7 Things Homeschool Moms Don’t Want You To Know (Because People Already Think We’re Weird)

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Written by Adrienne Bolton of The Mommy Mess.

This homeschooling mom life is just plain bizarre sometimes. Had you told me ten years ago our family would be here – eight years of homeschooling under our belts and counting – I would have thought you were crazy! Now? I sit up late at night writing blog posts about homeschooling and how weird I’ve become. Go figure.

If you take anything away from this post let it be this – homeschooling makes you weird. In fact, homeschool moms don’t want you to know how weird we actually are. It’s hard enough breaking down all those stereotypes. Especially when some of them are so hilariously true!

7 Things Homeschool Moms Don't Want You to Know

Homeschool Moms Don’t Want You To Know…

Our kids might not know what grade they’re in.

I don’t know how many times I’ve witnessed a homeschooled child stumble when asked, “What grade are you in?”

“Uh…2nd?” Blank stare at mom.

Seems weird, but it’s really not that strange. Homeschooled kids can work at their own pace. It’s perfectly normal for a child to excel in some areas and struggle in others. Homeschooling allows the freedom to let those strengths and weaknesses lead.

We may end up with a child ahead in math and behind in reading. Many homeschool curriculum choices even offer a multi-grade approach that can be adapted to meet the needs of the whole family. It’s not that surprising many homeschooled kids don’t have a quick answer for this question.

Our kids probably don’t know the Pledge of Allegiance.

We started attending a co-op about four years ago. On the first morning before chapel, all the kids stood up and said the pledge. My son just sort of looked over at me with a confused look on his face. Oops. Add that to the list of things I forgot to teach my kid. Anybody?

It’s not like we wake up, eat breakfast, and then turn to the flag and put our right hand over our heart. It’s one of those traditional school things I just never thought to teach him. We stopped by the library that afternoon and grabbed a book about The Pledge of Allegiance. Hopefully, he remembers it!

Our kids might not know how to tie their shoes.

Okay, moms. I know you’re out there. Don’t leave me hanging on this one. I’m not alone here because I’ve had some really good laughs with other homeschool moms in person about this. My Florida boy lives in flip flops, doesn’t play sports, and never wears sneakers. Let’s just say without a closed-toe shoe rule crossing his path in life, he took more time than your kid to learn how to tie his shoes. Oops again. 

We actually do get done around noon.

I’m sorry. It’s true. I’m even sorrier if my kid ever shared this information with your kids in an attempt to sell them on homeschooling. I’m always embarrassed to admit this because it sounds like we’re a bunch of slackers, but the reality is I only have one student compared to a classroom full of kids. If he’s focused (ha!) and working hard, we can get done around lunch time. That obviously doesn’t happen every day, but I certainly don’t hate when the day goes smoothly, and we can move onto other non-schoolish things.

We might not grade our child’s work.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to keep a record of your child’s work. It’s likely required in some states, but I didn’t keep a record of actual grades until the upper middle and high school years. There was really no point. We’ve always worked for mastery. If I graded everything in those early years, it would have all been A’s. Not because I’m dishing out A’s for the fun of it, but because that would have been my son’s comprehension level. It wouldn’t make much sense to give my kid a “D” in math and move on. If he’s struggling, we slow down until he gets it.

7 Things Homeschool Moms Don't Want You to Know

We actually do worry about socialization.

Homeschooling families spend a lot of time defending the “socialization” of their children. First, let me clarify. Socialization and building lasting friendships are two very separate things. Of course, my kids have social skills! But, if I’m being totally honest, I worry about my kids having enough opportunities to make meaningful connections with peers.

Neither of my boys has ever been super active in sports or extracurricular activities so meeting friends and making connections has probably been more challenging for them than more naturally social kids. They’re both sort of home bodies. At least they like it here! Hopefully, they grow up being able to function around the rest of the human race.

We know our kids are sheltered.

Ahh. The other “S” word. My kids are admittedly sheltered. There are times when it’s obvious they’re not getting as big of a dose of the world as other kids their age, but I’m fine with that! Many homeschool moms actually want to protect their children from the world’s standards, like Trish, over at Hip Homeschool Moms. Because, really what’s the rush? Last I checked, the world isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There will be plenty of it to go around when my kids find their way out there. That is if they ever leave the house.

What are the things about homeschooling you would just rather keep to yourself? Because what better place to share them than the internet, right?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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  1. This post made me smile…because it is true! For me it is that my sons sometimes have trouble working with money in real life because they’re always with us and they don’t get more chance to do money transactions on their own. I always have to remember to take out cash and ask him to buy something for me at the grocery store etc. Ha, ha!

    Thank you for sharing this and keeping it real!

  2. So funny yet so true! I read these aloud to my husband and we just looked at each other and laughed. This is our homeschool life to a tee. As homeschoolers we sometimes (okay all the time) think we are not doing “it” right so it’s nice to read posts like this and realize we really are not so different from others.

    1. We really need to know there are so many others who struggle with the same things! Especially the funny things that nobody like to admit. Thrilled I’m not alone on this list!

  3. My kids go to a co-op on Fridays. When my youngest was about 6, someone asked him where he went to school. He looked at me with that blank look then looked at the woman and said, “Well, I go to PLA, but I only go to school on Friday.” The elderly (retired school teacher nonetheless) looked horrified and I’m sure she had truancy officers on speed dial. I hastily explained that he meant he only traveled physically to school on Friday, but that we diligently applied ourselves the other days of the week also. I’m not sure she believed me.

    1. God bless you! The shoes. The thing we shall not tell anyone! LOL Except the whole entire internet, of course. My son is 12 and it’s become a family joke at this point. He finally learned!

  4. I really love you. So happy I found you! I have been a public school teacher for 7 years, K-12 homeschool teacher for 3 years, and I am currently in my 2nd year as homeschool teacher with Inspire charter. I fell in love with this program and decided to homeschool my 5th grader this year. We are absolutely loving it. But, I do have all of these emotions and more…my traditional school background and education nags at me daily and your blog give me a good laugh when I need it. Thank you!

  5. We often attend school in our pajamas, at fast food restraunts, on a job site, in the car driving a cross country, with sand in our toes and sunshine on our faces, in living room sheet forts, and in front of campfires in the middle of the woods. My kids get elective credit for gardening, canning, care of farm animals, and making hats for the homeless. Our PE sometimes involves training for 5K’s and weight lifting.

    1. So glad to hear I’m not the only one doing school wherever we can/want/need to. I love the flexibility but sometimes feel guilty about that!

  6. Yes! The blank stare….Not knowing the Pledge…..And not knowing how to tie a pair of tennis shoes; which my FIL gave me all kinds of grief about—-my kids live in boots or barefoot! And we do get done with schoolwork by noon most days. Sometimes (like yesterday) one of the kids will still be working on schoolwork until almost bedtime, though. Usually that is because they do not understand it, so we go over and over and over it until they do understand. Thank you for this post.

  7. Milk cartons. My younger kids who never went to school can’t open milk cartons. We just laughed and laughed.

  8. The shoes!!! Yes, so true! And the pledge!! We are in year 5 of homeschooling, but just joined a co op this year. The first day they did the pledge to the flag, the Christian flag, AND the pledge to the Bible! Lol! Talk about my kids being lost!

  9. My eldest has to go to therapies 2x/week and I ๐Ÿ’– Chuck Taylors…so we are working on tieing shoes, but my nearly 7yo certainly can’t.. yet.
    I like to use YouTube for part of our Morning Time (Mandesa’s Good Morning, cosmic Kids Yoga and The pledge!) to get us started. I realized last 4th of July that they had no clue of the pledge so I found one by Signing Time to use. He is low-verbal so he would have a hard time learning even if he was in a school room. ๐Ÿ˜
    Pledge in ASL and English: https://youtu.be/41R-0AGpxfM

  10. Yes! All of this! ๐Ÿ™‚

    My 8YO can tie her shoes but she still can’t untie the double-knots on her skates without turning her laces into a hopelessly tangled mess. (My 7YO, who couldn’t tie his shoes if his life depended on it, usually takes care of this for her.)

    Also, the other day when I stopped into Tim Hortons with my daughter – who was wearing a t-shirt, sweater, and PJ pants – I decided that homeschool kids are really just tiny college students…

  11. I lead a homeschool PE group. They can’t make a circle in the gym!! You know, stand hold hands, pull back until you form a circle, then drop hands. Nope. Not at all.

    1. In an adult study group, our task was to while blind folded, stand in a circle holding a rope and form a square all facing the centre. We took only a couple of minutes because there was an arrangement of tables in a u shape and we stood inside this forming a square. The funny part of this story is the teacher told us that the fastest group she saw complete this task were 5 to 8 year old native New Guinea children speaking in native tongue. they took less than a minute. The slowest group were company executives, they took over an hour and a half.

  12. This was super-funny — because it is so true. (Regarding the Pledge of Allegiance – I’m Canadian and, similarly, I remember when my kids started AWANA and I found out they didn’t know the words to our national anthem. Oops.)

    I’d add that our kids might not know how to make lines. Years ago, we attended a homeschool field trip to a pioneer village and the tour guide split the kids into groups and asked them to form lines. The kids just kind of aimlessly milled around until the parents stepped in. LOL!!

  13. Went on a field trip with a small homeschool group and one of the workers said to line up in a straight line. Next thing I here is our 5th grader saying,”We are home schooled, we do not know what a straight line is.” She was right when you looked back it was more or a zigzag snake like line.

    1. Oh funny! Yes, so true HS kids do NOT know how to walk in line. They also don’t know how to “take one and pass it down”. As in paper. Take one from the top, pass the rest of the pile down it to your neighbor. Blank stares at co-op all.the.time.

  14. Yes my son, also raised in FL, still can’t tie his shoes and I am too embarrassed to tell you how old he is ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. (Raising hand, hanging head, and grimacing) Tying shoes. Yep. We really love velcro and flip-flops. I’m confident my second grader will get it figured out soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Lol!! This made me laugh! We just got around to the shoe tying thing. My husband commented that it’s great that our son is two years ahead in math, but should probably have some basic life skills too! We live in Florida, so we wear sandals year round. My son got stumped when the dentist asked what his teacher’s name is. He paused for a bit and then answered “Miss Laurie.”

  17. We go weeks without doing anything formal (no workbooks, no sit down study) because I’m sick, or tired, or sick AND tired ๐Ÿ˜Š, or we have guests. That’s when I conveniently call us unschoolers. Learning is still happening, I know it, so I don’t fret. (She’s 1st grade-ish)

    1. We have had a rough time this year with sticking to a schedule. We had a baby in December and lots of horrIble winter weather (which I actually loved and so the kids got a lot of sledding time and snow playing), and then right when I was starting to feel human again I got a kidney stone. I am JUST getting better from that ordeal (it seemed to take forever to get better). So our school has been hit or miss. However, I’m realizing that my teaching background was keeping me from recognizing when my kids WERE learning. My 7 yo struggles a little with reading and I was feeling horrible about missing this important daily activity then I realized she has been reading the Bible aloud at nights and discussing the meaning. That is learning. Reading difficult language and discussing comprehension is what she would have done with her school books so…done and done. Similar situations with math and many other subjects. My older daughter needs a little more but I’m learning to give myself a break. Homeschool does not need to look like public school. That’s why I’m doing this after all!

  18. My four sons are all grown โ€“ – three of them homeschooling their own kids now. I’m so grateful they have resources like your blog. Can’t begin to tell you how much it would’ve helped me back in 1984 to have a way to connect with other mothers who felt just as weird as I did! I felt I had to hide our weirdness, but with the strength of numbers, your generation of homeschooling mom’s can embrace it. Thank you.

    1. That is a HUGE blessing! I’m definitely thankful for the resources and community available to homeschooling families. Kudos to all the moms who were homeschooling when homeschooling wasn’t cool!

  19. My kids might not leave the house for a couple of days and I cannot remember the last time they showered. They maybe shower once a week. I know, horrible mom.

  20. This post is one long wry grin of agreement. We started homeschooling as preschool dropouts where my son flunked shoe tying (a requirement to be promoted to Kindergarten.) But, no worries, when the time was right he went on to become an Eagle Scout and can now tie up all kinds of things–including his shoes!

  21. Haha!! We work for mastery too, and my son (now age 20) didn’t appreciate it at all! Once he asked me, “Mom, why can’t we do it like they do in public school? If I make an ‘F,’ let’s just leave it at that and move on to whatever comes next!” ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad you linked this post up with us at Hip Homeschool Moms! It’s going to be one of our featured favorites in tomorrow’s Hop post.

  22. As a homeschool graduate and a homeschool mom, I’d disagree with your first point. I always knew what grade I was in (from 1 to 12) and my kids know what grade they are in (3 and 2 this year). Most if my homeschooling mom friends are the same.

    I do know my kids are sheltered, and I was growing up homeschooling. It was a big reason for both my parents and now me to homeschool. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, my hubby and I often talk about socialization and helpING our girls find social activities and make good friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. I don’t think I would actually function as a non-homeschooler. I mean, I’d have to remember to brush my kids’ hair. Like, every day. And they might have to wear socks. And I’d have to buy “indoor shoes” (ie, something not in tatters and/or caked with chicken poop).

  24. I worry not about socializing but about socialization, in its proper usage: learning the way society does things and how to fit in with that. For example… being able to walk around when someone is giving a teaching lecture is not a normal thing. My embarrassment was acute when my son started doing that in settings outside of home.
    Or knowing the pledge, for another example. Knowing to raise your hand in a group (probably the easiest one my kids learned). Being good at standing in line silently. Realizing that the adult has 30 other people to deal with and you are more attached to/interested in them than they are to you (of course, grownups deal with this with public figures, like pastors, too).

  25. I get the not learning to tie their shoes, Florida kids are exempt from that rule, right. We wear flip flops to church and weddings. I had a similar experience with the Pledge. We said it every morning for weeks. I had to bribe my children to remember their own birthdays. A lady asked my son what grade he was in, he said ” I don’t know, 14th grade, that’s how old I am.” She actually understood and realized he was homeschooled!

  26. My son is slow at tieing his laces bc I’m usually there to do it for him, although I taught him how, eventually. I realized about age 6 or so that others teach them b4 Kindergarten bc they won’t be there to help them ๐Ÿ™ so glad I’m there to tie his laces if he needs help!
    And the grade thing is so funny too. We’re working on skipping a grade right now bc he doesn’t want to be the oldest in his class which we thought he’d appreciate (started K @6yo). So basically we’ve been cramming 2nd and 3rd into one year, which its great that we have the freedom to do that. Not that it matters now but you never know later.
    can relate to all of these.

  27. I don\’t really want folks to know that my kids are not going to be halfway through college when they graduate high school. We actually struggle over here a lot. No over-achieving homeschoolers here. We have some special needs in our homeschool but people don\’t need to know that. They would probably think I needed \”professionals\” to help! (And sometimes I do!)

  28. We don’t start till 10 or 11 some days and we don’t get dressed unless we feel like it. My 5th grader still writes like she’s in kinder and I don’t teach my 2 yr old crap. I figure we have plenty of time for structured learning when he’s older. And I’m lazy

  29. Two things for us: scrambling quickly for clothes when UPS or FedEx comes to the door late in the afternoon because we’re still in underwear or PJ’s ๐Ÿ˜ฎ; and when at the orthodontist or dentist office, being asked if we need a note for school…I just say, “Nope…we homeschool, and I approve of this visit!” ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

  30. The one thing that my kids never learned to do was open a milk carton. They went away to church camp as middle schoolers and everyone thought it was hilarious that they didn’t know how to get their milk out of the carton.

  31. We often find what we call “holes in their education.” Most of these have to do with pop culture references, but the funniest was finding out they didn’t know what “number one and number two” wereโ€”as teenagers.

  32. A few years ago my kids attended a class with our co-op the teacher asked them to form a line so they could each take a turn….she had thirty kids rush towards her like a mob….Homeschool kids don’t know how to form a single file line

  33. Al of what you said is so true! I didn’t worry that my daughter did not know how to tie her shoes until my sisters made some comments about it. She did eventually learn ๐Ÿ™‚ I never worried about the fact that she never knew what grade she was in, others cared and wanted to know but she didn’t. No one in our home school worried about that “what grade are you in” thing at all. They all just got along, never asking and never caring what grade any one was in. It was such a beautiful thing!

  34. Lol! On the shoe tying. So true! I realized when my son was about 8 or 9 and got his first pair of shoes with laces that we’d had a homeschool fail. Up to that point he’d always worn Velcro tennis shoes or cowboy boots. I’m happy to say he’s now 17 and can tie shoes with the best of them.

  35. We donโ€™t have a testing requirement in our state and the one year I tried testing just to see where my children were my son could not work with a timed test. He kept stopping to ask me when I was going to make lunch and if I would please make him macaroni and cheese. When I tried to explain that he needed to not think about lunch during his time to test he just couldnโ€™t get a handle on that.

  36. I don’t grade everything my daughter does. Grade reporting is not required in my state. There are some things I’ll grade for my own information. Currently it’s times tables work. In spite of the public school my daughter was going to claiming she had “memorized all single-digit multiplication facts”, in reality she had 0s, 1s, and 2s “memorized”. 3s, 4s, and 5s she just happened to be fast enough and mostly accurate at skip counting to usually come to the right answer but it was obvious when she was skip counting rather than having the answer be an automatic response. 6s – 9s she neither “had memorized” or could skip count accurately. So we routinely do a drill sheet on one specific fact so she can practice one at a time (later I’ll start combining facts on one sheet), and I can see her accuracy as well as speed. I don’t set a timer for x minutes and when time is up she’s done, but I do keep track of how long it takes for her to work through all the problems. My standard is a 100-problem drill in under 7 minutes or a 50 problem drill in under 3.5 minutes with 100% accuracy. When we reach that we move on. I am aware there’s things we’re probably not going to her to in math unless we go into summer, but I’d much rather her master less than to push through and “pass” more with a C or D.

  37. The Pledge of Allegiance part is hysterical … true for us, too. I didn’t introduce it until 2nd grade because I had completely forgot until I saw the kids saying it on a movie! Lol. Very good / honest post in general.

  38. Great post and I can relate to almost every point, even the fact that he has to really think about what heโ€™s doing when he ties his shoes. He lives barefoot and despises shoes. Great read! Thanks for the smile!

  39. ….and we never (or almost never) test.

    I’ll never forget the horrified look on one of my public-school teacher friend’s faces when she found out my child doesn’t do tests. We *do* have our mandatory once-a-year standardized test. Beyond that, why would I test? I sit beside my kid 1-on-1 every day. I KNOW what concepts they have down and which ones still need work. The closest my child comes to a test during the year is reading comprehension work (some open-ended, some MCQ), and even then I don’t have reading comprehension for every book we read during the year.

  40. We are new to the homeschooling as we travel full time now and some funny moments have been…. in shops when people ask the kids “you have the day off school do you??” To which my kids say “We don’t go too school!” Haha, The look on their faces is priceless. Another was in the emergency room when miss 10 got concussion and short term amnesia after a hard fall off her bike and they asked what grade she was in to test her memory and she didn’t know. Haha. (Not because of the memory thing).
    It has been funny watching the shift from public school to homeschooling life. #loveit .

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