I want to homeschool, but don’t want the responsibility.

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

Often I take a look in Google Analytics to see what brings people to Simple Homeschool. Many readers arrive after an online search, on the hunt for information about a certain topic. Common searches that bring readers here include simple homeschooling, homeschool encouragement blog, waldorf homeschooling, and making the first homeschool day special.

But my heart dropped a little when I read that a few people found this blog after typing in “want to homeschool, but don’t want the responsibility.”

Fear of responsibility on the homeschooling path isn’t uncommon. After all, so our thoughts tease, if we send the kids to school and things aren’t going well, there’s someone else to blame. But if we grasp this calling fully by the reins, we know in whose direction fingers will point if results aren’t in line with the norm.

Even typing that makes me anxious, so I know that for others just starting out, the feelings come with even more intensity.

Homeschooling isn’t for cowards, you know.

There’s no magic formula for anything in life, including home education. But here are a few thoughts to remember when you get frightened by the enormity of the task ahead.

1. Just take responsibility for loving your child–today.

Childhood experts generally agree that parents are the ones who know what is best for their toddlers–little ones need love and security above all else. That need doesn’t change just because a child turns five.

The foundation for a strong learning experience is relationship. That’s why so many children don’t get the education they deserve–relationships, in the classroom or at home, are in turmoil.

Most people feel confident that they can love their child, but question whether they can educate their child.

In reality, they are one and the same.

Thinking about all the years from age four to high school graduation is enough to make any mom swoon. That’s why I only ask myself what I should do today.

So don’t research a physics curriculum if your child is seven. The future only offers fear. Start with today’s responsibility–it’s simple.

2. Question the system.

Most of those reading this post grew up within the traditional school system. As such, we’ve accepted certain beliefs about education that may not even be true–beliefs we never were encouraged to question.

This is especially true for those who have just started considering homeschooling and haven’t had time to research alternative educational philosophies.

Some of the things we may believe:

  • “Experts” are required to teach children.
  • I’m not qualified to do this.
  • I haven’t learned something until “they” agree that I have.
  • School has to be boring.
  • There are just certain things that must be learned, whether you like it or not.
  • This (curriculum, style, philosophy, etc.) is just the way education is.

The educational blueprint that is standard today did not even exist two hundred years ago. What is now the norm wasn’t always.

This doesn’t mean that the system is always the enemy, never has successes, or never does anything positive. It just means that it isn’t the only way. Learning doesn’t have to be this complicated. For those just beginning to question the system, I highly recommend the book Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto.

Photo by Rebecca Wilson

3. Your children’s education is your responsibility no matter where they go to school.

Homeschooling is absolutely not right for every family, in every situation, every year. But your child’s education most certainly is your responsibility every moment of every day–no matter where she studies.

This was impressed on me when I first began learning about British educational reformer Charlotte Mason. She took issue not only with poor parents who sent their children to work too early, but also with rich families who hired governesses and then considered their job “done.”

Mason rightly believed that the goal of education was not to merely fill a child’s mind with certain facts. I found myself giving her an internal standing ovation as I read these words:

The question is not, –how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education–but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

4. Accept (& even embrace) that there will be gaps.

Was your education perfect?

Nope, mine either. Though most of us graduated from traditional schools without knowing all, many homeschooling parents deeply fear that they won’t be able to cover everything.

Let me put it to you straight – you won’t.

Are we trying to raise intelligent robots–or children who discover their passions and purposes in life? In spite of No Child Left Behind, children are being left behind in vast numbers each and every day.

Your responsibility, Mom and Dad, is not to produce perfection.

Your responsibility, as a homeschooling parent, is simply this: to nurture, love, forgive, believe, pray for patience, deliver grace, spread the feast, feel the fear, act in courage, get up tomorrow, and do it again.

How have you been able to embrace the responsibility of taking on your children’s education?

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. melanie says:

    Thank you for this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Oh Jamie, that last sentence brought a tear to my eye. Thank you.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I went to private school, public school and was home schooled. I can honestly say that my home school year was the most memorable, foundational year of my education.

    I never thought I would home school…seem like too much work and I have 2 little girls and a boy on the way. However, I am learning that it does not have to be as daunting as it seems. It is encouraging to see moms who can do this with multiple children. I just hope I can still stay on top of the house and be there for the husband when he gets home too.

    • Jamie says:

      That’s amazing that you had such a pivotal year while homeschooling. You’re right, change always seems daunting–but the reality is not nearly as frightening as the overwhelming thoughts make it out to be.

      You can make it work for you and your family!

    • Just Me.. says:

      I have the same thoughts…. and only have one 5 yr old gir. (I have a step daughter whom I must re-teach the public school day everyday b/c she didn’t grasp any of it due to a class of 31/1 & the breakdown of discipline of this age.) I was homeschooled but have a more demanding / stressful life situation than my mother. I feel overwhelmed at times with being able to stay on top the house, and still giving hubs time while also exercising and cooking and finding “calm down” time for “me”. God is showing me though, if I’ll stop trying to plan/control it in the natural, that He will accomplish it all in the spiritual.

  4. Rana says:

    This post was excellent. Many days I tell myself don’t look beyond this week. Yes have goals for the future, but don’t like you said worry about calculus before it’s time for my 7 year olds.
    Rana’s latest post: Crock Pot Swap and Tinkys Room

  5. Kiasa says:

    I’m crying as I read all the comments (I rarely read comments). In my heart I need to homeschool my daughter (going to kindergarten in the fall) but I’m so scared and my husband is worried about me burning out (we have a 20 month old and 8 week old too). My daughter talks about going to school with enthusiasm. Anyway I want to read this whole post + comments to my husband. Ugh! This decision is so difficult.
    Kiasa’s latest post: Right Now- Video

    • Kiasa, be encouraged!!! I was where you are years ago, and you DO burn out, just as if they went to a traditional school. You simply all take a break. To be honest, my children learn more in the breaks! Real life is a better teacher than any textbook or classroom. :) We now have 6 children and are still at it. SUCH a blessing! Not always easy, but always worth it.
      Christy, The Simple Homemaker’s latest post: Love in Action- Play and Laugh

      • Teresa Coy says:

        Kiasa, Don’t be scared, you can do this!! Just a couple of thoughts, my children have all had a pre-school/kindergarten experience and then we HS from there. Like you I did this because I always had very little ones and felt like if someone else could get them started, and they then had that point of reference, it was good for all of us. Than read!! Much of this journey is self education. Read about different educational methods, read about the history of education in America, read about our forefathers, and know that as their parents you and your husband should and will make all the right decisions for your family. Do not compare or put any stock in what “they” have to say, follow your heart and you will be just fine.

  6. Pia says:

    Thank you very much for confirming my (and my husband’s) belief that our daughter’s education is OUR responsibility, not the school’s. We taught our daughter how to sign at 9 months, read to her every chance we got, and encouraged her curiosity in everything because of this belief. After two years of kindergarten and a year in conventional school, we decided to really live out our belief 24/7. We’re at the end of our first year and Helen (now 7) enjoys homeschooling so much she adamantly refuses to go back to conventional school! You’re so right about developing a strong relationship, it’s THE foundation for everything else. Have a good relationship with your child and everything else will easily fall into place. – Pia, a Filipino mom

  7. Jennifer says:

    The daunting responsibility worries me endlessly, but the proof is in my children. I brought my children home two years ago and no matter how much I question what I do, it has been the best thing I have ever done for them. It’s not perfect. I am forever scrutinizing and altering our methods, but the kids are thriving and happy. The one who has the most to learn is me. I have to learn to trust and relax into this. Thank you for posting on this subject.
    Jennifer’s latest post: Recipe for Disaster

  8. Marisa says:

    Thanks for this post! This is my first year homeschooling and I was definitely fearful of “failing”. I’m so glad I surged ahead despite my fears. Point #4 really hit home.

  9. As we approach highschool with our oldest and still have five others, I have seen an increase in my panic and self-doubt. Thank you for this timely reminder! Seriously necessary!
    Christy, The Simple Homemaker’s latest post: Love in Action- Play and Laugh

    • Debra Hardin says:

      I wanted to add something encouraging to this conversation from the perspective of someone who is a bit further down the home school road. I have been homeschooling my eight children (8 t0 29, currently) now for over twenty three years and there have been many hard times when I just wanted to quit. However, I haven’t because this road has been the obvious best one for my family despite all the trials. Home school has continued through marriage and church problems, health and emotional problems, elder parent issues and deaths, three miscarriages, one bout of cancer, and several stray animals brought home by hopeful children. And as I continue on my journey I have come to know that the journey was never about how competent I am in any subject or what I covered but my relationship with my children, my husband, and my God. Period. If those are a priority everything else will work out. My oldest son is one of my favorite examples of how it never was about how good a teacher I could be although I do try. Despite my personal trials during his high school time (health and personal), and in spite of me never doing any kind of formal science (lots of younger siblings), my son found his passion for biology in college (local community and state). He studied hard; he networked with teachers. He was offered full graduate school scholarships to MIT, Harvard, etc. He found his way. So did my other children in their college and in their job paths. I know this is not a checklist of how to do it but I hope there is some encouragement in knowing that it can all work out with our priorities firmly set before our eyes. Jamie did a very nice job in summing this up at the end of her writing.

  10. Juliette says:

    It is nice to hear others have the same concern. I am always questioning myself. I decided to not look at it as a lack of confidence but instead a way to evaluate if what we are doing in school is in line with our values and goals for our children. I often feel overwhelmed with day to day responsibilities. I have four children and am homeschooling them. They are 8,6,4, and 2. I have to admit as we are in the middle of our third year it is getting easier. I think it is a combination of me feeling more and more confident and the kids getting older. I think when you have little babies you need to bite off smaller chunks and do shorter time periods of school. Anything is better than none. And some days I definitely feel that way. Hope that helps anyone who is discouraged or is considering homeschooling.

  11. One thing that really helped me was an article I read about the vast difference there is in what children learn in public school. Everyone learns reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic, but beyond that it varies greatly by state and even by district and school. No one is getting a “perfect” education no matter where they go (or don’t go). Everyone’s experience is different. So whether you use public, private, or homeschool – every parent needs to be active and responsible for their child’s education. Homeschool seems alot less scary after that.
    Mothering From The Maelstrom’s latest post: ADHD For You And Me

  12. Amy Lynne says:

    You are so very right. Even as a classroom teacher I have fear that I will miss something important. It’s every teacher’s fear, not just the homeschooling teacher.
    Amy Lynne’s latest post: Visited week 2

    • Jamie says:

      I hadn’t thought of it like that before, Amy Lynne. That makes perfect sense that classroom teachers would feel the same way. Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Honey says:

    You are so right about the gaps. If we keep the joy and spark of learning we will always know our children will learn….

    AND that they will naturally accept responsibility for their own learning which is what gives that lifetime love of learning in my opinion.

    Great article and how sad we’re so stressed or disconnected that we can’t trust we can do something we want to do for/with our children.

    Honey

  14. Veronica says:

    Thank you for this encouraging post. I struggle with knowing if I am doing the right thing, teaching the right stuff…and yes, it is not in how much we know but in how much we care. And yes, the days I slack (academically) are the days we learn life.
    I am encouraged today to carry on tomorrow.

  15. suzie in mo says:

    I have home schooled for 15 years and I have never seen our responsibility stated as well as you have in the last sentence! Enjoy your journey…

  16. Teresa Coy says:

    Thank you so much Jamie – I have been home educating my family for the past 8 years and I still feel like a newbie at times. I will be marking this article to read when I need to put my journey back in perspective. Thank you and keep up the good work.

  17. Yevette Shaver says:

    And I would add to the parents’ responsibility (beside the word forgive): ‘ask for forgiveness’.
    Encouraging piece!
    Thanks,
    Yevette

  18. Stacey says:

    My two eldest go to public school (K and 3rd), and we have a 3-year-old as well. My husband and I have thought many times about homeschooling, but I am very nervous about the prospect. I am not worried about my and my husband’s ability to teach, but that my teaching will be dry as dust, that I won’t have the necessary patience, that I won’t be able to inspire them, and that they will feel they are missing something by not being at school with lots of kids their own age. But there are things I really want to teach them (like how to draw using Mona Brookes’ excellent book Drawing with Children), but where do I find the time? They don’t return from school until 4:00, then there is homework, sports or other commitments, dinner, baths and family time. Plus, I can’t expect them to sit down and learn something new from me when they have already spent an entire day at school. I am so conflicted ….

  19. Catie says:

    Thank you so much for your encouragement. I will begin my homeschooling journey next year with my 5 year old son. i constantly worry about ‘gaps’ in his education, but now I see how ridiculous that is. I have huge gaps in my own education, mainly music and history, but I have always considered myself smart and well schooled. I also have a love of learning and I can educate myself in those areas if I care to.

  20. Estelle says:

    This is excellent. Thank you so much. :)

  21. Stacie says:

    As a public school teacher who is all for homeschooling. First off I have nightmares about not teaching your kids well enough!! And I’m not as in control of what and how I teach your kids as you would be. I also get sad that I’m not able to give each child the attention and support then truly need because I’m one among 20. Seriously you all can do way way better then I can in all those areas!!

  22. Dawn S. says:

    Thank you for your encouraging words. What caught my eye was that our responsibility is not to produce perfection. (I was on the nester blog.) As a mom of two graduates and one still in high school, our job is to love our children. With that responsibility, we all face many choices. When we decided to homeschool, it wasn’t as common as today. We felt that it was right for our family. Oh, but there were days. :) A very wise friend told me, you will not be able to teach them everything by the time they graduate. Give them a solid foundation and love them. That comment kept us going when I wished the bus would stop and pick them up.

    Moms, do not grow weary, in due season you shall reap. Those years of homeschooling are the most precious that I have.

  23. The title of this post caught my eye and I had to come see what was being said here! My kids are all graduated now, 2 are in college. We homeschooled for 8 years. They were some of the hardest and best years of their childhood. I hated for it to come to an end.
    I want to second that there will be gaps, you will not get it all right. But that is okay. One thing that we have realized as our kids went to public high school and on to college, is that we succeeded in teaching some very important things. One, is to love learning. Two, to be able to seek out and find the answers they need. And thirdly, they don’t just accept what is presented to them. They question things, not necessarily authority, but the why and how of things. They are not cookie cutter consumer Americans. They are free-thinking individuals who have a pretty good grasp on who they are and what they believe.
    Thanks for sharing this post!
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: Is multitasking the key to productivity

  24. Scooper says:

    I found myself wanted to give YOU a standing ovation as I read this. Thank you. Thank you. You are right. I don’t need to be stressing about high school and science credits for my 4th grader. One day at a time…. Such a great post about keeping it all in perspective.

  25. Linda says:

    Thank you. We are 2 months into our homeschooling journey, and this was exactly what I needed to hear today.

  26. Nicole says:

    Amen! I feel like I always used to be on a wheel of being overly confident then questioning how I do things and finally being overwhelmingly overwhelmed by doing too much. This year (my 4th year of homeschooling) I think I have finally realized that having these feelings is normal. No matter where I am on my “wheel of emotions” about our decisions I am always quickly reminded (by something that happens) that no matter how hard it is ALL worth it.

    Also, having little ones while homeschooling is a busy season of motherhood – stick it out – change things up – sometimes being patient and understanding with the younger ones IS THE LESSON that needed to be learned that day.
    -Nic, homeschooling mama to 5 awesome kid: 8, 5, 4, 2, and 5 months
    http://www.AFarmhouseFull.com

  27. Trenalou says:

    This is somewhere around my 20th year homeschooling. I have three children out and on their own and one left at home who is 14. Additionally, I have three foster children, ages 13, 11, and 5, who will probably be added to the mix permanently in the future, So, my homeschooling years continue to stretch out into the future. Sometimes it makes me tired just thinking about it. That’s when I remind myself how I’ve made it through the past 20 years…lots of prayer and one day at a time. It’s been difficult, exciting, frustrating, fun, wearisome, adventurous, time-consuming, fulfilling, and everything else in-between. I wouldn’t trade the time with my children and the experience for all the money in the world.

  28. Thanks for this. I haven’t homeschooled for two years but I really miss it. I feel the want to homeschool but am not sure it would work with our family like it once did. :)
    Tsoniki Crazy Bull’s latest post: First Birthday Party Planning

  29. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this. I almost did not click the link, because I thought how awful it sounded that, “I don’t want the responsibility”. But in being totally honest with myself, I know this is how I feel some days. So thank you for the encouragement, and the reminder of why I have chosen to bring my 3 children home this next school year, and that I CAN do it if I focus on one day at a time.

  30. Crystal says:

    Jamie, this is a such a wonderful and encouraging post! Great reminder to all parents what our true responsibility is to our children.

  31. Sheryl Brown says:

    Always good to look at the fruit of homeschooling.. I was able to give my kids the first few years of school myself – their foundation. They are in their 30′s now, and have continued to be self-taught in many different areas over the years.. from music to html.. The proof is in the pudding they say ;D (PS They also have a fair bit to say about the public school and private school experience..)

  32. sarah farrer says:

    What a great article…..just what I needed! Thank you!! :)

  33. Meg says:

    I’m glad I found this. Not even sure how I stumbled upon your blog. But, this post really speaks to me.

    We aren’t homeschooling – yet. My husband isn’t completely on board, although he isn’t completely against, either. My kids are 6, 5, and 3. The elementary kids have great teachers. But, every time I visit the class, I feel more strongly that teaching them at home is the way to go.

    But, the responsibility terrifies me. Suplimenting and supporting what the teachers do is one thing, but to have it all on ME is sort of scary.

    So, your post helps me to see that maybe, just maybe, I won’t screw up my kids!

  34. Jessica says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I was also afraid to click the link… only because I knew it would be a pang to the heart. And it was – but in a good way. Your last statement made me tear up a little. God Bless.

  35. Jessica M. says:

    Thank you for this! I needed it today as I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m glad I found your blog :)

  36. I decided that I was ok with the responsibility being on my shoulders because I will ALWAYS do what I think is best for them.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds’s latest post: Stop Debating With Atheists

  37. karen Loe says:

    SOMEHOW, I graduated high school without taking a single day of science! How did this happen? Honestly, I don’t know.
    But, I still know science stuff and I still have become a hugely successful human being!
    So chill!

    Good post, Jamie. I enjoyed it!
    karen Loe’s latest post: I Wanna Stay Home

  38. tracey says:

    YES. This is exactly it. Well said!
    tracey’s latest post: Right Here, Right Now

  39. Rebekah says:

    Jamie,
    I thank you for your insightful and to-the-point comments on homeschooling to encourage those to persevere if indeed they feel called to homeschool. I must admit that as a mom of four who sends her kids to public school, often these articles can feel to me demeaning and at times infuriating. As a Christian I desire more than anything to follow the Lord and His calling on my family’s life. Our family’s life manual is the Bible. And I believe He has a unique calling for each family. The Bible does say to train up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord; but no where does it give a prescription on how we are to educate our children. I believe the Lord does this, in part, because we are too prone to replace the Gospel of salvation and sanctification by grace alone through faith alone, with a set of rules and expectations that we erect for ourselves and for others.
    Your article is very gracious, but even the title hit me a little funny- taking full responsibility for your child’s education. Let me be honest- it comes across as a bit self-righteous. When we prayed about what to do with our children’s education, it was not an easy process, as it is for most parents. There were months of confusion and prayer and discussions with my husband. And each time a decision was needed, the Lord directed us to put our kids in school. I am trusting God that as I submit to my husband’s leadership (he ultimately made the decision and i was in agreement) and train my children at home, the Lord will be faithful to us and to finish the good work He began in my children. I do not trust the schools themselves; quite frankly, I do not trust myself to produce the fruit in my children that I long to see. Rather, I trust the Lord, that as we follow Him in faith, He is fully able to do in them, both academically and spiritually what is necessary so that they succeed as students and followers of Jesus Christ. Each year, I pray that my children will receive the teacher of His choice. If God used King Cyrus, a pagan king, to bless the people of Israel as they began to rebuild the wall, then surely God is able to use unbelieving teachers to do His work in my children.
    On a more practical note, our home is often a place of learning, though we do not officially homeschool. I begin the day with scripture memory and prayer at the table over breakfast. I read quite often to my little one, who is still at home. This year, we held back our third and she is learning how to read before attending Kindergarten in the Fall. After school is done for my boys, the kitchen is a very busy place, full of questions and discussion scrap pieces of paper for math problems. When projects are assigned, I am very involved in the research. This is NO way, however, makes me a better mom than another mom who does not do this. And who is to say that another mom’s child, who is in public school and puts little effort into their education, will not succeed and do “better” than my child. This is called Grace, ladies. I love it because none of us deserves it. And when we look to God’s grace rather than educational choices, we are able to extend grace to each other, providing the opportunity to unite more fully with each other.

  40. Shanna Saleh says:

    My husband and I both agree that homeschooling would be the best for our sons, but I’m so scared! I just don’t know how to start. I just know I’ll leave something out.

  41. MzBaker says:

    I love your site! I shared part of this & link on facebook. I do have friends who tell me they wished they could homeschool but are at a loss and do not think that they can. So hopefully they will read it! I did go to public school but my childhood was traumatic and school was horrible, I didnt graduate! I’m sure my Grammar says that. My husband has 2 associates degrees and is still in college, but I do the homeschooling we aren’t to English Grammar yet lol. I have lots of help and support though from books and all these wonderful sites online and your site just gives me that boost I need sometimes, reminds me that no one is perfect! we all make mistakes and learn from them. Thanks for sharing this!
    MzBaker’s latest post: We are a Finalist in Checkers Dothan & Ozarks Contest! Please like our picture and help us win!

  42. I had always wanted to homeschool but until recently just got the chance. I am homeschooling my 9 year old 3rd grade great grandson who I am raising. He was denied registration in public school because his Mother and Father do not live in my county. I could not afford the tuition so here I am, a senior, homeschooling this child. It’s not all about book learning which is taught in schools. It’s the daily education of living. Science is learning why cupcakes need eggs in the mix! Or why you need soap to dissolve greasy dishes. Homeschooling is giving a child more than what they could learn in a classroom. It also gives the child options on lessons for the day. I have only one child and can change the agenda to fit “our” needs. Most important to me is the reasons and results of what I’m teaching. And lets not forget that the children are learning at their own pace. We don’t move on until they are ready to move on. I am proud to be a homeschool educator!

  43. heidi t says:

    Great article

    I’m a mom of 3 sons trying to decide to to take the leap into homeschooling.
    10, 8,0 & 6 Cyr old boys…. I just need faith and I can do this!!

Share Your Thoughts

*

CommentLuv badge