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Homeschooling vs. Cults

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Guest Blogger Pam Heilman is sick of being compared to religious fanatics just because she homeschools her three kids.


It appears that one type of person you can stridently criticize and insult these days with impunity is me, a Christian homeschooler. I suppose with the news from Eldorado, Texas religious people are more suspect, but religion does not always play a part in a choice to homeschool, nor does isolation.

In fact raising accomplished, independent children is my aim. Despite the fact that there are people, including Governor Schwarzenegger, who have come to
the defense of homeschoolers, others have made it clear they believe homeschoolers are homespun whackos who want to churn their own butter and teach creationism.

I actually teach my children at home (and I do buy butter at a store) because I am better at it than a state institution or a private school. We do our work during school hours and there is no homework, thus they have plenty of time to pursue things they love.

As annoying as it will make me appear, I actually enjoy my children. I have discovered that the more time you spend with your children, the more pleasant they are as people because you are the major influence in their lives.

I understand that homeschooling is not for everyone, and that is OK. It's probably not for every child either, but when it works, it is not a form of child abuse, but a loving gift that gives some children the one-on-one attention that helps them reach their full potential. With no private school payments, no homework, and kind intelligent children to love, educate and raise, I often wonder, who's the whacko?

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17 comments so far | Post a comment now
Daria April 9, 2008, 10:27 AM

Pam, I must say that I really respect the parents who homeschool their children successfully. I know it can always be an easy task, but the fact that you are the one teaching your child and influencing them the most as a loving parent certainly has it’s rewards. I don’t homeschool but I’ve often considered doing so, I just plain love being with my kids. I guess my only holdup is feeling that I wouldn’t be as qualified. It sounds like you’re got things down to an art!

rachel April 9, 2008, 10:35 AM

I totally agree. You go’ girl. If a door of opportunity is ever opened for me to homeschool I will do it as well. thank you for stating your opinion is eloquently.

Amy Bowllan April 9, 2008, 10:49 AM

I am not a homeschool parent, but have HUGE respect for parents who do. When my sister was a homeschooler, her kids knew the world without leaving their home. It was amazing to watch how much they knew. It takes special people to homeschool, so I agree with your commentary 100%! I echo Rachel’s sentiments - Go’ Girl!

GHD April 9, 2008, 10:51 AM

Before I became I mom I admit to being suspicious of homeschooling moms and dads. Since parenthood, I have been in awe of them. I also understand alot more why you do it. Keep up the good work!!!

Mom to Two Girls in Mass. April 9, 2008, 11:53 AM

Homeschooling is not for me, for sure, nor is it for my children. But I am glad that there are moms and kids for whom it works I know several moms like the poster who enjoy and are successful at homeschooling.

However, I also know plenty of moms who do homeschool who are clearly overwhelmed by it, but were convinced by women in their church to do it. You can tell who these moms are - while they evangelize about how it keeps their kids out of trouble and out of “bad” schools, they constantly complain of being tired and sick of their kids.

I myself have been approached several times by women in my church and encouraged to homeschool, and I tell them every time that it’s not for our family. They express concern that my children will go to public school and that I should “at least” put them in a Christian school. To which I generally roll my eyes and sweetly suggest that they pay for it and take care of the transportation needs that would necessitate.

The bottom line is that how we as parents choose to make sure our children get the education they need to succeed in today’s world is no one’s business but our own - and the sooner our churches get out of the business of telling us how to educate our kids beyond religious education, the sooner the reputation of homeschoolers will improve.

BTW - The Daring Book for Girls == AWESOME!

Rob Young April 9, 2008, 12:00 PM

Cool article Mrs. H … very well written and informative - (not to mention 3 handsome kids!)

scyllacat April 9, 2008, 12:08 PM

Creationism, it appears, has started a lot of parents who follow that belief system into homeschooling, but post hoc does NOT equal propter hoc. Perhaps if some of the critics had been home schooled, they might know this? :)

I want to homeschool because I expect my children to be bright… why send them to school to do the same thing over and over for two years after they’ve grasped the concept?

Your statement is well made, and I’m applauding it. Yay!

(followed momlogic from twitter)

Amy April 9, 2008, 1:12 PM

Good for you Pam! I tried homeschooling and it just didn’t work out for us. But I totally admire homeschoolers and I support them 100%! And if you want to churn your own butter (done it!) and teach Creationism (done it!) then you have at it! God Bless you and your beautiful kids!

Marye April 9, 2008, 3:25 PM

I think parents who homeschool are weird.

Summer April 9, 2008, 4:24 PM

I agree with Marye, we’re weird. And isn’t it wonderful! :D

beth April 9, 2008, 7:47 PM

I’m so glad that you can make homeschooling work for your family. I know it’s not something that would work for my kids but I admire those that have the patience and courage to at least try it. My only concern is the social aspect of being in school that the children might be missing. Of course, it may not be an issue at all but its something I’ve always wondered about.

JB April 9, 2008, 8:34 PM

I am not fundamentalist Christian or even conservative. My children went to public school, magnet school, and private school over the years. If I had to do it today, I would homeschool them. I realize, looking back, that I *did* homeschool them in many ways; I just did not do it between the hours of 8:30-3:30. I took them to the museum, on geology trips, to the zoo; we did many experiments just for fun. We tried stuff. We cooked and star-gazed and dissected bugs we found in our compost heap. We created treasure hunts with clues written from a poem we had studied; we read and discussed books, journal articles, the newspaper. We drove along the Oregon trail and the Trail of Tears. We visited historic sites. We fit all of this in… in those precious hours that they were *not* in the formal “classroom”. Anyone with an inquisitive and open mind need not be intimidated. Give your children the precious gift of being fellow-explorers on this 1,000 mph whirl around the sun.

EG April 10, 2008, 1:02 PM

My husband was homeschooled all the way through HS. His parents did a great job.

However, here is my issue with many Christian homeschoolers. They are driven to homeschool because they want their children to be sheltered from creationism, sex-ed, etc. I believe we should push our children to be critical thinkers, able to evaluate differing opinions. And, importantly, to understand that a differing opinion does not devalue the person holding that opinion.

I think so many Christian parents don’t recognize that their children will evetually be exposed to and have to make their own decisions about things. Wouldn’t you rather that be when they’re 12 and still under your roof than when they’re 19 and finally out of your grasp?

That said, Pam, I don’t think you fall into my observations above! I love your motivation that you can teach them better than public or private schools can. I just think, and have seen in the many many homeschooling families I know through Hubby’s family, that the motivation is often not so good. And the adults that they produce either struggle to relate in the real world, or they’re so eager to embrace it that they loose their grounding.

Crimson Wife April 10, 2008, 2:20 PM

To EG-
Would you teach your toddler the “safe” way to light a match? Or would you simply tell him/her not to touch matches and keep him/her under close supervision? Young children lack the maturity to know the proper conditions for matchlighting. Even adults can burn themselves so there’s really no such thing as “safe” fire, only a reduction in risk. But it would be nuts to give little kids the message: “don’t play with matches, but if you do, here’s the safe way to light one.”

The same goes for teens and sex IMHO.

Markus April 13, 2008, 9:45 AM

I was never told that it was OK to play with matches, or HOW to play with them.

I started a lot of fires…

However, I did get a good sex-ed. Survived disease free, and didn’t get a kid until I was 25.

Liz Timblin April 14, 2008, 1:13 AM

Pam, I think that you are doing a great job as a mother, teacher, and wife. Keep up the good work in His strength. Great blog!

Cris May 9, 2009, 1:18 AM

Amen, Sistah. Perfectly written. At every point I was cheering, from how and why you are able to enjoy your kids to questioning whose calling who a whacko.

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