Kierstyn Darkwater: “It’s so easy for people like me … to fall through the cracks”

“If my parents had been unable to write off the validity and necessity of subjects based on theology or gender, if it had been harder for my parents to circumvent the rules, if I had been required to have an evaluation done by a teacher unrelated to my family, I think I would have had a better chance at a decent and well rounded education.” 

Kierstyn KingI support effective oversight of homeschooling because it’s so easy for people like me and my family to fall through the cracks—to find all the loopholes and do as little work as possible in the way of educating, keeping it about convenience and theology instead equipping children for adulthood.

My home state, Florida, required an annual portfolio review by a certified teacher. We had one portfolio review done by a teacher who was a neutral third party, and she started asking me questions about my education that year. My mom became upset and we never went back. Instead, one of my relatives who is in the adult education field and has been a certified teacher for as long as I can remember “reviewed” our portfolios for us. I say review lightly, because no thorough review was expected or given—if that had been the case, my math and my siblings’ writing and reading comprehension skills would have been noticed. Instead, we presented our portfolios, and they were signed off on without a glance.

My parents told me that I was done with my education when I was 15, though I continued to finish up what remained of my books until “graduation” the following May when I was 16. I thought this was odd, because I had been doing the calculating myself and thought I was behind. For example, my parents had completely given up on my math under the reasoning of “well, you’re a girl, you won’t need algebra anyway, you’ll be running a home.” With the responsibility of my education off of their shoulders once I “graduated,” I was then “free” to fully dedicate my time to the raising, care, and education of my siblings and the maintaining of the house.

If my parents had been unable to write off the validity and necessity of subjects based on theology or gender, if it had been harder for my parents to circumvent the rules, if I had been required to have an evaluation done by a teacher unrelated to my family, I think I would have had a better chance at a decent and well rounded education.

I feel somewhat responsible for the lack of education my siblings are receiving today as a result of the lack of oversight and all-too-easy loopholes that my parents continue to take advantage of. I want homeschooling to have effective oversight so we can help make sure that siblings like mine actually have an education appropriate to their level of understanding instead of being held back because of convenience or shot forward because of their age like I was (which I suppose is also about convenience).


Kierstyn Darkwater was homeschooled in Florida in the late 1990s and 2000s. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.

About Kierstyn Darkwater

Tech Director, Coalition for Responsible Home Education

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