What Does it Mean to be a Responsible Homeschooler?

It’s unfortunate that so many people are skeptical of—or even outright oppose—homeschooling, but after speaking to so many friends and other parents, I’ve realized that they have mostly valid reasons.

Every homeschool parent I know has encountered another homeschool parent who makes us all look bad.

When anyone asks about how we homeschool or why, I feel compelled to clarify that I’m a responsible homeschooler and someone who advocates for responsible home education. What does it mean to be a responsible homeschooler?

I recognize that, as a homeschooling parent, I have a profound responsibility to my children and my community.

Ensuring that my children receive the best education possible so that they’re equipped to lead productive lives as capable, competent adults is my singular, most important duty as their parent and educator. I take that responsibility seriously.

For example, I choose to:

  • use Common Core standards as an assessment tool and general guideline,
  • perform progress evaluations every three months, and
  • keep a detailed online portfolio that far exceeds the scope of my state’s record keeping requirements.

I’d like to live in a world where people don’t automatically assume my homeschooled children are receiving a subpar education.

Homeschooling parents shouldn’t feel ashamed to admit that they educate their own kids, nor should they feel defensive whenever someone raises the topic. Parents who take home education seriously don’t deserve to have their programs viewed as illegitimate, informal, and inadequate. How we choose to educate our kids—the approach we take—can be as unique as our kids are, but they should be learning.

I believe that children have rights.

While there are a few valid arguments against the regulation of homeschools, I find the notion of complete deregulation absurd. Our children have rights. I’d be skeptical of any parent who argues otherwise or who protests being held to a bare minimum standard of accountability.

There should not be a reason for places like /r/homeschoolrecovery to exist.

Parents who abuse the freedom granted to homeschooling families by failing to educate their kids, exploiting them for free labor, or using them for other unspeakable purposes could cause those of us who don’t to lose the right to homeschool our children entirely. Abusive and neglectful parents imperil us all.

I’m fortunate to live in a state that implements what I consider to be the perfect amount of oversight. Here, homeschooling parents have the freedom to choose the method of instruction and the pacing. We’re not held to arbitrary rules or guidelines. I can gameschool, artschool, natureschool, unschool, or create my own Frankencurriculum.

If I want to utilize a Charldorf Masontessori approach here, nobody will stop me.

However, we must have our children evaluated annually. They can take a standardized test, have their portfolios reviewed by a certified teacher and complete a face-to-face interview, undergo an evaluation performed by a child psychologist, or agree with the district superintendent on another method. My state doesn’t dictate the curriculum or police the progression; they just want to ensure that progress is actually being made and that my kids aren’t being academically neglected or otherwise abused.

I consider that more than reasonable and fair and I wouldn’t object to an additional random welfare check or two annually. After all, when we decide to keep our kids home, they are no longer interacting with mandatory reporters on a daily basis. At best, our kids visit a mandatory reporter once per year—during their annual check-ups.

Children who are abused by their parents under the guise of “homeschooling” can go years without help, a tragic consequence caused by a complete lack of oversight. I find that hard to stomach and can’t help but be triggered by parents who are willing to allow that to continue simply because they don’t want to be inconvenienced, or because they distrust the government, or because “criminals won’t follow the law anyways.”

Yeah, I get it. Criminals don’t respect the law. That’s obvious, but laws aren’t just for discouraging criminal behavior, they’re for preventing it (through oversight) and punishing it.

Ask yourself: would these children still be alive if someone were held accountable for routinely ensuring their welfare? I’m willing to bet they would be, and if having to provide my state with proof of progress or opening my home to a police officer or counselor a few times a year for a welfare check could prevent something like that from happening to even one child, I’d consider it well worth the effort.

Abused children don’t deserve to be sacrificed on the altar of “parent’s rights.”

We are responsible for our children’s future. We owe it to them to take that seriously and should welcome reasonable oversight. That’s what responsible homeschooling means to me. What about you? Do you consider yourself to be a responsible homeschooler, and if so, why?

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