When You Aren’t Learning Enough

If you are a homeschooled student and your parents are not giving you the education you need, we are very sorry to hear about your situation. Every child has the right to a solid and well-rounded education, and your parents are wrong to deprive you of it.

First take a moment to consider your goals. What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to be as an adult? Don’t be afraid to dream big. Next, consider what you will need to achieve this. Remember that a well-rounded education is important regardless of what you plan to be. Think in terms of practical steps. When you have some idea of where you are going and what you need to get there you will be better prepared to tackle your current issues.

It may be that your parents are not educating you at all. Perhaps they are busy caring for other children, or are distracted by other things. It may be that your parents are expecting you to educate yourself on your own. Perhaps you have tried but have found you need more guidance. It may be that the curriculum your parents are using is not working for you. Perhaps you are worried that you are falling behind or not understanding the material.

Whatever the case, you have several options.

1. Talk to your parents and tell them that you want to do things differently.

Take time to sit down with your parents and let them know that the way you are being homeschooled is not working for you. When your parents decided to homeschool you, they took responsibility for your education, and that is a responsibility they need to meet. While homeschooling may sometimes involve learning straight from textbooks without a teacher, this approach does not work for everyone and your parents should always be ready to assist you when needed. You should not be expected to educate yourself alone and without guidance.

If you feel your goals would be better met attending public school, let your parents know. Assure your parents that putting you in public school would not make them failures as parents. Not everyone is cut out to homeschool. However, whether you attend public school or are homeschooled is ultimately up to your parents, and if they choose to continue homeschooling you, or if you would yourself prefer to continue homeschooling, you may be able to work with your parents to find new curriculum, new resources, or new patterns of homeschooling that better support your learning.

Some homeschool alumni have stories about how they convinced their parents to send them to school. Others report that their parents adjusted how they homeschooled.

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2. Go to a relative or trusted adult and ask them to help.

Are there any adults in your life whom you can trust and can talk to—a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a friend or neighbor? A trusted adult can be a great resource for you and can give you advice about how to continue your education. They can also help you talk to your parents and tell them that the way you’re being homeschooled isn’t working.

Some homeschool alumni tell stories about reaching out to a relative or other trusted adult and having their educational prospects look up as a result.

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3. Report your parents’ failure to educate you to the authorities.

If your parents are educationally neglecting you, reporting this to the authorities may help.  Look up your state’s homeschooling law and see whether your parents are following it and meeting its requirements. If they are, reporting their failure to educate may not do any good. If they aren’t, reporting may help. You can find information on how to report educational neglect in homeschool settings HERE and HERE. The process generally involves calling either your local public school superintendent’s office or social services to make a report. Reports are anonymous and confidential.

Though you may be nervous about having contact with school officials or social workers, you should understand that it’s their job to ensure that your parents give you an education. Don’t worry that they will try to take you away from your parents—this is extremely unlikely if there are no other problems at home. You may also worry about hurting your parents’ feelings and getting them in trouble—this is a normal thing to feel. Just remember that your relationship with your parents isn’t one-way—as your parents, and as parents who have chosen to homeschool you, they have responsibilities to you. Your education is important, and if they’re not educating you, you still have a right to be educated, one way or another.

Some homeschool alumni report that the education their parents provided improved after someone reported their parents’ failure to educate.

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4. Do your best to educate yourself on your own.

Ideally, your parents should be involved in supporting and guiding your education, but if this is not possible there are things you can do to educate yourself on your own. Public libraries and the internet are great resources on just about every subject you could imagine. Libraries usually have textbooks on various school subjects. Read as much and as widely as you can. If you have access to the internet, sites like Khan Academy or Shmoop.com offer free classes in various subjects.

Look up your state’s high school requirements and set about finding ways to fulfill them yourself. Read books about chemistry, work through algebra textbooks, and watch online tutorials and documentaries. Document your studies so that you have a record of your education.

While educating yourself on your own can be challenging, it can keep you from falling too far behind and help you achieve your goals in the long run.

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Conclusion

Don’t give up hope—you can get through this. The path ahead of you may be difficult, but success is not impossible. Once you are an adult, your education will be in your own hands. Whether to get your GED, take community college courses, or join the workforce is up to you. A poor homeschool education may slow you down, but it doesn’t have to hold you back permanently.

You are not the only one to go through this. There is a whole community of homeschool alumni at Homeschoolers Anonymous, many of whom have backgrounds like yours. As you approach adulthood, you may want to look at Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), which provides informative links for homeschool graduates transitioning to adulthood.

We asked several homeschool alumni with backgrounds like yours what advice they would give you. This is what they had to say:

“Hang in there. It gets better. Life improves when you leave. If you can stand it, if the abuse is not life-threatening, if you only have a few years left until you turn 18, then hang in there. Tutor yourself as much as you can. Apply to community college, get out as soon as you can. If your situation is life-threatening, if you feel suicidal, if you are denied resources to tutor yourself — then get out now. Call CPS. Call someone who you trust and know can help… It’s not your fault, you are a beautiful human being.” ~ Lana, 29, homeschooled 5th-12th

“You will turn 18 and you can leave. If you’re safe but disadvantaged in education you should read as much as you can. And try to learn algebra now before you’re out in the world working and can’t find time. But if you’re being abused physically and/or sexually just call the police. It’s not your fault that terrible things are happening and getting out of there is the only thing you can do.” ~ Emily, 24, homeschooled 2nd-12th

“Be strong. You will make it through. You will find people who are willing to help you. You’ll make friends, you’ll find a job, you’ll find love. You will be free to be you. You can still get an education, as long as you are willing to keep an open mind and work for it. Read as much as you can, from as many sides of an issue as you can. It may be extremely difficult at times, but I promise, someday you will wake up and look around you and breathe deep and know that you are happy and that the journey to that place was worth every step.” ~ Rachel, 23, homeschooled K-12th

Believe in yourself and your potential. You are important and your dreams matter.


The above advice is designed for homeschooled students who receiving a deficient education due to lack of parental involvement or guidance. If you are a homeschooled student and feel uncomfortable or unsafe in your home environment, we have more information for you HERE.

This article does not constitute the giving of legal advice.

Rachel Coleman

Rachel Coleman

Rachel Coleman is the Executive Director of CRHE. She was homeschooled K-12 and is an instructor at Indiana University.
Rachel Coleman

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