Homeschooling is NOT for The Privileged

By Brittany Stewart

by Danielle Dolin

I have had more parents shun the idea of homeschooling because they are buying the stigma that it is only for the privileged. Meaning folks with funds. This misconception regarding the types of families that ‘can’ homeschool often fashions a stigma about homeschooling only being for those that financially can afford to. This perspective could not be further from the truth.

So many of these parents are being called to homeschool, but running away because they can’t fathom the idea of the sacrifice. The stigma that only the extremely well-off families are the ones ‘privileged’ enough to homeschool is a heavy fallacy. It’s a HOT topic among homeschooling families, not only because so many Stigmas tornado our reputation, like “homeschoolers are weird-unsocialized children”, but also because our sacrifice to our families is plentiful and we wish others would answer the calling as well.

Homeschool is a sacrifice. A sacrifice of oneself, one’s time, one’s money, and one’s brain power.By the end of the week, homeschool parents’ bandwidth has been stretched to all corners of the Earth. Homeschooling parents hustle to make it work. Contradictory, a privilege is a special advantage, immunity, or right someone has been granted to enjoy because of class or caste. Out of 50 families in our homeschooling group, here in Southern Arizona, the majority of them have a family where BOTH parents work. Including mine. And our demographics are diverse. So, I set out and asked them, “Do they think homeschooling is for the privileged? Or is it a sacrifice? These families were MORE than willing to share their perspectives in hopes of smashing yet another stigma.

They overwhelmingly all agreed on two things: they are certain homeschooling is the greatest opportunity a parent can have to connect with their children, and it is undoubtably a sacrifice they are willing to make. It is a calling that bears a tailored education, obsolete in public school. Homeschooling develops character and a sense of family and community transcending anything else.

As homeschooling mom and realtor Sierra Turner put it, “Being a working mom who also homeschools is a delicate balancing act that requires me to give more of myself than I ever thought. It is undeniably a sacrifice to juggle the demands of work while also ensuring that my children receive a tailored education. There are times when I feel stretched thin, with limits on my time and energy to dedicate to both roles. But despite the challenges, the most important thing to me are my children.” The theme of “we do it for our children” is the underlying reason why parents homeschool. Answering God’s calling to raise them up right is a selfless tribute to the well-being of our children and our future. Homeschool mom and Barista Jessica Richards added, “I think it is a sacrifice… there will always be time to make more money but there won’t always be the time to help be involved in shaping and molding our children the way God intended us to… they need the foundation we can provide for them to go out into the world and know what is Truth.”

Single-parent families can homeschool too. There are Moms who work the night shift as nurses, so they can teach her children during the day. “I don’t think it’s a privilege. I think if you really wanted to make it happen, no matter your circumstances, there are ways to do it. They do require lifestyle changes and sacrifices though for sure”, explained homeschooling mom Kayla VanSoest. Most other families contribute to make ends meet by utilizing both parents. Working in the morning so the wife can work in the evening or vice versa. That’s my family. My husband arises at 3 or 4am to plaster swimming pools and when he returns, I work in the evenings teaching at our local dance studio, giving interviews, and writing for Christian News Journal. And then there are the families that are homeschooling with one income, and they still manage to pay bills and make homeschooling work. Laura Fenn, whose husband works long hours as an Arizona Customs Agent, elaborates that homeschooling is “mostly a sacrifice and a huge one at that. We choose to keep a strict budget and live off one income now. That means we sacrifice vacations, we hardly ever eat out, and we forego a lot of nice things to make it work. I do think it’s a privilege that I get to do this in the sense that it’s legal and I don’t have to fear arrest like those that fought to make homeschooling legal. But it’s definitely not only for the privileged/elite. In the past decade I have witnessed the homeschooling community become more and more diverse, you’ll find families from every socioeconomic group.”

Prior to the assimilation of public education into our society, America educated their children at home. Yes! Even the poor found the means to educate their children using simple methods like the New England Primer and the Bible. In fact, early literacy was emphasized with the intent that all students could read and write before the age of 10. This ambition was crucial to raising virtuous individuals, with a strong minds and sound moral compasses. From the 1600’s up until the 1950’s, when government schools became rampant, the United States had the smartest, most resilient, independent generations of children to date. Even worse, homeschooling families were shunned and criticized as the propagated government schools looked to control the minds and hearts of America’s children. The homeschooling families that remained knew their freedoms were at stake. The stigma that homeschool is for the privileged is a fallacy. Renee Kibbey, homeschooling mom of 6 says, “it is our responsibility to provide homeschooling to our children by any means necessary. With that, it is a sacrifice”.

Today, homeschool families can purchase quantum amounts of curriculum, but they don’t have too. Learning to read, write, complete basic math, know the geography of the world we live in, complete science experiments, and more can all be done at home and in a quarter of the time and money it costs government schools. Their price per head is inflated, because the bureaucracy disperses our tax dollars insufficiently.In Arizona our tax dollars contribute to the$8,625 annual per pupilcost in the public school system. This is low compared to the $13,187 per pupil national average. In New York, the per pupil cost is $25,139. It maybe costs a quarter of the per pupil cost in Arizonato homeschool and that’s including extracurriculars, i.e. music lessons, art, etc. which are being eliminated from the public-school curriculum daily. Veronica Empringham echoes this opinion saying, “Somehow, we make it work with our low income.It doesn’t have to cost a person a ton of money to homeschool. The kids’ educational journeys aren’t dependent on however many dollars a parent spends on curriculum or enrichment classes/events.”

The heartfelt importance of homeschooling was apparent in all the parents’ answers. Together they honed in on the word “privilege”, as a recognizable freedom. And, although they unanimously agreed that homeschooling is not delegated for the financially “privileged”, it is an opportunity, a freedom, and a great joy that they will not take for granted. Even though the earliest and most effective model of education was parents teaching their children, by the 1980’s homeschooling was virtually obsolete due to Government controls. Families that chose this route were penalized and even jailed. “In this respect homeschooling is a privilege. To be home with my kids is a blessing, because I know there are places where educating your children at home is against the law”, said homeschool mom Suzette Montaño.

Anything worth having is worth working for”, said homeschool mom and Recruiter Kelsey Forrest. This attitude resonates with homeschooling mom and Hair Stylist Lissette Lazo-Arballo and Francisca Varela, who works three part-time jobs, as well. They both highlighted how homeschooling has brought them closer to their children and helped build a stronger family mentally, physically, and emotionally. “Homeschooling has and is bringing us closer to our kids in ways I never imagined and watching them figure out their faith journey in this adventure has been the most fulfilling of all”, said Francisca. “It’s my privilege as their mother to be able to teach them things I never learned in public school and it’s a privilege to be able to learn right alongside them”, said Lissette.

Homeschooling is NOT for the privileged. It never was and it never will be as long as parents willing to make the sacrifice are steadfast. It is, however, a sacrificial privilege to be able to homeschool and answer God’s calling.

Brittany Stewart, an accomplished writer and educator, draws inspiration from her 23-year marriage and upbringing near Lake Tahoe in Verdi, Nevada, now residing in Tucson, Arizona. With her Bachelor’s degree in Education, emphasizing Native American Literature and Journalism, Brittany is a multifaceted professional who is also a Licensed Massage Therapist. She is deeply involved in Tucson’s homeschooling community, leading a homeschool group, teaching dance, and offering art classes. She and her family have a homestead in Southern Arizona, where her husband hunts and she tends to the garden, emphasizing the importance of God and family in her life while continually seeking adventure through her travels.

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