Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

“Schools are different now, they’ve changed a lot you know!”

As a home educating parent I hear this a lot. People want to believe we just don’t know what goes on in schools, as if they operate in secret or something. Not the case, obviously.

You know who knows a lot about what schools are like? Teachers.

I recently read an article which made this very interesting point…

“In biology, there’s a descriptor – “indicator species”.  An indicator species may be unusually sensitive to environmental changes, and biologists monitor the indicator species for signs that something is amiss in the environment.

I wonder when somebody is going to notice that teachers are an indicator species. When we leave public schools with our children, people should consider that there’s something amiss.”

When I shared it online so many teachers contributed their stories about why they had chosen not to send their own children to school. Some of them made me angry, some made me sad, some made me feel super passionate, some made me feel hopeful, some made me feel hopeless. That’s too many feelings for one person, so I decided to share it with you, ha!

I hope the experiences shared here by teachers help in some way. Maybe they will help make the decision to homeschool easier, maybe you will feel less alone in your beliefs or observations, maybe they will give you a picture of what schools are really like.

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children…

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

They have a huge amount of experience

Firstly, what I noticed when I read through all the stories was that these teachers had so much experience!

“I am home schooling my autistic granddaughter after being a primary teacher for 40 years.”

These were people who had been in the schooling system for a long time, who had studied education greatly, who absolutely do know what school is like.

“I’m a registered ECE teacher with 18 years experience. We have been homeschooling a year and it has blown my mind how many people I have met who are ex-teachers who now homeschool. There are HEAPS!”

“My husband and I are both educators with Masters degrees in our fields. Unschooling our kids allows us to follow what we know to be true about human development, good mental health practices, and childhood in general.”

“My husband is a Prof. and I have a M.Ed in special education”

The people that commented and sent me their stories were the people who had been in schools for a long time. The fact that they had spent so much of their life dedicated to education but still didn’t use it for their own children was already very telling.

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

They are disillusioned with the system

“Over the years, I’ve gone from thinking nothing of the system, to not liking it, to thinking it just doesn’t work anymore, and now I believe it was designed to fail kids.”

Over and over again, the stories conveyed a feeling of disillusionment.

“I became a teacher to make a difference in children’s lives, but was completely and quickly disillusioned with the environment teachers and children are in.”

“There is little to no support and the class sizes continue to climb while the funding continues to decrease. I finally decided I’d seen enough.”

“My dream was to integrate the outdoor, nature, garden, environment ed into the classroom. The reality is there is no time for anything but testing, testing prep, data analysis, meetings about data, meetings about tests, meetings about how to get the scores up, etc “

Teachers wanted to help and support children but realized that within our current system of schooling this wasn’t possible. They were dealing with data and standardization, not individual children. They were tied to a system that wanted them to implement teaching like robots, instead of responding to individual needs. In fact, they found that what they had learned about what is best for children and how they learn was not even being respected in schools. They literally couldn’t give children what they need. Test scores were more important.

“The things I’ve learned about motivation to learn are not being fostered in public schools. Things are being taught to children when it is not developmentally appropriate. Most schools are still giving young children homework, even when all the research shows it is not helpful. Anxiety around standardized tests is a huge problem. Recess time is being reduced. Teachers are over worked and underpaid. Until there is a major paradigm shift in the school climate, I will not be comfortable putting my kids in public school.”

“What hits it home for me is when you consider how long the school system has been in place. If a private company had been running this long, it would likely function like a well oiled machine, with a clear purpose and probably making good profit with efficient staff. Now, I realise schools aren’t the same as corporate businesses but the system has been around so long and it’s still a mess, no clear direction, no clear purpose, and by it’s own standards it’s failing, all of that even with lots of teachers working very hard and giving up lots of time. So when you look at a system that is as inefficient as schooling you have to question whether it’s the right thing to do.”

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

Toxic Socialization

As a homeschooler one of the first questions you get is ‘what about socialization?’ Somehow people have come to believe that schools teach healthy social skills. As we have all experienced, that is not the case. Teachers agreed…

“As for the social side for children – well, teachers are under so much pressure to reach targets that children often miss playtime and lunchtimes while over stressed teachers desperately try to justify how much support they are giving to reach those targets. Autistic children are still expected to reach targets too despite the reaction to pressure. It’s a hive of stress!”

Schools function as virtual prisons. Very nice prisons, for sure, but with strict rules and consequences. Students who do not comply are punished, labeled, looked down on, thought of as less smart, and less likely to succeed in life.”

In school, they only socialize with kids in their grade level and class and only during very limited times unless they’re breaking the rules.”

“You have all these very prison like ways of treating students. Lining up in silence, can’t use the toilet during lessons, any misbehaviour at all and you’re in isolation for the rest of the day, the school actually hired an ex-police officer to help them ‘police’ the corridors.”

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

Inadequate Education

“They just push them forward year after year even if they have not learnt the content and we were getting further and further behind. The class environment did not promote thinking, creativity, self reflection, resilience etc”

While school is supposed to be ‘educating‘ our children, and helping them learn, many teachers thought it was doing a very poor job. What they knew about learning prompted them to remove their children from the system.

“I actually felt like unschooling was more in line with what we learned about how people learn in my education courses. Of course, that looks so different than what you are expected to implement in the classroom, because it just isn’t possible to create a space for the non-linear creative way we learn when you are trying to move 30 people along at the same pace; and moving them along is necessary so they can test well so the school can have funds and resources (and you can have a job) for next year. It’s a terrible system if it’s viewed through the lens of how we naturally learn.”

“I am a teacher. We unschool. I occasionally still supply teach and every time I do, our choice to live the way we do is reinforced by what I experience in schools.”

The heavy, exclusive focus on reading, writing and math, I feel, kills creativity in school. There is nothing wrong with those subjects but they can be learned alongside the students’ primary interests. When a child realizes that the problems they want to solve, the interests they want to pursue, and the goals they have can be achieved with the relevant math, reading, and writing skills, then they are motivated to learn those skills knowing that it helps them.”

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

Experiences From School and Teaching

The stories that saddened me the most were when people shared things they had observed in school, or how school had impacted their children. They speak for themselves…

The biggest thing for me was to do with my daughter. She loved to chat, was really creative and free and at school this was difficult. She loved school because she was social but she used to come home and tell me things like ‘I’m the naughtiest girl in my class’. I felt like I was watching her lose confidence in herself and also lose a bit of herself.
On Mother’s Day they had to colour in an invite for their Mum’s for a special Mother’s day event. When she gave hers to me she looked sad and I found out from her that it was her second invite because she got into trouble for the first one because she’d done this beautiful drawing over the words a little. The teacher made her start again.  I remember asking her what made her chose this new pattern she put on her invite and she said ‘oh well I just copied what everyone else was doing’. I started to see that she was already learning to conform.”

“There is so much shaming and competition in schools, that just doesn’t feel right. And as teachers, we’re taught to do it. Actively taught “behaviour management strategies” that employ shaming and comparison. A few years ago I mentioned in a staff meeting that I personally wouldn’t do something we were being told to do because it was shaming and I felt it was totally inappropriate and I was told, “Yes, that’s the point”. It was then I knew my exit from teaching was coming.”

“She developed separation anxiety (I got blamed for co-sleeping and being gentle), and started hiding abilities. She developed fear of failure too, although I can’t say if that’s school related. We tested for giftedness (suspected since about 2) hoping that would help to advocate for certain needs in school. Result was positive, teacher proceeded to dismiss it and say it’s up to us to “enrich” after school. Just to clarify I was not trying to push academics, just that she could get her hands on activities she enjoyed so she didn’t lose her interest and creativity. She is sensitive to noise and we were told “well, school is noisy, she better get used to it”.

I started to notice the little boy who was always sitting alone at lunch time. I used to get so teary imagining my child possibly not making any connections and having to sit alone every day. I noticed in prep things like how the boys in particular would struggle to sit still on the floor and were often on time out.”

“As a teacher, I was shamed by others for my beliefs in teamwork, kindness, free play, never sitting at desks for long periods, free movement and access to toilets and food. It wasn’t good for me, so that’s why I quit.”

“One day she brought in a find a word that she loved and her teacher said to me, ‘gee that’s not really age appropriate’, and I think I realized how focused teachers were on kids doing only what was expected by the curriculum for that age. How dare they have interests outside of that level. How dare a prep child write in capital letters! It all just seemed so pointless!”

“My son cried the entire way to school saying he hated it and I would get my coffee on the way home not at all content but completely broken. So I started picking him up at lunch time and it was a downward spiral from there”

“I gained a year two student part way through the year, who hadn’t been to school before. Getting to know him and seeing him have to adjust to the (often unique/bizarre) requirements of the school environment has reinforced this for me.”

I had noticed this year particularly that kids in the grade I taught (oldest in primary school – year 6) were increasingly stressed, anxious, and sad. There were issues with pressure they put on themselves to receive high grades, kids with anxiety issues, kids cutting themselves. I remember thinking how much this has increased in the 10 years I had taught.
I guess I realized then that school wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I wanted out of that for my family even though it terrified me! I wanted a slower pace. The kids in my class were so stressed with all of the expectations and the extra curricular activities and parents both working full time. They had no time to be young and wild and free. It made me sad for them and sad for my future kids to have that as their norm.”

“What I realized was that although my students were “successful” they were not thriving. I give a survey every year and I ask them about their hobbies outside of school, and without fail every year 90% say “nothing” or “eating and sleeping” and it just breaks my heart. They are overworked, over scheduled, overwhelmed, and at least 30% are on medication for anxiety or depression. And these kids I teach are the ones going to Stanford, UCLA, and Harvard. They are doing exactly what they think they should be doing to be “successful” but we are failing them in so many ways…And what’s worse is that these kids think that it’s “normal” to not enjoy their path to “success” and that it is just part of life. They don’t know joy, they don’t know freedom, they don’t even know what activities or subjects bring them these feelings because they were never allowed to pursue or even discover what they love to do. ”

“I could only take my kids outside during their assigned time, even if it was beautiful weather or they needed to run around. They didn’t want ages mixing on the playground. And I was strongly encouraged to not let my kids climb the full size equipment. Although we were “play-based,” most play was structured. I had a student who didn’t like art, so I let him play trains while everyone else did art. Several teachers “coached” me that he needed to learn to follow directions and that it could be a problem with the parents if he wasn’t bringing home enough art projects. I had a girl who always took an hour to eat. She would often miss music time (in a separate room with a special teacher). Again I was “coached” that I should just take away the rest of her lunch so that she learned to eat faster.”

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

Having Their Own Children Gave Them a New Perspective

“I wanted better for myself and for my children. I’d love to be somebody who sticks it out and does my best, but at the end of the day we’re talking about my children, their impressionable minds and 13 years, or nearly their whole childhood. I want my children to be more than a product the system spits out only to lead unfulfilling lives as a slave to the elites. I want my children to think for themselves, live the life they want, and find happiness in their life’s work—however that looks.”

When it came down to it, the most impactful message I got from stories of teachers who chose to homeschool was that when it was time for their own children to go to school, they couldn’t justify the negative aspects of the schooling system. This is such an important point and one we shouldn’t ignore.

I was a teacher for 10 years and homeschooling definitely NEVER crossed my mind. Until my OWN child started school. Then everything around me at school was about her and what that would be like for her. I started to notice things like the teacher who yelled ALL of the time and all I could think was how that would be one whole year of my child’s life spent 5 days a week being yelled at.”

“While taking the leap into unschooling was a bit daunting, the philosophy that is rooted in how people learn innately made so much more sense than knowing that and then sending my kiddos to a one-size-fits-most (but doesn’t, actually) traditional school.”

Why can’t teachers who have been teaching for years and years send their own children to school? Because having a personal connection and wanting what you know is the very best for your child makes a difference. It’s easy to justify things when it doesn’t personally effect your loved ones. The people who make decisions about how schools must be run, testing, standardization, and all that garbage are so far removed from the reality of schooling. Again and again the people who really know what schools are like, who have studied education, told of how it felt different for their own children.

“I was a teacher, most recently of 6-7 year olds. I was pretty disillusioned with the system before my children were born, but still expected to send my children to school. Then they arrived and taught me a different path.”

“In my opinion, there is a lot of time wasted as teachers need to deal with students who ‘act out’ and children who are reserved, like mine, get completely ignored. I also feel mainstream education squashes a students creativity and ability to be themselves.”

“I spent my oldest child’s first few years researching homeschooling and by the time her sister was school age, I was fully committed to the idea of unschooling. My first reason was simply that I wanted to spend more time with my children. And unschooling fits in to my ideas of respectful parenting. But the number of reasons grew and grew, and some were John Gatto inspired ideas about the problems with school, influenced by my memories of having taught for 5 years.”

“I know what happens to special needs kids…not enough support or freedom…ASD kids are overwhelmed just by being in loud/bright places with lots of people…school is not a suitable environment”

“Teaching has changed so much. No way would I put her into that system.”

“As a teacher I wasn’t allowed to spend equal time teaching each child. I was required to spend more time teaching the students who were behind and very little time with those who were ahead. My children are smart, but also impulsive. I worried they wouldn’t get enough time with their teacher and would be bored and disruptive.”

I want my children to grow up in an environment where they are free to explore the things that interest them, to move and play, to experiment, to be free from needless rules, to learn from us, others and their surroundings.”

“I worried about the ways in which my daughter would need to change in order to be happy and comfortable at school. She’d need to be able to sit, and wait, and follow directions, and work at a pace outlined by her teacher. And that’s just not who she is. She’s wise, and funny, and gentle and generous, but she has a wild streak and a sensitive soul, and I’m not convinced enough she’d thrive in school.”

Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

 

Why do teachers choose to homeschool their own children? It seems because they are educated, they know what school is like, and they want the best for their children. I think that’s telling.

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You can read the full stories shared by teachers below. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed.

“My husband and I both have a masters in education. We’ve held various educational jobs over the years. My husband still works in education (not in a classroom setting), but I have left. We unschool with our children. We sent them to public school until a year ago. I feel like we are coming full circle with our decision to unschool. Much of what we learned in college is only ideal in the classroom, but it is completely doable at home. Over the years, I’ve gone from thinking nothing of the system, to not liking it, to thinking it just doesn’t work anymore, and now I believe it was designed to fail kids. I have many friends who are teachers, and I know they work very hard, harder than most people, and they are only treated like dirt from nearly every corner of life—the system screws them over, parents often show little respect, and with the rise in neuroatypical children their job is even tougher. There is little to no support and the class sizes continue to climb while the funding continues to decrease. I finally decided I’d seen enough. I wanted better for myself and for my children. I’d love to be somebody who sticks it out and does my best, but at the end of the day we’re talking about my children, their impressionable minds and 13 years, or nearly their whole childhood. I want my children to be more than a product the system spits out only to lead unfulfilling lives as a slave to the elites. I want my children to think for themselves, live the life they want, and find happiness in their life’s work—however that looks.”

“I actually felt like unschooling was more in line with what we learned about how people learned in my education courses. Of course, that looks so different than what you are expected to implement in the classroom, because it just isn’t possible to create a space for the non-linear creative way we learn when you are trying to move 30 people along at the same pace; and moving them along is necessary so they can test well so the school can have funds and resources (and you can have a job) for next year. It’s a terrible system if it’s viewed through the lens of how we naturally learn. So ultimately, while taking the leap into unschooling was a bit daunting, the philosophy that is rooted in how people learn innately made so much more sense than knowing that and then sending my kiddos to a one-size-fits-most (but doesn’t, actually) traditional school.”

“I am a teacher and chose to homeschool. In my opinion, there is a lot of time wasted as teachers need to deal with students who ‘act out’ and children who are reserved, like mine, get completely ignored. I also feel mainstream education squashes a students creativity and ability to be themselves.”

“I taught for 5 years at the end of the 90’s, then left to move across the country and start our family. I had barely heard of homeschooling and thought I’d return t teaching when my kids were in school. Then I learned about homeschooling (and soon unschooling) in the attachment parenting online groups where I was reading. I spent my oldest child’s first few years researching homeschooling and by the time her sister was school age, I was fully committed to the idea of unschooling. My first reason was simply that I wanted to spend more time with my children. And unschooling fits in to my ideas of respectful parenting. But the number of reasons grew and grew, and some were John Gatto inspired ideas about the problems with school, influenced by my memories of having taught for 5 years. I always invite my kids to consider going to school, especially right before high school, but we love our lifestyle.”

“My husband is a Prof. and I have an M.Ed in special education and we unschool my son who is autistic and will unschool our second kiddo too…I know what happens to special needs kids…not enough support or freedom…ASD kids are overwhelmed just by being in loud/bright places with lots of people…school is not a suitable environment.”

“I became a teacher to make a difference in children’s lives, but was completely and quickly disillusioned with the environment teachers and children are in. I decided to continue studying to support with changing the education system. As I took on my next job as a teacher, I had found unschooling and decided to use unschooling principles in my work as a teacher in school. It had remarkable results which I’ve blogged about. I knew even before having children that I would unschool them. Now that I have my daugther, I actually work as a teacher again – still to make a difference for as many children as possible. This time around I teach people to become teacher’s aids/assistants, and as I see it, if I can support even one person to expand how they see and meet children, I can potentially support so many children still in the education system, through that one person. My goal is to, in the future, create an agile learning center, and to unschool my daughter.”

“I am home schooling my autistic granddaughter after being a primary teacher for 40 years. Teaching has changed so much no way would I put her into that system. As for the social side for children – well teacher’s are under so much pressure to reach targets that children often miss playtime and lunchtimes while over stressed teacher’s desperately try to justify how much support they are giving to reach those targets. Autistic children are still expected to reach targets too despite the reaction to pressure. It’s a hive of stress!”

“I’m a former Early Childhood Ed teacher. I know my daughter is not missing ANYTHING by not going to school. Now she has all the time in the world to learn at her own pace. To live life, enjoying it. And for me, the best gift ever since I became a mom was to realize how unique and special each human being is. And that I didn’t learned from the system.”

“I am a public school K-8 General Music teacher and my wife and I have decided to home educate our children. We were both home educated so sometimes it seems ironic to me that I ended up teaching in public school. When I was growing up, my parents’ idea behind home education was one of protection. They wanted us to be home to protect us from influences that were contrary to their beliefs. While we were “protected,” I feel that we were not adequately prepared for dealing with life, handling finances, dating, career choices, etc. However, being a public school teacher has opened my eyes to some of the serious problems with public education. Here are a few things I’ve observed. 1) Public school is the grand experiment, not home education. Schools function as virtual prisons. Very nice prisons, for sure, but with strict rules and consequences. Students who do not comply are punished, labeled, looked down on, thought of as less smart, less likely to succeed in life, etc. At my school there are rules about EVERYTHING! Students are even told which kids they can talk with at lunch, what they can eat, how long they can eat, when they can go to the bathroom and how often, which recess field they can play on, what they can play (they can’t bring their own soccer ball), and on and on. Teachers have very strict rules on the talk students DO have in the classroom (i.e., accountable talk).
When I was growing up, the number one question people asked us was, “How are they going to socialize?” What an absurd question! We could socialize with anybody, any age, any social strata. In school, they only socialize with kids in their grade level and class and only during very limited times unless they’re breaking the rules. 2) In my grad classes this summer I was introduced to Alfie Kohn who gave a voice to the concerns that were niggling in the back of my mind. The heavy, exclusive focus on reading, writing and math, I feel, kills creativity in school. There is nothing wrong with those subjects but they can be learned along side the students’ primary interests. When a child realizes that the problems they want to solve, the interests they want to pursue and the goals they have can be achieved with the relevant math, reading and writing skills, then they are motivated to learn those skills knowing that it helps them. 3) Public school is not designed to prepare one for life. It prepares you (supposedly) for the next level of education. Then you come out with a PhD and can’t balance a bank account or budget. 4) Differentiation, the ability to adapt education to every students abilities and strengths, is a myth and an impossibility in public school. This is a key selling point for public education but it cannot work in a public school setting.
I want my children to grow up in an environment where they are free to explore the things that interest them, to move and play, to experiment, to be free from needless rules, to learn from us, others and their surroundings. My mindset is changing more slowly than I’d like and there is a lot I want to learn about home educating my kids. But I’m ready to move away from simply despairing about public school to actually doing all the great things that I know my children and students need.”

“I’m a trained early years teacher and my daughter should just have started her first year of school. So many teachers home ed! I wanted my daughter to do things in her own time, and not on someone else’s timetable. It concerned me more and more how formal education was becoming, even with very young children. My children have always been encouraged to make their own choices and have always been very self motivated. It began to feel more and more as though school wouldn’t be a good fit because it would be an unnecessary interruption, and it would jar against our family rhythms. I also worried about the ways in which my daughter would need to change in order to be happy and comfortable at school. She’d need to be able to sit, and wait, and follow directions, and work at a pace outlined by her teacher. And that’s just not who she is. She’s wise, and funny, and gentle and generous, but she has a wild streak and a sensitive soul, and I’m not convinced enough she’d thrive in school. Her younger brother likewise.”

“I’ve got a background in education (child development undergraduate degree and master’s degree in education), and I am planning to homeschool. The things I’ve learned about motivation to learn are not being fostered in public schools. Things are being taught to children when it is not developmentally appropriate. Most schools are still giving young children homework, even when all the research shows it is not helpful. Anxiety around standardized tests is a huge problem. Recess time is being reduced. Teachers are over worked and underpaid. Until there is a major paradigm shift in the school climate, I will not be comfortable putting my kids in public school.”

“I am an ECE teacher in NZ who can teach New Entrant primary and also continued to study to become a lecturer. I was lecturer in a Bachelor of Arts class and a first year ECE class. Students in Uni I know from experience have a massive disconnection to University and Real Life teaching. I did a few years in primary as well and each time I always saw a commonality: favourites. These are children who know enough, and don’t bother the teacher in regards to not knowing. And the children being left out were the slow, to advanced and disabled. For some reason teachers cannot grapple with the understanding kids come in all shapes, sizes and understandings. Could this be because the qualifications do not cater to this right now? I am in the process of doing my Doctorate and I am finding an area which I am passionate about. My daughter is very outspoken but she is not the brightest of the pack if I am being honest. She off paper is beyond others her age but pen to paper she cannot even be grouped because she is below what they consider “standard”. Because of medical and health reasons she has had near to no full attendance both at Early Childhood and primary level. She became distant, and an extroverted child slowly shut down and showed signs of withdrawals, and anxiety. It is the exact signs I saw all the time in areas I taught. I let this go on even though she was bullied at the age of 6 years to 7 years. When she turned 9 I decided to stop teaching and applied for her to be homeschooled. From March this year I decided to be her teacher. Every winter since birth she has been in hospital since she began school she would stay there two weeks before winter, one month during winter and be back two weeks after winter. This year was her first year she has beaten winter and the only difference from all other years she had been homeschooled. This shocked all her doctors, us as a family and has been the biggest milestone for us. We cried together my husband, daughter and myself. Knowing the schooling system and being on this journey with my daughter I KNOW she would have never received the support to be at the standard she needed to be if comparing her to the other children. She became so embedded in tests, marks, red correct ticks, it made her scared of even trying. Since March I decided to unschool. I am a very strict timetabled teacher but for my daughter I had to undo all I knew so that I could at least begin to break the barriers of all that caused her so much pain and anxiety. She always apologised when she was wrong, she would shake unknowing when she knew she could not write an answer, she would sweat because she was scared I would yell at her. I have slowly broken that barrier, I am so regretful I did not try this route earlier. In saying this Homeschooling is not a common choice for my culture. Homeschooling does still have some negative ideals towards it. But for us having one less income parent teaching our daughter has to be our million dollar winnings. Knowing the education system my daughter would have became another failing statistic as a teacher though, homeschooling has come naturally for myself and I am glad we did this for her.”

“I work in the public school system as an instructional assistant/para. We have always homeschooled our own children (I was also homeschooled). I have homeschooled longer than I have worked in the public school system. We homeschool because we believe in individualized education.”

“I am new to home ed (since June 18). I’m a level 3 TA. I don’t think I would ever return my daughter to school after my recent experience and listening to other people’s experiences.”

“So I was a teacher for 10 years and homeschooling definitely NEVER crossed my mind. Until my OWN child started school. Then everything around me at school was about her and what that would be like for her. I started to notice things like the teacher who yelled ALL of the time (which by the way I’ve always been anti yelling teachers – there’s no excuse for it!) and all I could think was how that would be one whole year of my child’s life spent 5 days a week being yelled at.
I started to notice the little boy who was always sitting alone at lunch time. I used to get so teary imagining my child possibly not making any connections and having to sit alone every day.
I noticed in prep things like how the boys in particular would struggle to sit still on the floor and were often on time out.
But the biggest thing for me was to do with my daughter. She loved to chat, was really creative and free and at school this fit was difficult. She loved school because she was social but she used to come home and tell me things like ‘I’m the naughtiest girl in my class’. I felt like I was watching her lose confidence in herself and also lose a bit of herself.
On Mother’s Day they had to colour in an invite for their Mum’s for a special Mother’s day event. When she gave hers to me she looked sad and I found out from her that it was her second invite because she got into trouble for the first one because she’d done this beautiful drawing over the words a little. The teacher made her start again.  I remember asking her what made her chose this new pattern she put on her invite she gave to me and she said ‘oh well I just copied what everyone else was doing’. I started to see that she was already learning to conform.
I started quizzing the chaplain at our school who happened to be an unschooling Mum of 5 girls who used to be a teacher but then chose to unschool her now almost all adult children. I used to ask her 100 questions!  Anyway. I had noticed this year particularly that kids in the grade I taught (oldest in primary school – year 6) were increasingly stressed, anxious, sad. There were issues with pressure they put on themselves to receive high grades, kids with anxiety issues, kids cutting themselves. And I remember thinking how much this has increased in the 10 years I had taught.
I guess I realized then that school wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I wanted out of that for my family even though it terrified me! I wanted a slower pace. The kids in my class were so stressed with all of the expectations and the extra curricular activities and parents both working full time. They had no time to be young and wild and free. It made me sad for them and sad for my future kids to have that as their norm.
It was scary but I remember going back for a relief day in my first year as a homeschool Mum. It was such a waste in the day of those kids – so many pointless worksheets. I saw everything so differently. I don’t think I could go back to it comfortably. It would have to be a super chill school for me to consider it!
Ps My daughter’s teacher also used to say things like one day she brought in a find a word that she loved and her teacher said to me ‘gee that’s not really age appropriate’ And I think I realized how focused teachers were on kids doing only what was expected by the curriculum for that age. How dare they have interests outside of that level. How dare a prep child write in capital letters!
It all just seemed so pointless!”

“I’m a qualified primary teacher here in NZ. I graduated just after I had our eldest. To start with I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the school system. I struggled my way through bullying and being about 5yrs behind at the end of primary school (but mostly caught up by end of intermediate) completed high school and played the game of university.
After we joined our local Playcentre and I began understanding learning through play and with respect we began our journey towards radical unschooling. I deschooled nearly everything we were taught about learning at uni and was working for a holistic education trust which was basically Playcentre for big kids. This gave me the confidence to step away from mainstream education for our children and we began doing Playcentre at home alongside respectful parenting. We didn’t even know the label Unschooling until a friend pointed out that we are radical Unschoolers.
Our eldest is now 10yo and his brother is now HomeEd too with one more on his way (he’s 2).
We continue to educate this way because we believe in respecting ones right to educate how they would like, when they would like, and where they like.”

“I am trained in Early Childhood (10 years working experience as well) and Early Years Primary (which I have not worked in with paid employment). When my eldest boy was about 3 years old, we started looking into home schooling. I was disheartened by how children who are on the autism spectrum are treated. My son has Asperger’s and with this, he has a lot of learning quirks that are either ‘not the norm’ or would be shut down fairly quickly within the school system (such as the inability to give up a topic if he believes he is correct, he will argue the point until he is blue in the face). There are many things about the school system that we do not agree with, and that I could not imagine suddenly forcing upon him. After raising him a certain way, and then suddenly putting him into an environment where things are different. I don’t want my son to be put into the ‘too hard box’ or be labelled because of him having Autism. We have two other children, a 2 year old and a new born. We had planned to see what each child would need while growing up, as to whether or not they would individually go into the school system, but with the amount of bullying, and how many children get ‘lost’ in the system, I will now be homeschooling all 3.”

“I am a qualified teacher but I haven’t ever really worked as such because I don’t like school. I’ve worked as TA though for a short while and the things I experienced made me start looking into alternatives when I got pregnant with my 6 year old girl. We moved from UK to France because from some strange reason we thought schools would be better. They are probably worse. I’ve had the feeling, during my time as TA, that school was more interested in box-ticking than really helping students, arrogant and disrespectful staff, but my daughter asked to go to school since she was barely 2 so I forgot about homeschooling. She went to preschool at 3.5 and it was not a good experience. She developed separation anxiety (I got blamed for co-sleeping and being gentle) and started hiding abilities. She developed fear of failure too although I can’t say if that’s school related. We tested for giftedness (suspected since about 2) hoping that would help to advocate for certain needs in school. Result was positive, teacher proceeded to dismiss it and say it’s up to us to “enrich” after school. Just to clarify I was not trying to push academics, just that she could get her hands on activities she enjoyed so she didn’t lose her interest and creativity. She is sensitive to noise and we were told “well, school is noisy, she better get used to it”. So we decided to unschool last year and we all liked it. Unfortunately I don’t have much support, hubby thinks like me but would rather “go with the flow” and my inlaws are a nightmare. We had a confrontation in January, they can’t stand our “permissive” parenting, they disrespect us and our daughter. We don’t see them much but that has shutter my confidence (I have anxiety and things become just a little harder). This year she’s back in school, she’s “ok” but would rather not go and I’ve been crying every day wishing I was brave enough to follow my heart instead of succumb to the pressure.”

“I’m currently an early childhood family educator who is choosing to unschool. My son is five and could have started kindergarten this past week. I have been teaching or working in preschools and day care settings for the last 15 years. I know how easily teachers can be distracted and/or focus on the classroom management aspect alone. I’ve been pressured to stress academic activities and teach social skills. These are valuable skills, but I feel that they can easily be developed by freely playing with your family and friends. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to push a child to learn or “play” a game if they aren’t interested. My son could have gone to kindergarten and he would have been “fine,” given his temperament. But I want more than fine for him. I want him to spend his days playing, inside and outside. I want him to be able to focus on activities that make him happy, whatever time of day, for however long he needs. I want him to develop close relationships with his sisters and parents. Time goes too fast (he’s already 5!!!) to spend it trapped in a classroom, doing busywork. He’s learned so much in this time too, all because he’s been motivated to learn something. I don’t want to miss seeing what comes next for him and his sisters.”

“So I have an Early Childhood degree, graduated 2003 after studying EC at high school and being the top student that year. I’ve worked in child care and nannied all over the world for years and years, run my own private 3yo Reggio Emilia kindy as well as taught in government schools part time for the last 10 years until I finally quit last year.
My son attended pre-primary (5yo) at an alternative school which is wonderful, but financially inaccessible to us and many. We’re in our third year of homeschooling. He’s now 8 and my daughter is 5 so this is her first official year of homeschooling as well.
Government school was never an option we considered, despite the fact that I’ve taught part time in one for the last 10 years. I had a wonderfully supportive principal who allowed me to run my entire day outside, with free play making up the majority of the day, and activities sensitively offered. Toilets and food were always accessible. This made working in a government school palatable enough for me to continue doing so, and my Friday program was highly valued by parents and students which was lovely. However, that is not the norm and what I’ve seen and heard as a teacher is why I won’t send my children.
Firstly, as an EC professional and highly experienced person with children in all settings and different countries, I just don’t think all day every day is appropriate until children are much older. That amount of separation never felt right to me (and so my son missed heaps of school the year he attended) and we know from all the melt downs kids have after school, that it’s too much. It’s also a big shift in WA from when I first graduated and the first year of school (the one I teach) was part time.
Secondly, there is so much shaming and competition in schools, that just doesn’t feel right. And as teachers, we’re taught to do it. Actively taught “behaviour management strategies” that employ shaming and comparison. A few years ago i mentioned in a staff meeting that i personally wouldn’t do something we were being told to do because it was shaming and I felt it was totally inappropriate and i was told “Yes, that’s the point.”. It was then I knew my exit from teaching was coming, and i build up my side hustle business to allow me to quit. We were already homeschooling at the time and it’s these things that make me so confident in my decision, especially while my children are so young.
As a teacher, I was shamed by others for my beliefs in teamwork, kindness, free play, never sitting at desks for long periods, free movement and access to toilets and food. It wasn’t good for me, so that’s why I quit.”

“I’m still teaching at the moment, in a secondary school. I’ve not been doing it long, I think this is only my 3rd year. We’ve been looking into home ed and unschooling for a while and the more we look into it the more sure I am of living that lifestyle with our family. I’ve noticed many issues with schooling whilst teaching, and really it started during teacher training at uni. We are taught and shown so many studies about how to educate and the pros and cons of different styles, the overwhelming conclusion is that people learn best when the learning is led by themselves and their own choices. Yet as soon as you enter a classroom it is clear that this is I possible to do in a school. Then on top of that you have all these very prison like ways of treating students. Lining up in silence, can’t use the toilet during lessons, any misbehaviour at all and you’re in isolation for the rest of the day, the school actually hired an ex-police officer to help them ‘police’ the corridors. But what hits it home for me is when you consider how long the school system has been in place. If a private company had been running this long, it would likely function like a well oiled machine, with a clear purpose and probably making good profit with efficient staff. Now I realise schools aren’t the same as corporate businesses but the system has been around so long and it’s still a mess, no clear direction, no clear purpose, and by it’s own standards it’s failing, all of that even with lots of teachers working very hard giving up lots of time. So when you look at a system that is as inefficient as schooling you have to question whether it’s the right thing to do. All that without mentioning the mental health issues students face. More personally, when I came to this school and had been thinking about unschooling I was genuinely heartbroken for some of these kids, forced into a system that is clearly not helping them, when they would be much better off at home with parents who love them. School is failing these kids. I am looking for another job because I can’t function here believing what I believe about honouring children and unschooling etc.”

“I am a teacher and pulled my child out last year – Yr 5 – My biggest regret is not pulling him out earlier – reason being was that explicit teaching did not appear to exist – so many gaps – they just push them forward year after year even if they have not learnt the content and we were getting further and further behind. The class environment did not promote thinking, creativity, self reflection, resilience etc.”

“My entire life I have wanted to be a teacher and a mother. I studied childhood education, child development, etc in college. I have worked in childcare, summer camps, as a nanny. It wasn’t until I had my son, and really started researching that I knew I would never send him to school. I think it was The Thomas Jefferson Education that lighted the fire. I read it when he was a baby, and after that kept researching (honestly I think I was trying to find justification to keep him with me). Then I had my daughter, and they are so close! I could not imagine separating them every day. Once your eyes are open to the unschooling way of life, the reality that we can choose to spend every day with our children & not subject them to all the these unnecessary things, there’s no going back. You can not unlearn it! I still have to fight with myself to let them learn naturally and not the way I was raised, but no matter what I know I have 100% made the right choice. It really takes you having your own children to open your eyes sometimes!”

“I don’t have kids yet but I’m a new (2 years) teacher and have realised I want to home school! I gained a year two student part way through the year this year, who hadn’t been to school before. Getting to know him and seeing him have to adjust to the (often unique/bizarre) requirements of the school environment has reinforced this for me.”

“As a teacher I was feeling that the school system was not thought for children. And when I became mother I realised I wanted to live everyday with my daughters to see how they discover the world by their own, wild and free, following their needs and always being respected. This us why we choose to unschool.”

“I taught secondary English before I had kids, I also did my Master’s in education as they were babies. The more I reflected on it, the more problems I saw in the system. I know that the whole thing needs massive reform; in terms of the kids who don’t fit into the school mold – most people working within it seem to agree (although there’s little time or space to consider that when you’re in it), but there are too many stakeholders to change it enough. We didn’t want our spirited girls to be crushed by the school system, so we opted out before they began. After lots of deschooling for me, I can see so many more problems with it than I’d originally thought – that even those who seem to thrive are constricted by a culture that tries to fit everyone into a box.”

“I was asked by my principal if I would send my kids to our school… I replied absolutely not. That did not go over well. I was teaching high school and was head over heels for my students, but I learned in my 4 years of being in a school that I did not want to put my tiny humans into one. So after needing to quit from 8 months of severe sickness and bed rest during pregnancy we discovered that unschooling was our preferred choice. I realized as I read more about unschooling that I had those ideas and philosophies in me already and I was attempting to find a place for those ideas inside my classroom walls. Teaching theatre allowed me some freedom to find some ways to include unschooling ideas, but not enough. So happy we made this choice!”

“I teach languages in a nursery as a part time job (children are less than 4 years old). Towards the end of the first year in my job is when I started really learning about unschooling from your blog and others, and in the same time I was on an emotional healing journey and healing my own inner child. The more I read your blog and the more I healed my inner child the more it became clear to me what really aligns with my values and what I believe in. I don’t have children but when I do its going to be 100% unschooling for my family. It’s non negotiable for me now, it’s basic respect for children, for their emotions and individuality. So I’ve made a decision that I will transition from teaching to being a full time healer besides holding meditation workshops for children and that’s what I’m working towards now.”

“I am a high school teacher and I teach a biomedical course. It is an elective class and an advanced course, so many of my seniors end up at top colleges in the US. This is my 11th year teaching, and we just recently decided to unschool our Children (2 and 4), so I will not be returning to teaching next year. I always knew school wasn’t a very good system, but I loved the subject I taught and I loved the relationships I formed with my students. But what I realized was that although my students were “successful” they were not thriving. I give a survey every year and I ask them about their hobbies outside of school, and without fail every year 90% say “nothing” or “eating and sleeping” and it just breaks my heart. They are overworked, over scheduled, overwhelmed, and at least 30% are on medication for anxiety or depression. And these kids I teach are the ones going to Stanford, UCLA, and Harvard. They are doing exactly what they think they should be doing to be “successful” but we are failing them in so many ways, and without being able to see a change in the system any time soon, I just feel I cannot send my children into a system where they prescribe to this path of success, but do not THRIVE in the process. And what’s worse is that these kids think that it’s “normal” to not enjoy their path to “success” and that it is just part of life. They don’t know joy, they don’t know freedom, they don’t even know what activities or subjects bring them these feelings because they were never allowed to pursue or even discover what they love to do. So with this knowledge we have decided not to send our children to school.”

“I used to be a languages teacher in secondary schools in the UK then I was a primary teacher in Spain. The more I worked there the more I realised something was not right and I started reading about alternative methods such as Montessori then later saw a film about unschooling which was completely eye opening. I tried to implement child led learning and empathy/discussion rather than punishments but I was completely going against the school and parents thought I was weak because I was not punishing their children… I read more about unschooling and when I got pregnant I quit my job because I could not deal with the stress and not believing in my job anymore. My daughter is now 2 and we are unschooling and your blog is a great resource for us!”

“I have a few things to say! First, I was a preschool teacher- influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach, which is very child directed and focuses on emergent curriculum so when I unschooled my older daughter I was still greatly inspired by the Reggio approach. Last year and this year, both my girls have decided on their own to go to school, so that’s what’s happening now. I keep telling them (when they have not-so-good days) that they’re not stuck and they are in charge of their own education. My 1st grader says, “when I’m in 3rd grade, I’m going to be unschooled!” The most important thing for me is to help my kids understand what their choices are when it comes to education and allow them the freedom to decide what’s right for them. The other thing I wanted to share is that I attended a big homeschooling conference 2 years ago and almost every speaker was a former teacher!”

“I taught at an outdoor education school in the woods for three years then in a local elementary school for five years. My dream was to integrate the outdoor, nature, garden, environment ed into the classroom. The reality is there is no time for anything but testing, testing prep, data analysis, meetings about data, meetings about tests, meetings about how to get the scores up etc. I went on maternity leave for baby #3 and decided to homeschool our big kids. We are on our third year out. We now have a few families that pay to have their kids with us at home as well. I set up an education consultant business to umbrella my homeschool support. The biggest challenge is deschooling myself after my 22years in the system and trusting the process. My kids and other students are thriving in our ‘unschool’ homeschool group.”

“I was a teacher, most recently of 6-7 year olds. I was pretty disillusioned with the system before my children were born, but still expected to send my children to school. Then they arrived and taught me a different path. I moved pretty rapidly through school-at-home, Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio-inspired home education, but my children were having nothing of it. Then we found unschooling and we love it!”

“I’m currently on my last teaching placement, 3 weeks til I finish. I have a little girl who’s nearly 2 and hope to unschool her. My husband isn’t on board with it yet, but I’m hoping I can convince him over time. I love the kids at school, but I feel sorry for them too. I’m in a kindy class at the moment (prep) and we don’t even have time for free play in our weekly timetable. I hate the rewards and punishment at school and kids being told they’re naughty. I hate the way kids are spoken about. It’s just not what I want for my daughter at all. I don’t want her wild carefree spirit ‘stomped’ out of her or for her to be discouraged from following her passions because it’s not in the curriculum. The push from the department and higher up is ridiculous! It also breaks my heart when kids are anxious over doing something but are made to do it anyway, they get little autonomy. Basically I don’t want my child to be molded to fit into a box.”

“I taught 2yo preschool. The school was play based and followed Conscious Discipline (a system I still love for making changes within the school system). It was everything I thought I would want for my own kids. But we still followed a curriculum and had report cards and parent\teacher conferences – yes for 2 year olds! I could only take my kids outside during their assigned time, even if it was beautiful weather or they needed to run around. They didn’t want ages mixing on the playground. And I was strongly encouraged to not let my kids climb the full size equipment. Although we were “play-based,” most play was structured. I had a student who didn’t like art, so I let him play trains while everyone else did art. Several teachers “coached” me that he needed to learn to follow directions and that it could be a problem with the parents of he wasn’t bringing home enough art projects. I had a girl who always took an hour to eat. She would often miss music time (in a separate room with a special teacher). Again I was “coached” that I should just take away the rest of her lunch so that she learned to eat faster. As parents, my husband and I have always been focused on consent and preserving our children’s agency. Seeing all the little things that are so ingrained in school culture even from such a young age, we knew we couldn’t send our own kids to school. When we came across unschooling, the whole philosophy clicked so quickly. We love being partners with our kids instead of forcing them into the school mold.”

“My husband was an elementary teacher for several years (in a brick and mortar school and in an online school). Once he realized how the system is treating kids, he got out. We attempted to find play based preschools in our area when our oldest was close to 3. Everything around us was academically based. We decided to do it ourselves so that our kids could have a slow childhood. After some research and watching “Class Dismissed,” we are self-directed education advocates for life.”

“I am not a teacher by degree yet I started teaching history and German at the best private school in Namibia a few months ago. I treat the kids different than the other teachers and I am so surprised how it works out very well for some classes and then in others they are so used to the system that they can’t deal with that much freedom that I give them. It us so sad to see… I am scared to make the decision for my daughter to go to a school here. It is super strict – even with uniforms. At the moment she goes to a beautiful Montessori kindergarten and she loves it and really strives there together with the other kids, but I am pretty sure the school system here is definitely not made for her… 5 years to figure that out and make a plan.”

12 thoughts on “Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children

  1. Lovely testimonials! I agree public schools are cesspits indoctrinating children than places of true learning. They only teach kids to perform for adults, not learn for any intrinsic value to themselves 😡 That was my experience…

    • Hi Eve, If you select the “Contact” Tabb at the top of the blog and scroll down just a little you will see, “Never Miss An Article” or something along those words… There is a place for you to subscribe there. Love the website too, subscribing myself!

    • Hi Eve, If you select the “Contact” Tab at the top of the blog and scroll down just a little you will see, “Never Miss An Article” or something along those words… There is a place for you to subscribe there. Love the website too, subscribing myself!

  2. I personally think homeschool is better nowadays. And when my babies grow up, I’ll homeschool them no matter what others will say. Bullies are everywhere now and I can’t let my kids be with that kind of environment. Thank you for this topic, I’ve learned a lot about homeschool.

  3. Another teacher who homeschools here. I could relate to a lot of the experiences, but even as teachers a lot of us go along with it, either because of convenience, expectations or being too afraid to question the status quo. It wasn’t until my 4th went to school and he was completely unsuited to the system that I was forced out of my comfort zone and took the plunge. In a coupe of months I will also start homeschooling two of my older children, I’m really looking forward to it.

  4. I’ve just been going through your posts with interest since I’ve been interested in newer ideas of education too. I just wanted to wish you well, as many people seem so intent on judging all this without exploring your ideas in depth. It’s just been stressful for me not to voice out my irritation for these types of people, as an activist in critical thinking myself I’ve encounted people like that.

    It’s just strange how a lot of people are so intent on judging you as being harsh when they sound much more harsh themselves — judging character, resorting to insults, and xherry picking ideas from certain studies while ignoring the additional perspective of others.

    There is a difference between respectful criticism and disrespectful criticism, and they are acting like all forms of criticism against them are automatically insults, without looking at how hypocritical they themselves are for being so disrespectfully critical they are themselves. It’s as if people’s definition of “logical” means becoming an utterly cynical person who just gives up on any possible new solutions on society without hearing them out of cowardice, when so many of the scientists and thinkers they look up to are actually often the type of people who would have had heard out new ideas like this, and this is how they came across new discoveries in the first place.

    You can never learn a genius’s creativity by copying their discoveries, but by understanding the process of their own critical thinking and creativity that led it to the first place. I know that there’s a person behind the other side of the screen here, and I just wanted to pat you at the back with all your hard work.

    This is hard, and I do love your work. I’ll be in the backgound, but I’ll still be reading. See how I can pass it along, and what others can do. I bet there were a lot of people who benefited from all this. It’s just that they don’t share such gratitude in the open, and being open about what you believe in, that’s something we can all learn from from you. I would question the objectivity of people who don’t take the effort to ask questions before hearing you out first. Isn’t that part of science? To make no assumptions, and to just experiment ideas out for yourself? You don’t need a science degree to know that if something you experimented on works for you is right, because first hand experience is always the most reliable in science, and in life.

    You inspired me in my activism as well myself. I’m glad.

    Bye. Have a good day. 🙂

  5. My son mows for a public school teacher. Her children all home school with her full support. She told us how much she loves all the extra time she gets with her grandchildren.

  6. Home education is the best. Second is Christian school and Abeka system.
    I chose Christian education for my children and they chose Home education for their children, grateful for their wisdom. Thankful for children that sacrificed for their families. Now my great grands are using wisdom and following the same path! Thank you God!

  7. It isn’t only public schools. We attended a private Christian school and the atmosphere was similar. So, I’ve started referring to is as “traditional school” where kids sit at desks and do the same thing all the time, are expected to conform, etc. We discovered in 3rd grade that my son wasn’t getting above 90 on his reading tests because the tests were open book and they were literally expected to copy the answers from the book instead of using their own words. That in addition to several similar incidents was when we decided we were done with “traditional school.”

  8. Pingback: The School of Connie Fox | conniefoxrichmond

  9. Pingback: Why Teachers Choose to Homeschool Their Own Children (Happiness is Here) - What is a Suitable Education?

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