Should I Homeschool Or Not? — Part One

Written by Misha Thompson of The Offense of Joy

To homeschool or not to homeschool, that may be your question.

And that only leads to more questions: How do I know if I should or not? What should I even start to think about? What about curriculum? If you have at all considered homeschooling these questions have probably run through your mind.

I am by no means an expert on this topic. I recently began this journey myself, so the unique questions of starting out remain fresh in my own mind.

I often wished there was a step by step list that would have shown me where to start. This is the first of two articles (the next one will be in May) that I’ve written with that list in mind.

Here are six ideas to consider as you make this important decision.

1. Know Your Priorities.

Check out this post about defining your family priorities. Contemplate who your family is and what you want to be and do together.

2. Know Your Goals.

This is an excellent article as you think about the specifics of homeschooling and your goals for home education. It is a short, superb piece that will help define your process and choices.

3. Know Who You Are.

Don’t be put off by stereotypes others have about homeschooling. I wrote this article after hearing many critiques and fears about homeschooling.

People have strong opinions about home education–listen if you must, but don’t let their strong opinions make your choices for you!

Photo by Misha Thompson

4. Know the Curriculum Styles.

These (part one and part two) two articles give an excellent overview of the main educational philosophies of homeschooling. They will provide a great jumping off point to more research on the methods that grab your attention.

5. Know Good Blogs and Websites.

Simple Homeschool publishes the most helpful, all-in-one place posts that I wish I had access to a couple years ago. The archives are excellent and a good place to head with all your questions.

I also keep a running and changing list of inspiring writers in the sidebar on my personal blog. Most bloggers are extremely helpful, warm and happy to help answer your questions. Reading about people like yourself taking on this challenge is immensely encouraging.

6. Know the Benefits.

If you are considering homeschooling you’ve probably heard a multitude of concerns about the subject. But what about the benefits of homeschooling? Think about these highlights:

Photo by Misha Thompson

  • Customized Curriculum. We can follow our kid’s needs rather than our kid following a teacher’s schedule. Learning can be individualized to each child and their dominant learning styles, interests, pace and skills.
  • Quality. Teaching is very effective when done at this student to teacher ratio. Independent learning, problem solving and life skills are developed. There is no rush through subjects and taking your time increases depth of learning.
  • Freedom. Imagine the flexibility of being in charge of your own schedule. Less rushing, less driving, less stress. You aren’t bound by a clock or someone else’s priorities. You have the freedom to go at your kids’ pace.
  • Building strong relationships with family members. You can enjoy being at home, being outdoors, impromptu field trips and family events. You can travel when it suits you. Kids learn to relate to all age levels with confidence–not just kids their own age. Bullying, sex education, faith topics – all can be taught when you think your child is ready.
  • Confidence. There is so much encouragement, support and opportunity to explore and develop. Kids are listened to, given plenty of time and space to be creative, read, dream, think and experiment. They are able to develop who they are in their own way.
  • Health Concerns. If children have extenuating health issues, being at home can create healing and peaceful care for children who need it. But for all students, the minimal exposure to flus and colds allows for more time for learning.
  • Parental Enjoyment. This is one of my favorite parts. I can learn things I never had the chance to before. I laugh more over Shakespeare, learn so much about science and soak up subjects right along with my kids. That is both fun and contagious modeling.

What do you think are some of the benefits of homeschooling? What would you say to someone who is considering it?

About Misha

Misha is a writer and teacher on the subjects of pain and joy. She loves paddle boarding, dutch salty licorice, and she really, really loves sunshine. (She lives in the Pacific Northwest.) She also loves her kids who still give her grace after all her screw ups as a mom. She writes at The Offense of Joy.


  1. This is great! I especially agree with your list of benefits, so true! Great helpful links. Those kids are pretty cute too. 🙂
    .-= daffodil lane’s last blog: Nature Journaling for Homeschoolers =-.

  2. Love the know the benefits . In a world where we are quick to jump in and see the negatives it is a great reminder to see how great homeschooling is. I love being able to schedule our own lives and not have to follow the rhythm of someone else’s schedule… No up and out the door at the crack of dawn and no spending hours trying to coordinate getting different kids to different schools. I am so glad we can start the day a bit slower, with stories in bed… and take time out at lunch time for a nap. Thanks for the refresher!!!
    .-= se7en’s last blog: Se7en’s Se7en Essential Parenting Tools… =-.

  3. Misha, This is so funny. I read this in my reader and thought I was reading this at your personal blog and I thought wow, this is really “homeschooly” for her personal blog. Ha. Ha. Great post Misha.

    You said so much good stuff here and I think this is a great jumping off point for someone considering homeschooling.

    I’d like to add that homeschooling my kiddos gives me the greatest satisfaction of anything I’ve ever done in my adult life. I’d add that to the benefits (smile).

    I feel that I am giving my children the absolute best that I can – time, I think this falls under your freedom category. Time with their family, time to grow, time to play, time to explore, time to learn, time for health and well being. Just writing about it makes me smile (as my kiddos eat their breakfast muffins while sewing).
    Ok, that’s enough rambling on for this morning. Enjoyed reading it.

    • That would be funny. 🙂

      I completely agree with you – time is my investment and it already has paid off for *me* in so many ways. Part of my decision to homeschool was I wanted to live without regrets or second guessing. I didn’t want to ever look back and think: Should I have done something more to help the kids? I had no idea the investment it would be into my own joy. So I agree 100% with your added benefit!
      .-= Misha@ ~beautyandjoy~’s last blog: Should I Homeschool Or Not? – New Post Up At Simple Homeschool =-.

  4. I just recently began to home school my daughter after a short stint in elementary school. Just so you know, she got her deep belly laugh back in just a few short weeks. She said and I quote ” I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I am a country kid AND I am homeschooled.” Pretty good understanding for a 6 year old.

    • Michelle – That is really beautiful! Both my kids had lost a certain sparkle, too, and it took a few months but when it came back it was such a relief to me that it wasn’t gone forever! That made it so worth it to me right there. Belly laughs are truly priceless! 🙂
      .-= Misha@ ~beautyandjoy~’s last blog: Should I Homeschool Or Not? – New Post Up At Simple Homeschool =-.

      • Jennie McD says:

        This brought tears to my eyes…the lose of the “Sparkle”…My kindergarten son comes home everyday “Mom school is boring, why can’t I stay home with you?” is the question he asks. He loves to learn through exploring and is a bit ahead in the academic side of the public schooling since I have at home encouraged anything he found interest in (like wanting to know the names of all the planets at 4.5 yrs old, and remembering them or wanting to know how the human body works in detail), I keep finding myself digging more and more it learning about homeschooling so he doesn’t lose that “Sparkle” that is truly his distinct mark on this world! I promised him this summer we would try homeschooling and see how it goes and whether or not we all want to continue with public school or homeschooling. It is a scary step to take since my mother is a teacher, but I know she doesn’t want him to lose his “Sparkle” either! And she would be a great tutor in Math and Science if we ever needed it 🙂 Thank you so much for your posts and blogs, I have them bookmarked for future reference!

  5. I have had the privilege of home educating my children for 21 years. I have 5 boys, ranging in age from 21 down to 8.
    I think that there are so many pluses, it’s hard to list them all! However, one that stands out to most everyone we have the pleasure of being in fellowship with; regardless of station in life, is the strong sense of family identity and concrete values that my children exude.
    In a world where people are constantly pulled this way and that; it is really really refreshing to see your children grasp the concept that their most important relationships, negotiation skills, diplomacy, compassion, skilled debate, etc. and the mastery thereof, begin at home…with those that matter most.
    .-= Teri’s last blog: Golden Shoes =-.

  6. This could fit into your ‘Freedom’ category but I love that, in homeschooling, kids are free to discover who they are without being bombarded by peer/cultural messages. They can develop their own sense of style, their own taste in music, art and literature, etc.- (Obviously within some boundaries)- In the public system there exists incredible pressure to fit in starting at such a tender age. I love that I have the privilege of watching my own children ’emerge’ or blossom into these whole, healthy, interesting individuals.

    I also want to strongly agree with the JOY factor… for me it has been such a joy to be part of their learning: I was part of their learning to read, learning algebra, discovering a certain well-loved author… just like I wanted to be the one to watch my child take his first steps or learn his first words, I still want to be the one to share in all of these fabulous firsts and experiences in my childrens’ lives.

    • Kika – I could not agree more with both of your points. I LOVE being the one who gets to discover more about my kids by watching so many intellectual and scholastic firsts. In some ways watching these discoveries (the joy of language, reading, art, science, etc) are even more significant to me than those first teeth coming in and first coos because it is a discovering for me of their whole inner worlds. And, yes, the freedom to chose who they are, want to be, what they like and dislike, apart from pressure has been really incredible.
      .-= Misha@ ~beautyandjoy~’s last blog: Should I Homeschool Or Not? – New Post Up At Simple Homeschool =-.

  7. I wish I could have read something like this when I was considering homeschooling, Misha! Instead it seemed everything had to do with the specifics of curriculums, subjects, socialization–scary stuff!

    I’m sure this will encourage mamas out there to think of the lifestyle side of homeschooling (in order words, the good stuff!).
    .-= Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s last blog: 5 Homeschooling Reads to Encourage You =-.

  8. Love what you said about confidence – that’s so fun to watch grow in both parents and children on the home education journey. Great piece with points to ponder. 🙂
    .-= Megan@ Homeschooling on the Run’s last blog: Striding in the Presence =-.

  9. Love this post. I’m saving it to re-read on one of those days when I feel we accomplish nothing and the kids would be better off in a regular school 🙂 Most days I really love it, though, and as a home school graduate myself, I see lots of benefits. One of the real benefits for us is the freedom and flexibility that you mentioned. Sometimes, giving my son an extra 30 minutes to finish up the latest book he’s reading is more important than writing out spelling words. As his teacher, I get to make that call, and I love being able to do that.

  10. well hm.
    I have a different perspective than many of you, but I so appreciate your sharing, Misha.
    I currently have one home (1st gr) & three in public school (5,7,9th gr) & one in preschool two little bitty mornings a week. We are praying about bringing home 5th grader next year because of his dear sensitive heart & appetite for learning that cannot be assuaged at public school. We have done both…is what I’m trying to say… & continue to do both at the same time, which can have its own challenges.
    I’m wrestling right now with how to look at each kid, determining carefully what they need at the place they are in right NOW. I think that can look different for different kids.
    So anyway, thanks for sharing your thought provoking ideas. I look forward to your next post on this topic.

    • I appreciate it when families are genuinely open to either possibility. We have opted to do public school as well, but will remain pro-active in their learning. Right now we are mostly content with our local elementary school as part of their education.

      Making a list of the benefits for each kind of schooling–public and home school–helped me come to terms with our decision. Our children get a quality education with their teachers at school, and when they are home with us, the opportunity to educate them at home in ways that fit their individuality and our values. Whether we home school or not, parents should embrace the privilege and responsibility of educating our children.
      .-= Julia’s last blog: Teaching My Child to Read: What is the Best Way? =-.

    • Sonya, Between my husband and I we have been to public school, catholic school, been homeschooled, done long-distance correspondence courses, done online education, done tutoring and some others I can’t remember right now. Both my brother and I also did entirely different types of education as children concurrently.

      I completely agree that you have to approach what is best for each individual child and for each different season they are in. We did a list exactly like Julia describes – a list of benefits for each type of education, for each child.

      For us, honestly, the answer came in prayerfully considering things we may not even be able to see as parents. Both types of education my children have done initially made me cry because it was not my plan for their lives. 🙂

      In other words – I agree with you. 🙂
      .-= Misha@ ~beautyandjoy~’s last blog: Should I Homeschool Or Not? – New Post Up At Simple Homeschool =-.

  11. Catherine says:

    I know the answer to the question posed – I SHOULD homeschool, I want to homeschool, I’m ready to homeschool. But my kids don’t want to be homeschooled. They LIKE school. It’s quite a dilemma. We’re hoping to move this summer and if we end up in a different school disctict, that might give us our answer.

    • I think if you are considering the learners first, sending them to school is a fine option. If they are happy and motivated there, your children are very likely getting a quality education. You can always “home school” them in the summer, right?
      .-= Julia’s last blog: Teaching My Child to Read: What is the Best Way? =-.

    • Catherine, I faced this when both my kids were in school and it became clear we needed to move them. I took one week (during a spring break) and made every attempt to win their hearts over by meeting the needs we could see were not being met for them at school. Maybe a creative approach would help to show them what you can see you can give them through homeschooling, but they may not be able to see yet?

      Also, we gave lots of room for them to state why they didn’t want to homeschool. They had some very legitimate concerns that we could help address then. Ie: What do they like about school? And could you help meet that in adjunct ways with homeschooling?
      .-= Misha@ ~beautyandjoy~’s last blog: Should I Homeschool Or Not? – New Post Up At Simple Homeschool =-.

  12. One of the benefits, it seems to me, is the opportunity for giving your child the time and attention you and your child both crave. Charlotte Mason’s philosophy has also deeply impacted my desire to begin homeschooling my 2 year old daughter someday soon.
    .-= tacy’s last blog: A Simple Organizing Solution =-.

  13. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading about it and it has given me more food for thought as we head towards making our final decision on how/where are daughter will be schooled this fall.
    .-= Sam’s last blog: Spring Cleaning… =-.

  14. What about the kids? In modern society kids form friendships with their peers at school more than any other place. Also, being with other children teaches them people skills and how to work with people they might not like. How will your children achieve these important life-skills?

  15. L – You know our kids have also expressed the fact that they wished they sometimes had more kids around so your comment is very legitimate. That is why we think it’s important that you still involve homeschooled kids in social activities – either with other homeschooled kids or extracurricular programs. Many home educated kids are a part of coops, as well, where they still attend classes with peers.

    If you look around this site and at many of the contributor’s personal blogs you will found a slew of unique ways that homeschooling parents address this issue. There are countless ways that homeschooled children get plenty of interaction. In fact, my own challenge is not to get overscheduled with that because there are so many wonderful opportunities out there.

    Thank you for your comment.
    .-= Misha@ ~beautyandjoy~’s last blog: Should I Homeschool Or Not? – New Post Up At Simple Homeschool =-.

    • I would add that our public schooled friends don’t always have ‘real’ friends from school. Certainly they know many kids but it doesn’t mean this translates into genuine friendships. Our kids usually have two or three close friends even through homeschooling but there can be periods of feeling ‘friendless’ for a time during different seasons of (homeschool) life, it is true. I agree with “L” also that our kids ought to learn how to work with people they don’t always like. Life affords many natural opportunities for this and homeschooled kids do tend to be involved in many community, civic/volunteer and even church activities where they can hone these skills. One example: my son began reffing soccer last summer and that was a fabulous opportunity to build conflict resolution and leadership skills.

  16. I tell people who ask about homeschooling that it’s just parenting — but more of it. If you enjoy parenting most of the time, you’ll enjoy homeschooling most of the time. If you don’t, and you can’t wait to send your kids elsewhere for most of the day, you won’t enjoy homeschooling, and it may not be for you. The lessons you learn in parenting are multiplied and intensified through homeschooling. I hope my kids are getting a good education — but I KNOW I am!
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: The Joy of Tinkering =-.

  17. What a lovely post and great comments! I enjoyed reading both. My kids have been in public school and we’ll start homeschooling this summer. We’re all very excited about it. First and foremost, I love that there is a choice! They have enjoyed school and I’ve enjoyed having them there…but for us the decision came because they needed more.

    They have such incredible imaginations and thrive on learning. I thought about supplementing their regular schooling and even tried a few things, but they had so little down time to just play. As soon as I started to consider homeschooling all the things we were struggling with and tossing up to “that’s just something you have to deal with” suddenly weren’t issues or had solutions.

    Even my husband, who has always flat out said “no” to homeschooling before I was even thinking about it, immediately saw that this is going to be a great adventure for all of us, and especially for the kids!

    So, the best advice I think I could give (without having actually homeschooled yet!) is to do what’s right for your children, each individually, and your family.
    .-= Annie’s last blog: Ready, Set….GO! =-.

  18. awesome post! I like the breakdown of things to consider. Nothing to add! I’m about to graduate my second student, and the time we’ve had to develop our relationship and nurture her talents has been priceless.

  19. I think being clear about your priorities is key for a homeschool parent. Plus, it helps to have a thick skin, because lots of people will have opinions to offer about your decision, not all of them positive!

  20. I think that when we pause and are honestly objective; all of the concerns mentioned are valid. However, they also apply to every educational venue! The tendency is to focus more when they are being looked at through the lens of home education, since it still has a stigma of being “different.” There are good,bad, pluses and minuses surrounding every educational venue.
    Socialization, as defined in Webster’s 1828: is as pertains to the public as an aggregate body.
    I know that I have been guilty of thinking more than once, that if a child (or even an adult, for that matter) can get along with their own age group, then they must be socialized. The reality is that society is made up of all age groups, differing world views, etc.
    Most parents want not only what is best for their children, but for those children to BE their best as well. This would involve being able to work within the total definition of society where “socialization” is concerned.
    It has been my personal experience that many many home educated children are actually better socially adjusted at an early age, because they naturally have more opportunities to be around a mix of ages and groups of people. This is the natural reality of the “real world” in which we live.
    And publie opinion will always be there, regardless of the road you choose! A lot of it tend to come from those that are closest to you, and when your children DO grow up and DO excel…then you’re just “lucky”! ;0)
    Relax, go with your convictions, and do your best. The rest will honestly take care of itself. There is plenty of room for diversity in the journey, and regardless of what one chooses, there is no “quick result” in raising people.
    I appreciate reading and hearing everyone’s views so very much.
    We can all learn and benefit from one another by focusing in the common ground.

  21. I’m one of the fence walkers. I did a homeschool type pre-K for my son last year since we moved too late to find a quality, play based preschool. I’m so glad I took that time to learn about homeschooling and got to join a local homeschool group. It was a great experience, but now my son is in public K. He loves it and has an older teacher whom I adore. Very free flowing, flexible and child lead. I volunteer every week and we play hooky frequently to join our homeschool friends for fun field trips. His teacher totally supports this and he reports back to the class on what we did during our visits. so I have the best of both worlds, so to speak, for now. I keep homeschool on the back burner if the need comes up again. and I’m happy we found what works for us.

    I’ve also been really fortunate and never had anyone be negative about homeschooling. Since I’m part of both worlds, I find more people are curious about homeschooling now and wanted to know more. I’m also getting people asking me if they can play hooky with us since they didn’t even know about some of the places we go to!

  22. After 4 very nice years at a public charter school, my husband and I have decided to homeschool our kids next year. I think this post will be extremely helpful when responding to the questions and criticisms from friends and family who aren’t familiar with homeschooling. Having taken the time to answer each question thoughtfully will help me be more confident in our decision and, will help me respond to those doubtful and concerned loved ones without getting defensive. Thank you.

  23. Heather says:

    My girls, ages 10, 7, and 3 are each others’ best friends. I love that we have time for them to play together because of our homeschool schedule. There are also so many life training moments that come up during the day that we can address on the spot. On top of that, there are the deep questions about life, faith, and purpose that come up out of the blue. I love that we can talk about these concerns the girls have when they come up, and they are not struggling with them or stuffing them away because they are in a school environment where they cannot talk about them.

  24. I took 1 st loan when I was 25 and that aided my business a lot. However, I need the short term loan as well.

  25. Renee Texas says:

    I am struggling on whether to homeschool or not. I have a 6 year old that started Kindergarten this year. She is so far ahead of the class and complains that school is not fun. The school seems to be on a witch hunt also. If they worried as much about making learning fun as they do about no talking and standing with a bubble in your mouth they might actually get some great results! The kids only get two times during the day to visit, lunch and recess. The first 10 min of their 20 min lunch they aren’t allowed to talk because they have to focus on eating. If they talk during those 10 minutes or get too loud during the other 10 minutes then they lose recess time. It seems like every day they are getting in trouble for talking. The teachers are on a witch hunt and really appear to want to punish the kids. I was a secondary teacher before I had my two daughters 6 and 3 and really need to go back to work sometime so that my husband and I can retire and be able to eat as well. I am afraid to committ to homeschooling and not be able to return to work in time to make enough money for retirement. I just wish the teachers and administrators had more compassion and truly cared about our kids and their success. If they did, maybe I wouldn’t be considering homeschooling. I just want to do what is best for my girls!

  26. I am a single working mother. I have a 12 year old son whom I believe would benefit greatly from Homeschooling. I have contacted coops (very few in our area) and all require either that I belong to their church or some sort of parent participation. I realize that homeschooling implies parent participation, however each time I mention that I work 40 hours a week, I get the same response…NOTHING. He is a very bright, articulate young man that is just twisting in the wind at his charter school, however this school is by far the best one yet and I really like it. But I still think homeschooling is what we need to be doing. Are there any working single parents out there that have worked with the K-12 program and how did you get this done?

  27. I didn’t realize how important it is to follow homeschool blogs! But that is a very important one for homeschoolers to do! I’ve found it to be very encouraging and inspiring!
    Jen’s latest post: Walgreens is the place to purchase eggs this week in Sioux Falls!

  28. hi.. was trying to click on the link to defining your priorities but it isnt working 🙁

  29. Thank you for the article. It really hit me…I don’t know what I’m doing! I want the best for my son but what if I’m doing the worst? Your article gave me a lot to think about, while at the same time reassuring me that I’m not alone in my questioning. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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