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7 Important Social Benefits Kids Develop From Homeschooling



Homeschoolers crouch on the ground
From high interaction with homeschooled families and graduates in multiple environments, professional and personal, I’ve definitely noticed differences.

Author Joy Pullmann profile




Homeschooling rose to 1 in 10 American kids in 2021 due to lockdowns, and the number has remained high even as lockdowns abated. Most families who began homeschooling due to lockdowns say they don’t plan to go back.

Despite the steady increase in homeschooling since its revival in the 1980s, families who choose this way of raising their children often face fearful responses from family and friends. Chief among the concerns is what people often call “socialization.” Sometimes, they mean, “Will your kids have any friends?” Other times, they mean, “Will your kids understand social cues and how to get along with normies?”

Yes, you can find homeschooling kids who dress oddly and don’t know how to carry on a basic conversation. But you can find people like that anywhere. As anyone who attended a public school can confirm, people who can’t make eye contact and are otherwise antisocial persist in that environment, too.

Homeschooled or public schooled? Impossible to tell. (Charlie Llewellin / Flickr / CC BY SA 2.0)

From high interaction with homeschooled families and graduates in multiple environments, professional and personal, I’ve definitely noticed differences. On balance, these differences tend to favor homeschoolers. Here are just seven I’ve observed that are also often obtainable in small schools.

1. Independent Thinking

It’s common for the “good” kids in public school to work hard to learn what the teacher wants and give it to her. They have a tendency to become compliers. “Just tell me what you want, and I’ll do it.”

Now, homeschooled kids often also want to please Mom and Dad, but the ability to negotiate with a parent in ways one can’t with a teacher often encourages mental independence. They have freedom to read widely and extra free time in which to develop and personalize their sense of self. They also tend to get more long conversations with their parents because of homeschooling’s extremely small class sizes.

All these cultivate independent habits of thought. They teach people to develop their interests and personalities, and to follow arguments all the way to their conclusions. These things also teach students to spend time comparing and contrasting ideas for real, in a way that shapes one’s soul for life, not as a human version of ChatGPT.

Homeschoolers are also used to being unusual. They’re used to being asked questions like, “Do you have any friends?” and given the cold shoulder by public-school kids at events like sports and family gatherings.

Sometimes this turns a homeschooled kid desperate and makes him more peer-dependent, especially if he’s a sociable child and doesn’t spend enough time with friends. So he’s desperate for friends and therefore works overly hard to conform to negative peer pressure. I’ve seen this also with conservative kids. They accept peers’ or culture’s shaming and rejection of their social differences and therefore can more easily turn into antagonists against their own group.

Thus we have entities like Homeschoolers Anonymous, which argues that because some homeschooling families are abusive, homeschooling rather than the family is the problem. (You don’t hear that same argument about public schooling, which has a far higher rate of child abuse than homeschooling does. But I digress.)

If parents observe and address these social dynamics, mostly by helping their children find friends who build them up instead of savage their family’s choices, homeschoolers do tend to emerge into adulthood as independent thinkers. They tend to be quite comfortable with nonconformity, bringing new perspectives into their communities. This strengthens our society, especially now, as political correctness is metastasizing into a totalitarian social credit system.

2. More Practice with Multi-Age Relationships

Since they are so strongly family-oriented, homeschoolers break out of our society’s artificial, factory-school model of corralling people with those who happen to be born in the same calendar year. Homeschooled kids are far more comfortable making friends with anyone, not just those their exact same age.

They drop by for tea at the old lady’s down the block (true story). Bigger kids play comfortably with babies and toddlers. They know how because they have little siblings and cousins they are around more often because they’re not in school all day. This makes many homeschoolers even more socially capable than peers who falsely believe that one can only be friends with a person who looks and acts just like them. It expands their horizons and their relationship skills.

Freedom from same-age exclusivity has academic benefits as well as social benefits. Everyone understands that no person is exactly mentally on track with every other person his age. An 8-year-old may be strong in math but weak in spelling, compared to those of his age. Homeschooling allows the flexibility to meet children academically outside of the “average” peer.

Being too far ahead of one’s class makes bright kids bored, and being too far behind his class makes struggling students despair. Teaching right at a person’s actual level instead of his artificially imposed level is the most effective instruction possible.

3. More Prosocial Habits and Expectations

For decades, parents have moved to the suburbs to raise their kids because they didn’t want their children in environments shaped by poverty. As Thomas Sowell and others have chronicled, America’s urban and rural poor share many antisocial behaviors that keep them down and drag others with them. These include higher rates of violence and nonmarital sex and other coarse and life-damaging behavior such as openly disrespecting authority.

Homeschooling takes the protection of moving to the suburbs a step further. That’s an increasingly prudent step as our entire culture seems hell-bent on downward mobility.

Simply the widespread adoption of smartphones for children immediately degrades entire social ecosystems such as schools, because children are too immature to handle attention-destroying notifications and open internet access. Ten-year-old girls don’t need to see pornographic drawings and get propositioned to join a threesome because their badly parented peers watch YouTube videos of lesbian sex (true stories — from the suburbs).

In an environment like this, sometimes the only possible way to ensure your child actually has a childhood is to homeschool. It would be better if our society decided to protect children from living in social cesspools like this, but most of our parents and institutions have so far refused. That leaves it up to sane parents and churches. Homeschooling is one way to allow children an innocent childhood so they encounter this world’s violence and sex when they are ready.

4. Better Ability to Choose Friends

It’s always been prudent to select one’s companions carefully. Friends strongly affect who you are. Families who pay $50,000 a year for so-called “elite” private schools and then send their children to morally bankrupt Ivies know this. Their values are degraded, but the underlying impetus is correct: One’s companions can determine the course of one’s entire life. This is true for adults and even more so for children.

The thing about public school is that anyone can and does go there. We don’t live in the 1950s, when one could more reliably count on both the average parent and most institutions to be sane and responsible.

Today’s average parent is checked out and lets his kids be mentored by creepy strangers on the internet and other kids who are mentored by creepy strangers on the internet. Today’s average institution is run by apathetic box-checkers whose lack of moral fiber tends to let antisocial people and woke inmates turn everything into an asylum.

This means parents today can’t count on most other people to encourage their families toward the good. Sending children to public school (and allowing them unsupervised internet access) not only prevents parents from carefully selecting their children’s major influences but also ensures their impressionable children will repeatedly encounter sick perversions they are too immature to handle.

Homeschooling (and private schooling) families have far greater control over their companions than do those who allow our degraded public square to mess with their kids’ minds, and therefore can more intentionally manage this key determinant of a family’s character.

5. Better Family Relationships

A complaint I often hear about homeschooling that unintentionally reveals its speaker’s lack of character is: “I just couldn’t be with my kids all day long!” Parents shouldn’t avoid helping their kids mature by farming out their parenting to others. Others don’t do as good a job of it as parents will. It’s also an abdication of their responsibility that has bad consequences for them, their children, their community, and all of society.

Yes, children are annoying. Every person is annoying sometimes. Mature adults realize we’re also annoying sometimes and that a currently annoying person will usually get over it. This isn’t a children problem, it’s a people problem.

Yes, children can be more directly annoying than adults because they are more actively driven by their passions. That’s one top characteristic of immaturity. Yet kids’ natural immaturity isn’t worse because it’s more obvious than most adults’.

When an adult seeks arousal, he might use internet porn, blast loud music in public spaces, or zone out on a video game. A child seeking arousal might wander around whistling or run in circles around the kitchen. He might bang the same song on the piano 20 times a day or tease his sister 30 times just to get a reaction (guess how I came up with these examples).

But Jordan Peterson is right that kids are mostly as annoying as their parents allow them to be. Some parents allow their children to maintain habits of complaining, whining, arguing with parents when they say no, teasing siblings, or fighting. Other parents build and enforce appropriate behavior boundaries in their family life.

By putting family members in more constant direct contact with each other, homeschooling gives parents increased opportunities for character building and habit formation. If parents do this work, it definitely pays off. It also tends to pay off both short- and long-term.

Children who are required by active parents to daily practice self-discipline tend to become better adults — better fellow citizens, better parents, better neighbors, mothers, and fathers. Unlike unparented children, they are also mostly a pleasure to be around — just like adults.

6. More Creative Hobbies and Entrepreneurial Instincts

Because they don’t have to waste so much time being controlled as part of a herd in large classes and schools, homeschoolers tend to have a lot more free time that they don’t spend watching TV. This makes homeschoolers extremely creative and active people, on average, which lends itself to entrepreneurial instincts.

With all the free time they gain from not having to move at a pace constrained by 22 other people, homeschoolers tend to develop strong hobbies and skills. The average homeschooler is involved in more than five community activities such as piano lessons, scouts, and karate, and is more likely to volunteer than public-schooled kids, according to studies.

Cultivating personal interests is not only good in itself, but it also leads to other goods, such as a penchant for social and economic entrepreneurship. Homeschooled students are used to being self-directed and managing their own time and interests. That makes them more likely to develop their own creative pursuits and I think explains why there are so many homeschooling families running high-traffic channels on YouTube.

7. A More Individual Personality

Some combination of the high personalization and high control of one’s time in homeschooling, as well as the lack of personality flattening that comes from harsh peer pressure, seems to make homeschoolers often very much more developed individuals. This reality is a bit ineffable, partly because it’s so varied in its expression.

While most people seem to come out of public schools slotted into some mass marketing consumer profile — punk, valedictorian, LGBT, SJW, jock, geek, nerd, or some other role defined and assigned by corporate conglomerates — homeschoolers tend not to fit into these kinds of boxes very easily.

Partly I think it’s because they have less awareness that these boxes even exist, because of their lower exposure to mass media through both screens and peers. Partly I think it arises out of their years of freedom to deeply explore nooks and crannies of human existence that aren’t part of mass culture, like Victorian clothing, historical re-enactment replicas, or Scottish literature.

Sometimes this reality manifests in slight oddities, like wearing nonstandard clothing, taking longer pauses in a conversation (or being more likely to monologue at people), knowing swing and folk dance steps, and not getting pop culture references. But I prefer these kinds of oddities to encountering a bearded man in a dress or to hearing some crappy song blare out of someone’s speakers that sounds essentially like every other crappy song that has blared out of speakers since the 1960s.

This also makes homeschoolers really interesting people to talk to. They have actual interests in their lives and unusual ways of seeing the world because more of their ideas haven’t come to them via the dreary mass marketing that in our society badly substitutes for legitimate culture. So no, often homeschoolers don’t act like zombies who download their brains from the corporate cloud, but that’s a good thing.

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her just-published ebook is “101 Strategies For Living Well Amid Inflation.” Her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” Mrs. Pullmann identifies as native American and gender natural. Her many books include “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books. Joy is also a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs.


Study: Outside of School, America’s Teens Average 70 Hours Per Week Glued to Screens



little girl on smartphone
America’s young people are wasting almost all of their waking free time on entertainment instead of personal development or service to others.

Author Joy Pullmann profile




Americans ages 11 to 18 play online for an average of 10 hours per day, according to a study out today by a research team that includes psychologist Jean Twenge, author of “iGen” and “Generation Me.”

The researchers surveyed 1,600 Americans ages 11 to 18 in May 2022. On average, the study participants reported using digital media an average of 10 hours and four minutes per day, on such entertainment activities as social media, video chat, texting, shopping, and gaming.

That’s a total of 70 hours per week spent online, approximately double the average time spent in school. If teens were suddenly banned from screen time, they could use the time freed from solely that to instead hold down both a full-time and a part-time job. Some of this average may include multitasking, such as texting while scrolling Instagram, the study said, but this total of 70 hours per week spent on screens also did not include time spent watching TV.

Low-Class Behavior Rampant in Middle Class

The researchers say their Institute for Family Studies and Wheatley Institute study is the first to examine the effects of family structure on young people’s screen time. They found that teens living with their own biological and married parents still spent an astonishing amount of time on screens, at an average of nine hours per day. Still, that was nearly two hours fewer per day, on average, than children living without a biological parent, who spent an average of 11 hours per day online.

“The adolescents most likely to be depressed, lonely, and dissatisfied with life are heavy digital media users in stepparent, single-parent, or other non-intact families,” write study authors Twenge, Wendy Wang, Jenet Erickson, and Brad Wilcox. “The link between excessive technology use and poor mental health is larger for youth in non-intact families compared to those in intact families.”

So, according to this study’s findings, children in intact families spend an average of 63 hours per week amusing themselves online, while children in broken families spend an average of 77 hours per week amusing themselves online. The study discovered “especially large differences by family structure in youth time spent on gaming and texting. For example, youth in stepfamilies report spending about 50 minutes a day more texting than youth in intact families.”

Other studies on children’s screen use reinforce this finding — that America’s young people are wasting almost all of their waking free time on entertainment instead of personal growth or service to others. As this IFS/Wheatley study points out, this shift has happened extremely quickly, and it’s not all because of the 2020-2022 Covid lockdowns that also arrested American children’s development. Between 2009 and 2017, “the time high school students spent online doubled.”

The study points out that high screen time for adolescents is correlated with depression, loneliness, lack of sleep, and negative body image. It does not mention the opportunity cost of diverting young people’s free time to entertainment consumption instead of personal development that benefits others, such as learning to repair bicycles, playing outside, testing out jobs through work and internships, or working to save for college or marriage.

The study recommends that parents keep electronic devices out of kids’ bedrooms at night, limit screen time to a few hours per day, delay smartphone access to age 16 or 18, keep kids off social media as long as possible, and arrange for their kids to make friends with kids in families with similar boundaries about tech use to help their children socialize with people instead of robots.

Unchallenged mass tech addiction is one more way our morally bankrupt ruling class incentivizes destructive lower-class behaviors instead of encouraging lower classes to raise their standards. This works to erase the middle class by indulging laziness, like the shameful “quiet quitting” PR campaign. This is another form of societal suicide. Laziness cannot maintain, let alone keep advancing, the United States’ world-class level of scientific and cultural advancement.

Nothing worth having comes without strenuous and sustained effort. Internet addictions erase not only willpower but also self-discipline, excellence, and the communication skills needed to work with others and sustain key relationships such as marriages, as Twenge and others’ academic work shows.

This Is a National Crisis

If a child played with Legos for 10 hours a day, every day, his parents or teacher would have him screened for autism and developmental delays. If a child played pretend for 10 hours a day, at any age, he’d be sent to the school psychologist.

If your child did anything for 10 hours a day, you’d be worried about him and work strenuously to bring some balance to his life, for his own good. Parents need to man up and do the hard work of tightly restricting the addictive side of the internet from their kids, for not only their own good but for the sake of our country. Even 30 hours of screen time a week is obviously excessive for kids. Seventy hours of screen time a week is completely out of control, the willful destruction of our future.

“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war,” wrote the National Commission on Excellence in Education in the famous 1983 report, “A Nation At Risk.” “As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.”

The same sentiment applies to today’s American youth, but in a far more advanced condition. If a foreign nation had imposed on Americans the destruction of our mental and moral capacity that results from such rampant internet addiction as this study explores, we’d consider it an act of war. In fact, it’s pretty clear that our top foreign adversary created an addictive social media app for the same reason it helps Mexican drug cartels ship fentanyl across our border: because China knows that if they destroy America’s future, they rule the world.

The only thing standing between them and your kids is you, parents. Maybe a few elected officials could stand with us and take down these internet monopolies that make bank strip-mining our future, or at least require real proof of parental consent for children to use addictive tech products, such as a tiny credit card payment. But don’t wait for others to do your job for you. Put down your phone, grab your kids, and make your family motto the title of one of my childhood books: “Do Something Besides Watching TV.”

If your children enter adulthood having done nothing with 25,000 hours of their lives they can never get back, and with their brains destroyed by internet slot machines, that’s on you. You’re the one paying for their phone and letting them self-destruct. Tell them to get a job or read some books or do anything but sabotage themselves and our society. If you don’t, you deserve to be judged the same way as moms who put Mountain Dew in their babies’ bottles.

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Here’s her printable household organizer for faith-centered holidays. Sign up here to get early access to her next ebook, “101 Strategies For Living Well Amid Inflation.” Her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” Mrs. Pullmann identifies as native American and gender natural. She is the author of several books, including “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books. Joy is also a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs.

Youngkin’s Crusade To Get Radical Gender Theory Out Of Virginia Schools Puts Kids And Families First



Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin

Author Casey Chalk profile



Last week, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin further delivered on his gubernatorial campaign promise to give parents more control over their children’s education. The Virginia Department of Education issued new model policies specifically directed at resisting the radical gender ideology that has become commonplace even in the Commonwealth’s elementary schools.

The New Model Policies

Virginia’s new model policies explicitly state that students’ participation in school programming and use of school facilities such as bathrooms or locker rooms should be based on their biological sex and that modifications should be offered only to the extent required under federal law. They also assert that students who are minors must be referred to by the name and pronouns in their official records unless there is explicit parental approval for the use of something else. And they also declare that schools may not conceal information about a student’s so-called gender identity from his or her parents and that parents must be given the opportunity to object before any gender-related counseling services are offered.

The document reads: “Parents have the right to instill in and nurture values and beliefs for their own children and make decisions concerning their children’s education and upbringing in accordance with their customs, faith, and family culture.” In a rebuke to those officials and administrators who have encouraged wrongly named gender-affirming “care,” it explains: “Parents are in the best position to work with their children and, where appropriate, their children’s health care providers.”

The new model policies are subject to a 30-day period for public comment that begins later this month. Following that period, in accordance with a 2020 state law, school boards across the Old Dominion must adopt policies that are “consistent with” those of the state’s Department of Education. Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for Youngkin, noted that the updated guidance “delivers on the governor’s commitment to preserving parental rights and upholding the dignity and respect of all public school students.”

A Personal Anecdote

I can personally speak to how widespread the promotion of gender ideology has become, at least in Fairfax County, where I attended school for 12 years and then worked as a high-school history teacher. The very day after Virginia’s Department of Education issued this new guidance, my family attended a picnic in our neighborhood. My two eldest children (ages 9 and 7) were playing a game with other neighborhood kids, including, a bit awkwardly, a teenage girl who attends the local public high school. During the game, and when my wife and I were not nearby to overhear, this teenager told my children that she identifies as both a girl and a boy and that there are “72 genders.”

My wife and I homeschool our children. It wasn’t something I was eager to do — my extended family has been attending county public schools since the 1960s, and I was proud of my experience in FCPS 20 years ago. But I knew things had changed very dramatically in the last two decades, and I wanted to shield my children from ideas and behaviors that are not commensurate with their maturity. Simply put, prepubescent children don’t need seminars in gender fluidity and sexual experimentation. But over this past weekend, an FCPS-educated teenager took it upon herself to impart those ideas to my children.

As confusing as this was for my children — and as upsetting as it was to my wife and me — I do not level much blame at this teenager for taking away part of their innocence and forcing us to have conversations with our children about gender and sex we had been hoping to delay just a few more years. I blame FCPS teachers and administrators who welcomed this gender ideology in schools. And I blame smartphones and social media for proliferating these ideas with little parental oversight.

Protecting Our Children

Left-wing corporate media and Democratic politicians, of course, have been quick to attack Youngkin over his new policy. “Virginia has moved to restrict the rights of trans students in its public schools,” reads a mid-September headline from NPR. The Department of Education’s guidance “calls for the misgendering and outing of children in schools where they’re supposed to be safe. Absolutely shameful,” tweeted Virginia Democratic Del. Mike Mullin

Think about the fact that in my kids’ very first interaction with a public school-educated teenager, she couldn’t help but share the confused, biologically inaccurate gender ideology she has been wrongly told is the most important part of her identity. That speaks to the pervasive nature and aggressiveness of this ideology and its adherents. Think about how many kids have had their lives thrown into chaos by adults who tell them they may be a boy in a girl’s body, “gender fluid,” or some other nonsense that may very well cause them permanent physical and emotional damage.

Thankfully, our kids trust their parents enough and have a solid enough understanding of what makes boys different from girls that we could have a brief, open, and hopefully instructive conversation about what they experienced on a neighborhood playground. Youngkin’s edict aims to ensure those conversations happen in the home, guided by loving parents, and less influenced by the confused ideology of bureaucrats who don’t have your children’s best interests at heart.

Casey Chalk is a senior contributor at The Federalist and an editor and columnist at The New Oxford Review. He has a bachelor’s in history and master’s in teaching from the University of Virginia and a master’s in theology from Christendom College. He is the author of The Persecuted: True Stories of Courageous Christians Living Their Faith in Muslim Lands.

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