Are you disappointed in how your child is doing in school? Are you fed up with too much homework or not enough one-on-one time between student and teacher? Or maybe you just desire more freedom for your family? Have you ever thought about homeschooling? I’m going to share some things I love about schooling at home and some things that make me question my life choices and maybe you’ll rethink everything you’ve ever thought about those weird homeschooled kids.
We are nearly half way through our third year of homeschooling. I started teaching my oldest son at home when he was in pre-k and now my youngest son is starting out and we’ve barely looked back. Ok, I’ll be honest. I’ve looked back many times. I’ve had some amazing days that have flown by! Lessons were taught and well received, worksheets were completed without a hitch, no fits were thrown. We have also had days that have resulted in tears and tantrums and exhaustion. And my son acted pretty lousy, too. There are plenty of reasons why one might not want to homeschool. I think of them at least weekly. But we persist. Because ultimately, I believe that teaching my kids at home is what is best for them.
Here are five homeschooling pros and five cons to consider…
Con #1. I have to plan work for each day.
I am not what you might call a “planner.” I have a calendar. I like lists. But when it comes to sitting down and creating a “plan,” I can easily feel overwhelmed. I also don’t like feeling stuck to a plan if things go wrong. But…
Pro #1. I am in control of the amount of work my kids do each day!
This is great for us because some days are so crazy busy with doctors appointments or mandatory trips to the grocery store that the idea of cramming five school subjects into the day on top of all that seems insane. And there are other days that have nothing scheduled and we fly through worksheets and quizzes so fast that we just get to play for half the day straight.
Con #2. You are with your kids all day, everyday.
This isn’t really a bad thing. But it can feel like it sometimes! One of the great joys I hear from friends who have kids enrolled in public or private school is that they get a “break” from their kids each day. They are able to go run errands, clean the house, and go out to lunch all while their kids are in the capable hands of another adult. And if you go with public education, you’re not even paying extra for it! That’s something I envy fairly often. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love my kids so so much. But as an introvert, and a human, I require some alone time – time where I’m not being whined at or touched. That’s hard to come by when you are with your kids almost all day, every day. (Thankfully my husband is awesome and he steps in to teach when he can, and weekly gives me a whole day out of the house alone.)
Pro #2. I am constantly able to imprint on my children.
Plenty of people are taught by professional educators and turn out to be great humans. But they are still getting taught by someone who may have a specific agenda or a different worldview than their own. Children are like sponges and they can be very receptive to different thoughts and ideas. I appreciate that. In fact, I love it. I want my kids to be exposed to certain things so they can understand it. While I don’t want them to be exposed to other things that I may disagree with or I don’t think they are ready for. The benefit of home education is that I do what I think is best for my own kids. There are definitely people who think I let my kids do some things way too young, while those same people may think I shelter them in other aspects. That’s okay.
Con #3. There is only so much that I know
I am not a professional teacher. I didn’t study anything in college that will help my first grader. I’m not particularly good at math. In fact, my mathematical knowledge will basically end once my kids enter high school. So I am going to have to study. I’m going to have to work really hard. I’m not looking forward to that. But thankfully there is YouTube and we will watch every algebra video there is! But I’m not looking forward to that.
Pro #3 My kids will still benefit from a less-educated teacher
There have been several studies of home-educated kids verses their public school-educated counterparts. While there is some debate on bias, as homeschool families can choose not to share information, most studies indicate that home schooled kids fare equally or better than public schooled kids, with little difference seen between college or non-college educated parents who choose to homeschool. Here’s one, and here’s another.
Con #4. It’s not easy to get things done during the day.
This is different from being with your kids all day. There are plenty of parents who both work and get their chores done over the weekend while the kids are home. The problem I see most weeks is that I have to squeeze in loads of laundry, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming the living room, and prepping dinner between phonics lessons and math problems. Some days, only school gets done and that’s hard for me because I do take pride in maintaining my home each day. But as a homeschooling, stay at home mom, my daily priority is educating my kids. And that’s something I can live with.
Pro #4. It’s okay if you don’t stick to the schedule!
Like I said, some days get busy and it’s not feasible to do everything you had hoped. Or your student gets stuck on a new concept and it takes a lot longer to get through the subject than you had planned. But the beauty of homeschooling is that you can take the time to work with your child. You can spend two days working on a few math problems so that you are certain he or she fully understands how to do the work. You don’t have to feel rushed to get through something just because it’s “time” to move on.
Con #5. You will be judged. Your kids will be judged. You will judge yourself.
My oldest son is in first grade. First. We are no where near college applications, high school GPAs, or SATs. But for some reason, people will want to quiz your kids to make sure they know “enough.” Random people will give you their opinion about your choice. They will wonder why you question the state or don’t want to socialize your kids with their peers! It’s crazy that people think they can decide what’s right for you and your family. But it will happen and it does suck.
Pro #5. You will learn to not care about what everyone else thinks because you will see the benefits in your children.
I know it’s easy to say “don’t listen to those people” or “you shouldn’t care what anyone thinks” but until you are hearing the negative comments from strangers and family members alike, you won’t know how to deal with it. Until you do. One day, you’ll just realize that this is the decision you’ve made for your family and you have to stick to your guns!! You can come up with your own little snap backs or just walk away. Because it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. When you realize how your kids benefit and you learn to trust your own gut, you will all be so much happier.
So there’s my list of pros and cons. What do you think? Homeschooling is definitely not for everyone. I didn’t consider it at all before having kids. But even on our worse days, I see how well my son is doing. I can see his love for certain subject blossom while I also learn how to improve on others. It’s not always easy, but if this is something you decide to try, know that there is a whole community of parents out there who feel just as scared and ambitious. We are all just making this up as we go!
Have any questions? Let’s chat.