The Family Man title
with Todd Wilson

Safe at Home

School bus stop sign

Let’s just say it upfront: schools are not safe. They may have metal detectors installed, security patrol in the halls, and practice active-shooter drills, but they’re not safe places to grow up.

I should know. I grew up and went to school in the good ol’ days when they didn’t need metal detectors, school patrols, or active-shooter drills. I attended when kids were disciplined for chewing gum, being tardy, and talking out of turn. In those days, they didn’t care about your self-esteem or how they talked to you. Back then, they’d haul you to the principal’s office where he’d whip out a board that was the size of a bleacher seat and apply it to the “seat of the problem”… and look like he was having fun as he swatted.

One of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard was of a young boy in kindergarten who went to school in those good ol’ days. I was speaking near Louisville and a big guy in a flannel shirt walked up to me afterward and started talking. His southern accent was thick, and his hands were in his pockets. “School was always hard for me,” he said. “When I was in kindergarten, I remember my teacher handing back our papers that she had graded. She handed me mine and it was all marked up in red (he said with two syllables) and it had a big red F in the upper corner. When she handed me my paper, she leaned down in my face and said, ‘We’re going to post this in the hallway so everyone can see how dumb you are.’”

When he finished telling me that, tears were streaming down his face and he added, “That was pretty much my whole growing up life. Even now I’m just a big, old, dumb lumberjack.”

Truth is, that teacher could have been having an off day. Maybe her cat died or her man ran away or vice versa. But it’s not an isolated story.

School is a cruel place to be if you don’t fit in. I was one of the lucky kids. I got good grades, was good in sports, and was well-liked. And yet it was not a safe place to be. Many of the teachers were mean to the students who didn’t get it quickly or were odd or overweight. And the fellow students were worse.

The motto in the school jungle was to make fun of the weak, the strugglers, and anyone else so as to avoid the spotlight being turned on you. Oh, the schools tried their best and added “special classes” for those who didn’t fit the mold. They even gave them special tasks of carting overhead projectors to teachers who needed them or made them honorary custodians and “helpers,” but that only drew more attention to them, making the target on their backs even bigger.

But the light at the end of the school tunnel for me was every day around 3:30 in the afternoon. Because after a harrowing bus ride home of crude language and unsupervised chaos, the bus brought me home where I’d spend the evening watching The Brady Bunch, sitting around the dinner table, and just hanging with my family. Home was safe… and still is.

I think about the kids in our homeschools who would have had labels, been in special classes, or pushed the overhead projectors down the halls had they been in school. But in our homes they have no labels and they smile, play, and learn.

But here’s a warning! If we’re not careful, the same mindsets that make school unsafe can creep into our homeschools.”
But here’s a warning! If we’re not careful, the same mindsets that make school unsafe can creep into our homeschools. I’m afraid some have succumbed to the idea that every kid learns to read at the same time, that everyone can master algebra, and that A’s are a measure of learning. By accepting those untruths into our homeschools, we inadvertently make our homes “unsafe” for our kids.

Our children go from being our kids to being “students” who need to be measured, graded, and labeled. And if they don’t measure up, we treat them as slow, broken, or behind.

But here’s the truth: your children are right on track for them. They will learn when they’re ready. They will be good at some things and not good at others. They may not ever master, or even attempt, algebra. They might not be able to write a coherent theme paper (not many ever need to) or play an instrument. But that’s okay and normal.

They are your children, masterpieces made by the Master, not struggling learners or unmotivated students to motivate. And you know what grade I’d give them? A+

Let them learn at their own pace, discard the subjects that you deem worthless, and let them spend the bulk of their time doing the things they’re good at. (Video games don’t count.)

Make your home a place that your children will remember as the best place to be, filled with memories of laughter and learning together. Don’t listen to the school experts, your overly excited friends, or the one-sided posts on Facebook or Instagram. You do family and homeschool your way, and I guarantee the word your children will use when describing their home and homeschool will be… SAFE.

Todd Wilson Signature
Todd Wilson headshot

odd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe and Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. Todd and his wife Debbie homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at: