You don’t have what it takes to homeschool your kids. None of us do, but yet, we do it anyway. That doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone or for every year of school. (Even though some people say it is.) Let’s have some real talk about reasons you might want to reconsider your desire to homeschool whether it’s starting it or continuing to do it.
If your reason for homeschooling is that you truly have no other options than to pull your kids, I hear you, and I’m sorry you’re in this situation. Please reach out and let those of us in the trenches give you some guidance.
I’m not anti-homeschool! As my family is gearing up to begin our ninth year of homeschooling, I still ask myself the question of if it’s still the best for us. Every year is different. I’ve had quite a few friends who tried it and didn’t like it. That’s okay! It’s not just about buying the books and withdrawing the kid from school. It’s a whole lifestyle. Before you make a big jump into this world, I want you to consider the following twelve facts and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Reason 1: If you are doing it for the wrong reason
The choice to homeschool is different for every family. No matter your reason, it has to be your reason and what’s best for your family. If you are doing it because of friend pressure or school frustration, you need to reevaluate if this is something you really want to do. There may be another way to adjust your kids’ education without jumping all the way to complete homeschool.
Can you change to a different public school or switch to a private one? Does your friend have a reason she thinks this is a good match for you? Maybe she sees your frustration and has truly thought it out? Or maybe she just wants your kids on the same schedule for play dates? Peer or church or societal pressure should never be the reason.
Are you basing this on all the prettiness out there? The IG accounts that make it look perfect all the time? Or overly positive homeschoolers? Have you gotten into the depths of it and seen the rough days or the tears? Don’t be swayed by inaccurate representations.
Make your list of reasons. Do your own evaluation. Talk to wise (and honest) homeschool friends. Listen to counsel.
Reason 2: If you are afraid to go against the crowd
Choosing to homeschool makes you and your kids automatically different. You will get questions and doubts from strangers and friends. You will have skeptics in your own family who ask every visit when you’re going to “real school” or try to prove what knowledge the kids are missing. Are you convicted enough to stand firm to the questioners and the funny looks and the grocery store clerk who asks why you aren’t in school?
Thankfully, gone are the days of having to stay inside during school hours because you’re breaking the law. However, the neighbor might think you’re doing your kids a disservice and turn you in to the government – yes, it still happens. Are you prepared to defend your family’s choice against that pressure? Embrace your weirdness and try not to worry what others think about you.
Reason 3: If you dread being with your kids all. the. time
There are times I truly hide from my children. I tell them to entertain themselves and take a nap or read a book. Now that they’re older, I tend to run errands without them just to have alone time. That’s okay. But when they’re little, they will be at your side every hour of the day.
When I began working part-time at the clinic, people would ask me how I can work and homeschool. I would tell them that working is the easy part. It’s so true. They never leave unless you have just driven them somewhere for a class or group. Even then, you do eventually have to pick them up.
On top of this, your life will be affected. The noise and mess and clutter and activity level in your home all just got kicked up a notch. If you are still working (which is completely possible to do!), your hours may need to change, the kids need to learn when quiet time is, and you now are balancing a whole extra job as teacher. It’s a lot but you never get back time with your kids.
Reason 4: If you are uninterested in learning with your kids
The best homeschool parents are those who love learning and already have been modeling lifelong learning. Why would my kid want to be a boring adult if they just see us work and complain about it? Why would my kid want to learn about leaf types and the countries in Africa if he’s never seen dad examine nature or talk about world news? They want to be like mom and dad; show them a mom and dad worth being.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you have to have an education degree or are already a master at calculus. It just means you need to learn alongside your kid to spark their interest and to help them with hard things. If your second grader is learning about photosynthesis, watch a YouTube video together and learn. The best way to inspire a kid to never stop learning is to show them that you’re still learning.
Reason 5: If you are too stubborn to adjust
Sometimes, your plan just doesn’t work. Or sometimes, you got your plan from a friend or homeschool hero who is completely different from you. Sometimes you bought all the stuff they told you that you would need, but you hate it. Don’t continue to use something just because you spent money on it or because you spent a week planning out the next nine months. It’s okay to switch course. It doesn’t mean you messed up; it just means you want to try something different next time.
Admitting that you need something different doesn’t mean you can’t homeschool or that it will never work. Maybe you just haven’t done it long enough to know what works. If this is your first year out of school, lay low. Redefine education as life learning. Listen to quality audiobooks. Play lots of learning games. Learn how to be an at-home family, work together as a team, and consider some travel schooling. Every year should be a reassessment. It’s how we get better.
Reason 6: If you are too prideful to ask for help
Being a responsible home educator means to admit when you need help. Maybe it’s time to outsource math or Latin or violin lessons – just like any other mom with kids in “regular” school. You aren’t expected to do it all and, honestly, sometimes you just can’t because you have too many kids pulling you away or your mom is sick or whatever. It isn’t something to have to make an excuse for. The strongest are those who know when they need to lean on someone else.
I know I’m not the only one with kids who refuse to admit when they are wrong. Perhaps they are learning that from their parents? Don’t just pick another math book. Intentionally discuss it and explain to your kid why and how it’s okay to change. Our brains grow new neurons when we make mistakes – growth mindset all the way (Thank you, Jo Boaler!).
Reason 7: If you are resistant to seek out friends
“But what about socialization?” As much as homeschoolers joke about this, there is a nugget of truth. If you stay at home all week without involvement in anything, your kids are definitely missing out in interaction with the world. However, entering in a physical school building does not mean your kid automatically has friends.
Go to the library for story time or robotics class. Let them help you at the grocery store. Take them to volunteer at church. Join Girl Scouts, Awana, piano class, or ladies’ Bible class. If you open your eyes to potential socialization for you and your kids, you will see that there are so many groups available that you have to be selective. And, if there truly is nothing available, start your own nature or art group and invite local homeschoolers to join.
Don’t forget, Mom needs other moms. These groups should also have opportunities for you to have adults in your life. Socialization is one reason we have stuck with Classical Conversations for eight years. The kids learn from another adult while hanging out with friends; I get automatic Mommy friends.
Reason 8: If your kids do not listen (most of the time)
There is a level of discipline that is required for any family; when you throw in home education, it has to be there. Now, while some families are super-strict disciplinarians, others are very relaxed and overly child-focused (That’s a whole other issue). The expectations definitely vary between families. If you’re a friend in real life, you probably are laughing because we definitely make a scene at times!
The real challenge is in the attitude of parent and children. Can you trust the kids to follow a check list? Will they skip math lessons because you aren’t hovering over their shoulder? Do they think lying is as natural as breathing? This doesn’t mean you have to have perfect children – I sure don’t! But at the same time, they know when to listen and what behavior I expect. And that Dad will deal with them if the respect is lacking. That’s a big one.
Reason 9: If your kids are adamantly against it
During my first year homeschooling, my oldest fussed the whole time and compared life to the kindergarten she left behind. Every stinking time we drove past the elementary school or day care. It took a long time for her to understand that school doesn’t mean forever kindergarten. However, there is a difference between a fussing six year old and a fit-throwing, adult-sized 16 year old.
Listen to their reasons. Explain your reasons. Let them see other homeschooling families. Ask for a trial period. Don’t take them out of all their groups – many states allow homeschooling kids to play on public school sports and music groups. Ironically, I’ve seen the public school kids start to wish their parents would homeschool them. We always want what we don’t have. Change is hard.
Reason 10: If your kids are starting to hate you
Repeat after me: “My kid is more important than math.. or high SAT scores… or that D in physics.” If your kid is so unhappy being at home that it makes him hate you, send him back. If you spend your whole day yelling, find an alternative plan. If your kid stress is straining your marriage, it isn’t worth it.
I would much rather my 20 year old want to come visit me on weekends than to be able to say that we did every single Logic lesson in 10th grade. Big picture here. People over performance. Don’t let homeschooling ruin your relationship with your children. Send them back to school. It’s an okay choice.
Reason 11: If your spouse is not supportive
Homeschooling is hard. You will physically be home (mostly alone) all day. Please don’t do this if your spouse is going to second guess your choices or doubt your ability or feed more negativity into your messy day. Granted, it’s possible, but it will be hard.
You will deal with discipline and arguments and crazy kids all by yourself, waiting for the other parent to come home from work. If you are facing obstacles from family or friend, you need your spouse to defend you and come to your rescue. When son #2 argues against harder math lessons, Dad needs to be willing to step in and demand it. When you’ve been on the verge of tears for the last two hours, someone else needs to be able to read it on your face and take over supper duties for the night.
If Dad thinks it’s a ridiculous idea, dig into it together. Is he worried about you? Is he worried about a kid? Dive to the bottom and see if maybe there is another solution. Agree to wait a year and consider other options. See if he will agree to a one month trial run. It doesn’t have to be a forever no.
If you’re a single parent homeschooling, kudos to you. It’s doable! But please make sure you have a support system outside the home.
Reason 12: If your family is already too stretched
Even if you fit every other criteria to make homeschooling work, it still doesn’t mean you should do it.
If both parents have full-time jobs and no other caregiver is available, think again. If you’ve already dedicated extra money to help Grandma with her bills or to keep your business afloat, you may not be able to afford what your kids will need. If your marriage is already at the breaking point, please choose to prioritize this over further worry about the kids’ education. If your kid requires special help that only the school can provide, take it!
Remember, it’s even okay to take a break from home education for the year and attend the public school. Many homeschooling ideas can be applied after school, on the weekends, or during vacation. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Be flexible. Plan it year by year. You do you.
Homeschool families run the gamut. We dedicate different amounts of time, use different curricula (or none), stress Latin or play video games, and join a co-op or go off on our own. However, it requires a certain type of person. If you think you are that person, congrats! I’d love to help if you have any questions.