I barely even know where to start when it comes to this subject. Homeschooling is a sensitive topic for most because it is such an important and personal decision. Criticisms about one’s choice to educate their own children can cause canyon size divides between friends, family, in-laws, and sometimes even spouses. No two homeschool families look or operate alike which just adds to the confusion of non-homeschoolers looking for straight answers to simple questions like “What grade is your kid in?”
There are people who idolize mothers who choose to homeschool as super moms with the patient of Job. There are others who think parents who choose to educate at home are overbearing, religious psychopaths that keep their kids chained to a desk all day. And we can’t forget the bunch that truly believe homeschoolers are lazy, not smart enough, and generally ruining their kids’ futures. The truth for the majority of homeschoolers is probably somewhere in between all of those things.
As with all things, there are pros and cons to educating your own children.
I decided to start with the cons because I’m the kind of person who likes my bad news first. The issues I’m about to list are specific to me. You may homeschool and never have these problems. Like I said before, every mom and family is different and each homeschool set up varies.
Con #1: My kids are with me all the time.
And I literally mean all the time. For some amazing mothers, this may not be a problem. In my case, it is definitely one of my biggest issues. First of all, I’m an introvert. I can be amazing in a group or I could be in a corner with my book. The one thing about my personality that is consistent is my need for alone time. I NEED to be alone. NEED. If I don’t have people free time I turn into nasty rage monster and then fizzle out into a ball of depression.
My husband works. A Lot. I wouldn’t be over exaggerating if I told you I spend 98% of my time with my kids. They’re in the bathroom while I’m trying to bathe or pee. They are in my bed when I roll over. They’re at the table to eat and learn. Under my feet. In my hair. On my back (literally) while I’m trying to work out. If I had a nickel for every time I hear someone scream mom I’d be able to rent a private island off the coast of Belize. When you need space and quiet to reset being home ALL THE TIME with an army of tiny people isn’t exactly the best thing for your mental health at times. (See my blog post on recharging after a day with the kids here.)
**** Maternal mental health is vital to a family’s success. If you are struggling in any way professional help is available. In Louisiana, I know Ivy Counseling and Wellness Services specializes in maternal mental health.****
Con #2: “Concerned” people
I’m pretty sure I speak for all homeschoolers when I say this “Please shut up”. Yeah, I said it. Shut up. The biggest annoyance with educating your own children is having to educate all of the well-meaning concerned folks. I am very grown. Like, real grown. If I don’t randomly question your choice to use the public school system I’d appreciate if you didn’t question mine. I’m usually fine with people who genuinely care asking reasonable questions, but you kid quizzers can kick rocks. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who has no idea how their own child learns best questioning how I choose to teach mine. I’m not even going to get my blood boiling addressing the socialization questions.
Con #3: Other homeschoolers
It is my personal opinion that homeschoolers get enough flack from everyone else that we shouldn’t have to deal with it from each other. There are many different schools of thought on the best type of education. I have four kids and my educational beliefs have changed with each one. Some people mimic public school at home and are bashed by “real” homeschoolers for not bucking the system. Others unschool and do little or no formal work and are bashed by “real” homeschoolers for being too lenient. Don’t get me started on the schedule vs routine folks. Oh, and I can’t forget the PJs all day group vs the dressed by 7 am crowd. No matter what my own educational philosophy may be or what specific choices I make for my family I have no right (or desire) to attack another family because they operate differently than me.
The Silver Lining
Pro #1: My kids are with me all the time.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “wait you said this was a con” but the truth is it’s both. When I need quiet to reset having them ALL THE TIME feels like a problem. But every single time I see something tragic splayed across social media I’m filled with relief knowing that my babies are home. Reports of school shootings, suicides caused by bullying, and the sexual assault allegations against teachers, other students, and administrators just break my heart. Seeing those types of incidents in the news makes me grateful that my children are home.
Pro #2: Sometimes I feel like a rockstar
There is no greater joy than watching your first kid read through a chapter book. Seeing your child excel at something and being able to say “I taught them that” is an amazing feeling. All homeschoolers claim we don’t care about what everyone thinks, but it still feels good to hear someone comment on how smart your child is. I hate kid quizzers because I think it’s rude to just randomly question a homeschooled kid. I have never seen anyone do that to a child who attends public school. Susan asks a public schooled kid what grade they’re in and that’s the end of the conversation. Susan asks a homeschooled kid 15 random questions to quickly access if that kid is being taught properly. Like I said, rude. Nothing tickles me more than my kid making Susan eat her silent judgment.
Pro #3: Flexibility
I love not having to live by anyone’s schedule but my own. We do school when we want, where we want, how we want, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop me. MUAH HA HA HA! I homeschool year round on a Jan- Dec schedule. The flexibility is unreal. When I had my last child we took a whole month off of school in March. I was too pregnant to school and so I didn’t. In Louisiana, you have to school for 180 days a year. Doing a year-round schedule means I have to do at least 15 days of school each month. I only count days we spend at the table doing “bookwork” as school days for record keeping purposes.
We’ve done a really good job (if I do say so myself) of creating a learning environment in our home so that our kids are learning every day whether we do book work or not. We usually spend 3-5 days a week at the table working but those days vary depending on what we want to do. I take full advantage of activities with no lines or crowds. We go to the park or the zoo in the middle of the day if the mood hits. When my kids are having an exceptionally bad day we have the freedom to call it quits and reconvene later. I take full advantage of that flexibilty when I’m having a bad day as well. If I’m having a rough time but don’t want to “cancel” school I just assign work that I don’t have to oversee and leave them to it.
I’m happy with our decision to homeschool and I have no intentions of changing my mind. For me, the good outweighs the bad. In all honesty, even if it didn’t I would suck it up and push through because my children are thriving. They have a love of learning and the time and freedom to explore themselves creatively. I recommend homeschooling to anyone and everyone but I will not pretend like its easy all the time. Some days I’m a rockstar domestic engineer. Other days I’m hiding from my kids in Books A Million. There will be days when you are happy dancing at your kids reading level test results. And then there will be days that you are hiding in the bathroom with chocolate and wine. All of the days are worth it if you ask me.
Feel free to send me your thoughts or homeschooling questions. I am willing to do a Q&A blog post addressing any issues or questions you may have.