I Helped Start an Organization Once…(and you can help)

About a year ago some homeschool alumni and I got together and founded the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. When Homeschooler’s Anonymous started exposing the stories of abuse and neglect in the homeschool community I realized that I wasn’t alone. It encouraged me to keep writing my story and I’ve written a lot over the last several years.
Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) exists to do what we can to make homeschooling better for families like mine – families who use homeschooling to get away with giving their children a sub-par education, to cover for abuse, or as a thinly veiled attempt at isolation and indoctrination.
Here’s the thing: Homeschooling can be awesome, and most of my fellow board members had great home education experiences, but the fact that people like me, and many others, exist, means there’s a problem and we need to fix it.
Homeschooling should be a tool to give children the education that’s right for them, that equips them for the future, and gives them the tools they need to succeed at whatever they do –  not whatever plans their parents determine for them.
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Which is why I work for CRHE, and we advocate for the interests of homeschooled children – by doing research and creating resources. It’s an issue that’s close to my heart and it’s hard, grueling work, but we have ambition, passion, and big plans.
 
But here’s where you come in: It’s December and we have our 501c3 status which means any donations are tax deductible, and I would personally, really appreciate it if you donated what you can, get on our email list, and share this organization with anyone you know. Because what we’re doing is important, and what we’re doing has the potential to help so many homeschooled kids, now, and in the future.
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**Also, if you donate at a higher gift level (and opt in) I’ll draw you something, because you’re awesome. <3
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doDbdLMBfI8]

And then there was that time

When I was barely 14, struggling to grasp algebra or pre-algebra and my mom lost her shit and threw the book at me in a screaming tirade.
Math has always been a sore spot, involving many many tears, but none so terrifying as that day.
It was a heavy textbook. It wasn’t saxon, but it was similar.
All my math books got smaller after that.
 
But that cemented in my mind that I couldn’t do math, even if I wanted to. I don’t even know exactly what was said…but I was devastated.
/random sad thoughts with kiery

Fault and Educational Neglect

I don’t usually post about things Kevin Swanson says, and I usually try not to pay attention to it, but this week’s broadcast…hurt more than usual. For a synopsis/highlights that will keep most of your eyeballs intact, you can read this post from HA.
One of the highlights, and…what’s sort of turned me into an odd little puddle, is this bit (emphasis mine):

Kevin: when someone says, I could have had a better education than that provided by my mother or by my father, that’s really, really, really hard to prove. How, how, how do you know that? Maybe it was a character problem on YOUR part. Maybe you didn’t obey your parents! Maybe you didn’t study your books like you were told to! And to think that you could have had a better education if you had done it this way versus that way is extremely hard to prove.

Steve: Right!

(laughter)

Kevin: Extremely hard to prove!

Steve: Because you can’t go back and do it that way!

Kevin: You can’t! (laughter) You can’t… and even if you could have, you would have dragged your same old person, with your same old character flaws, with your same old slothfulness issue, into the public school or private school setting or other setting ‚ and you could have done worse…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …than you did with your parents — trying to do whatever they could have done with you, even with all of your character issues that you’re dealing with. It’s fun to blame your parents for your OWN lack of character!

And then there’s this charm (emphasis mine):

Kevin: I’m talking about Christian homeschool families. Their values are primarily first and foremost not to get their kid into Harvard or get them a good job.
Steve: Right.
Kevin: That’s not primary. It’s not being sure that the kid can read Plato before he’s 12 years of age…
Steve: Yeah.
Kevin: …and get really messed up with the wrong worldview. (laughter) That’s not the goal. See, homeschoolers bring in other values: like relationship building, character building, work, worship. These are important.

What struck me is my parents have said essentially the exact same thing that Kevin did in the second quote. Multiple times. I remember in no uncertain terms hearing that the most important thing educationally was that we were able to read and understand the bible, write just enough to communicate, and do basic math. NOTHING ELSE MATTERED. This is what Kevin Swanson advocates, this is what my parents believe, and importantly: this is not a full, well-rounded education.
He talks about how fake educational neglect is, makes fun of the people who have pushed through it, pretends the people living in it don’t exist, and blames the (current and former) students with little to no power over their own education, for their own neglect.
He talks about how children should be learning “work, relationships, character, and worship”….
Well sir, that was my entire childhood, and you know what, I was educationally neglected! I taught myself and my parents bragged about it from the age of 10, I did everything I could possibly do, everything I knew to do, and it doesn’t change the fact that my education was neglected. It was not my fault. I’m not lazy, and wasn’t a lazy student – I was  an over-worked student who’s parents cared more about being served and looking good than their children and the quality of their education.
Swanson is advocating for educational neglect, and then turning a blind eye to the people who say, no, my parents did do what you said and that’s the problem, and instead labeling them whiners, traitors, and Benedict Arnold’s.
Well if talking about my lack of education and working to put regulations in place so my siblings and other kids have a chance means I’m a traitor, so be it.
But don’t you tell me that my lack of education was my fault as a child. That was out of my control, it’s not blaming my parents for my flaws, it’s abuse.
 
P.S. I would have done amazing in a traditional school setting, before my parents took me out of pre-k, it was amazing and I loved it. No one asked me if I wanted to be homeschooled, they just said “we’re gonna homeschool you from now on” and being the ripe age of 3 or 4, I just wanted to make sure I could be picked for Show-and-Tell still. I don’t remember doing show-and-tell after leaving school though.

Introducing Don't Panic[k]: Life Beyond The Kitchen Table

I had this idea several months ago, about making a site that’s basically just a compilation of advice, thoughts, and resources for people just leaving/graduating the world of homeschooling and religious fundamentalism.
It takes a lot of work and energy to find resources for life in the real world when you don’t even really know how or where to start, which is kinda why I liked the idea of Don’t Panic[k]. I hope to grow it, with the help of people from similar backgrounds submitting resources and articles and ideas, into something useful for people just leaving their parents kitchen table.
So check it out, share it, submit ideas/resources/etc if you have any, and don’t panic (you’ve got this).
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In which my genitals mean I don't learn math or science

Alright, you have my attention. Anyone who can wield a soldering iron like that is worth some attention. […]

youtube commenter (comment since removed by author – creepy part, also removed…by me)

I was denied physics because I was born female. I had been taught all my life leading up to that point that girls don’t use power tools, that girls don’t build, that girls can’t understand higher math, that girls can’t hammer straight, that girls can’t and don’t understand science or engineering, and that all of those things are for boys.
So when we moved and joined science olympiad and I was partnered with people who needed partners, and one of them was a dude and our project was to make an egg-car thing and get the egg to go so far and hit a tiny wall without breaking, I was unable to assert myself. I was told to sit on the sidelines because this was boy stuff, all the boys – my dad, brother, grandpa, and my partner, took over the project while I was a mere bystander.
Anytime I did try to help, I was laughed at and ridiculed because I couldn’t hammer a nail straight – because I was never allowed to build – my entire life, I was never allowed to build – I could hammer a nail into a wall to hang something, but not into two pieces of wood, that was boy stuff. They took my inability as an excuse to continue to take over the project and leave me out of it.
My job, in my science project was to put the rubber bands on the plexiglass wheels that the boys decided were best, and load the weights into the pulley that held the car-holder door shut and released the car/opened the door when it dropped (because weight). The only enjoyment I had was to call them tiny footballs because they were fishing weights and looked like footballs and everyone ridiculed me for that. I was so devastated about the entire project that I was just like, THIS IS THE ONE JOY I HAVE OKAY, LET ME CALL THEM THAT.
It was horrible. The entire time no one bothered to give me anything but cursory detail about what they were doing or how it worked. No one bothered to teach me physics, because I was a girl and wouldn’t need to know anyway, I was just there so my partner could enter. No one taught me the math or told me about the calculations or why they decided on plexiglass wheels and a twist system besides “this would work best because you (not me, my partner) can calculate how many turns you need for the distance”.
My entire life I have been afraid of power tools and under the impression that I would never be able to use them effectively because of my genitalia (like a vagina is power tool kryptonite). I was convinced that somehow something world ending would happen were I to try – or maybe not world ending, but it at least would break and not work. I was never allowed to touch anything, only told to stay away, barely allowed to watch, never taught.
I am angry that because I was born in this body I was not allowed to learn how to build, to learn about physics, but instead I was only told I was bad at it and ridiculed every time I made the slightest attempt to understand.
I would never need to know these things to be a wife and mother, so why bother wasting the energy, right?
Sexism and gender roles ruined my math and science education – they denied me either, and instead lied to me, tying my mental ability to my genitalia, and my life’s purpose to bodily functions. 
This is why building ikea furniture, and houses in minecraft, and learning how to solder, and making little electronics work is so huge to me.
This is me standing up against my parents – who were my teachers – and learning SCIENCE because I CAN, because it is WORTH LEARNING, because I am SMART and I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED SCIENCE and was never allowed to try, never given the math skills or the time of day to learn it because I was told my entire life it was pointless for ME to learn it. I was relegated to the sidelines when I was supposed to be being educated, but I’m not anymore.
I am building things and I am soldering and I am damn good at it. 
I hate it when I’m made out to be magical because I both have boobs and enough dexterity to solder. It’s not magic, I am not a unicorn, and thinking that it’s somehow remarkable for a person with female genitalia to hold a soldering iron is sexist. It’s the same kind of sexism that kept me from learning math and science in high school, and it is not okay.
Go ahead and be impressed that I can do things, but be impressed because I’m fighting against my past, because I’m carving my way out of the cage my parents tried to place me in, not because I have boobs and dexterity.
Fuck the Patriarchy.

On Femininity

Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be perfect. They’re supposed to be Pollyanna, Elsie Dinsmore, and Jane Bennet.  They’re supposed to be completely innocent, unnoticed, modest, graceful, but still look beautiful and unblemished (while not thinking too hard about it).
Good Homeschooled Girls are impossible. All of us are wearing masks, we’re all acting feminine, we’re all hiding ourselves, because none of us are that perfect.
Instead, we are berated – we are told we are never enough, that we’ll never be good enough, that we don’t measure up. We’re told we need to fix our hair and only wear makeup to cover our acne, we’re told we need to look just so – but not focus on it. Our appearance and personalities are shamed, muted. We are turned into china dolls – empty, silent, porcelain – while we die slowly inside. Our unique identities are stripped – told to be sinful – our independence denied, and to fight for it is to abandon all that we were raised to be.
Our dreams – if they exist outside the chosen path – are cast aside, scoffed at, or allowed under very specific circumstances and made to end upon marriage and/or pregnancy.
And if we abandon this dream, or if we seem to have a particularly hard time measuring up to this standard? We are broken, and there is something wrong with us. To base our worth in who we are instead of when our uterus is used flies in the face of this ideal.
Elsie DinsmoreBeautiful Girlhood, and Jane Austen are the books that are handed to us as examples of femininity and how we should conduct ourselves. Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be quiet, demure, masters in the art of domesticity – never raising their voices or asserting themselves, never doing heavy lifting (unless it’s babies or laundry baskets), always walking with poise, always graceful, always innocent and perfect, never loud.
The first two emphasize the devaluing of self as godly and feminine. I can’t speak to Jane Austen because I’ve never been able to make it past the first chapter.

Innocent, all with Hayley Mills and a yellow house in Maine and everything, harmless. Right?
If we leave it at the movie, sure(?).I didn’t know at the time, but the out-dated standards they sing about – is something that is invisibly expected of all Good Homeschooled Girls.
The line: hide the real you while it was probably meant to be funny and absurd was essentially my way of life.
I’ve always been stubborn, strong-willed, and independent – when it worked in my parents favor, this was a good thing, otherwise it was something to be squelched.
I was never really a tom-boy, sports bored me and seemed pointless – which, I suppose naturally meant I was a good candidate for the social experiment of super-girly-femininity. I was given books – Elsie Dinsmore, Beautiful Girlhood, Pride and Prejudice or Emma or Northanger Abbey (I don’t remember which ended up in our collection), and etiquette 101 for tweens (I can’t remember the name). I had to learn to be hospitable and submissive, though my parents never (or rarely) used the word feminine. Submissive and feminine are often synonymous here.
I read them, dutifully, internalizing the expectations (well except Austen. I just couldn’t, but that comes in later). My parents never really talked with me about this, they had a tendency to just give me the books and expect I learn from them. Elsie is less fiction and more a not-so-subtle way of giving young girls impossible and unhealthy expectations and telling them they’re worthless if they can’t master it as Elsie did.
It didn’t take long for me to realize Elsie is an impossible set of standards that I was never going to meet. Though the real line was when she married her father’s best friend. I couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore, arranged marriages to a man who’s old enough to be your father who was creepy as hell to you when you were 8, AND you’re too perfect and ideal to even exist or be relatable. Just, no.
The appeal of the civil war/regency era vanished – because I saw through what they were trying to do and I think it was my own secret form of rebellion, sort of. Good Homeschooled Girls are given these books as guidelines – Beautiful Girlhood literally is a guideline for femininity and social conduct.

First Recital
My first ballet recital to “Femininity” from Summer Magic

As much as I tried to mask my nature, to hide the real me, I was never able to do it well enough to be the pinnacle of femininity that I felt I was supposed to be.
Austen bored me, because I couldn’t get into the obsession with ribbons and dresses and who’s-courting-who. Elsie and Beautiful girlhood just made me more painfully aware of the inadequacies I was already painfully aware of.
I felt broken. I felt broken because I didn’t live up to this idealized standard of godly womanhood (or girlhood). I felt broken because I am not delicate, and no amount of silencing myself was going to re-write the core of my DNA. I come from a line of stubborn women, you can’t demure you’re way out of it. Or maybe you can, but I couldn’t. I felt like that meant I was less desirable (the end-goal of being female being married and having kids).
Being born female meant that I had my entire life and code of conduct set in front of me, no personality required. I was required to follow the program. I felt wrong because the very fiber of my being was in direct opposition to it.
It still is. 
I remember when I was 11 or 12 trying painfully to write fiction about an edwardian-era girl (instead of my book about the secret society of women who fought in the Revolution via spying because the Quartering Act) who sat in a garden in her frilly dresses and waited for suitors. I think I got maybe 4 paragraphs and then became frustrated because it was impossible for me to even write about that without getting bored.
The idea of being locked up, spending my life in waiting for someone to whisk me away, and then to spend the rest of my life locked up birthing and raising children horrified me. No matter how hard I tried to make it not, or how hard I tried to make it seem…as ultimate as people were telling me, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself it wasn’t certain death.
I couldn’t escape the feeling of the futility and meaninglessness of my life if all I was allowed to do was wait, and then have kids, and hope that one day they’d grow up to do the great things that I wanted to spend my life doing.
That meant something was wrong with me. I was too independent and god wouldn’t like that.
I remember being told, on several occasions, when I chose to fight for my autonomy, “independence is bad [for a woman], how do you think GOD feels about that [me being autonomous]?”
I was wrong and broken because I was not, am not, could not be demure, quiet, and feminine. I would never live up to the standards that good homeschooled girls are supposed to live up to – no matter how many masks I put on, or how hard I tried to hide myself.
I may never have been a tom-boy, but I was never the epitome of girlishness either.
Masks could only cover so much. I found ways to let myself be stubborn in subtle and approved ways. I was compliant to a point.
The things is, I know now that those books are poison to my rose-soul, but I still feel the need to embody all that is wispy delicate and feminine. I still feel broken because I don’t fit  the mold when other people project it onto me. Because it is impossible for me. It would require giving up my autonomy and a complete change of taste.

I can’t watch Pride and Prejudice without raging, I generally hate dramas (there are exceptions to this), I’d rather read a good fantasy or scifi novel or comic than a book about amish courtship (don’t get me fucking started), I love a good action movie – Give me robots fighting monsters any day.
None of my most basic preferences are even considered in the world of godly womanhood and good homeschooled girls. It is assumed that I LOOOOOOOVE anything by Austen, that cooking, courtship, and children appeal to all of my tastes and interests, that robots and monsters and other-worlds are boring and unnecessary, and action movies are for boys. When I express otherwise, it’s all but laughed at or ignored.

I watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries without raging (loved it, even). I know Austen was groundbreaking for her time (a woman author? *gasp*), but I can’t read her – not just because I find it dry, but because of homeschool culture.
Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be looking waiting for their Mr. Darcy (an asshole, really?). Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be Jane Bennet (Lizzie is far too independent) which doesn’t make sense because Jane marries Mr. Bingley? I know too many people who are trying to hack the 21st century into a Jane Austen novel and it frightens and sickens me. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were balls and you married the person you danced with? I feel like that can’t be the point of Pride and Prejudice, but you wouldn’t know it in this particular subculture.
^ Don’t start thinking about it too hard, it’ll hurt your brain.
It is the obsession with denying women humanity – autonomy – and worth that pervades this whole idea. Good Homeschooled Girls have no needs. Good Homeschooled Girls are whatever they are told to be. Good Homeschooled Girls must gracefully and perfectly meet and fulfill contradictory requirements (look perfect, but don’t obsess about it! learn things, but don’t use your brain!), while never having a bad day or a human moment. Good Homeschooled Girls aren’t allowed to be.
All in the name of femininity.

TeenPact and Women

To my knowledge, there have only been two female governors in Maine, and none (to my knowledge) in GA. Maine is seen by the staff as the more liberal/wildcard state where things happen there that don’t (or aren’t allowed?) happen in other states. Maine and Hawaii I suppose, because there’s surfing there and every staffer wants to staff those two states.
I know both of the female governors closely. Women taking on a high leadership position that isn’t somehow under a male is almost unheard of. I was shocked when I won “president” at Back To DC in 2007, but I think that was because the dude who was running before was an obnoxious 13 year old who wasn’t even going to stay the whole time and I had previously attended the class and the one other alumni there was on my campaign. I may have won favor with the staff when I shared that I was struggling with running for the position (because *gasp* I can’t LEAD), instead of running the campaign (because that was completely different).
At National Convention, Women are allowed (I wouldn’t necessarily say encouraged) to run for Representative and Senator, and even Vice President. In my time there, I only ever saw Boy/Girl Pres/VP teams, because women running for president, while not directly prohibited was just known to be taboo. I ran for representative but never made it past primaries – although some women definitely are elected, the majority of the faux positions are still filled by males. I know this parallels real life, but here it’s encouraged. Women in leadership positions is allowed, but sketchily, always under men.
In fact, we are told, many times, in no uncertain terms that we (women) are supposed to just go along with whatever the men say – even if we disagree with it, and to not speak up if we do. They’re supposed to lead, after all, and we’re supposed to submit.
In “girl talks” a session where the guys go out (to talk about opening doors) and the women stay inside we learn that modesty is on us. completely. It is our job to cause our “brothers” to not stumble while we’re at class. We’re told exactly how to wear and to not wear items of clothing. In State Classes we must wear skirts, and they must be over the knee when you sit, never too tight when you move or bend over. All clothing must be able to hang or give at least an inch from your body, but simultaneously, should also be cute/professional and not frumpy. Just to be safe, I wore several layers – in the middle of summer, in the hot GA sun – just in case I got wet, or the sun caught something and my one-size-up tshirt were suddenly opaque.
We must be vigilant, and tell our “sisters” if they’re wearing something we think is too tight or revealing. Lady-Staff will confront girls to change their outfit if they feel it’s inappropriate. Because, again, it is our responsibility to show ourselves as non-human-shapeless-forms so our “brothers” don’t accidentally see our bodies and think something bad.
Boys aren’t told how many fingers width a neckline is allowed to be before it’s “too much”. They don’t have to reach up, and bend down to check and see if any skin shows.
But we, we seductresses in our pubescent awkwardness, we must never show any more skin than necessary to avoid heat exhaustion – and even then, pants must be loose!
I hate using the phrase “rape culture” but the more I think about it, the more this perpetuates it – because regardless, it is ALWAYS the women who are at fault. We are essentially told as much, and this is coupled with “don’t tell a man no” is just a setup for abusive environments and relationships to thrive.


TeenPact and Me

TeenPact is a christian conservative/evangelical organization that organizes government and civics classes and camps throughout the country. Their goal is to raise a generation of christian leaders (teens) to go and bring the country back “for christ” by encouraging activism and male leadership.
When I think about TeenPact and my time there, I don’t feel anger – like I do with most of my other past experiences. I feel confusion. Because I have so many good memories and experiences that are entrenched in environments that perpetuated the lies that enabled an abusive environment to thrive.
The thing about organizations like TeenPact and NCFCA is that their goal is to raise a new generation of leaders – thinkers, even – to do one specific thing: Take the nation back (for god!). What they don’t count on, is that by giving us the tools and resources to think critically, we’ll actually, you know, think critically and carry that on throughout our adulthood. Which is awesome and I’m really happy that I was allowed to learn that, because it’s served me well and enabled me to become the person I am today. Funny thing though, our parents and the people who head up these organizations get extremely grumpy and upset when we do what they taught us to do (or at least you know, the thinking part of that) without doing the rest of what they wanted us to do.
They teach us how to think, but then, they don’t actually want us to think, they want us to do their bidding.
And this, in a nutshell, is my beef with TeenPact. I’m going to be splitting this into parts instead of writing a book of a blogpost – because some things need to be fleshed out more, so for today, I’m going to concentrate on one particular event that happened while I was staffing.
I staffed one of the GA State classes in 2007. As staff, I helped oversee the voting process – a process which is designed to teach students about how elections work (assuming everyone is honest). The votes were tallied and my friend was a clear winner. I was pleased with this, and a little proud because he had really gone out of his comfort zone to even run. I was appalled, confused, and maybe a little angry when in that back room the Program Director turned to us and said, well, I don’t think he’d make a good governor, we should choose someone else. The founder was there and the high ranking staff wanted to impress him (by discarding the process?) and decided that my friend wouldn’t do it.
So in that back room, the Program Director, and the higher ranking staff decided to choose someone else from the 3 candidates to be governor and told us to be quiet about it. I was 15 (2 weeks before my birthday) and I had no idea how to respond – I was too shocked to say anything and too surprised to complain or dissent, so I stood there quietly, feeling as though my mouth was gaping. When we left the room with the new results, and with the Program Director deciding that his vote overruled all, I was full of shame and guilt. We announced who won and there were many questions – because in the other room, everyone tells everyone who they voted for, so everyone actually knows who won. People asked me questions and I couldn’t respond, my friend asked me and I was crushed and had to give him the same line I had given everyone else “it’s just what the votes were”.
I felt helpless because everyone who I would have talked to about it, was in that room and made that decision. They didn’t expect dissent – honestly, I don’t even think dissent is allowed, though it’s never directly stated – it’s a very homogenous group and anyone who does dissent is instantly cast as weird/strange/anything you don’t really want to associate with.
The staff did what they did because they didn’t want to get in trouble with Mr. Echols. I don’t know what the staff meetings are like, but I imagine that choosing a good face was enough of a requirement to strike fear into the hearts of the interns.


The Burden of Home-school Parents

I’m not a parent, but as an early-graduate home-school alumnus, and one who did a lot of teaching to my younger siblings, I think that I can be afforded some room for an opinion. I was thinking the other day about graduating and how it felt then verses how it feels now. Honestly, I was not ready to graduate when I did. But I thought I was, at the time, when I was 15. I believed my mom when she said she’d taught me everything I needed to know school-wise and was prepared for the world beyond high school. In my (and my mom’s) defense, I did end up graduating with 30-some high school credits, but we opted out of higher math (and by extension, higher science like Chemistry 2, which was replaced with basic nutrition and physical education dvd courses) – my fault, because I couldn’t find anyone to teach me algebra in a way I understood. My parents didn’t have the time (too many other people to school), and my grandfather, who has a math degree, was just way above my comprehension level on the subject.
This lead to years later (i.e. now) my feeling inadequate when it comes to math, higher education, and simple SAT tests. Last year, I took the SAT’s, and naturally (for me) did well on verbal/writing/reading sections, and scored just above the minimum in math. There were things on the test I’d never even seen in high school – because I never got that far, and went for consumer math instead (give me fractions any day). When I was in high-school I was relieved to have a basic life-math that I understood taking place of algebra, which was a constant thorn in my side and the cause of many tears and frustration.  But…..that wasn’t what was best for me. I didn’t know that. My frustrated mother didn’t have time, and was just as happy as I was to find a substitute that I could do by myself like the rest of my subjects.
Aside from that I feel like I got a pretty decent (tailored) education. I think something that many home-school parents don’t consider is that their children trust them implicitly, beyond their public/private/charter schooled counterparts. Not only do we trust them to take care of us, love us, and provide for us, but we trust them to know what’s best for us and what we need academically. We trust them to give us a *better* education than the system, because, at least, that’s the message preached in the homeschool community.
However, “the education system” that home-schoolers avoid have more teachers, assigned to specific subjects that they know about/have degrees in. The students there have the responsibility to learn – much like home-schooled students. The difference is, the parents have the job of all the different teachers, yet often without the education. In the name of “tailored” education often leave parts of education that seem “unnecessary” out of their child’s curriculum, even skipping basic things (like algebra). Home-schooled kids learn what their parents teach them, and other subjects that are left out, they’re none the wiser about. Until they get older.
It’s a sad feeling when you realize the people you thought were giving you “the best education” ended up leaving you feeling inadequate and behind because they failed to teach you something necessary – whether that be math, spelling, language, or even basic sex education (evil of evils) because you didn’t seem to “get it” and they were trying to prepare you for <insert choice path here>.
I’m not against tailored education at all, however, I don’t think that other, necessary, subjects can/should be eliminated in the name of “you’re going to be a wife/mother you don’t need algebra” or “you don’t need to learn a language you’re going into trade” essentially, in the name of “I don’t think it’s necessary”. School standards are there for a reason whether we agree with them or not. The beauty of home-schooling is not in all that you can leave out, but all that you can let in, and the flexibility of tutoring to specific learning styles.   The appeal of homeschooling is not “graduate your kid at 16 regardless so s/he can help with the rest of your clan” but that it’s not a one-size-fits-all standard that we hear so much about in schools.
I feel like parents get caught up in the idea that they can choose what their kids know that they miss the heavy burden that lays on their shoulders – the burden to do as good, or better, than the dozens of teachers in school every day. These parents, or in most cases, one parent, has a huge responsibility to their child’s education when they decide to take it on themselves. Especially if they live in a place without, or opt out of home-school groups or co-ops that provide opportunities for kids to learn things their parents may be lacking in from another parent who’s strong in the subject. Admittedly, home-school curriculums have been getting better with DVD/computer courses and labs for various subjects (how I got through biology without a lab, and prepped for the SAT) and those are helpful, but don’t take the place of learning from other real-life people.
I guess, if I were to mention one thing that might help….I’d say try to prepare your child to get into an ivy league, like Harvard, MIT, or some such, regardless of if they’ll go or not, but meet those educational standards. Then add whatever your child is interested in to their education – be it the arts, electronics and engineering, computer programming, or what have you. Allow them opportunities to learn about what they’re interested in without neglecting staples like spelling, language arts, higher maths and sciences, history, and even foreign language.  Also, teach your child to their learning style – I learned best with a group, and my best high-school experiences were in our co-op with other parent teacher’s who’d grade my work and were strong in their subjects. Some of my siblings prefer one-on-one mom time and learn better that way.
The other thing I want to say, is don’t be ashamed to find a class or teacher, or even send your child to a school if you aren’t equipped to teach how or what they need to be taught. I know most home-school parents and philosopher’s disagree, because the school system is the “big bad”, but honestly, you’re a parent and you need to do what’s right by your kid, even if that means you can’t teach them at home. There’s no shame in that – I dare say that’s better parenting than people who home-school regardless of the fact that they aren’t able to meet their kid’s educational needs simply because they’re so scared of “the system”.