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.

Comments

  1. Gidget says:

    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. Sherry says:

    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;).

  3. Amber says:

    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. Paula says:

    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. dianne says:

    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! :D

  6. CCLA says:

    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. Judy says:

    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

  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. Justiss says:

    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.

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