Homeschooling: It’s Worth the Tears

When I give talks at homeschool conventions, I generally tell the audience that I am working with homeschoolers today because while I was on the faculty at Ball State University, I started getting homeschool graduates in my chemistry and physics classes. At the time, I didn’t know anything about homeschooling. However, I started getting students who were truly head-and-shoulders above their peers, and when I learned about their backgrounds, I found out that they had been homeschooled. That led me to research homeschooling, and I came to the conclusion that it is the best way to educate most students.

Dr. Jay Wile: “I came to the conclusion that it is *the best way* to educate most students.” Click To Tweet

So I started working with homeschoolers because I saw the university students they were producing. Those students impressed me so much that I wanted to encourage more parents to homeschool. Since then, my wife and I adopted a teen, and we started homeschooling her. That’s when I really learned what homeschooling is all about. It’s also when I saw first-hand that despite the struggles and the tears, homeschooling can produce long-lasting joy.

Obviously, our family isn’t typical. My wife and I were a “double income, no kids” couple for the first ten years of our marriage. We then adopted a teen. We started homeschooling her specifically because she needed some serious help. She was a smart young lady, but because her home life had been so miserable, her education suffered. However, she had a strong desire to get a university degree, because no one in her biological family had ever done that. She thought that graduating university would allow her to prove that she is more than her biological heritage.

As a university faculty member, I knew that even if she had been accepted to a university, she didn’t have the skills to graduate, so I spent the rest of her high school years performing what I called “educational triage.” We found the gaps in her education, and we filled them. She ended up getting accepted to Butler University, and she later graduated with a degree in sociology. My heart still flutters when I think of her walking across the stage to receive her diploma.

Now that I can look at our homeschooling experience from the other side, there are two things that stand out in my mind.

She did not want to be home­schooled.

First, my daughter did not want to be homeschooled. She was an incredibly social teen, and she hated the idea of not seeing her friends every day at school. However, she did want us as parents, so she agreed to the “package deal.”

Throughout the rest of her high school years, she was not happy about being homeschooled. As a result, our homeschool wasn’t filled with a lot of “precious moments.” We argued and fought regularly. There were times I really wanted to quit. However, I knew that homeschooling was best for her, so we persevered.

A few weeks after she had gone to university, she called us. The main purpose of the call was specifically to thank us for homeschooling her. She had been observing her peers, and she realized what a lousy job their schools had done in preparing them for the rigors of university studies. She was grateful that we had given her what she needed to succeed, and from that moment on, she has been a strong advocate of homeschooling.

Home­schooling can help you build a real family.

The other thing that stands out in my mind is more important. We started homeschooling our daughter for academic reasons. However, I now realize that while academics are obviously very important, they aren’t the primary benefit of homeschooling. The primary benefit is that homeschooling can help you build a real family. Had we simply sent our daughter to school every day, we wouldn’t know her the way we know her today. We wouldn’t be as close. We wouldn’t have the wonderful relationship we have with her now that she is 38, married, and working as an entrepreneur. We owe that relationship to homeschooling.

Dr. Jay Wile: “The primary benefit of homeschooling is that it can help you build a real family.” Click To Tweet

I was once talking with a homeschool graduate who now works as a covert operative in an intelligence organization. Yes, she’s a spy. Not surprisingly, we were talking about her homeschooling experience. At one point, she said, “I remember times when we were doing math, and I was in tears; my mom was in tears. But it was so worth it. I have been given such an amazing gift.”

That statement still resonates with me. Our homeschooling experience was full of a lot of tears. But it was so worth it! I have, indeed, been given an amazing gift.

Dr. Jay Wile

Dr. Jay Wile

Dr. Wile’s love of science is demonstrated by the many awards he has won for excellence in teaching and research. He has also presented numerous lectures on the topics of Nuclear Chemistry, Christian Apologetics, Homeschooling, and Creation vs. Evolution. He has published 30 articles on these subjects in nationally-recognized, peer-reviewed journals, and has 9 books to his credit, most of which belong to the award-winning “Exploring Creation with” series of junior-high and high-school science courses.

More about Dr. Jay Wile →

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3 thoughts on “Homeschooling: It’s Worth the Tears

  • November 2, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks Dr. Wile for sharing your personal experience homeschooling your own child, and for gathering together the statistics about how well homeschoolers perform compared to their peers.

    I read “Homeschooling: It’s worth the tears” with my wife. She enjoyed your story, but she said that “It’s hard for me to get excited about homeschooling like you, because I wasn’t homeschooled,” to which I replied “My homeschooling experience was far from perfect!” I definitely remember the tears from my homeschooling experience, but I can also attest that it was well worth it!

    Where we currently reside here in Brazil (my wife is Brazilian) there seems to be much prejudice against homeschooling. However, in the last couple of years the HSLDA has been working hard to make homeschooling legal in Brazil:

    We don’t have kids yet, but when we do we plan on homeschooling them. I’m glad that we have resources like to help us get ready!

  • November 18, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Thank you so much for the encouragement! We do not have a lot of happy days, but there are some. 🙂

  • February 7, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Interesting. My son begged us to homeschool because he felt academically restricted by age, dependent upon his peers for academic achievement (especially in gifted classes that vastly required group projects), and he did not feel physically safe or properly supervised in a public school setting.

    I spent grade 4 and 5 volunteering in class to monitor and assist my son’s academics. I did not attend 6th grade with my son. By 7th grade, I was asked to resume my presence in the classroom, which I found to be an unlawful and ridiculous expectation for a middle school to basically demand of a parent. After my child received a bomb threat assessment on 9-11 for saying, “Let’s pretend to drop a missile on his base” in a playful verbal roleplaying game, I was more than done with the public system. Our family agreed to begin 8th grade as a homeschool family.

    My son has flourished both socially and academically ever since we chose to homeschool. His depression while attending public school had risen questions about whether or not to use medicine for his mental health. Now he is eager to serve his community, is much more respectful of adults and peers (as different levels of authority), and continues to maintain his 96+ percentile of academic performance on nationally-evaluated tests. This is the same child that was given permission to request ISS in order to avoid peers and was scheduled to repeat 8th grade.

    I have a lot of questions about early college programs and would like to see an article on homeschooling into higher education. It appears to be that early college programs are simply a way to stretch overpopulated high school students into community college classrooms. That Associates diploma is an important piece of paper that I would like my child to acquire, but I’m not sure how to have him included in the “lottery” as a homeschool. We do qualify for early college programs, but it’s difficult to be informed as a non-public administrator.


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