Hom Schooling, Is It The Best Thing?

I have a niece in Virginia who has 5 kids, ages 1 month-11 years. She and her husband chose to live in a very secluded place at a very high elevation, overlooking beautiful valleys and forests. That is all well and good, but they are so isolated, and there are no playmates for her kids. She home schools them, starting at 4 years old. My niece has a BS degree in religion and philosophy, and the kids are very intelligent. She does a great job with them. My niece says she is shielding her children from drugs, alcohol, smoking, violence and other such negative influences. There is very little contact with other kids, except in church and with church activities. The church is also in a very rural setting with a very small membership. The kids are wonderful and happy, and they have each other, but no friends outside of the family. Is this a good way to raise children?

My concern is that, after their home schooling, grades k-12, they will go out into the world and experience culture shock. They will have such a hard time adjusting. They may fall for scams, be easily influenced by the wrong kind of people, etc. They will be immature to the world at large and have a very difficult time adjusting. The family cannot afford to send the kids to college. My niece is a stay-at-home mom and the father has a low paying job. How will these kids survive in today's world?

My kids went to schools in the city here in Kingston, NY. They had good educations, had many friends from the neighborhood and school, and adjusted as they grew. They saw kids on drugs, drinking alcohol, smoking and having guns at school. They were never tempted by any of those vices because my wife and I were a good influence at home. We have never had any of those vices ourselves. We sent our two sons to college and they have MS degrees from Georgia Tech. They have enormous homes and good jobs, earning big bucks. They did not have to adjust to a strange world, they were already adjusted when they left home.

Now, which way is best, to raise your kids? I can see the good and bad sides of both, but i am very concerned about the futures of my niece's five kids.

I respect people for wanting to home school their children.....it is their choice.  But you cannot home school and expect your kids to remain blind to alcohol, drugs, smoking, and violence.  If you are a parent who instills values in your children and you teach them wrong from right, you can still have respectable children and send them to public school.  It seems like an excuse to home school.  You are right, they will definitely be in for some culture shock when/if they go away to college.  They will have little, if any, real world experiences.  Plus how will your niece's children learn any socialization skills?  Most likey they will get a job where they have to work with colleagues....they won't know how to do that.  I believe that students should attend public/private school...not just because I am a teacher, but because of life lessons that can be learned and the exposure to diversity!   

Richard,i guess you'r right to be concerned .i think we dont have the right to islet our children even if we mean well,  choices like that can limit them ,i mean they have the right to experience life ,to meet  good or bad people ,to know how other people think and make decisions ,as long as we  are guiding them and trying to be good examples for them.

maybe it's just because it's iowa and everywhere you go is rural and every family has 20 kids (not really), but we seem to have a high population of home schooled children. however, at least here in iowa, home schooled kids can participate in extra curricular activities in the school district they live in. at my elementary and middle schools we had a lot of home schooled children who came to participate in intramurals and basketball. would it be possible for your family to do something like this? this would provide the kids with an opportunity to interact with others their age in activities they enjoy.

it also doesn't have to be an isolating experience. if they find opportunities to get their children involved in other activities, whether school related or not, they can interact and make friends with other children. it can be something like a dance class, or activities held at the local library, or something like that. providing ample opportunities for the kids to interact is what's important. this way they are socializing, being exposed to people and situations outside of their home, and will have less of a culture shock when leaving home. also encouraging them to get a job as soon as they are able will help teach them other important values as well as once again meeting new people and making friends.

I appreciate the replies, they are all good ones.

Angela, my niece and her husband have very good social skills and they are teaching their children those skills and then the children practice them with church friends and relatives. They seem to think that is enough. I disagree, but I don't dare say anything.

Hevin, the kids' parents are giving them excellent guidance and they are very good examples for the children. The kids do need contact with the world outside their home and church, but the parents think that contact could lead to the drugs, alcohol, violence,

C, the two older kids have participated on community soccer teams. The parents feel this is OK because they are both present at all times, and they can monitor every encounter. I watched a soccer game for boys in which the older son (Paul) was participating. The next game was for girls and the older daughter (Lily) participated. There was no conversation by Paul or Lily with the other kids. The other kids seemed to ignore them. Paul and Lily were both out of their element, it was so obvious. I don't think they enjoyed the games at all.

I can never say anything to the family about this, but I appreciate being able to discuss it with you people.


Wow, I leave for a month and miss out on some neat threads!

Anyway, I was home-schooled every year prior to college except for Kindergarten, 4th grade, and 7th grade.  Did any of you all know that?  I believe I mentioned it here once before, but I might be wrong.  Anyway, I think I turned out fine.  :)  Ironically, I am now planning to teach the grade levels I never attended (high school years).

However, I was home-schooled for different reasons - there was nothing religious or "shielding" about my parents' decision to home-school me.  Basically, I read and spoke at a very early age; following Kindergarten, my verbal precocity was proving to be a real challenge for the public school staff (they had placed me with the 1st grade readers, but I ended up testing at the 4th grade level), so my folks decided it was best for me to learn at my own pace for awhile.

Additionally, I was never isolated entirely from people other than my family - I played rec league basketball from 1994-1999 and participated extensively in online forms of social contact from 1996 onward (hey, if the "texting" people engage in today is an acceptable form of socialization, I don't see why my Internet experiences don't count!).  I was exposed to diversity and learned social skills like other people.  By no means is sitting in a classroom every day the only way people learn to socialize!

As for college, I started my freshman year at the age of 17 in 2002 (I took the GED a year early and got a high enough score to get a scholarship) and never had any notable problems.  I met up with another girl that semester who was home-schooled her entire life, and she and I both did extremely well in college.  She now teaches English to Koreans and is happily married with two boys.  Obviously she's been effectively socialized!

So, with all that said, I think the success of home-schooling depends on the child, the family, the environment provided, and things like that more than anything.  In the case of Richard's niece's kids' situation, I agree it'd probably be best for them to do stuff other than church (in my situation and the situation of some other home-schoolers I know, I think our experiences were more varied), but you may want to do studies on some kids who were home-schooled for similar reasons in the 1980s and 1990s and see how they've turned out long-term.  I think some have been done.

Hi Khendra, thanks fpr your reply. I am pleased that you and your friend have done so well after home schooling. I just hope that my five nieces and nephews will turn out as well as you have.