, just like Terry Bittner just said, when they pass up their parents in a subject they track down their own mentors, find books to study more from, make their own field trips and educational journey's. It's not limited to a classroom with home education. The world is your class room. Mine are lifetime learners who were tested and ready to graduate high school in the 8th grade. I'm glad I did it and so are my kids. There were many support groups to get involved with any topic of interest. Curriculum fairs are a blast. You the parent get and make only the best choices because the books are right in front of you first. Between that and all of the hands-on products, there is no way you can fail.
    A Homeschooling Veteran of 17 years.

    September 21, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  3. Terrie Lynn Bittner

    Mom_of_4, you made a common mistake in thinking your children can only learn what you personally know. This is the result of having been educated in schools where your head was opened up and knowledge dumped in with little effort on your part. My goal, as a homeschooling parent, was to teach my children to be self-educated throughout their lives. That means they had to learn how to teach themselves things so they could always be learning, even when school was not an option. When they passed me up, they tracked down their own mentors, bought books to study, or researched online, in museums, and through experimentation to learn what they needed to know.

    The children were able to learn at their own pace and they struggled with nothing because they simply studied something until it was mastered. There was no randomly chosen pace. They weren't trying to keep up and they weren't slowed down by other students. Two of my three are now in college and one is the wife of a soldier and a mom.

    I taught them in their early years but gradually gave them more responsibility. Often I heard, "I think I'll do that chapter again. I don't know it well enough." "I'm going to write a paper on this so I can think it through better." Today, if they want to know something, they know how to learn it. My parents taught me to do this and right now, I'm teaching myself algebra and Near Eastern culture. When I was asked to create an ESL program despite a lack of knowledge, I simply researched until I knew how. Self-sufficiency is a cornerstone of a good life, and self-education is part of that.

    Concerning the lack of honest information: Today, there are books that explain the challenges parents will face. My own book has an entire chapter just on that, and I discuss them in depth throughout other chapters. However, it's true that in the earlier days, the books were more upbeat.

    September 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  4. Rocky

    Every homeschooled kid is another David Koresh in waiting. It should be outlawed outright.

    September 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
    • Homeschool mom/college grad

      Sir, how many homeschooled children do you know? Many people (and media) make broad statements like this when they know few, if any, homeschoolers. Personally, I thought they were all overly religious moms in denim skirts and kids who couldn't even look at (let alone speak to) an adult. Then I met some actual homeschoolers. The teenagers in my co-op are some of the politest, most mature teens I have ever known. Sure, one of them might turn out to be David Koresh, but he would've been that way without homeschooling, too. The government schools teach no moral foundation - the courts won't let them. In homeschooling, the vast majority of us are raising model citizens who will someday be members of Congress, maybe even the President. They know how to think and how to lead others. Please seek out your local homeschool group and meet some real people before spouting off more nonsense.

      September 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Homeschool Vet

      Rocky said [Every homeschooled kid is another David Koresh in waiting. It should be outlawed outright.]

      YEAH! Oh wait.......David Koresh is a public school drop out –he quit during his junior year in high school, b/c he was illiterate and had dyslexia. Wonder if the outcome would have been different had his dyslexia been addressed by homeschooling?

      September 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Chele

      Koresh went to public school.

      From wikipedia:
      A poor student who was illiterate and diagnosed with dyslexia, Koresh dropped out of Garland High School in his junior year.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Koresh

      September 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • Tanya :)

      Ignorant.

      September 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  5. Home and more

    Home education does take time and commitment;however, it is doable and effective. Statistical studies have proven it, I have witnessed many other families with chidren have success, and most of all we have graduated four home schooled students with more to go. All have not been easy to educate with dyslexia of varying dgrees, but all have mastered their lessons well, which is proven by high college GPA, garnering awards, and even succes following college.

    Did we do it for education success, no, it mainly was for religious reasons, but would I tell an official or a reporter that? No, often they do not understand our reasoning so why bother. Suceess does happen and most university professors have quizzed my children how they are able to do so well, and almost always they answer, "My mom taught me how to learn," or some similar version.

    Our schooling model has large amounts of verbal mememorization in the early years, then followed by workbooks in the middle years,, and finally finishing off with intense study and testing in high school The other day a public school mom told me she was worried that her 4 year old was so far behind because a school official told her that her daughter could not color. Many of mine did not color or even like to, so we were able to concetrate on fine motor skills in other ways.

    Schools need to get back to not worrying about what younger children can put on paper and get busy with teaching children to learn. Save testing for much later and when they are capable. Interested in home education, the internet is loaded with help. Get started, today.

    September 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  6. pete

    @david johnson
    i feel bad for your kids and you. im sorry =(

    September 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
    • David Johnson

      It's okay Pete. The kids were born with original sin. Sometimes I can barely stand to look at them.

      September 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • peace2all

      @David Johnson

      LOL...!!!! Beers and Beethoven..... going on a little early in the Johnson house today ...? 🙂

      Peace....

      September 21, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
    • Critter

      @David Johsnon

      my ass jest fell off again...LOL

      September 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  7. Mom_of_4

    I admire the expertise and devotion of home-schooling parents... many of the kids turn out well.

    Each of my 4 children asked at one time or another, "Why can't *you* just teach me at home... I hate school." If I had done it, it would not have been for religious reasons. It would only have been if I could have done a better job.

    I just didn't have the expertise or resources to tackle it. I did volunteer in all of their classrooms and in the school library (even tho' I didn't much like it... the kids did, and it let them know how interested I was in their education), and did lots of supplementary home-education with homework and general love of learning. We were lucky to have good schools and fine teachers, and there is no way I could have done a better job. 2 of mine were gifted in Math - I am not - so I would have never been able to instruct them up to their capabilities. The other 2 struggled in Math - I wouldn't have been able to help them much either.

    Public education turned out well for us... but to each his own.

    September 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  8. Patty

    I removed my children from public school because of the following reasons: student bullies allowed to run rampant and even protected by the staff; material taught by many of the teachers either dummed down or rated PG-17; students required to memorize part of the doctrine of Islam. Public school is touted as excellent and free, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The cost to our pocketbooks is about $100 per child per year. The cost to our children, our families, our societal fabric is too much to bear. I am preparing my children for whatever they want to do in the future. They deserve better than the lowest standard that is being taught in the bully, clique and gang environment that is presented as public school !

    September 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
    • Hahahahaha

      They had to memorize the actual doctrines of Islam? God forbid your children should actually know about what the rest of the world believes in. I bet you taught them that Muslims worship the devil or the moon or something and you can't bear for your kids to know the truth.

      September 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  9. Peter F

    FEWER! FEWER families homeschooling... Good grief.

    September 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  10. scottyboy

    @frogist...well to do?! come on man! it ain't that way in alabamy!!! btw local school boards have little local control...they are run top down by state mandates, and soon by federal mandates.
    @johnquest...you fell for the socialization argument?! come on man!

    September 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  11. Hannah

    Homeschooling is not a luxury. Two cars, cable tv, vacations, eating out: those are luxuries.
    Home educating ones children definitely involves the beauty of sacrifice but our lives are so much more the richer for taking it on.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Your kids go around in sackcloth and ashes?

      September 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  12. victim of homeschooling # 48327647832

    @David Johnson

    *strained laugh* you ARE kidding, i hope?

    September 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Sister! I am serious. My 6 children are out of bed by 4:00AM and on their knees by 4:05AM.
      We start our prayer session asking Jesus to forgive us for any sins we may have committed while we were asleep.
      We end the session begging Jesus to come back and burn those atheists and non-Christians for ever and ever.
      Little Mary is so cute. she holds her little hand out like she is setting an atheist on fire!

      The children eat, and then its our favorite time of the day! We take turns reading the King James!

      We alternate reading the bible and praying all day.

      On Wednesdays, we re-enact a story from the bible. Last Wednesday, my wife was Lot's wife. We really pelted her with salt, when she defied god and looked back. LOL. Some got in her eyes and everything. The children really learned to obey god!

      September 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
    • peace2all

      @David Johnson

      Say it brother....... Do I get an amen...!!! 🙂

      Peace.....

      September 21, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
    • Critter

      @David Johnson

      jest cacklin to beat heII.... XD

      September 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
    • Raina

      Don't feed the troll.

      September 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Kimberly

    Homeschooling CAN be done by working parents. I know families where both parents work outside the home and they homeschool. Oftentimes high schoolers, for instance, pretty much homeschool themselves 🙂
    Personally, I run multiple home businesses and my husband works two jobs and we homeschool. It also isn't all that expensive. Sure, you *could* spend thousands of dollars on curricula, or you could spend hundreds like we do, or spend nothing at all and use completely free online resources.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Jenna

      I agree, we are below the middle class line financially but we home-school. I do medical transcription from home at night and he works full time during the day. It is all about time management and being willing to make a sacrifice of personal time. I know some families who home-school in the evening because they both have day jobs. You do what you have to do to see to it your child has a good education, an education the public school system rarely provides these days!

      September 22, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  14. JohnQuest

    The only reason I decided not to home school is the lack of interaction with others. Since we do not live in a vacuum, how do you teach kids how to interact with others, their peers, other cultures, people in authority, I came to the conclusion that no matter how well I teach and how much "book learning" they get, the only way for my children to learn how to interact with others is by interacting with others.

    September 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Kimberly

      Ah but JohnQuest, those children who go to school ONLY interact with children their exact same age and one or a few teachers. For homeschoolers, the whole, "real" world is their school 🙂 My children interact with MANY different age groups, especially because it only takes a few hours a day to work on "school work" and the rest is spent exploring their interests, talents, extracurricular activities, and engaging in volunteer work in the community. They spend time with everyone from babies to their elders.
      I also think it's pretty funny when people play the socialization card as a reason not to homeschool. How many times did you hear a teacher say "now Johnny, school isn't for socializing"?! School is for learning. Socializing and interacting with others happens in the real world.

      September 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • Laura M

      You choose how your kids are socialized. Join a group, go to church. Both are kids are black belts and that took 4 days a week for over to years with lots of other children. My daughter dances and now teaches dance. You as the parent just need to be willing to be very involved and very busy.

      September 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      One problem I had, was that the kids would be made fun of when they went out. We had taught them to use thee and thou, just like Jesus. People laughed at them. But my kids would just damn them to hell.

      September 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jenna

      You are so wrong about the lack of interaction! Homeschooled children are often BETTER socialized than school age kids. We have homeschool co-ops, groups, play groups and do our best to provide our children with various other social activities like church, parks and other extracurricular activities. The difference between your kids and mine is that I KNOW the kids & adults my children are around PERSONALLY, I don't send my kids off with strangers everyday. But my kids do have daily socialization opportunities and in the end they don't come home saying bad words they learned from other kids or showing off the bad behavior they learned from those same kids. I have the say so in who my kids play with during a time when they are so impressionable. Because of such I have children who are well behaved, say please/thank you, yes maam/no maam , can sit quietly in a restaurant AND play well with others.

      September 22, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • Tanya :)

      @ David Johnson... "thee" and "thou" – Are you serious? "Just like Jesus?" Are you serious? Jesus didn't speak in King James English... Wait... Is this a joke? I really hope this is joke.

      And as for the "socialization" argument... Please... I've definitely met some some homeschooled kids who are a bit socially inept, but I bet you could tell me about a few kids from your time in public school who just didn't pick up on social cues too.

      I'm a 30-year-old homeschool graduate, BA and MA degree holder. People are shocked when they find out I was homeschooled, because I'm so "normal" and "outgoing." If you folks knew more of us, you'd see that we ARE the norm not the exception. I bet you do know more of us. You just can't tell. 😉

      September 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • jillbilly

      @David Johnson: Jesus spoke Aramaic – Where can we reach you, so that you may teach our children a dead language, too?! What a valuable resource you will be to us in the cult of homeschooling! Methinks you poke fun, sir. Homeschoolers know fun when we see it.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • Cheryl B

      JohnQuest your thoughts are not unusual. Before I make my point I would like to apologize for my brothers and sisters who have not addressed them appropriately.

      Mr. John, there are a number of socializing opportunities in the homeschooling communities such as cooperative learning (can be anything. For example art, drama, history, PE and sciences), park days, organized field trips, and plain old fashion "play dates." The beautiful thing about how we socialize is that it is done as a family. This makes my best friends' children my children's best friends. We don't have to worry about bullying, drugs or violence. It is often described by moms as a sisterhood.

      A thought for your meditation would be, what is it that you are hoping your children will gain from socializing during public school recesses?

      October 25, 2010 at 12:12 am |
  15. Frogist

    If anything this is proof that the economy is doing just fine for some folks. Let's face it, this is a luxury. I'm glad these people have that but the rest of us just could never afford it. Also I understand that people are worried about crime in schools, overcrowding, not having the facilities or the teach staff that they would like. But it bothers me that these economically well to do people instead of getting involved with their local school board and trying to work out these problems decide it's better to abandon their neighborhood schools leaving the situation to just get worse.

    September 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
    • VinceRN

      It's really not all that expensive. We are spending only a few hundred a year. For our family parenting has always required that one of us e home, so we don;t both work at the same time, but we planned our life around that from the start. I guess it's a matter of priorities, I have found it funny a couple of times when people with new cars, big screen TVs and such say they can't afford to live like we do, not using day care and always having one of us available for the kids.

      September 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
    • hs'ing mama

      Homeschooling is hardly a luxury for the well-to-do. We have sacrificed a second income, second vehicle, cable television, and many other luxuries just so that I can stay home to educate my children. We use secondhand resources, shop at thrift stores and yard sales, and graciously accept hand-me-down furniture and household items. In my opinion, sending your child to public school - so that Mom can go to work and afford the payments on two SUV's, a big house, cell phones for the whole family, etc - is a luxury. A home-educating lifestyle is, by its very nature, one of sacrifice, personally AND economically. And one I'm proud to live.

      September 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • Laura M

      Well to do? We gave up half our income when the kids were born and I decided to stay home. We don't eat out, don't own new vehicles, buy used clothing, do home hair cuts, buy in bulk ...it can be done. Your prejudice is showing.

      September 21, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • David Johnson

      We considered putting our kids in Catholic School. Then we decided, maybe we shouldn't...

      September 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
    • KimGinAZ

      We have been living on one income for nine years since we've been married. My husband is amazing and has three businesses but due to the economy, we have burned through three savings accounts and may lose our home in a few months. As I start to panic about finances, my husband assures me that God has called us to home educate and He will provide. Even if we live with my parents or in our van, which they gave us, we'd rather home educate than put them in government school because I've had to go back to work. For us, besides God, our family is #1 in life and we live it out that way. Their curriculum only costs a few hundred dollars each year and it's less than $200/month for all our other activities like plays, PE, horseback riding lessons, art and science classes at our local science center. We put our money into what we value. And it's not a vacation home, a new car, or furniture. Yes, it would be nice to have an extra $50-75k that I could bring in each year. But in the end, it's not worth it to us as a family. And I know LOTS of families who make less than $25k/year here in Arizona who still choose to home educate and not have Mommy go out to work. Peace & Grace.

      September 22, 2010 at 12:44 am |
    • Suzy

      My parents homeschooled my two siblings and I through high school. My parents made the adjustments necessary to live on one income, it was not always easy. We never had fancy cars, the latest fashions or gaming systems. We did not go on fancy vacations. Instead we would take rode trips across the US, visiting historical landmarks combining fun with learning.

      We can fight for fixing the educational system even though we are not using it, why put your kids in a failing system and risk their well-being and education. Parents who choose not to put their children in government run schools are not abandoning government schools, they want their children to have the best education possible and for some that means homeschooling. When a parent chooses private schools over government run schools they are not looked at as abandoning government run schools, so why are homeschoolers labeled that way? Each parent has the right to direct their child's education, whether that be government run schools, private schools or homeschooling.

      I am looking forward to homeschooling my own children some day, I will be a second generation homeschooler!

      September 22, 2010 at 7:19 am |
    • Lorena

      I'm a writer, a single (divorced) parent who works from home and homeschools my only child, so homeschooling isn't just for well-to-do, elite folks.

      September 22, 2010 at 8:11 am |
    • Jenna

      I think you are seriously jumping to conclusions about a homeschooling families financial well being. My family does not even fall into the middle class category yet we home-school and home-school well. We gave up a room in our house to dedicate to schooling, a room we used to sleep in. We sacrifice certain luxuries, we also don't have to pay for school lunches/breakfasts, school fundraisers, book drives or any of the other little extras you have to pay throughout the year. And a lot of home-school mothers get training to work from home, I myself do medical transcription. I honestly believe homeschooling can be done no matter what your pocketbook. You don't have to purchase expensive curriculum. In fact there are online schools which offer FREE curriculum and education. I have to make my own curriculum because my daughter is blind and autistic. If I let the schools educate her (as we have done in the past) she would be so far behind by the time she got to high-school that her life would be miserable. Kids like her MUST HAVE one on one education, school fail special needs children miserably! Sometimes we just have no choice, but I am in no way financially "well to do". Not even close!

      September 22, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • Aprillouise

      I pay my SCHOOL TAXES every year so, they get my money and they don't have to educate my children. I did not abandon them at all! One of the ladies in our area is a homeschooler and she is on the school board too!!

      September 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
    • Shadow

      My husband and I are not well to do. We make many sacrifices for me to be able to stay at home with our children. It's not always easy, especially after he was laid off from the job he had held for years, but it can be done. My husband is working now but not anywhere near enough to provide a full income. Our goal of moving to a bigger house has been put aside, we still have free "new to us" furniture in almost every room, and we don't eat out more than once or twice every couple of months. Cable is not an option for us to pay for. We "splurge" and have a decent internet connection so that my children have access to a top curriculum but that's about it. I'm not sure where you're getting the information that we are well to do, but it's certainly not true in most of the families I know personally.

      September 23, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  16. Laura S

    There needs to be a distinction between homeschooling and correspondence schools. Some parents buy a curriculum, mail in tests and homework, records are kept by the homeschool school. Others create their own curriculum, buy work books and "play" school.
    Just because a parent is creative and instilling what they feel are important life lessons doesn't mean they know anything about cognition, inquiry based learning, and assessing a high lever of understanding. BUT neither do some classroom teachers. It is easy for a home schooled student to fall through the cracks of their own kitchen floor.
    It IS a HUGE commitment and shouldn't be taken lightly.

    Home schooling 20 year veteran parent/educator

    September 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Laura S

      I feel that if a parent prays, Jesus will hold the child and not let him fall through the cracks.

      The key, is to spend a minimum of 90% of the home-school day learning from the bible. All the wisdom a person needs can be found in the King James.

      The other 10% of the day, should be spent praying!

      This is the way to home school. This is what Jesus wants! Hope this helps to clear up any questions you had. Cheers!

      September 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • VinceRN

      It is a big commitment, almost as big a commitment as parenting itself. Our children's education is certainly not to be taken lightly. It is not, however, particularly difficult. There are certainly things about learning and teaching that we as parents need to know, but these things are easy to find and to learn. There is no mystery too them, any reasonably educated person can learn and implement these things.

      September 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Laura S, thanks for pointing that out, I consider myself a very well educated person but I am not a teacher. I can provide instructions on the subjects that I know but they need to learn a lot more than Math, Science and Computer skills.

      September 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • Reality

      I believe parents cannot just decide that they will homeschool their children. By law, they have to get approval of the local school board and adhere to the rigid guidelines of said board to include passing proficiency testing that all students must pass before getting a high school degree.

      September 21, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • shevrae

      @ Reality – It actually depends on the state in which you live. Requirements vary greatly – for example, in New Jersey I don't have to inform anyone about anything. Homeschoolers are completely independent from the public school bureaucracy. Which, in my opinion, is the best thing about New Jersey!

      September 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • Reality

      So shevrae your kids will not get diplomas?

      September 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
    • Jenna

      Home-school kids, no matter where they live can and do get diplomas. All kids have to do when ready is take the same tests every other student takes.

      And I create my own curriculum and find serious insult with that "play school" comment. I have a special needs child who is blind and frankly purchasing a curriculum for her would be a serious waste of money. I know what I am doing and I do it well. There is no "playing" school in our house.

      September 22, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • shevrae

      @ Reality, if you mean a piece of paper, I'm sure I could make one using MS Word so they can pack it in a box 🙂 (I haven't seen my HS diploma in years – not even sure where it is, actually). If what you're wondering is will my children be able to show that they have completed the necessary requirements of a high school level education, then their transcripts (which I will keep) will be just fine. Also, my kids are still young, but most people I know homeschooling through high school will have their children take some courses at the local community college. Not only will they be able to take the credits to another school, but they will show their ability to handle the coursework. It's questionable whether the simple possession of a diploma communicates the same ability.

      September 22, 2010 at 11:31 am |
    • Merri

      I am a 13 year homeschool veteran. I find that if one instills a love for learning, that a child will flourish academically. Some of my children had been told that they can only learn as much as their teacher knows and they knew right off that was false thinking. I don't know about computer programing and am not overly familiar with Art History, yet my oldest daughter developed a passion in these areas. She taught herself these subjects, and knew going into college that this would be her focus. Her major is Arts and Technology along with Art History. We don't "play" school at our house, we live life and continue our journey of discovery. What makes our homeschool so great is that my children love discovering and learning new things. My oldest 2 children are now honor students in college. I attribute their success in part to being able to learn on their own and not having already been burned out on "school" by the time they got there.

      September 22, 2010 at 11:55 am |
    • Nonimus

      I think the GED test/diploma is the standard for home-schooled graduation.

      September 22, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • MomOfMany

      I know of only a few home schoolers that go the GED route. Most combine college dual enrollment, coops, online classes, and parent instruction to create a solid transcript to support the diploma they issueand get their children into the colleges if their choice.

      September 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  17. VinceRN

    As a fairly new homeschooling Dad I'd like to point out a few things about this article. It say that the books you read on homeschooling don't talk about the struggles and difficulties, and that is just not true, not even close. Almost all of the two dozen or so books we read on the subject while making the decision to home school talked about the difficulties, and those difficulties and struggles are the same that all parents have, kids are kids regardless of what they are doing. Second is that the article says that it's a huge time commitment, extra work for the parents 24/7, that too is untrue. Parenting is a 24/7 job, and a lot of work, but schooling doesn't really add all that much work to it. The formal sitting down and doing school work uses far less time than is used in schools because teachers spend half their time or more just trying to manage the large group of kids before they get to any actual teaching. Even with the time my wife and I dedicated to going through curricula and making plans we still don't spend as much time on this as a traditional school teacher does. The other important thing to know is that everything you do with you kids is an opportunity to further their education, a hike in the woods, dinner out, a day at the fair, a movie, everything has opportunities to teach, it that aspect it is just part of the 247 parenting job.
    I'd also like to point out that in my experience religion is the primary reason for even less families than the article indicates., for most people I know it's the staggeringly poor quality of public education and the downright dangerous environment of even public primary schools.

    September 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • PW

      Well said VinceRN. I agree completely. In fact, we found that we spent more time on education when the kids were in school – from parent/teacher meetings, to fundraising, to sorting through the reams of paper that were sent home every day, to homework, etc etc etc. Home life is so much more peaceful and we know exactly what our children are learning and it can be emphasized throughout the day. BTW – I love to hear about other home schooling Dads like my husband.

      September 21, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  18. intriguedmom

    Great story! Thanks for shedding a little light on homeschooling! Would love to see more stories like it!

    September 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  19. Ducky's Mom

    Don't you mean, "Fewer families"? Actually, I think "Fewer families homeschooling for primarily religious reasons" would have been best. Does CNN let its reporters do all their own editing these days? You guys obviously weren't homeschooled :).

    September 21, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • Becky

      My daughter, an A Beka Grammar Handbook adherent, caught that grammatical error. Maybe CNN should hire her?

      September 22, 2010 at 12:48 am |
    • Tanya :)

      That is such a glaringly incorrect use of the word "less." AAAAAAARRGGGGHHH!!! My anal-retentive, grammar-policing side just can't take it!

      September 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • Kate

      That's OK, they asked Deepak Chopra about "The Profit"'s illiteracy on another thread.

      Maybe they're on interns now?

      Just sayin'

      September 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • Tanya :)

      Also, I was a homeschooler, and I went through the rigorous ABeka grammar curriculum as well.

      September 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • Ginny

      My 8-year-old homeschooled son caught this error, too! Thumbs up, CNN!

      September 25, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • Meg

      Hear, hear! Another homeschooling mom wondering if the headline writer has some defense for that choice.

      October 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  20. David Johnson

    Mommy! My ACT scores are crap. There wasn't one question on there about a talking snake...

    I know, some home schooled kids do really well. I think it is a great idea. It is a win-win. Cheers!

    September 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.