I Don’t Owe Public Schools My Time

I Don't Owe Public Schools My Time

For years I worked in public schools as a professional.  I saw the devotion of teachers and the efforts made by parents and professionals to provide a better educational environment.  I heard from teachers about how much they missed how things used to be.  They wished they had more time to spend on teaching things other than the basics.  Teachers were frustrated.

For years I devoted time and effort into children within the public school system.  It seems like many believe that when you have children who are school age, you are obligated to devote time and energy toward bettering the system.  The effort many parents put into homeschooling, many argue, should be put into local schools instead.  Some see it as selfish to spend time devoted to your own children’s education instead of the education of society.

I don’t owe public schools my time.

Let me restate that.


First and foremost, I have an obligation to my children.  I brought them into this world and I am responsible for them.  While bettering society is an excellent thing to do, there are many ways to do that.  Working for the good of society doesn’t mean that I should put my time into bettering a system that was flawed from the start.

The public school system is is based on the Prussian model of education that inspires group thinking and nationalism.  Creativity and individuality are discouraged.  It is no wonder that many feel that homeschooling parents are obligated to help the public school system.   Public schooling has reinforced group thinking in our society.

Doing something different from the norm tends to ruffle feathers.  It really IS okay to do something different.  It really IS okay for a child to learn in a manner different from other kids without being labeled as having a problem.

You see, the public school system, although necessary, is not designed to educate individuals.  It is designed to educate the masses.  Some kids will fall through the cracks.  When you educate to the whole rather than the individual, you also miss out each child’s uniqueness.

Each child is unique. I’ve homeschooled for 9 years now and early on I learned that grade level distinctions and learning standards are designed for the masses and not for the individual.  Some kids will be upside down, backwards, and inside out in their approach to learning and that is okay.

Is learning happening?  That is what is important.  As a homeschooling parent, I am there day in and day out constantly evaluating what works and what doesn’t for each child.  Even though my three children have a similar life experience, growing up in the same family, they all learn quite differently.

I celebrate uniqueness.  2nd grade for one child will look very different than 2nd grade for another child.  Each child’s abilities, interests, and learning methods are considered when I come up with our learning plans.

True, I don’t have pedagogy training.  I don’t know how to run a classroom.  But I do know how to observe my kids and adapt when things aren’t working.

I don’t know much about many areas of science.  But I do know how to access more and more complex resources and help my child learn.  Sometimes my kid teaches me things now.

When I started homeschooling, I had to write down all math problems and I even used my fingers to count sometimes.  I can now do complex mental math problems.  I learned as my kids learned.

What I don’t know doesn’t limit me.  It doesn’t limit my children either.  It inspires us to find out, be inquisitive, and discover answers.  It motivates me to find resources to help my children learn.

You see, I am not a fountain of knowledge.  I don’t want my children to see education as something that should be spoon fed from a teacher.  I want them to see education as the process of learning.  Sometimes that learning process is messy.  Sometimes answers must be sought out.  Sometimes they ask questions that have no answers yet.

I am not my children’s teacher.  I am the one who is facilitating their learning.  They are individuals who are capable of learning from the world around them.  That may involve books, classes, online resources, local teachers, online teachers, and more.  When you live outside the schoolish box, your education can have no limits or restrictions.

I believe in individualized learning.  I believe each child is unique and their education should look that way as well.  This is why I homeschool.

Having school aged children doesn’t mean that I owe public schools my time.  Bettering society is definitely important, but putting time and effort into a system founded on squelching individuality and creativity is not my obligation – not even close.

Give me a system that celebrates individuality and creativity, while focusing on educating each child in the manner that best suits the child.  Do that, and I’ll reconsider.

What about you?  Do you owe public schools your time?


  1. It broke my heart when I saw other children in my son’s class who had so much potential and ability, but they just didn’t learn “that” way…
    When I bought mine home to thrive I did feel a pang for those left behind and I am aware that no everyone has the ability to work from home in order to make it possible!
    I loved your article and I agree 100%

  2. Pingback: Reason 337: Because Every Child Is Unique | 365 Reasons To Homeschool

  3. I think if anyone told me that I owed my time to the public school so that I could better society, I would argue this:

    I AM contributing to society by being responsible for my own children. I AM raising children that are POLITE, RESPECTFUL AND CARING. I am also contributing to society by allowing my children to be themselves because this helps their confidence and this in turn, helps them WANT to become PRODUCTIVE members of society. My children, because we home school, are responsible for chores at home – and not get paid for doing them. They are being taught that this work MUST be done and because we are a family unit, we work as a team. So I am again contributing because my children will already be ready for the workforce knowing that they likely will have to work with others toward a common goal (only they will then be getting paid for it). This helps an employer because they have an employee that “gets it”.

    As for the public education, I can only vote for the people that are out there wishing to change things. That is my contribution, not to mention the tax dollars paid by my husband’s job. I am contributing more to society by keeping my children at home than I would be by putting them into the system.

  4. This was a real struggle for me. I am-was- a hardcore volunteer mom at the school all the time, on Committees, the Parent Council, Class Rep, grant writing and fundraising… I have established programs and assisted on a regular basis in classes that my kids are not even in, spent night upon night at Board meetings and Parent Education-all for the betterment of society and all these other kids whose parents don’t, I told myself. Then, my 6 year old (and I) had a hellish year of kindergarten last year and I had to make a decision. This year we will be homeschooling for the first time and I will be withdrawing from almost everything at school. There is that voice in my head that reminds me that “I am a bad person” if I don’t help the rest of them…but what about mine? My kid can’t sit in confinement for 7 hours a day. My kid gets in fights and sobs in the corner. My kid was disappearing and this angry and distant little boy was emerging in his stead. My kid needs to be free and go on hikes and fish and sing little ditties off the top of his head as he wanders in the forest with his dog. My kid needs to be allowed to talk when he wants and ask questions and tell stories and explore his own interests. My kid is funny and smart and worth more than what public school has to offer…so, I choose him. This has been both a hard and liberating lesson for me, and I’m sorry world. But, sometimes we need to take care of our own and leave the rest to take care of theirs.

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