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. As a strong introvert I already struggle with the 24/7 aspect and I only have one two-year old. :) I will definitely always need a daily quiet time or I’d probably lose it.

    “It’s never too early to teach that we can have and respect different opinions.”
    Yes. I love this.

    Since I was homeschooled I think it takes off some pressure many moms feel about getting everything right in their kids education. Not that I don’t understand it’s a huge responsibility, it’s just that between me and my three siblings I’ve seen a lot of (anecdotal) evidence of what works and what doesn’t and how much that is based on each individual child.
    Steph’s latest post: Will Our Kids Want to Come Home?

    • It sounds like that perspective (of being homeschooled yourself) will serve you really well, Steph!

    • I think it is actually harder to have only one child at home instead of 2 and up. When it is just you and your child, you may feel that you need to spend time with them when you would rather be doing that project that needs doing. When you have at least 2 children, they can keep each other company, do things together and it takes the pressure off of you to be their constant companion. (I have 6 children. Three are gone and three are still at home) :)

      • I can see what you mean about having only one at home being challenging, but for us – our two are so night and day opposite, any time together is always in an argument :( We’re working on it, but it is definitely a challenge!
        Gidget’s latest post: Taking a Time Out

  2. Oh my goodness, yes! I get this.

    I especially love your solutions in #1 and #3. Implementing a daily rest time and a weekly sitter changed my life. So did switching my weekly grocery shopping to Trader Joe’s (which I can do in 12 minutes, I’ve timed it!) or ordering online and having my husband do the pick-up on his way home from work.

    These have been great ways to save my sanity, and clear more time for the truly important things in our lives.
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: Thoughts on Community and Comments

    • There have been times when we also ordered groceries online, and yes, it was a big sanity saver in those days! Thanks for mentioning that!

  3. As soon as I saw number one on that list I blurted out loudly, “Yes!” and my then Ihad to tell my husband what I was getting all excited about. I have been asking him (read:begging) to take the kids out for a day and give me some time to catch up on things in the house. I can always leave for an evening but what I really want is some time alone in our house.

    Number 5 made me think of another post you did – I want to homeschool but I don’t want the responsibility. Seems like you summed that up pretty well by reminding us that whatever educational path you choose for your children, you are ultimately responsible.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s latest post: Ohio Homeschool Notification

    • It is special to have quiet time alone at home–funny how that doesn’t happen all too often, right? And yes, I hope you get the time you need!

    • I don’t get a whole day at the house to myself ever, but a couple of hours at a time works wonders. I get that a couple of times a month. Hubby will take the kids to the Home Depot kids workshop on Saturday mornings (the 1st Saturday of the month) or with him on some errands. Ahhhh blessed quiet.
      treen’s latest post: go figure

    • Carolyn says:

      Could anything be more essential to my happiness than a few hours of quiet “at home”. I call it “quiet and alone time”, everyone must be quiet and by themselves. It is my calgon moment.

    • Oh, my goodness – me too! I keep hinting, suggesting, asking, etc… *please* take the kids out for the day. He says “You get to be alone when you go grocery shopping.” He just doesn’t *get* the luxury of being home by yourself for a few hours…
      Gidget’s latest post: Taking a Time Out

  4. Thank you! I needed the honesty of this post with helpful solutions. We are just about to embark on our first year of homeschooling and while I’m excited, I do feel a bit overwhelmed. I don’t think my son and I quite know what we’re in for! But I am willing to learn.

    We moved recently, so I need to re-implement daily rest time and our bi-weekly sitter. I can already foresee that my greatest challenge will be keeping focused and keeping my son on track who also struggles with focusing. I think having a clutter-free home and some semblance of a schedule will help a lot with lowering distraction. Another thing I foresee struggling with is knowing how to involve my 2 year old daughter while her brother is doing school.
    Sarah’s latest post: Keeping Busy

    • I saw your comment and wanted to share two things: 1) I have moved within the past year, too…give yourself lots of grace with homeschooling and moving/just moved. Its okay! 2) I found a ton of ideas about how to occupy toddlers/preschoolers by simply googling “keeping toddlers busy during homeschooling” and things like that. Of course, the younger the toddler the more you need to keep switching things up, but if you have a list of ideas and the materials in a box or something to keep those ideas coming, it really helps.

  5. Not for the faint of heart at all :-)

    Thanks for being so honest here. I think my kids would agree that, while we love homeschooling, there are some challenges that go along with being a homeschooling family – that doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” but there are issues that can come up, especially if you’re together all the time.

    Thanks also for providing some realistic and totally workable solutions.

    Best wishes!
    Kara @SimpleKids.net’s latest post: Young writer’s card making caddy

  6. I *love* what you wrote about being introverted, yet having to be around people all day long. I’m the same, and I only have one kid! It’s been a challenge, but you’re right: afternoon rest time helps a LOT, plus it gives my son much-needed boy time.
    Angela’s latest post: Free Kindle e-book.

  7. I loved this post. I have thought all of these things at some point and all at once on some days.:) I am also a strong introvert and so I enjoy reading how other introverts find a schedule that works for them. Thanks for a great post!

  8. Amen! to all your “dislikes.” I struggle with resenting our smallest learners when trying to teach the older ones; they interrupt and are needy. When we go back to focusing on relationships, however, things become a *little* less harried.

  9. What I find interesting is that these things you “hate” (ouch, I don’t liket that strong word either) are also the flip side of the beauty and the honest-to-goodness truth of homeschooling.

    The reality is that all parents are the ones responsible for their kids’s education, most just choose to ignore or outsource it. As homeschoolers we accept that responsibility (and then we buckle at the knees with the enormity of it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way).

    And face to face with my kids’ character -yes! Face to face with my character also. And this is the beauty/hard part. In homeschooling my kids I have to deal with my character every day (and realize how much I need help!). And hard as it is, I want to be the one to mold and shape my kids character, not “the system”, classmates or even well meaning teachers.

    And does this scare the heck out of me? Oh yes, I tremble every day with this reality – which leads me right where it should, “Oh God, help”.

    That’s one gift that homeschooling gives – the difficulty in doing this takes me where I need to go, to rely on something and someone bigger than me. And that’s the beauty or the flip side of the difficulty.

    And really, like you said, it’s about relationships. All of it. When I feel like I’m going under that’s what I focus on.
    renee @ FIMBY’s latest post: Time to Live Another Adventure

  10. Amen and amen. (and 3 more amens=)) I was home schooled from 4th grade on, and I now homeschool my 3 oldest children. We are 5 years into it. I can say it gets both easier and harder. I have found my groove, and I love teaching my kids. I think the hardest thing is not to compare our schooling or my kid’s progress with other kids. My philosophy is not the same. I want my kids educated, and educated for life. Anyway, thanks for writing, and for the good ideas. I like the “lucky day” thing. I may have to incorporate that.=)

  11. Really honest post, thank you. I definitely feel all these things at different times. Lack of time is probably the one that bothers me the most, I really need to work on my time management. I also struggle to fit in my college work and housework on a daily basis. That said, I wouldn’t change it, it is ana amazing experience. xx
    Kelly’s latest post: Healing

  12. You have no idea how much I needed to hear that someone else was feeling this way. When I read all the homeschool blogs, I always end up feeling like I’m the only one who really dislikes some aspects of homeschooling and/or the only one who is totally sapped of strength by the end of the day from the constant togetherness (another introvert here). Noticing all of the introverted homeschoolers, I’m starting to wonder if there’s a reason that introverts seem to prefer to homeschool. Hmmm.
    Beth’s latest post: Curriculum 2012-13 Reconsidered — Katie

    • Hi Beth. I really think we need to focus on the positives, but we also need to know that we’re not alone in the challenges. So I’m glad this helps you know you’re not alone!

  13. What a great article! Thank you so much for sharing this! I will be in my 2nd year of homeschooling – two girls 6 and 3. Some great tips for getting through the rough days and maybe having fewer of them!

  14. I’m in the boat with @Steph. Only a two year old and I’m already panicked about the 24/7 thing.

    The last one I don’t struggle with at all. But I’m pretty (over?)confident about education.

    Thanks for sharing this!
    Bon Crowder’s latest post: Birthday Party Fibonacci Style!

  15. excellent post. Sharing this with friends.
    Sarah M’s latest post: {This Moment}

  16. The biggest one I struggle with is finding the time to get it all done. We just finished our first year homeschooling (and my first year as a SAHM) and I still haven’t quite found that groove yet. I will say that it is sometimes stressful to know that I am the one responsible for my kids’ education (so I better not screw it up!) but honestly that was the big motivator for starting out with homeschooling. I don’t want to trust such an important task to other people who don’t have such a stake in the outcome.
    Michelle’s latest post: Summer School

  17. I wish I had written this post. I’ve re-posted it on my blog’s FB. Thanks so much!!!!

  18. Thank you so much for your willingness to write and share. I find your words are often, just what I need to hear! We are in the process of finding our way in this homeschooling journey. Im a mom to 4 young boys aged 7,5,3,1
    Im leaning heavy on the intrest led learning/ unschooling side, while I battle back the feelings of uncertainty if its really going to work!
    So Thank you again. I love reading your stuff.

  19. I enjoyed reading your blog about the challenges of homeschooling. I loved the time I was able to spend with my children and felt some of the same things you do. I look back and cherish that time! Keep on writing.
    Come over and visit me at toddlersthroughpreschool.com sometime. You are welcome anytime.

  20. My biggest problem is trying to remember to stop and really enjoy my kids instead of always rushing around trying to get it all done.

  21. Although I can relate to each and every point in varying degrees, #4 smacked me square in the forehead! I have older two who are often on the same page and a 4yo sister that so often gets dragged along. Sometimes I feel that the 4yo is suffering because she is being overlooked, and other times I feel bad for the other two who get lumped together when they are unique individuals and need their own identity! I don’t think homeschooling makes this worse, just more evident. I am going to try to give each child one day a month where I do something special for just them.
    Jennifer Castro’s latest post: Picky about My Produce

  22. This is such a great post!!! When I was new to homeschooling I think I was so bus defending my “stand to homeschool” that I didn’t feel able to dislike aspects of homeschooling… I think my biggest challenge is the relentlessness of it… day in and day out, year in and year out!!! My class doesn’t graduate at the end of each school year and a fresh group of kids doesn’t enter the new year ready and enthusiastic for school… same old teacher, same old kids!!! I have learnt to just take the day off… my mom did and she didn’t even homeschool, why it has taken me so many years to figure out that I can actually just say: “Not today kids, I am reading my own books and we are eating toast and apple quarters today.”
    se7en’s latest post: Se7en’s July…

  23. Carolyn says:

    Thank you so much for giving light to these shared feelings, a purge often helps me find my way back to the road.

  24. This is an awesome article. I really relate to the 24/7 thing — I also cope by having an afternoon “recess” (for ME) and by going off on Saturday mornings by myself for a few hours.

    Two things I hate are never having a really clean house, and I get sooooooooo tired of the sound of my own voice. I feel like I talk and talk and talk all day to the kids, but I so rarely make room to listen to them.

  25. I would list basically the same things, the biggest challenges being fitting everything in and being around the children 24/7. Living on a mission compound in Africa makes child free time harder. But as the kids get older it gets easier. My youngest is 6 1/2, so they are more independent now.
    And on the plus side, they can play outside every day, climbing trees, riding bikes running around, etc. so it’s not like they’re always underfoot. Plus I figure they may not be getting the best education ever, but they are getting lots of life experiences from which they can learn.
    Thanks for the article. :)
    Anna’s latest post: Birthday Party at the Samoutous

    • I do have to agree with you, Anna. My two are 6 and 8 and it’s nice that they’re more independent now and can be trusted to play in the backyard or somewhere in the house without worry of them breaking most things, burning down the house, or killing one another. 😉

  26. Oh, Jamie. xo
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Blog Break Best Of: Week I

  27. What a wonderfully honest and helpful post! I don’t hate (or dislike) much about homeschooling but I sometimes struggle with being plain old bored with the 4th time I’m teaching something. My kids are not at all close in age (they are 14, 12, 9, 5 and a baby) so I find myself having to cover the same things over and over, year after year. It was such a wonderful adventure when my oldest child learned to read, and then so exciting with my next one too… and a little bit less so with my son… and now with child #4 it feels a bit like BTDT. I don’t want to rob them of the thrill of learning these new things so I try to do them in new ways. Some days it’s daunting realizing I’ll be homeschooling for nearly 30 years though! :)
    Magic and Mayhem’s latest post: A Bit of a Confession

  28. As a long term home school mom. I have to say that I LOVE your post. There are also some things that I would add. Staying home is the biggest piece of advice I would give. It is really hard to home school if each child is in two activities and you have four kids. You end up spending most of your time in the car. So be picky about what you do. We have always used quiet time. Now that they are teenagers they use that time any way they want; from taking a nap to reading. I do have to set a timer or we would go over. The neat thing about being an introverted parent is that usually your kids are too!

    • I’d love to hear more about activities and what you found DID work for you, Karen. We stay home most of the time, and the only activities our kids have done so far were ones they could ALL do together. I’m trying to figure out how it will work when they start to branch off in terms of music lessons, etc. I don’t want to be the always-in-the-car mom!!

  29. The hardest bit for us at the moment is that our daughter is 4 and is going through the “I do what I want to do!” phase. It’s hard not to think of sending her to school, where she’d quickly find that that isn’t going to happen, but as I tell my husband (who had never heard of home education before he met me) she’d only be twice as bad when she got home each day, if she’d managed to behave at school! As you say, the responsibility for shaping her character is ours.

  30. Oh Jamie! I think we could be best friends!!! I can relate to EVERY SINGLE WORD you wrote. I also have three children that I refer to as my triplets (ages 9, 10, and 11 – but my 9 and 10 year olds are only two months apart). All three adopted from Haiti, they each have very unique and often draining emotional issues. Reading your article was like finding gold today! I homeschool and often find myself “so close to their character issues”. My husband comes home from work and doesn’t understand how or why I am so frazzled. It was just so nice to read your article and know that I am not alone in my struggles. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your honesty!!!!!!

  31. What a great post, Jamie! I have felt all these things. I remember getting a weekly sitter for the kids (I think it was Friday afternoons). And Daddy took them for a few hours every week too. All these things can weigh us down, and your solutions are life savers.
    Jena’s latest post: Getting Used to an Empty Nest

  32. Yes! Amen! Yes!
    That’s my comment. :)

    No, seriously, it’s what every homeschooling parent (& prospective HS parent) needs to hear.

    Kudos and thanks!
    Kerry @ Made For Real’s latest post: Rest

  33. #1 is my biggest challenge… While your suggestion to find a babysitter for 4-5hrs a day sounds nice, it is certainly not financially possible or feasible for most homeschooling parents, including me. Let’s face it, most parents who want a break for that long send their children to public school for 6hrs a day. I have a friend whose primary reason for sending her children to school is so that she can get a break. I would also question the influence of a babysitter in my children’s lives for that length of time. Even the best babysitter, regardless of whether they are a family member or not, is no replacement for a loving parent. Also, while it would be a dream to have my husband take care of the kids for the night, he is not as “hands on” as I would like and my “night out” is grocery shopping. He works 6 days a week and church is Sunday so that’s not an option either. That said, I do define one boundary within the day where I get a little break, which is nap time for my 2.5yr old. My 5yr old can watch a video, read books, or do something on her own that is quiet, without interrupting my quiet time. Unfortunately my kids do not require a lot of sleep so I only have about an hour, at most, between the time I put them to bed and before I go to bed. I also have about 30min in the beginning of the day where I’m awake before the kids. Those are the only breaks I get and it’s not always enough for me to get things done. Although my daughter takes dance class, I still have my 2.5yr old with me, so that’s not a break. I am there with my kids for art and nature classes so, again, not a total break, although it is nice to have someone else teach them for an hour and enjoy the experience with my kids.

    • Hi Becky! Just to clarify I was talking about a sitter 4-5 hours a week, not each day!

    • I have a kid who is a total night owl (just like her mama!) and would stay up and be active (and noisy) until 2 AM if I let her! So, I enacted the “8 PM Quiet Time”. After our normal bedtime routine (clean up, wash-up, brush teeth, story, bed) the kids go to their room, close the door and stay there. I don’t care if they go to sleep or read or play….as long as they keep the main light off (they have a pretty bright nightlight in there), keep the noise level down to a dull roar, and don’t hurt anything or anyone. Yeah, there are those nights were I have to shoo my 8 year old nightowl back to her room a few time, fill their cups a couple times, or fix blankets but I’ve come to accept this along with the general ebb and flow of motherhood. At least this way, I get some guaranteed “me time” every night to read or talk to friends or write or play my violent video games. 😉

  34. Thanks for acknowledging the hard aspects of homeschooling too.

    We have three little girls (ages 5, 3, and 3 months)…and will begin homeschooling this year. Our oldest will be in kindergarten.
    Stephanie’s latest post: 15 Reasons We’re Still Going to Church

  35. Ursula Liao says:

    Jamie, thank you SO much for this post, for your honest thoughts, transparency, and links to helpful resources!! I really appreciate hearing both the challenges you personally face with homeschooling AND ways that you deal with those challenges. This was very helpful and encouraging for me. Thank you. It must be pinned for easy future reference for me. :)

  36. I love your honest approach and then the realistic solutions that follow. It’s helpful to admit what the challenges are, rather than to be “Pollyanna” all the time. If I ignore the challenges, I find myself suddenly imploding (or exploding) when I can’t stuff the frustrations any longer. Thanks for offering the solutions.
    I also appreciate Renee’s observations (above) about being face to face with MY OWN character! There is nothing like dealing with your kid’s character issues all the time to reveal our own character issues. So my solution… believe the gospel! I’m always thankful for his grace and for gently showing me my character issues and giving me strength to trust in His sanctifying work in my life!
    Jennifer Graves’s latest post: The God Who Promises Deep Personal Change

  37. Betsy Zenz says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jamie. Perfect timing. Such encouragement. I am grateful.

  38. Jess e. says:

    This rocks!! Thanks for sharing!

  39. I think for me the hardest thing to deal with is the “What about ME!?!??!?! ” syndrome. As a single mom of two with no spouse or partner to back me up, I can easily get caught up in the craziness and forget to take time out for myself. All these sites and experts tell you to “get up early or stay up late and do something for yourself” – HA! That’s pretty hard to do when one kid is an early riser and the other is a night owl like her mom.

    After almost having a mental breakdown a couple months ago from mental exhaustion, I finally made a few changes to my schedule to ensure I get some good quality “me time”.
    1) I sit down for an hour in the mid-morning (when I’m at my peak performance) and write something I want to write. Writing is therapeutic for me and if I don’t do a little creative writing every day to help “vent”, I start going a little crazy.
    2) The kids’ bedtime is at 8 and the standing order is “I don’t care if you sleep or play but you MUST stay in your room!”. Then I do a quick pick up of the house (sweep and dishes) before I spend some quality time killing things in some computer game. (I like to play MMORPG – that’s my “social hour” without having to leave the house and smacking digital dragons really helps the stress levels!)
    3) I ask my sister to babysit one Sat or Sun every two months and I plan something fun or educational to do for myself. Last month I went to the Getty Museum and had a day of art and culture and next month I’m taking a one day writing workshop in Los Angeles.

  40. One other thing popped into my head while I reading other people’s comments:

    I think homeschooling stress comes down to your kids’ ages and how crazy our educational goals are.

    I consider myself a pretty laid back mom. When I started homeschooling, I never wanted to spend hours on end “pounding the books”, especially when they’re this young (6 & 8). I “teach” for about an hour to an hour and a half a day (math, writing, and reading) and then integrate other learning activities and experiences throughout the day. Some days we go to the zoo and learn about chimpanzees (thank god for annual passes!). Other days we might Google one of my son’s questions about the world (and he has a LOT of them!). And other days we may just do the basics and the kids spend the rest of the time building things with Legos, watching PBS, playing computer games, or annoying the dogs outside. It’s all learning, right?

    When the homeschooling crazies start to wash over me, I remind myself of my goals for these formative years:
    – reading, writing, and arithmetic
    – teach them a “love” for learning
    – life experiences and exposure to what’s out there in kid-bite pieces.

    We’ve had a lot of fun discussions about languages and people and animals and the world around us doing this and when they repeat these bits of facts in public, they completely amaze people. Let me tell you, it’s fun to freak out my 103 year old great aunt with my 6yo son’s knowledge of building methods, animals, and the weather. LOL

    Okay, I promise that’s enough from me today! Sorry for posting two big “walls” of text here! 😉

  41. My main struggle right now is knowing where the line is between backing off and pushing through when they are struggling to learn something. I tend to back off because I don’t want to “ruin” subjects for them, but beginning to wonder if I’m doing right. My 6 year old used to love math and reading, now he dreads them both. Does this seem like a normal boy phase? He really ramped up on the construction toys (legos, hero factory) which seemed to coincide with his lack of interest in studies he has to give real thought to. He says math and reading make his brain feel tired. If you’re able to get to this comment, thanks. (or anyone else with solid advice :)

    • And I should add, previously he really excelled at these things. School, until the past 1/2 yr, has always come easy to him.

    • Georgia says:

      I don’t think I’d be too discouraged if he is losing interest/changing interest. I have two boys (10 and 12) and we have homeschooled from the beginning. They have gone through a lot of changes over the years as far as interests and passions. I have found that when things get to be a real struggle, you can backc off a little and focus on something else for awhile. You don’t want to make learning a struggle and he is young enough that you’re not going to ruin him if you skip math or reading for a few months. My older son hated reading (phonics, the whole curriculum on reading) until he was about 8. Then over a period of a few months he just learned how to read and within a few years was reading at a high school level. I found that he did all that without me pushing him through all these needless reading exercises!
      If you really try to push and he is resisting you’ll probably just make his attitude worse and you’ll both end up unhappy!

  42. I am soooo glad you posted this. I love the benefits of homeschooling – too many to list in my comment. However, I still feel a little on the defensive with my neighbors, some family members, and outsiders in general, so I tend to only talk about those gushing, positives about my decisions. It is refreshing to read about honest challenges that I also face.
    Dominique’s latest post: New York City – Now I, the Tourist

  43. This post really resonated. Perfect timing for me, thank you!

  44. Currently I am struggling with feeling like I am failing in all the above areas. I am overly tired from being the soul provider of education, entertainment, discipline, and love over my kids. I think being out of the schedule and in summer mode is freaking me out, and I would like to get back to the table but I don’t want to deal with the disappointment from two children who want a summer break “like everyone else.” We’ve been homeschooling from the beginning so I am not sure who the “everyone else” is that they know, but somehow they know.
    thanks for your post. I love when bloggers get “real.”
    Rebecca’s latest post: I am perfecting the roast chicken.

  45. That’s a very helpful post! I need to work on decluttering big time…
    Anastasia @ eco-babyz’s latest post: Kinderfeets Balance Bike Giveaway

  46. I encourage you to visit my Facebook Page for daily Homeschooling from the Heart encouragement. You can leave Egypt behind forever and enter the Homeschool Promise Land each and every day! God’s Best, Wendy Jensen

  47. My struggles are with my 12 yr old not wanting to get out of bed and follow my ‘schedule’ , this causes my 7 yr old to grumble a little more too because of the bad attitude that my 12 yr old is modeling. Also, if I tell my husband of my frustrations on the “bad” days, he thinks that maybe homeschooling isn’t the way to go, instead of understanding that it isn’t any different than him having a “bad” day at work and needing to vent. This will be our 2nd year homeschooling and overall, I am very thankful that we have this option and my family is too. We all have to learn how to get along 24/7 and we can all work on our character. My 12 yr old had a very difficult time in elementary public school so I think we just need to work through all that icky stuff that is left over from that trauma and homeschooling is the perfect opportunity for that.

  48. Great post!!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: The circle of judgement

  49. Wonderful post – I know you don’t want to focus on what’s hard because you really want to keep a positive mindset, but I think sometimes posts like these are necessary to let people know everyone feels things like this.

    I think I struggle most with #2 – when you’re right there, in the “action”, its hard to take an objective look at things. I’ve always said that my kids can push buttons on me that no one else knows I have – but I think its probably the same for me with them, too. Sometimes we just need space, and we need to know that is perfectly okay. Thanks so much for this post!
    Amy Dingmann’s latest post: Now what: when homeschooling loses its luster

  50. Thank you for posting this. I am just starting to look into homeschooling as an option for our family and I find that a lot of the writing is all about how wonderful it is. I really appreciate hearing from someone who can honestly say yes it’s wonderful, but here are some of the challenges. It’s something I try to pry out of people as I’m talking to them. I like hearing both sides!

  51. 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

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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 : )

  55. 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! 😀

  56. 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…

  57. 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.

    • ha! I am not the only one then! I love to complain. It is one of my weaknesses, but most of the time the complaints are more about my awe that I am doing it. I feel somedays that I am learning to ride a bike and to express the exquisite challenges that we, as a family are facing, is more about expressing myself and letting the pressure go. But there are certain members of my social circle who seem to react to this voicing of my/our challenges with the Public School Pill. The PP Pill doesn’t make challenges go away, it creates other challenges that can be more harmful in some cases.
      I am so grateful that we are homeschooling. It is an exciting adventure.

      • I feel like there’s this invisible barrier, that I can’t complain about my challenges, because people’s responses will be ‘just send them back to school’. Just because I chose this route, doesn’t mean I don’t have complaints and challenges that I need to vent. It doesn’t mean i’m going to give up on homeschooling…
        Elaine’s latest post: The Hardest Part of Homeschooling (For Me)

  58. 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!

  59. 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.

  60. 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!!

  61. 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).

  62. 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!

  63. 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.)

  64. #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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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!

  68. 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!

  69. 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.

  70. 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…

  71. 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

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

  73. 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…..

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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!

  77. I’ve definitely hit most of these challenges…but right now, it’s the frustration with my expectation of how the day should go, and my kids way of doing things. I see it as ‘dawdling’, they see it as ‘taking breaks’. Ultimately, we probably both have to make some adjustments to get past this.
    Elaine’s latest post: The Hardest Part of Homeschooling (For Me)

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