“When I was 18, I begged my mother to help me come up with a transcript and diploma, so that I could attempt to pursue a higher education. She would refuse each time and tell me that she didn’t want to ‘limit me’ by defining what my education was.”
I was homeschooled by my parents through my entire childhood. I never received any formal education and I am also the oldest of eight children. From a young age, my parents taught us to lie to our family and hide the reality of our education and daily lives. We would be coached on what subjects we were “working on” before going to see family. And we were given a laundry list of topics we weren’t permitted to discuss.
My mother claimed to be “unschooling”. However, this was just a cover to completely neglect our schooling. Any time extended family expressed disagreement with their parenting, my parents would threaten to keep us from seeing them. Many times they followed through, either cutting off family members completely or preventing us from seeing them for months on end.
Aside from close family, social interaction was extremely limited. There were many times we would go months at a time without meeting new people or even being allowed to leave the house to go grocery shopping.
By the time I was 13, we older children were responsible for feeding and teaching our younger siblings; In addition for being responsible for our own schooling. My younger 4 siblings do not have social security numbers and the youngest 2 do not have birth certificates. Only what my parents claim is a “certificate of nativity” which is not recognized as a record of birth.
When I was 18, I begged my mother to help me come up with a transcript and diploma, so that I could attempt to pursue a higher education. She would refuse each time and tell me that she didn’t want to “limit me” by defining what my education was. So I attempted to make my own, only to discover that it required a record of curriculum and that I had received no such curriculum during any of my middle or high school years. When I confronted my mother I was told to deal with it and that I wasn’t permitted to speak on my siblings’ education. Any further attempts to change her mind were met with hostility and verbal abuse.
I am now 22 and living on my own. However, most of my younger siblings are still living with my parents, who continue to neglect their education. Because of my childhood experiences, I believe that the oversight and regulation of homeschooling is critical to ensure the proper protection and education of children. I knew something was wrong growing up, but I had no way of asking for or getting help.
The homeschool oversight in my home state was, and continues to be, practically non-existent. Social services don’t observe educational neglect as a sufficient reason to investigate. And most families that are reported will only receive a letter in the mail and a request for attendance records, which can be created fraudulently with ease.
That is why we NEED oversight, to prevent the further abuse and neglect of children like myself.
Elizabeth B. was homeschooled in North Carolina in the 2000s and early 2010s. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.