5 things I hate about homeschooling (& how I deal with them)

5 things I hate about homeschooling ~SimpleHomeschool.net
Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Homeschooling isn’t all fun and games, as anyone who has been attempting it for longer than one day (or hour?!) realizes. Perhaps strong convictions, prayer, a child’s special needs, or lack of a better option led us to this educational choice. Maybe we’re in for the long haul, or maybe we just hope to make it through the day.

On homeschooling blogs we often read about the benefits of this lifestyle. But what about the challenges?

Having a written a book about the importance of a positive mindset, I hesitate to talk about things I “hate” – so consider that word merely for dramatic emphasis. 😉 Feel free to substitute the word “dislike” or “find challenging” instead. I also choose to focus on the good, but let’s not pretend that the bad doesn’t exist.

Here are the aspects of home education that sometimes bring me to my knees.

1. Being with my children 24/7

I am daily living the life of my dreams, and it keeps getting better and better. I love my unique and precious family!

But it would be a lie to suggest that rainbows and giggles fill every moment of our days at home. My three children function like triplets in many ways, and as an introverted mama I’m not always equipped to deal with the all-the-time noise and energy of our lifestyle.

Potential Solutions I Use

  • make sure kids have an afternoon rest time, no matter what age they are
  • hire a weekly sitter – For most of the past five years we had a daytime sitter who came at least once a week for 4 or 5 hours. I strongly recommend this for every homeschooling parent, even if it means arranging a trade with friends or family.
  • enroll kids in a class – Currently we don’t have a sitter, but during the school year the kids go to a weekly class and I have free time.
  • take an evening or Saturday – One evening each week I leave after dinner and Steve puts the kids to bed. One Saturday a month we do the same–Steve hangs with the kids while I go out to write, run errands, or stare at a wall.

2. Being so close to my kids’ day-to-day character issues

Trishna showcasing her awesome manners when we dined out last week

The educational component of homeschooling fades at times when dealing with daily sibling bickering, “no fair’s!”, messes and squabbles. I find the slow character growth of children, which is a developmentally normal and necessary process, challenging on good days and discouraging on bad ones.

Potential Solutions I Use

  • increase my understanding of child development (these books help)
  • one day at a time – a homeschooling mother’s best strategy on most issues, really
  • remind myself that this is one of the reasons we homeschool–to be a part of the character growth process instead of outsourcing it to others
  • set my kids up to shine–Home is where we let it all hang out, isn’t it? So I look for ways to get in environments where my kids’ growth is more evident. After a recent challenging day, I got the kids showered, dressed in their finest, and met Steve at a nice restaurant after his day at the office. Watching Trishna, Jonathan, and Elijah use excellent restaurant manners while munching on fancy salad greens and salmon reminded me of just how far we’ve come.

3. Lack of time to “get it all done”

Fear of not enough time keeps many from considering home education. After all, how could someone possibly keep a clean home, educate multiple kids, work part-time, have a strong marriage, and stay sane at the same time?

Potential Solutions I Use

  • a strong, yet flexible rhythm – Seeing that I could develop a schedule that wouldn’t drive me batty with its rigidness, but that could fit in my priorities, convinced me I could give homeschooling a try (I outline the process I used in my book Steady Days.)
  • spend time decluttering so I don’t waste time dealing with “stuff” (This is a great place to start, especially if your kids are still younger than school age.)
  • develop an informal philosophy of education that requires less formal instruction
  • decide on priorities and let go of the rest

4. Seeing my kids as a group unit instead of individuals

This challenge may be heightened in my case, since my kids are so close in age. But I think many homeschooling families feel this way at some point, since we inevitably spend so much time together. I want to relate to my kids not just as a group, but as unique and lovely individuals.

Potential Solutions I Use

  • lucky day order – This has helped with bickering as well as allowed each child to get one-on-one attention when it is their special day.
  • the bedtime routine – I have enjoyed spending extra time with one child each night while putting them to bed. It’s tempting to just try to get everyone in their rooms at the end of the day, but I’ve been amazed at what a few extra minutes cuddling and giggling does for our relationships.
  • honor differences of opinion – It’s never too early to teach that we can have and respect different opinions.

5. The overwhelming sense of responsibility I feel for their education

I’ve written about this before and the comments on that post let me know you feel the same way. Ultimately, I think this sense also stems from fear–the “what if’s” that plague our minds about the task we have embraced.

Potential Solutions I Use

  • focus on relationships – these are the building blocks of the future. When I get overwhelmed, I always return to relationships first and foremost. A child with strong ties can overcome a wealth of obstacles.
  • remind myself it isn’t my responsibility – My job is to do my best, accept my limitations, and let God fill in the gaps.
  • gain encouragement from those who’ve come out on the other side – I gather inspiration from those who homeschooled their now-grown children: my friend Jena Borah, Laura Grace Weldon, and Sally Clarkson, to name a few.

A lifestyle of home education is not for the faint of heart! There will be difficulties to face and plenty of struggles along the way. But we don’t have to let those challenges define our lives and our learning–we can face, conquer, and move on.

What aspect of homeschooling have you found the most difficult?

Originally published on July 2, 2012.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. I definitely agree with you on all of those – but, the ENORMITY of the responsibility is probably my #1 “hate”. Every once in a while, I get myself all into a tizzy about all those things they “should” be learning – before God gently reminds me that He made them to be unique individuals with their own interests – and, their own paths to take. Thanks for a great reminder of how to manage the “bad” and still appreciate the beauty of homeschooling :)
    Gidget’s latest post: Taking a Time Out

  2. My current issue is learning how to manage a home with jr in high school and a pre-K with two in the middle– basically one in each school group: Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High, and High School. I heard a great YouTube video the other day that said what I feel: “Teens wear you out emotionally and toddlers/pre-Kers wear you out physically. It’s like burning the candle at both ends.” It just helped to hear it. We try something new every year due to the spread of kids- all about 4 years apart from the next. This year, we are working on independent learning via computer for the oldest so that I can start shifting my focus to the lower three. Seems anti- high school ish, but there is a growing need for both independence in her and freedom from the rigors of teaching high school for me, so we are seeing if a more structured (haha!) unschooling works for her. In other words, “These are the classes you need to graduate, here are the resources, come up with a plan. It can be your way, but it must get done.” Wish us luck;).

    • We do this! My high schoolers are mostly online private Christian schools. My elementary and kindergartener are more hands on from mom.

  3. Thank you for posting these! My oldest one withdrew from public kindergarten in March and this next school year he will be homeschooling first grade and my younger son preschool. I’ve quit my “full time” job as a child care provider to focus on being with them and facilitating their education. I’ve been excited and so overjoyed about the possibilities and opportunities, but honestly…these things you have listed have started to pop up as fears now that fall is approaching and it is “for real”. Thank you for your perspective and solutions in dealing with them so that I can relax in knowing this is the best choice for our family, despite some trepidation.

  4. I so agree! When people quip, “Oh wow, I could never homeschool my kids” I often think, “Yeah, I can’t most days either!” I relish afternoon rest time, it is a staple for us even though I only have 1 napper left. Flexibility within routine is also big for us. And this year I am hoping to have an older homeschool student come and sit with the kids. We’ve done that this summer and it has been great for ALL of us : )

  5. Thank you so much for sharing – someone linked me via facebook. And I totally agree and can’t wait to follow all of those links, which brings to mind something that I love about homeschooling – how all homeschool momma’s are so willing to share and uplift each other. I have been doing this for fifteen years now with three kids – one’s in college, one’s in high school, and one in grammar school and even tho I am definitely a veteran and very experienced, these same issues still plague me, although perhaps I don’t get as far off track as easily. Maybe. One big thing that changed? Nap time is now about ME! 😀

  6. We were sort of forced into homeschooling a year and a half ago. Both kids were dyslexic but we didn’t know it. They are stealth dyslexics and suffered through a lot of years of brick and mortar schooling before we finally found out what their issues and strengths were. Removing them from that environment to give them a chance to remediate the areas where they were falling behind while given them a chance to really shine in the areas they have real strengths (something the school simply wasn’t set up to do) was a God-send. However, actually implementing that plan on a day to day basis was so challenging. I would get so worried this past year that I was failing them at every turn and would sometimes forget just how bad it was at a standard school. As I got better at understanding and implementing teaching methods that worked for their particular needs, I would have some really great days, but the stress level at times was tremendous. It is nice to be reminded that I just need to keep taking deep breaths and realize that we ARE making progress and we ARE happier than we were (by a long shot) and the greatest gift I can give them right now is a positive outlook. Thanks so much! Although it may SEEM like every other homeschooler is doing better than me, we all have our up and down days and we have chosen the best path for our kids…

  7. Our biggest challenge is finding a life routine that meets everyone’s diverse needs, while still remaining flexible enough to throw in unexpected events/outings/illnesses. Haven’t quite gotten there, but still trying.

    The other challenge that comes and goes is dealing with other people’s lack of understanding and disinterest in my kids once they find out we homeschool. And during times of extreme stress (with which we have been frequently slammed this particular year), even close friends or family bring up putting the kids in public school as if it’s the magic resource that I’m not tapping into to get a break during the day and get my house in order. It’s really discouraging to have a path that we have committed to wholeheartedly, and happily, be treated so dispensably. It feels as if everyone is thinking “ok, you’ve had your fun, now put them in real school already, and live life the way everyone else does”. That hurts, over and over.

    But, we have far more positive than negative feelings and experiences thanks to our choice, and that makes me smile and sigh contentedly. Even if I have to do it with ear plugs in!
    Judy’s latest post: Little Life Lessons

    • I agree with you – would people stop running to the school solution as soon as I express any difficulty or stress? That is not what I need. The reason it’s so hard sometimes is that we care about our children so deeply. Im sure teachers in schools disengage emotionally really often as it is just a job to them. It’s all about the love for me. Loving the kids that God has given me – he didn’t give them to anyone else.

  8. Rebecca C says:

    We are not yet homeschooling (because we haven’t been blessed with kids), but as a “recent” high school graduate (2005 still counts as recent, right? right?), I do have something to think about whenever you get overwhelmed with the I’m-not-teaching-everything-our-kids-are-going-to-fail-at-life-itis.
    A friend of mine is a homeschooling mom, and she was stressing to me about how she just realized how little Geography she has taught her middle-schooler. I pointed out to her that there are gaps in her own education and mine, and we both graduated from public school. There are always gaps in education, homeschooling doesn’t fix that. It just teaches you how to learn, and nurtures your love of learning. If your kiddo wants to learn the capitals of all the countries as an adult, they will know how to, and will care enough to do so! :) Keep on, keeping on, you wonderful homeschooling parents!

  9. I was researching some blogs for my husbands website and stumbled upon yours and it made me smile to read it. I am the product of home school and had the pleasure of home schooling my child for a year when we transitioned for work. And as a child I didn’t understand everything that went into the wide world of preparing me for an educated life, but as a parent with a pre-teen it was challenging and rewarding and anxiety filled all at the same time. When my child did re-enter the public school system, it was difficult for me because I was afraid I didn’t prepare her or that she didn’t learn enough. I should have been more confident in her and myself. We did awesomely. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always rewarding. We had a great time and she re-entered public school in all honors classes. Had I had the opportunity to home school her when she was younger, I would have. I envy you and congratulate you for being so honest about the realities and for giving tips on how you handle each situation. This is a great guideline for anyone with questions.

  10. For me it’s motivation.. I’m having a hard time being motivated to help my kindergartner get things done. I know I need to.. and part of me wants to but me being pregnant and I have a 3 year old as well its hard to not just sit him in front of tv and say read a book or watch tv. Doesn’t help that I’m sick also. Somedays i don’t know how people pull it off.

    • Charlotte B. says:

      I can relate to what you are feeling…I have had a few pregnancies where I just couldn’t spend as much time with my older kids as I wanted to. If you have to let things slide a bit, don’t sweat it. Look after yourself so you can be a good mom. You can catch up a bit when you are feeling more into it. God will provide that time down the road. My great find this past school year for my kindergartener and second grader was reading eggs (type it into your search engine). Its well worth the investment…it will teach your child how to read, is super interactive…they will love it! At your point, academically, reading is going to be your child’s most important skill to focus on right now. Even if you do noth I ng else but reading as far as ‘school’ goes, you will be completely fine. Blessings to you and your family!!

  11. The most hands-on times are the early grades when you are teaching the basics of reading and math. Then the kids are basically on auto-pilot with some fun intervention. It gets hard again in high school, really hard. After the past 5 years of easy time elementary school worksheets and real life learning, one is faced with complex literature, math, science, and foreign language. No more trips to the zoo for science! I did have my high school children do some online classes and co-op local ones, but basically we did most of the work together. It was full of challenges, frustration, anger and shouting, and absolutely WONDERFUL. I learned so much and was aghast at what my own less-than-classical-high school education had not taught, as well as being absolutely pleased at the information and education my sons received. Any time I thought about regular high school, I remembered what they would not be learning and I could not stand the idea that they would be denied so much. I also learned so much about them as they became young adults. It is something not to be missed! As for the hardest part of homeschooling in general, I would have to say it is keeping my patience with a child who doesn’t “get it” even after 10 thousand examples and you are pretty sure they don’t have any learning disability in that subject. Giant GRRRRRR. All my kids know my “live under the bridge speech” which goes something like this: “Fine. If you don’t want to try or to learn or to do the work then you can just prepare yourself to live under a bridge for the rest of your life. It’s your decision. I’m done with you.”
    I have 5 children, 3 that I homeschooled, 2 that were homeschooled through high school, and NOBODY LIVES UNDER A BRIDGE (so far).

  12. virginia says:

    I am learning to roll with all of it.I can get myself so worked up in weather or not this is the best thing or if I am messing things up.We started homeschooling in Dec of 2013.My babies are thriving and are so much happier.This has been such a blessing for us!

  13. I’m guilty of using the term ‘the olders’ when referring to the first two who are 8 and 10 years older than our youngest. I guess it’s a good thing they are a boy and a girl or treating them as a unit would have been the easiest thing to do all the time. As it was, you can’t always select the same activities and electives for opposite gender siblings, even if they are only 25 month months apart in age. But homeschooling does make you treasure alone time with the individual children. So maybe that hate turns into a blessing because you make time and look for opportunities to spend with them individually in a way that you might not otherwise.
    April’s latest post: 7th Grade Homeschool (Finally! And subject to revision.)

  14. #1 is my biggest set-back too! He’s an extrovert made out of 100% energy. I’m an introvert. I like quiet. I need a little me-time, even if it’s something as stupid as surfing Pinterest, the fact that it’s me just in my little bubble makes me feel recharged a little. So we don’t get homeschooling done all at once in a big block. We’ll do some, then he goes and plays in his room or reads and I nurse my baby and close my eyes for a little while, then we get back together and do a little more. Luckily, my husband is able to come home for lunch so I get a little bit of a break during the day.

  15. Kristi I. says:

    I really do enjoy homeschooling and feel relatively confident/satisfied with how we do it, but your posts still encourage me so much, if only to affirm that I’m not alone in my experience. I wish we were neighbors :) Great ideas here for how to handle things like the 24/7-ness of homeschooling. Thank you.

  16. We just finished our first week of school for the new year and I am already feeling these! I think it may just be a byproduct of my summer not being as productive as I’d planned (we moved in April and I was hoping to get a lot more unpacking/sorting/organizing/yard work done) so I’ve started my year discouraged rather than excited. Here’s hoping things improve as we get into it.

  17. Janice G. Whitley says:

    Here’s another solution! Give them to Grandmother occasionally. I have been teaching for 45 years, and I love children. I am used to 25 daily in a class. I have 9 grandchildren. I have no problem keeping the children! There are learning experiences everywhere in the country! My favorite topics and science and history which abounds in South Georgia. A short field trip would be a welcome change!

  18. Michelle R. says:

    Thank you so much for your post! I appreciate your honesty and glimpse into the not-as-picture-perfect side of homeschooling, as well as your ideas for counteracting those inevitable times!

  19. Thanks for your article! I’ve been home schooling for the last 18 months after battling with the public school about medicating my grandson. I’m sure he has add/ADHD tendencies, but in the last 18 months, I have seen him start to enjoy learning again.
    I’m constantly second guessing myself if what I’m doing is enough, but reading the comments here made me feel less alone.

  20. Donna Brown says:

    I am a homeschool “veteran” having taught all three of my daughters through graduation. I have to say that #1 was not me. Even though my girls were high energy (close in age too–3 kids in 4 years), I loved having them with me all the time. Yes, there were hard days, and sometimes I simply called off school for a day here and there when I got too stressed but I never wanted them anywhere else but at home with me. Now they are all grown and married and I miss those days so much. When it all gets overwhelming just remember, these days pass quicker than you realize and one day you will be sad to see them end…

  21. Hi. I really needed to read this. I always come to your blog. I have been feeling a question of why? Some days I can see clearly why. some days not so much. And I need to find more things to do, but its so hard on a budget. I have a 9 month old so its harder getting out of the house. But you are right I need to find more outlets and make sure I make time for myself. Because I have a tendency to give all of me. And I need to remember I need to take care of me. Its just hard all together. I see an amazing growth in my daughter, she is 6 I would like to find some other outside activity for her.
    wally’s latest post: Reviewing and Renweing our Homeschool plan

  22. Exactly! Precisely as Ive thought about it all–troubles AND solutions!

  23. Melissa R says:

    I am mom to one homeschooler. None of these are on my most hated list. Maybe I’m lucky or maybe in denial but these points are actually some of the many reasons I homeschool. I do want 24/7…I do want to be responsible for his education…..

  24. Please do me a huge favor and savor it all. My mom homeschooled me until middle school when she got a job and she sent me to school. Just know that you are making such an amazing difference in your kid’s lives. Homeschooling is the biggest favor you can do for your kids. You probably feel that you are failing as a parent and as a teacher some days. You aren’t.

  25. Stephanie says:

    What do your kids do during “afternoon rest time”? How is this time enforced? My 3 year old no longer naps and I’m trying to get him to have a “quiet time” or “rest time” every afternoon because I need it myself but I’ve been quite unsuccessful.

    • It takes quite a while to form a new habit like rest time, Stephanie. But like most things if you keep trying, it will just become part of what you do. Maybe you could experiment with Sparkle Stories or audio books during that time. Start out with a shorter time and build up to an hour or whatever you’re hoping for.

    • Melissa says:

      I started having my little ones stay in the same room with me but they had to play quietly. We would keep the time short, about 15 mins, and then gradually worked up to an hour. It may also help to have a few special toys or books that only come out for quiet time. I also discovered that truly forcing myself to be still and quiet – no phone calls, dishes caught up, etc- modeled well what quiet time behavior I expected from them. I realize this is hard for us as the mom but good practice at learning to stop and do something enriching for ourselves. It took months but looking back at the process from a couple years down the road I find that instituting quiet time ( even on weekends!) has been WONDERFUL for the entire family.

  26. Thank you so much for this encouragement! I have 4 boys under 5, 2 of whom are 5 yo twins. It was so practical and encouraging to hear that you also find the noise-level tiring, and the slow character development. I MUST remember that God has given me these children to love and care for. I get frustrated with myself when I have an amazing and encouraging time in the Word and prayer, but by 9am, I am overwhelmed with guiding and shepherding them. I’ve recently added alarms to go off every hour, to remind me to pray for specific things for my boys and outside of the house – missionaries, governing authorities, family. It has helped to remind me of the bigger picture – eternity with him! Thanks again!

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