Actual (Dati) Families Explain 
Why They Homeschool...anonymously

The following page is not meant as an indictment of the day-school learning system. On the contrary, homeschooling may not be for everyone.  In addition, many Homeschoolers work day-schools into their educational programs.  But the following page is necessary.


Family One:

     In addition to accommodating learning styles and speeds, homeschooling allows you to focus on particular subjects of importance or interest, while minimizing or ignoring unimportant or objectionable content (which may not only waste the child's time, but actually damage him/her!).

Family Two:

     I am also orthodox. My son who went to a "*&^%$#" (type of Orthodox) school till the middle of sixth grade, told me a few months ago that he would get a terrible knot in the pit of his stomach every day that I took him to that school. ( He is now in 10th grade and homeschooling). More recently he told me that this caused him such trauma that he instinctively has this feeling of doom or knot whenever we are going somewhere as this feeling became so ingrained in him. Then he remembers he isn't going there and he feels better. 

I can't tell you how badly I feel about all the pain my kids have been subjected to in the name of school. I can't tell you all the years it is going to take for the damage to be undone. I wish I had listened to them sooner.

Please listen to your child. You will not be sorry in the end. As far as I am concerned most kids are treated worse in school than criminals are in jail.

Family Three:

     I love having my children around! I would miss them so much if they were out all day. I would hate it if I only got to see them in the afternoon when they are all tired and cranky. 2) I think I can do a better job because I can make sure that a - he enjoys learning as much as possible, b- he does not fall through the cracks. I am only focusing on my son, not on the other 15 kids in a class. But, I have to admit that I usually do not say the  above to non-homeschoolers, because I do not want to fight about what they are doing, and it is miles easier to give an excuse which is not really the reason we HS.

Family Four: 

     Both my husband and I felt that we had learned more outside of school than in, so that the hours spent in school were awfully wasteful of our time. How can it be otherwise? Even the best teacher working in a classroom cannot possibly accomodate the individual learning styles and speeds of each student.

Family Five: 

     I gave private cello lessons for 20 years beforemy son was born - during that time I had students as young as 11 with ulcers (really!) from all the pressure of doing serious music and school, with not enough time to breath. It seemed to us that homeschooling would allow any child to cut down on the time required to learn what the schools teach - no more waiting for the kid next to you to catch on, while your questions remain unanswered.

     As for my 3 year old daughter and 6 year old son, I knew before they were conceived that I would never institutionalize them (they would have to have a darn good reason to go to school). In one of the few moments of absolute clarity I have ever had in my life, Hashem made it clear I should homeschool. 

    The details aren't important, but it was before I was even pregnant. It is fabulous to be able to customize the Judaic and secular curricula to their abilities. I also usually don't say too much in the frum community about how great it is, but rather that he isn't ready for yeshiva "yet."

      Since my rabbi is not supportive, it would be counterproductive. Also, his wife is head of the PTA of the yeshiva where most of our Shul's kids go to school. So there is no point in creating problems with why I generally disdain school as a model for learning.

     However, I sense that some of the parents trapped in the Yeshiva system of schooldays that run 6 days a week until almost dinner envy our freedom. And it is not a freedom I would easily give up. Actually, the nicest thing is something my husband learned when he was homeschooled -- that learning is a function of effort, not time. If I can teach this to my children ....
Family
Six:

     I cannot homeschool now, but wish I could. My children are doing very well in their schools, and are happy. The schools are considered good schools, however, I am dissatisfied with the quality of education in the Yeshivas, and the length of day. I feel that homeschooling would be a much better option, for the family, and for the kids education. Saving on tuition would be another big impetus for us to homeschool.

Family Seven: 

     One of the other reasons I want to pull my son out in the afternoon is that there's not enough time for physical excercise--which he needs!! How many hours are there in a day? If your son has an artistic talent isn't that a gift from Hashem? And shouldn't it be developed?

There are some "uptown" yeshivahs here in NYC that do offer (so I hear) some art and music and gym) but--who can afford nearly $15 grand per year for tuition? And that still means too long hours!!

Family Eight: 

     Yes indeed-I want to cut down on the TEDIOUS homework, not only is it too timeconsuming, it's making my son unhappy and absolutely RUINING my evenings, which I need for other things, family time, and work! The hours between 4:45 and 9 pm. therefore, are totally NON-PRODUCTIVE for everyone!!

Family Nine: 

     That aspect of the yeshiva bothers me too. There is no opportunity for the boys to pursue any artistic, or other talents at all. They are non-existent in school, and since the day is so long, they can't do it at home. My son draws beautifully, and I would love for him to develop his talent, but there just isn't any time.  Another sadly neglected area is physical excercise and sports.

My son gets none of that in his Yeshiva, at all. And again, there is no time for it after school

Family Ten:

     We have a lot of reasons to homeschool which I do *not* want to tell my children because I am afraid that they will repeat them, & hurt people's feelings. Like: I do not like the low standard of Chol teaching; I do not like the "Rebbe worship;" I do not like the way girls are given an inferior education, and the way that slower boys are shipped off to yeshiva; I do not like the problems I have seen with teachers and do not want my boys taught by someone who can not write a letter in proper English; etc. etc.

But I do not want my children to repeat these reasons :-)

Family Eleven:

     One parent answers another about her socially anxious girl at school. My personal opinion is, listen to your daughter. Something is very wrong. Then get her some help. There is a condition of social anxiety. Perhaps she has that and it's easily treated with medication. But it is very possible that someone there in school is harming her. I myself would definitely remove my child if I were in your shoes. Again, this is my own opinion. Let us know what happens.

     My previously social, no hangups kid turned into a surly, negative, aggressive mess in 6th grade. I did take him to a homeschooling psychologist and well, the rest is history.

    I really don't care what the rest of the orthodox community has to say (I can't afford to, my son wants to homeschool for high school instead of going to Yeshiva in 9th grade, so I better have a tough hide). As far as looking like a good mother, the only one that should be judging you on that is Hashem, for only He has the whole story. As long as your husband and you are on the same page (and that takes lots of dialoging to get through all the fear and anxiety,but very important), and THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT, that your daughter knows that you are in there with her, that you see her struggling and you are trying to help her, and that you believe in her, and that with Hashem's help, it will all work out for the best, then she can relax a bit. You then have to make good.

It is so very true. My son was trying to tell me something. He was acting out .... in technicolor. I just didn't get it. I was too worried about keeping up with the homework, the carpools, the PTA meetings, the lunch boxes, etc. that I could not HEAR HIM. (and he was talking like a child, in actions, not like a calm, rational, tuned in adult, so he didn't make it easy for me).

Reality: He was being beaten up in school and watching other acts of bullying and he did not feel safe, He was angry, not learning, feeling like a failure and did not want to go. Perfectly rational, just afraid that we would continue to make him go, so why bother telling his truth? Very dejected. We too, went to a psychologist who told us in our interview (before we had our son in for a session) that we just had to "make" him face his responsibilities (by this time he was grumbly and uncooperative at home in terms of chores, etc as well). That's when we walked out and never brought our son to see her.

     Your daughter is telling you something. You might not like what she is saying, but you owe it to her to listen and try to hear her message. THEN, you can worry about whether you are able to help her FIX it in this venue, or whether you have to generate other options.

As far as facing social phobia, granted, this is an important thing. Yet, SHE CANNOT DO THIS UNTIL SHE IS HEARD (isn't this a social skill we are modeling?) The capital letters are not meant as screamnig, they are meant for emphasis, I don't know how to italicize my e-mail.

     She can get involved in an art class, dance class, Girl scouts, swimming, etc. if you want her to deal with social interaction with peers. I remember 6th, 7th grade. We were divided into the "cool" girls and the "nebs". Any social stuff that preexisted was just made worse in the very cliquey pre-teen years. I was not quite sure what you had to do to be "cool", I never could figure out the rules, but I was determined to fake it as best as I could so that I would not be a "neb" (we all knew who they were and we were afraid it was contagious). I suspect that her peers are very catty and cliquey and this is making the social situation worse for her, not better.

Furthermore, I doubt very seriously if she will ever be able to fix it well enough for herself in school at this point if she is FORCED to keep going and confront it, (especially with the very unhelpful advice from the psychologist). she cannot "pretend" she is at home, she is at school. If she were to dissociate and be delusional, wouldn't that be a real psychologic problem?

     I know I have ranted, but this just gets to me. P.S. The end of the story with my son? He was angry with me that we took him out of school i nthe middle of the year. He felt like this meant he was a failure. However, another boy had left before him. And come September, 5 other boys (for a total of 7 out of a group of 60 at his grade level) did not return. Since then two or three more have left. In addition, I have spoken to other parents of boys who have come into sixth grade in the two years since my son left and a number of those boys are also unhappy and inquiring about homeschooling. In fact, I spoke to a mom yesterday whose son left that school and enrolled in a different school for 7th gradethis past September.

Seems like an awful lot of unhappy 6th graders there. Could it be something with the program, the way it is run, etc. Frankly, I tried to figure this out so that I could "fix it" so that my kid could be happy and productive again and go to school (like everyone else, us Mommy types also worry about social acceptance) but I just couldn't figure it out,. I decided therefore to make it the best I could for my son on my own, instead of taking on an entire school administration (who were very sympathetic and tried to be helpful and make it better for him, no complaints here).

Family Twelve:

The reasons for switching from mainstream schools to homeschools varies from family to family, observers say. They include less academic pressure on children, more individualized attention, and general concerns of safety, sociability and finances, which tend to be far less than in day schools.

“For me it was philosophical,” says a native of Cincinnati and psychology graduate of Stern College for Women. “I didn’t like the pressure on them. I didn’t like the hours they were in school.”

Article: Problems in Day School Leadership:
Can a Jewish Day School be run by people who are not Jewish?


Anonymous

(The writer has had extensive experience as a teacher and coordinator of
Hebrew, Jewish Studies and Tanach as well as a curriculum writer)

In the community where I live and work,  there are not enough Jews in
teaching to take over promotion posts, so how does a community encourage
its youngsters to take up teaching?

One of the consequences of this shortage is that the community has to look
to educators who are not Jewish to assume leadership roles in some Jewish
Day Schools.

My experience has been that over a period of several years, the school
where I taught gradually lost its Jewish identity and N'shamah. The
Principal wanted smaller and shorter celebrations of the chagim and
could 'not see the point of teaching and learning Tanach'. I went to Bar
Ilan for a year; I wrote a Tanach syllabus for the school but on my return,
I found that Hebrew was allocated to a non-Jewish co-ordinator of languages
other than English. The Principal could not and would not understand or
accept that Hebrew is not another language He also would not allow the
implementation of my tefillah programme.

In discussions about non-kosher food being eaten and allowed on ski camp, I
was completely overruled; aspects of Judaism that I wanted enforced by the
executive e.g., kippot, modest dress on civvies days, longer skirts etc,
were not acceptable to them. I had to enforce these things without their
help and also without the support of the local Rabbi.

Some students have also been given permission not to do the compulsory
Jewish subject in year 11 (Hebrew, Tanach or Studies of Religion which has
a big Judaism component). Furthermore a non-Jew has been appointed to teach
Religious Studies and children have been given permission not to attend
prayers.

One of the candidates for President a few years ago was observant and
wanted to bring in a religious man as director of Jewish Studies. He was
voted out.

To make matters worse, the leadership's attitude to what's going on in
Israel also leaves a lot to be desired.

I know that there are schools, which are successfully managed and led by
professionals who are not Jewish and who command respect and admiration for
their unquestioned integrity and professionalism. However, in our
particular situation this was unfortunately not a successful experiment.

I wanted to bring this to the attention of (#*&%^$*) readers in the hope
that should such a situation arise where there is a dearth of Jewish
leadership, that somehow safeguards be built in that will ensure that the
school remains Jewish in content, spirit, curriculum, knowledge and values
and that more than anything else, there is an understanding of and
sensitivity towards the Jewish people and their beliefs and practices.

click here to learn more about what Jewish homeschooling is and what it is not