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Does Homeschooling Equal Sheltering?

I was so proud of Kalina's minimalist packing for her weekend in Virgina.

Does homeschooling equal sheltering?

Homeschooling is just a way of sheltering children.

Homeschoolers are unsocialized.

Homeschoolers will have trouble coping in the real world.

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Tilly and her (homeschooled) cousin, Arianna

I am amazed that these stereotypes are still so pervasive in 2019. I mean, this isn’t 1982 with kids curtains drawn, sitting around the kitchen table, not going outside during school hours, all the while hiding from the local truant officers. Haven’t enough homeschoolers come of age to prove these stereotypes wrong? Apparently not.

I get occasional comments on this blog about how (my version) of homeschooling is essentially “sheltering” my children from the “real world” and how it is doing them a great disservice.

We monitor movie watching.

We use Circle with Disney  and Apple Screentime to limit and monitor screen usage.

I freely admit to wanting to shelter my children from:

The pressure of having to own the “right” clothes, pornography, bullying and abuse.

Kalina leaving for Teen Missions. Zambia 2018.

Homeschooling Goals

I am also trying to raise children who are hard-working, honest, and ambitious. Children who are compassionate and empathetic. Children who grow up spread their wings and leave home. I want them to live happy, full lives where ever God and their dreams may lead them.

At age 15 Iris spent the summer in Honduras with Teen Missions International.

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At age 16 Iris became a certified doula. She completed her doula training at Bastyr University at age 14. She’s been to a dozen births.

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Judah spent his 16th birthday in Zambia. He spent his summer working eight-hour days building a bridge for the Zambian villagers. He earned much of the money for his trip doing yard work and painting apartments.

Judah and Enoch have hiked 50 miles with the Boy Scouts and Judah has traversed the Bowron Lakes.

Since our goal isn't shelter, we jumped at the chance for Tilly to travel to the jungles of Colombia.

Tilly spent two weeks in Colombia with her grandparents. Yes, she was with family, but she was also way off the beaten path…hanging out with former guerrillas.

She has also spent a summer in Malawi drilling wells, traveled to New Zealand and Australia at 18, and is now the married mother to a beautiful baby boy, Abel.

Kalina riding a horse in New Zeland. She's certianly not sheltered!

We sent Kalina, age 16, to New Zealand as an unaccompanied minor. At 16 she went to Peru and at 17 to Zambia. Nope, she’s definitely not sheltered.

No, I am not trying to shelter my children by homeschooling them. I homeschool them to give them more. To broaden their horizons. To help them see the world, not just their same-age peers. Can you do this without homeschooling? Of course, you can, but it is more complicated.

Homeschool curriculum review: 2012-2013

Tilly was able to take two weeks off of homeschooling for her trip to Colombia by simply completing her assignments before she left. She traveled to Texas with us to help with Apollo and kept up with schoolwork by bringing along her laptop.

Hezekiah isn't sheltered. Homeschooling gives him the freedom to explore his interests.

As I watched Enoch and Tilly at the craft fair this weekend I was once again struck in wonder at people considering homeschoolers “sheltered” and “unsocialized”. They stood proudly at their table. They were friendly and engaging to the people walking by. they answered their questions and made small talk. No awkwardness. Just real-life economics at work.

Yes, I’m confident my awkward, sheltered homeschoolers will do just fine.



  1. northofdelaware

    I plan to homeschool for similar reasons. I want my children to have more than what the local public schools can offer. They are not “good” schools at all and I have concerns even about the “good schools.” But sheltered? Part of our decision to homeschool is to shelter our children from the violence and distractions fraught in underfunded city schools—but we could move to the suburbs where the schools are good. We would rather homeschool IN the city and allow our children to experience the diversity of our neighborhood. And for me it is also connected to stewardship….the schools here are so poor. I want my tax dollars to go to children whose families don’t have the blessings ours does. I feel really, really lucky that we can manage me being a stay at home parent and (in the future) a homeschooling mom.

    Homeschoolers can be sheltered…but so can sending your child to a ritzy private school. Or leaving the city for “better schools.” The other reason I want to stay in the city is there are so many museums and resources…very little chance of sheltering there.

    And what is the “real world” exactly? Everyone’s world is real. And different. My daughter is being raised by two moms who practice two different faiths. Both of which she is being raised in. That’s real. We have a friend who is raising her great-grandchild and sends him to Catholic School. That’s real. I find the notion that there is any one permanent reality that all children from ages 5-18 should be indoctrinated into to be profoundly odd.

    My biggest complaint about current educational models is that they are so cookie cutter…as if all children learn in the same way at the same age. Our children are not cars on an assembly line.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Wow, thanks for the thoughtful answer! I love what you said about sheltering our children from violence (not a big issue in our local schools) and distractions.

      And you make a great point that sending them to “ritzy private schools” is sheltering too! Why doesn’t anyone ever mention that???

      I also love your consideration of having your tax dollars go to less fortunate kids. Your daughter is lucky to have you!

  2. Melody Engels Goff

    This is homeschooling at it’s very BEST. You have great vision for your family. Your kids are a living testament to all that makes homeschooling such an amazing opportunity. Thanks for sharing this peek into your reality. =)

  3. Season

    I love this. Your kids are most definitely more in touch with the “real world” than most kids, while on the other hand they’ve been sheltered from many of the negative aspects of the US culture. I decided when my kids were fairly young that to some extent they would be “sheltered.” The media and commercial corporations are not looking out for what is best for my kids, it’s my job as their mom to do that.

  4. emilylovesrob

    Yes, yes, yes! I was homeschooled and raised very similarly. I was able to transition into the “real world” for the most part quite smoothly. I don’t know if we will be able to homeschool our children (when we have them) but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for homeschooling. Also we totally wore denim jumpers and still turned out “normal’!!

  5. Sarah Wamuhiu

    I was homeschooled backed in the 90s and a was a little sheltered. I really don’t think it was my parents fault at all though, I just didn’t have as many friends as I wish I had of had (and trust me they tried). I have struggled a little bit as I’ve grown up to make friends and have the relationships I would want. But I think college (bible school) was an excellent experience and growth time for me. Marriage though was the real turning point for me. Now when I was in Bible school there were a few guy in particular who had been overly sheltered…like one of them had literally never see girls’ legs! It was a little too much.

    We are looking at homeschooling our son and one of the things I’m very insistent on is that he get lots and lots of extracurricular activities and lots of exposure to other children. A big factor for us is that my husband is from Kenya and we are photographers and we are hoping to be able to travel back to Kenya at least every couple of year for 3+ months which just wouldn’t be possible if he is in school. We have already started a little with him (he’s three) because we are stilling living in Kenya and here children start school at 3 (but the schools are either way too expensive or really low quality).

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Your story give me courage to actually homeschool.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Sarah- Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am glad Bible college and marriage helped you with building friendships.

      Most homeschoolers I know are very involved with extracurricular activities…sports, scouts, enrichment classes. There are many more choices than you will have time for, I promise!

      And to take you son to Kenya every couple of years? What an amazing learning experience that will be for him! I went to Kenya in 1993. We flew into Nairobi and took a bus to Tanzania. I LOVED the country!

  6. Julie

    Oh my gosh. The whole “sheltering” argument is such a farce to begin with. In the first place, show me where in the Bible sheltering (ie protecting) your children is a bad thing.

    I find that the majority of people who are concerned that we are “sheltering” our children are really offended that my children are not captive to popular culture. They aren’t slaves to the latest fads or “fashions” or Justin Biebers etc.

    Rock on, Renee, your kids are doing GREAT!


  7. Lisa

    Renee, your family seems anything but sheltered. I’d point you out to anyone as an example of homeschooling done well and successfully. That said, I have known two families in the past whose homeschooling experience was about keeping their children “from the big bad world” and less about them learning all manner of things and having all these experiences that your family has enjoyed. And several of their children were/went through/are rather socially awkward. But they’ve been kept from interaction. So I supposed what I am saying is that there is always someone who will prove the stereotype correct, but really, there are so many flavors of homeschooling and so many families doing it well and in an expansive and mind-nurturing way like yourselves.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Lisa- I think most of us know families who homeschool to shelter. In fact, I will venture that I have good friends who homeschool for that reason. And the families I know like that are really great families. But that aside, it isn’t why *we* homeschool.

  8. Ashley

    I’ve been a reader for years and have continued to read because of how positive your blog is. There are many other homeschooling blogs I had to stop reading because I disagreed with the way they were raising their daughters, especially when it came to education past high school and any hobbies outside of cooking.

    I love that your teens are able to experience and pursue what they are interested in! Your family and community are both very supportive of everything they do and I am in awe of how you do it! I’m a Montessori teacher and when I do have children they will be in Montessori school, but if life changes and I wind up homeschooling, your blog will be what I look at as an example!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Ashley- If I had the means I would happily send my kids to Montessori schools! I happen to think they are the very best schools out there! Thank you for your kind words. I certainly don’t want to limit my daughters! We are conservative Christians in many things, but I trust they will go where God leads them..and that will most likely be away from our home.

  9. C Smith

    I think that my kids have an amazing self-confidence that I completely attribute to homeschooling. My kids were never bullied, ridiculed, or put down for who they are. I don’t think they missed out on anything by missing out on those school experiences. School is an artificial environment that has little to do with the real world. We often allow kids in school to be treated in a way that we, as adults, would never tolerate. My kids’ experience the real world every day, by living it along with me.

  10. Kara

    I think you see Devon more than I do anymore. Probably because she’s such a sheltered homeschooler!
    On a serious note, I do homeschool my kids partially to shelter them. I prefer they are somewhat insulated from peer pressure until they are old enough to be confident in themselves. They always get some from outside activities like scouts and sports, but not as much as they would from 6 or more hours a day of just being with their same age peers. The neighbor girls at our old house (we moved when Devon was 12) would be out in the streets throwing c**doms around with high school age boys. They picked on Devon horribly because I wouldn’t let her join them. I do shelter from things like that.
    Now at 16 though, Devon is doing great in a college environment even being the youngest person in all of her classes. I love that she goes to the spin dances where she is exposed to all different kinds of people.

  11. bemis

    I was homeschooled all the way through, graduated from college, lived (by myself, gasp!) in another country as a missionary for a few years, then came back to the States, married, got a master’s degree, and now have some kids. I grew up wearing jumpers my mom sewed for me (but not denim, I promise), we never had a TV, we had a science lab in our basement, and seem to have turned out decently in spite of all that. Although, I do hate small talk…it’s probably because I never learned to socialize properly. It’s amazing the stereotypes I have come across in my life (one of the best comments came from a good friend after several months of friendship, “Wow, you were home-schooled?! But you’re so normal! I never would have guessed!”).

    Of course I knew every type of homeschool family growing up, but we’ll homeschool to give our children the best possible education we can. I look to your blog as inspiration and ideas in how to school my children, as well as how to simply raise kids to be Christ-centered productive members of society, however that might look. My parents are also inspiration–they were good friends with the principals of our local schools growing up, we were involved in extra-curricular and non-core activities and classes, and the local principals would steer people interested in homeschooling to my parents, as well as calling my parents when things like standardized tests with scholarships attached were happening so that we might take part in them. And, we did well on the tests even without any prior test instruction…helping the local schools test results. Go figure.

    Today I was interviewed by a fantastic montessori high school student about human trafficking, which was the focus of my masters thesis. I would send my kids to a montessori, public, or other private school if they were close enough and would give my kids the best education they could receive. Since we’ll be “home,” I promise we won’t be hiding inside, we won’t be wearing denim jumpers, and I won’t be protecting my kids from the real world–I will do my best to teach them what’s okay and what’s not, and what really is real…and that’s likely not the inside of a classroom for years on end.

  12. charlotte quevedo

    I homeschool for the same reasons. Do you happen to live in Washington state because the children look familiar. I met a nice homeschooling mom at Fred Meyer and the young man looked similar to this one. He was the boyfriend of the daughter. The mom had mentioned her daughter wanted to work with special needs kids and I have a son with autism whom I did decide to pull out as well. Does that sound familiar or am I going crazy? Lol anyway great blog.

  13. Lisa

    I homeschooled my kids for eleven years. I only enrolled them in school this semester because I thought juggling homeschooling nine kids while caring for eight kids five and under was too hard.

    I can see that I made a huge mistake.

    Every one of the nine kids I enrolled in our local public school has had problems after only three weeks.

    My two high school boys hate that the girls in their classes flirt with them.

    My freshman daughter hates the teasing about her modest clothing and her dyslexia.

    My middle schoolers hate the drama and cliques.

    My third grade son misses his baby siblings.

    My third grade daughter is shy and quiet and is left out because kids assume she’s unfriendly.

    My first grader is judged for his special needs.

    My kindergartener is in danger of being suspended for defending herself against a child who was hurting her.

    And I am overwhelmed because my older kids aren’t at home to help me with their younger siblings. I will not do this again. Homeschooling broadened my kid’s lives.

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