Good books on why Christians might home school?

Hi all.

A friend of mine is looking for some good, balanced, well written and sensible books about why a Christian might choose to homeschool their children.

So not what/how to teach, but rather why teach in this way.

Can you offer any suggestions? Homeschooling is not really a thing over here in Old Blighty so it is not something one gets asked about regularly. Thankfully, I knew some people who might be able to help :muscle:.

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The Well Trained Mind is kind of the classic here. I think it does include a lot of how/what, but also explains the rationale behind those methods. I’ve never read it, but I think it gives reasons that are primarily education-focused, as opposed to “we need to shelter our children from the corruptive influence of culture” focused, which is the unhelpful perspective of many Christian homeschooling books. I’m not totally sold on the “classical” model, but I’ve used Susan Wise Bauer’s writing and history curriculum and it was very good. The approach I did the most reading on when I was getting started was Charlotte Mason (also called “living books” or “living history” approach). I don’t remember a specific book or article that fits what you are talking about though.

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend a lot of Christian “why homeschool” stuff. They tend to be legalistic and judgy (Good Christian parents make the sacrifices needed to homeschool instead of throwing their kids to the wolves in public school) and very disparaging of other educational options. Homeschooling is not a good fit for every kid or every parent or every life situation. People should choose to do it because they have evaluated all their educational options and it is the winner, not because someone guilts them into it or romanticizes it or paints other options as dangerous and inferior. Sonlight has a “Is homeschooling right for you” type booklet that is fairly even-handed. Many people who use Sonlight (including the owners of the company) do not exclusively homeschool all their children for all grades and they aren’t cult-ish about homeschooling. The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling free eBook


That’s been my experience too… most of the books I can think of are ones that people in my parents’ generation read and were often very self-righteous and fear-based in their approach. But, an introduction to the how/why can be useful because a lot of the time when someone starts homeschooling they just try to recreate a public school classroom at home, and that doesn’t always work so well. If anything, a lot of newbies probably just need some permission to re-imagine what a school day should look like and hold on to what works and throw out what doesn’t.

I’d second the recommendation for Sonlight, and along the lines of literature-based schooling, a lot of people seem to like Read-Aloud Revival. I haven’t read the books or listened to the podcast myself, but they do have some good book recommendations.

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I wonder if some here can list some personal experiences that they have considered as to whether they would homeschool or not.

–whether the parent has the education, willpower, character, and time to do it.
–whether the curriculum would fit their child
–whether the child (every one is different, as above) would do well in that situation or not (one of my kids enjoyed it, but didn’t do well without the challenge of working with others in an academically rigorous environment. Others may actually flourish working on their own, without distractions, for example).
–Whether homeschooling would let their child excel beyond other options or not.
For example, my parents homeschooled me because they had to–in Africa, there was no other school. My mom emphatically said she would have sent us to school if she could have. However, the other option was boarding school, hundreds of miles away in Nigeria, and I am so glad they didn’t send us there. She had a good curriculum (A Beka and then Calvert and University of Nebraska-Lincoln; though each of these had drawbacks). She also was a nurse, and had adequate education to help us where we needed it. However, I run into some cases where the parents opt out of any formal curriculae and can hardly spell themselves–that’s rather scary. I even knew one family that read their Bible to say that their girls should not study math, nor go to college–and their kids didn’t do well. In retrospect, I’m sure that being around other kids in school would have been good for us, but my parents had a lot of grace, and we learned social abilities as time went on. I am sure we stuck out like sore thumbs occasionally, with our lack of knowledge of pop culture (I still do, at 50).

I and my brothers were homeschooled through 5th grade. My father was a public school teacher and my mother was a nurse who read a lot about child development and education when we were in preschool. I was the oldest child and when I was tested to enter kindergarten, I could already read quite fluently and the school basically told my parents I would be bored out of my mind. So my mother began researching homeschooling because they couldn’t afford private school and she wanted to provide a more enriching educational experience than I would have been able to get. She used a curriculum for math and grammar, but for history and science and literature I did a lot of what would be considered “unschooling” today. I read a ton of books and learned about what I was interested in and collected rocks and wildflowers and watched birds and played with my microscope, and it was a delightful childhood. But I’m glad I entered public school when I did and was able to take advantage of some of the social and college-prep things like team sports and academic competitions, and AP classes.

I homeschool my own kids because we live in rural Mexico and there are no other viable options. Now that my oldest two are in high school, they are taking quite a few online courses. I feel like they should have the opportunity to learn upper level math, science and history from people who love the material, and I did not have time to relearn it all myself to help them do it “independent study.”

Homeschooling was overall far more demanding on me timewise than I originally pictured, but we have made it work. I have really enjoyed certain aspects and not been so good at other aspects. My kids have done well because they are fairly academically inclined and curious and haven’t resisted or needed special motivating. My son especially has benefited because he is quite precocious in math and has been able to work far ahead of his grade level using online courses for gifted students, and he has had abundant free time to teach himself multiple computer languages and do various coding projects. I think my daughters have really missed the more social aspects of a school experience, though the oldest is getting some of that now with online courses that have classmates she interacts with daily.

I think most people, if they enjoy learning themselves and are willing to invest the time and effort, and don’t have antagonistic relationships with their kids can do a great job homeschooling young children. Around middle school it becomes more difficult to keep up with all the subject matter. By high school I think most kids need to learn from people besides their parents and most kids are not wired to learn independently using books or videos. But there are now lots of options for virtual teaching and learning, learning co-ops, or early enrollment in community college that homeschooling parents can take advantage of.


That is very interesting. Thank you! I think it will help people to think through the questions as well. It’s amazing how we’re all different. I always struggled with most math, but enjoyed the English portion a lot.

Same here. :smiley: It took time and effort to catch up, and even after developing a sort of “surface” knowledge of things that were popular, I still don’t really know enough to reminisce about the old times like a lot of people can.

Yeah, I wish I’d had other options in high school. My math involved getting so stuck I couldn’t go on until my dad sat down with me in the evenings and helped me get to the next lesson, only to repeat the cycle a few weeks later. My husband’s a math teacher, which helps with our kids, but I’m hoping they’ll be in public school by then.

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When I was teaching middle school I was exposed to the latest expressions and felt half way savvy. Now? I am just grateful when enough of the standard ones come to mind when needed.


Thanks for everyone’s wonderful suggestions - exactly what I was after!

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With homeschooling I imagine you would miss out on so much: interacting socially with one’s peers, school trips, science fairs, orchestra, band, choir, and drama groups.

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I think it depends how one balances the equation and what one considers most important.

For example, I’ve known homeschool families where there is an incredible depth of relationship that I suppose can only be the result of so much quality time together.

It’s a matter of personal preference at the end of the day, right?

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I have been involved with specifically-homeschool versions of all except orchestra and band.

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That in itself leaves a pretty big gap in your education. And I neglected to add team sports!

Not sure one needs to attend a state school to be involved in team sports. Don’t they have Saturday morning sports clubs in the US?

Also, most state schools in the UK don’t have a school orchestra or band either.

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My daughter is running cross-country at the local high school. Homeschooled students can participate in any public school activities that their parents’ taxpayer money funds. I think you are picturing a certain brand of homeschooling that is very isolationist by design, but that’s hardly the rule. All the homeschooling families I know in the States have their kids involved in multiple extra-curricular enrichment activities that provide “socialization.” There’s scouting and community theater and co-ops that have teams that compete in robotics or debate. Most take music or dance lessons and perform. Clearly your skepticism of some groups is coloring your evaluation of something that is actually encompasses a very large spectrum of experiences and educational philosophies and perspectives on cultural engagement.


I would say that was true of our family

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I did not know that!

I was very happy to avoid extracurricular activities, myself. I loved to study, but not socialize. My brother, on the other hand, was very social, and found it a bit difficult. He made more friends with neighbors when we were kids. One tries to adjust the experience to the needs.

Some of my grandkids homeschool. They participate in a co-op that has classes in various subjects also, No doubt there are some activities they miss, but in public school, kids also miss out on stuff too. In the typical large high school, a very small percentage of kids are good enough at a sport to play at the varsity level. The band may have 100 members out of a 1000 kids, so 900 miss out on band. It has its trade offs, but there is a lot of bad stuff that kids who homeschool don’t participate in also.

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But in public schools all children must participate in Physical Education from grade 1 through high school. PE isn’t just for jocks. Not every kid wants to play in the school band. But without a school you’re making sure he won’t have the chance.

I have been involved in homeschool team sports. I’m not exactly great at them, but I do have some innate advantages for some sports (being 197 cm tall, but not super fast). And I would have the opportunity to participate in band or orchestra, if I were particularly skilled with instruments other than voice.

As a note on all of this, I live in a rural area: the county has one university, one community college, and one bible college, plus several in nearby parts of other counties.


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