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Is My Son Abusing His Homeschooling Freedom?

Homeschooling Expert Advice from Isabel Shaw

Q: My 16-year-old stepson is being "homeschooled" in San Luis Obispo County. What this consists of for him is going to the public school once a week to turn in completed assignments and get new ones. He sleeps all day and stays up all night, and his mother doesn't work with him or review his completed work. Is this a typical form of homeschooling?

A: This is not a typical form of homeschooling. The question is: What exactly is he doing all night? I know many homeschooled teens who may appear, from an outsider's point of view, to sleep all day and stay up all night and do nothing. The reality is quite different. These kids spend the night working on their computers, reading, pursuing their hobbies and interests, and getting a very good education. Perhaps they do not slave away using textbooks or other methods the schools employ to teach large blocks of children the same thing at the same time, but often the learning that does occur is more meaningful and useful to them as they make their way into adulthood.

The fact that he is completing his assignments and turning them in each week shows that some work is being done. Did you know that when a public-schooled child is ill and requires a tutor at home, most school districts state that one and a half hours of home study is equivalent to one week of public schooling? So theoretically, if your stepson is motivated, he can easily complete all of his work in much less time than traditional school, and still have plenty of time to sleep late and have a life.

If you'd like to learn more about the different ways kids homeschool, I suggest Linda Dobson's book, The Homeschooling Book of Answers.

More on: Expert Advice

Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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