What About Prom? And Other Burning Homeschool Questions Answered

As a veteran homeschooler of almost 14 years now, I’ve heard some interesting comments and questions. I was somewhat prepared for awkward, unusual, or just downright rude questions because I have four children. Obviously to some people that means that I run a zoo. “Did you mean to have four children?” “The one boy must be your last, that’s why you finally stopped, right?” And the classic, “Are they ALL yours?!”

So I was prepared for a barrage of questions once people knew that we were homeschooling. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Questions about homeschooling

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If you’re not a homeschooler, and you have some of these same burning questions, or if you are a homeschooler and just want to read my answers to find out if you’re “normal” (trust me, you’re not), read on.

What about prom? Don’t you think they’ll miss out?

Hmmm. There are several answers I can give here- some that probably aren’t very kind. We’ll leave it with these two.

1. There are some traditional high school related activities I really don’t mind them missing out on. Depending on where they were going to school, prom might be one of them. Just because something is a “tradition” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. And in some situations prom just might be a bad idea anyway.

2. There are social groups for homeschoolers that do things like dances and dinners and homecoming celebrations for teens. Believe it or not, homeschoolers really are very social. And if you have a child who likes the idea of a prom, there are alternatives for them to attend. I have one teen that enjoys the dance scene and has been several times. And I have one who doesn’t enjoy it and wouldn’t have gone even if she were in “real school.”

Do you wear your pajamas all day?

This is one of those questions for which I imagine different homeschool families might all have different answers. I’ve heard of families that were required to be fully dressed with even socks and shoes for each homeschool day. And I’ve heard of families that never get dressed unless they’re leaving the house for the day.

I personally make the kids get dressed in something. I do this for two reasons.

  1. Kids who go around all day in their pjs often are stinky. It’s just a fact. They slept in those clothes. And if they don’t get dressed, chances are they’re not washing off or brushing teeth either. Ugh.
  2. I think that getting dressed gets kids more in the mindset of working on school work. If they’re in pjs all day, it seems like a relaxed, do nothing day.
Now, I don’t require much in the way of getting dressed. Lounge pants and a t-shirt is perfectly acceptable. Kids have even been known to dress in dress up clothes for the school day. The point, for me, is that they’re changing out of what they slept in and getting in the mindset to do schoolwork.

Homeschool questions answered

What grades are your kids in?

Ack! This question- which may seem simple to a non-homeschooler- can be quite complicated. Most of our elementary/middle school curriculum isn’t for a certain grade level. It’s meant to be a multi-grade curriculum that the whole family can use. So if you’re asking me what grade level of curriculum my kids are using, I can’t really name a grade.
For the sake of making things easier on us and on other people, we’ve typically kept our kids in the appropriate grade based on their birthday and our public school guidelines when it comes to signing up for activities or attending classes that are based on grade level. However there are times when I know that a child would do better with an older or younger group, so I’ve signed them up as that grade level.
One of my big concerns with traditional schooling is that children are placed in groups based on age. But just because they fall within a certain age group doesn’t mean that all of the children in that group have the same ability level. Some of the children of that age group are more advanced and some are slower. It makes no sense to group kids by age. So in homeschooling, we just don’t use that grouping.
My high school students are a little more “on grade level” because they are working toward graduating. I’m completing transcripts of their classes, so the classes they take are more in line with what their traditional school grade would be.
Which brings me to the next question I get all the time…

Can homeschooled kids get into college?

Sometimes I’m not sure if people are being insulting with this question- “Can you really get a child prepared to enter college?”- or just inquisitive- “I really don’t know if it’s true. Can homeschoolers get into college?”
I’ll assume that the question isn’t intended to be insulting. Yes. Homeschooled kids can most definitely get into college. In fact, research shows they often score higher on college entrance exams and are often more prepared for college than their same age peers from traditional schools. In addition, many homeschooled kids have obtained dual credits during their high school years and can enter college with many college credits already completed. (Lee Binz has written some great books about preparing your homeschooled child for college.)
So, yes, it’s quite true that homeschooled kids CAN get into college. I don’t, however, think that all homeschooled kids SHOULD go to college. In fact, college is not the goal of my homeschooling at all. Some homeschooling parents will disagree and would insist that their kids go to college no matter what. I’m not trying to change their minds. Homeschooling is great because we can all do what works for our families. But college is not my ultimate goal for my kids.
I think that college is wonderful…for some kids. I think some kids are on a career track for which they need a college degree. However, I think that kids often enter college because it’s the expected thing to do. They rack up debt or struggle along with their parents to scrounge up money for the high cost of a college education. And then they end up in a career that wouldn’t have needed a college degree at all. Or they end up stuck in a job they hate just because it’s what their degree is in.
Our goal is to prepare our high schoolers to be able to enter college…if that’s the direction God leads them as they’re thinking about their life-long career and goals. We do that by keeping a transcript and making sure they have the required credits to graduate or the ability to take the GED. Beyond that, they could go to work, go to a two-year college, get a technical degree, get a specialized license or degree, or go to a four-year college. All are good options…as long as they are pursuing the path to which God is leading them.

Don’t think your kids might be, um, TOO sheltered?

Hmm, I could probably write an entire post on this subject. In fact, I could probably write an entire book on this subject. But I’ll try to condense it to a brief answer. Yes, my children are very sheltered in some ways. And no, I don’t think they are TOO sheltered.
I think the key to this answer lies in how we each define the word “sheltered.” I once read the following illustration from Corrie ten Boom (author of The Hiding Place), and I think it perfectly demonstrates our role as parents in sheltering our children.

“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It’s too heavy,” I said.
Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

It’s our job to carry the suitcases for our children and know when to release the suitcases for them to carry for themselves. Along the way, we’re teaching and talking and walking through life together, preparing our kids for the moment that they do carry the big suitcases. And, as we go, we’re giving them heavier and heavier cases to carry as they are ready for them.

So, no, I don’t think my children are too sheltered. I’m just carrying a few suitcases for now.

There you go. I’m sure you were dying to know the answers to those questions, so I hope your curiosity is abated. Have any more burning questions? Leave them in the comments for me.

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