Homeschool Success

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It’s still the most condescending comment I’ve ever read. Over a year later, it still comes to mind on a fairly regular basis – not because it bothers me, personally, but just because of the attitude behind it. It was on my post, 50 reasons homeschooled kids love being homeschooled, in which I made a passing comment about my oldest being in cosmetology school.

Can’t believe this woman considers her home schooling a success when her daughter is going to cosmetology school. Certainly didn’t set the bar very high…”

Wow. Just wow.

My homeschooling goal for each of my children is to equip them to do whatever occupation they feel led to pursue after graduation. If they can competently read, write, and do everyday math; know how and where to find the information they need; and are following the career path that fulfills them – whatever that career path is – then, yes, I do consider my homeschool a success.

My daughter’s ultimate goal is not to be a hair stylist, but that is a stepping stone to where she wants to be. Even so, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest to see her pursue that as her career if that’s her desire.

Hairstylists make people happy. They help them feel better about themselves and their appearance. Men may not care as much, but I know women who would be very upset if their regular stylist quit or moved away. I’m one of them because I’ve had two stylists get married and move away. I semi-seriously considered interviewing my current stylist to ensure that she was married and had deep and lasting ties to the area before I switched to her.

And, y’all, the stylists where at the salon I use make good money – and they travel to Italy and France for training.

I wouldn’t want my stylist doing my heart surgery if I ever needed it, but I wouldn’t want my heart surgeon coloring my hair, either. We all have different gifts and talents. Why do we hold one person’s chosen profession in esteem and look down on another’s?

If a person is working and making an honest living to support himself and his (or her) family, he is worthy of respect. Period.

A while back, we had septic tank problems. The guy who had to work on our tank has a very dirty job. I wouldn’t want to do it, but you know what? I sure was happy he was willing, able, and trained to do it. And, I paid him a pretty hefty sum for his willingness and ability to do such a “menial” job.

My step-dad was a mechanic. My dad and two grandfathers were carpenters. They were not second-class, unsuccessful citizens. They played a vital role in our nation’s economy. We need all types of workers doing all kinds of jobs. To, once again, quote Mike Rowe:

In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of ‘higher education’ to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled ‘alternative.’ Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as ‘vocational consolation prizes,’ best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree.”

He goes on to say that,


In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a ‘good job’ into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber if you can find one is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we’ll all be in need of both.”

I know a homeschool graduate who is attending college, scoring high academically and is a member of Mensa. She is a homeschool success.

I know two homeschool graduates who are married, stay-at-home moms raising their babies. They are each a homeschool success.

I know a homeschool graduate who has won prestigious awards for her artistic abilities. Commissioned as a sculptor for people with names like Rockefeller, she’s traveled Europe painting and sculpting. She is a homeschool success.

I know homeschool graduates who are working full-time jobs in the auto industry. They are saving their money and planning for their futures. They are each a homeschool success.

I know homeschool graduates who are in nursing school. They are each a homeschool success.

I know homeschool graduates who are running their own home-based businesses. They are each a homeschool success.

I know a homeschool graduate who just graduated cosmetology school. She is a homeschool success.

I know a homeschool graduate who just graduated law school. He is a homeschool success.

Each of these young adults is a success because each is pursuing the career path that fulfills them and contributes to their role in our society and economy. One isn’t better than the other because his or her job is more prestigious.

Don’t believe me? Just wait until the next time your plumbing or HVAC system goes out. Call your doctor or lawyer. The rates will probably be about the same, but will you be able to flush your toilets or heat your home?

We all have a role in making this great big world of ours run. Don’t disdain one person’s choice as being less than. Each role needs a person willing and able to fill it. And every person who is filling their role and supporting themselves and/or their family is a success – homeschool or otherwise.


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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. This is one of my favourite ever posts of yours, Kris. Very well said!

    I laughed out loud when I got to the bit about interviewing your current stylist and had to read that paragraph out to my daughter.

    Thank you for being such a brilliant spokesperson for all homeschoolers and mums.

    1. I don’t blame you for laughing, but, girl – two different stylists married and moved away. That was traumatic. 🙂

      1. I can relate! My hairstylist changed careers and stopped doing hair at all. I went for several years with bad haircuts (I cringe when I look back at pictures) until finally just growing it long and putting my hair back in a ponytail which is my current hair style 20 years later.

  2. This! A thousand times, this!

    I’m not even going to look on the other post to see who the person was who wrote such a comment, because frankly, I don’t think I could be charitable. The pure ignorance of such a comment is simply beyond my comprehension.

    But you, Kris, have done a marvelous job in getting to the heart of things (and bonus points for quoting Mike Rowe in the process!) All work which contributes to the community and is done to the best of one’s ability is honorable work, and all honorable work is to be respected.

    Can I just add that having lived abroad now for nearly 7 years, I see many cultures in which classism is promoted by the demeaning of honorable work. It is not an attitude that I find becoming, especially in Americans. And I would hope that in home schooling communities, we would be beyond such indignities.

    Thank-you for taking the time to write and for great reminders that home school successes come in lots of different forms! Great post!

  3. Well said. A person’s job doesn’t tell me anything about their character or how they treat others.Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate your blog. I’m reading as a homeschool graduate who is homeschooling her own kids.

  4. Wow! I’m constantly amazed what people will say online. My goal as a homeschool mom to 5 boys is to educate them so they can pursue the calling God has for them. My oldest just started college in the fall, he’s in the ROTC program and has joined the National Guard. Wants to be a soldier. He’s loves every minute of it and is thriving. I have a 20 yr old niece who is a homeschool graduate and is in the process of starting her own sewing business. She hasn’t taken any college classes but has been researching and learning online how to do it. God has gifted us in different ways and thank goodness for that…how boring would the world be otherwise?

  5. I know that I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was shocked that someone would make such a comment to you. Thank you for your graceful and eloquent response. Beautifully written! You’ve had some wonderful posts, and I always look forward to reading them, but I agree that this is one of your best!

    I am so thankful that God calls us all to different professions and callings in life, and He gives us all different gifts and talents. I would not be good health care, auto mechanics, law enforcement, or any other number of jobs, but I am so thankful there are people who do love to do those things and pursue those jobs and do them well. You said it perfectly, Kris. If we each follow what God leads us to do in life, then we are a success, no matter what the job may be. Great post today!

  6. I can’t believe someone said that to you but I’m glad you know the truth! That comment is pure ignorance. Do people not follow the news? Do they know how many recent college graduates cannot find jobs? Maybe your daughter will hire some of them to sweep up hair for her when she owns her own salon!

  7. Whomever wrote that comment is the unsuccessful one! Clearly they don’t understand that “successful” is more about the kind of person you are, not what you choose to do with your time. I agree with everything you’ve said here. Great job, successful homeschooling mom!!

  8. Thank you!!! Congrats to you and your daughter. I get the same thing. My son finally chose a major in college. He is a theater/communications major. Might be interested in film making, still not sure. He’s going to the local community college. It’s taking longer because he switched majors. Family and friends don’t consider that a future. They give him such a hard time. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I made tons of costumes and props when he was little. He was always acting out what he was learning or what we read about. We went to re-enactments , plays, battlefields, etc. He made a movie with costumes and props. His brothers and neighbors were the actors and he used our video camara. He likes to write too. As long as he’s walking with the Lord, that’s what’s most important. I have one that wants to be a hockey player and another wants to be a mechanic. I pray that each boy will walk with the Lord. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I have a friend whose homeschooled son went recently graduated from acting school. I fully expect to be able to say “I knew him when…” someday. Following their God-given call is my biggest desire for each of my kids, whatever that calling may be.

  9. Kris,

    I totally agree with you. Public schools are not deemed unsuccessful because some kids go to cosemetology school. Why on earth would we have different standards for homeschool? We all have our own gifts and abilities and I sincerely believe that they are all valuable.

    Society would simply come to a standstill without all of those people who do things that are called “menial.” Am I grateful that someone stocks the shelves at my grocery store? Um, yes. And collects my garbage? And fixes my furnace? Very much so.

    It’s interesting how society has deemed some jobs high status and some low. It’s everywhere, I guess, but I still find it peculiar. If it’s about money, then the standards are a bit skewed. I have a master’s degree and I remember when I graduated there were people who were working in warehouses who made more money than I did. Actually, there may still be people who work in warehouses who make more money than I could now, if I were to return to my career. There are most certainly people in various trades who are in a higher wage bracket than I would be. So, it’s not about money.

    I guess it’s just about the status of education. Sure, higher education is great, but it’s not for everyone. Some people are not cut out for it, while others are. My dad was an incredibly intelligent person and he worked in construction for his whole life. I’m proud of what he did. I can’t build a house — or anything else, for that matter. We all live in houses, so why don’t we value the skilled workers who made our homes?

    Even valuing people based on their intelligence is wrong, in my view. So people who have intellectual disabilities are not worth as much as those who are working in law firms? So, what about those who have intellectual abilities that limit them to being a cashier, or something of the like? They aren’t valuable? Are we going to go that far, if we say they are not a success? I think that line of thought is scary. How about we just stop judging others and recognize that we all have something valuable to contribute to society.

    And, I totally hear you about the trauma of having a stylist move away. I have incredibly picky hair and have, in my entire lifetime, found one person who could properly cut my hair. One. I moved away for a few years and when i returned, I found he had disappeared into thin air. You wouldn’t believe the lengths I went to to try and find him. Seriously. Did I appreciate him? You betcha.

    Congratulations to your daughter. I’m glad she has been able to pursue something she enjoys.

  10. Yes! I would be thrilled if any of my children chose trade school and an apprenticeship rather than college! I have great respect for skilled tradesmen. There is no shame in choosing a path other than college OR in pursuing higher education! It takes all kinds 🙂

  11. Judgy is one of my least favorite things on earth. My 17 year old is enrolled in public school and get exemplary marks and is in advanced placement classes. She worries that she will not choose a career path that her paternal grandfather thinks is worthy of her….. it’s hard to convince her that pleasing others should not even be ON the list of things to think about when she is making decisions. FOLLOW the JOY! I’m sorry you and your daughter have had to deal with negativity.

    1. That stinks when it’s the grandparents making kids feel that way. {sigh} You’re absolutely right – everyone needs to follow the career path that brings them joy. Whatever a person does, if they do it with joy and integrity, they are a success!

  12. How utterly rude of that reader! Kudos for this wonderful reminder that we all have a part to play in this thing called life. For the record, I have a child who wants to be a hairstylist when she grows up so that she can work with the elderly and help them look nice and feel good about themselves. If she makes one little old lady feel good, then yes, she’s a success.

  13. Couldn’t agree more. And I can’t believe that someone made that comment re cosmetology school. Actually I can – I just wish I couldn’t.

  14. Amen to this post!! The comments that people make some times make me wonder if they were ever educated on common sense. Unfortunately as time goes on it seems less and less people have common sense!!

    I 100% agree with you if our children can read, write, and find information they need to know on their own our jobs as a homeschool parent have been fulfilled!! We have 2 kids nearing graduation, one wants to be a homeopathic DR the other one does not want to go to college at all and wants to continue to coach gymnastics, they are both doing what is right for them and makes them happy. That in itself makes me happy and proud that they can make decisions that make them happy and not the world!!

  15. I’m a homeschool graduate our homeschools our three children. If I an unsuccessful in others eyes than that’s too bad, but I am doing what I love and very happy doing it. Thanks for this article-it was really great!

  16. My husband is a physician and is strongly encouraging our 12 year old son to forgo college and learn a trade. Trades are essential to our society and we are as indebted to the folks who provide services to us as my husband’s patients are to him. Probably more so, because medical care is not capable of curing everything, while most tradespeople we’ve worked with knew their business and got the job done and done well.

    1. That is a very interesting perspective from your husband. Thank you for sharing it. I don’t understand the idea of looking down on the trades. Like you said, they are essential.

  17. Wow! The person who wrote the comment that inspired this probably quit reading when she saw your daughter went to….gasp…Cosmetology School. A good hair person is hard to come by, I agree with your idea of interviewing them 🙂

    I homeschool my 3 boys. I have always felt that my kids will be successful if they can support themselves (and their families, when that happens in 15-20 years) and be productive members of society. What they choose to do with their God given gifts is not for me to say. I am here to guide them, but the choice is theirs.

    I am glad someone finally wrote this article! We need all kinds of people, doing all kinds of things. I have been happy to see the septic guy everytime, the pest control guy everytime, the UPS guy, the mailman, the electrician, the HVAC guy (especially July in Florida), the plumber, the person delivering my refrigerator, installing my carpet, not to mention all of the servers and drive thru employees and janitors at the places we frequent. I may not want to do some of these things but I am sure glad there is someone who has learned how and is willing to do the service.

    I always wanted to stay home when I had children. I went and got my 4 years in anyway, knowing I wanted to be at home when babies did come along. I don’t consider myself unsuccessful because I don’t get paid to do my job or that I don’t use my degree.

    I love this article and your quotes from Mike Rowe. Unfortunately, it rings true of our society today.

  18. I am with you. We are all born persons, right!? We all have different interests. What a pleasure for your daughter to be pursuing a career that interests her.

    I bet that commenter’s mother would be appalled by the rudeness.

  19. Excellent! My father started working right out of high school and never went back for more education. He can design/build or fix anything. I went to university because it was expected due to my grades and never got anything out of it. Now I stay home with my babes and indulge my artistic-creative temperament. Wouldn’t have it any other way!

  20. As a licensed cosmetologist who homeschools her kids, I often get the ‘judgy’ look from other homeschool moms when they find out my profession. (The others beg me to cut their hair! lol) My license has been a blessing for me and my family- I have been able to work part time while homeschooling my kids. I was able to cut my dad’s hair at his home for him when he was too sick and weak from cancer to get out any more. I have saved my family money on hair expenses.
    My 13 year old daughter occasionally mentions being a hair stylist. I say GO FOR IT.
    SUCCESS is living your life in a way that makes you happy, not to live it the way society deems acceptable.

    1. Wow, it’s a shame that you’d get that look from other homeschool moms. I have a couple of friends who have cosmetology licenses. I’m always in the begging to cut my (or my kids’) hair crowd. 🙂 I told my daughter, even if she winds up only using her skills to cut and color hair for friends and family, it will be contributing to her family’s budget by saving them money. I think it’s always wise to have a marketable trade skill, no matter what you ultimately wind up doing in life.

  21. It is a shame people can think that way… as if there were first class or second class people. You couldn’t have explained it better, and ultimately we are made out of atoms, so our differences are not set by what we study or which is our job

  22. That stung a little when I first read that comment about the low bar because one of my daughters is also a stylist. Haircuts in her salon in Chicago start at $50 and go to $250 or more. She loves making people happy and they love her. Her tips prove that. I have another daughter in college studying to be a math teacher. It’s all good.

  23. Thank you for including the stay at home mom’s as being successful. Our older children weren’t homeschooled, just the last 2 of our 6. Our oldest daughter graduated valedictorian of her class of nearly a thousand. She attended college for 1 year, really didn’t like it, came home and got married at 19. She now 9 years later, stays home with her 4 little boys and homeschools. I ran into one of her friends from high school a several years ago who asked what she was doing. I told him she was getting married, and his response was “What a waste”. He’s fortunate I overlooked his rather unkind, unintelligent response… I just commented that college wasn’t for everyone and went on. I also have a 20 yo son who stocks shelves and carries out groceries at the local grocery store. He’s well liked and does his job well. He’s “high functioning on the autistic scale”. Our oldest son is a very intelligent young man who graduated from high school by the grace of God and a couple of teachers. After becoming a very good cook at a local diner, working for a hog farmer, working (briefly) at McDonald’s, and working at Applebee’s as a cook, he got married and is now apprenticing to become an electrician. He’ll be a good one. Our 2nd daughter (also valedictorian of her class) went to college and has a degree. She searched unsuccessfully to find a job in her major, worked as a waitress, (which I think everyone should have to do at some point in their life, it’s excellent life training to find you can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try), got a job at a daycare, and is now a nanny for 3 children. She still would like to work in her major, or get another one, but she’s good at what she does and the children she works with are blessed to have her. Our 15 yo son is very talented with music. He plays the organ for church twice a month, and plays the piano beautifully. There is a large market for organists out there! He’s already learned that substitute organists are paid pretty well! Our youngest is hands on and will most likely be a farmer, or other tradesman. God gave each of our children such a variety of talents. I echo the many others here and saying that it takes all kinds of people to make up a world. I pray that my children will make your world brighter with their talents when the time comes. (Oh yes, I have a college degree in public relations and advertising, I’ve been at home for 28 years now, after working as a waitress) I’ve never been paid for anything using my degree, but I’ve done countless newsletters for several organizations!)

  24. Oh no she didn’t… I am so sad that someone would even say this. I have 4 graduates so far. One is a teacher by degree (stay at home mom), one is a structural engineer by degree (mom and math tutor), one is an occupation therapist (part time mom and part time OT), and one is a licensed cosmetologist (who has a very successful business). I consider them ALL very successful. NOT because they have a degree or not. I consider them successful because they live their faith, they love their family, they work hard at anything they do, and they are just some of my favorite people on this earth. I did not homeschool my children to set a “bar” for them. I homeschooled because of the family centered life it created for us. One that allows my children to grow and learn and take on any task or job they choose to do.

    1. I love this comment. Thank you for sharing the diversity that you’ve experienced in your own home and your recognition that each of your children is an absolute success.

  25. Absolutely! I always go back to thinking why is it that we tend to pick ONE thing over all others? Who can imagine some of the greatest minds being anything BUT a jack of many trades? Without getting too “soapboxy,” you have to admit that this one person, one profession is a modern phenomenon. Why can’t we be great mathematicians AND baristas? Why do people think your career pigeon-holes you in some way? What a limited point of view the critic had.

  26. Ah Kris, what a wonderful post. I had tears in my eyes from giggling and from the heart-felt admonishments about what ‘success’ looks like. I want my children to be happy, fulfilled, engaged members of society. If that means they choose art over medicine, I’m alright with that. In fact, I’d be horrified if one of my daughters proclaimed the wish to be a doctor. She only just about remembers how to find the downstairs each day. Finding the actual heart to do heart surgery on would be completely beyond her. Not because she has no brain but because she always has her head in a book and rarely surfaces to partake in ‘real life’ (not really but almost!). Thankfully, she wants to be a writer, so her head being in a book all day is preparing her perfectly for her future 🙂

  27. I have 3 homeschool grads all doing different things in life. My oldest daughter is a vet tech and soon to be stay at home mom. My son will graduate with his Bachelors in Accounting in May and my middle daughter is a phlebotomist. She has gotten the most slack because it was only a 1 semester certificate program but she has a good paying job she loves. I have 2 more still at home (12 and 9) and I’m sure they will be successful as well.

  28. If we’re gauging success by the amount of money one makes – my cousin is a plumber and my husband is an attorney. While my husband has the more prestigious job title, my cousin makes a lot more money! “Trades” vs. “professions” is just silly! Provide a service to the community while supporting your family. That’s success. Good for your daughter!

  29. My husband is a very well known martial artist. He was supposed to go to med school & decided to take a year off to pursue his passion…and never went back. We have a wonderful lifestyle: we travel the world to teach self defense. We own 2 houses in Hawaii. All of that to say, you can not only follow your calling but also make good money at it! It doesn’t have to be either or.
    I want to be wife and mom & homeschooling mother. That earns 0$ yet I know my value 🙂
    ???????? to you & your daughter. Aloha!

  30. I went to school for years (almost 10) to get extensive education in a health-related field. My sister went to cosmetology school. I am unable to practice my hard-earned skills without going into to work, which often isn’t compatible with raising my kids. My sister has her own salon in her house and works when she wants, how much she wants so it doesn’t interfere with her family. I’ve gotta say–I’m often jealous of her!

  31. I am a cosmetologist myself. I am so incredibly BLESSED to do what I love! To love on people and make them feel their best! I have done hair for 26 years and still love every minute of it! When my babies were young, I could set my hours to be home with them during the day and work in the evenings so my husband could be with them. What a great father that made him. And I got my fun adult time. Life is short people! Do what you love and let God use you where you are! That, my friends, is happiness and success!

  32. Kris-hopefully I’m not repeating what’s already been said, I didn’t read through all the comments. I say this with kindness, but I feel like you still are justifying those choices too much. Most hairstylists won’t ever go to Italy, and I shouldn’t have to need a plumber before I can respect his job.I respect hard workers, and the real skill it takes to do their jobs.Period. I think this is a cultural issue, that started at least with my generation (I’m 37, right in-between gen x and millennial), where we started raising kids up with all these lofty ideas about what making it in life looks like, and it looks like a college degree, and if you’re working hard and/or getting your hands dirty, your doing it wrong. We ended up where we are today, people going into ridiculous debt to go to college and many not even getting to work in the chosen fields they’ve paid for education in. Meanwhile, we have an empty trades industry with plenty of money to be made. I think we need to train our kids differently-starting with, what do you love? then, what are the ways you can make good money with what you love?and, is there a good job market in those areas? then, what’s the cheapest freaking way you can get there? I would love for my son to go into mechanics, especially specialty mechanics. There’s a ton of money to be made there. My daughter, ironically, has a loftier career choice-she wants to go into fashion design. I support her, but I’ve been honest with her about the market for that kind of job, and so we found trades she can work in along the way that will make her money and feed into her chosen career field-cosmetology and sewing. We decided if she did go to college, also, she could go for business, I feel good about her choices because she has valid ways to make good money, while working toward her dreams. I’m definitely not raising my kids to stick their nose up at any kind of job-I’m teaching them that hard work is a part of life and to be practical about their choices.If college is the best route to get where they want to go, okay. Let’s figure out how to do that well, then. But, if they can get there and avoid paying for college in the process, ALL THE BETTER. Trade schools are so much nicer on the wallet. If I end up with a plumber and a hairstylist that are happy and able to support themselves, that’s way better than a frustrated liberal arts grad working at a job they’ve decided is beneath them.

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