why i keep homeschooling

Based on the post title, you can probably guess about the type of day I had; trouble with our old desktop and older laptop, everyone having a crisis at the exact. same. time., tears, screaming and I repeated the same set of instructions at least 4,598 times. It was the type of day were I pulled my husband into the kitchen and unloaded a tirade of complaints, fears, worries and multiple four letter words.

And today wasn’t an anomaly or a fluke. I’ve experienced many days like it through out my years of homeschooling. Occasionally, I will lose a whole week to anger and frustration, usually throwing my hands up in exasperation by Wednesday and barely finishing the bare minimum in assignments by Friday.

To those of you who do not homeschool, I’m sure you’re either confused as to why I continue to put myself and my family through this experience or nodding in silent satisfaction at knowing you’ve made the right decision by avoiding homeschooling like the plague. You may even mutter under your breath, “Why doesn’t she just put them in school?!?”

I’d reply, “Because there is no perfect method of education.” Everyone has bad days, and I’ve learned I’d rather take the worst homeschooling days than the worst public school days. The bad homeschooling days that seem so unimaginable to you, are as familiar to me as the struggles you face on a regular basis as a school parent. (There’s no shortage of bloggers sharing private/public school struggles to counter my homeschooling tell-alls.)

Obviously I believe that homeschooling is the best method of education  That’s why I devote so much time and effort into it. But if you’ve decided that public school or private school is the best method of education I’m guessing you devote a whole lot of time and energy into it too, though in different ways.

Maybe you uniform shop, attend school functions, PTA meetings, sit in pickup lines or sit next to your child for hours to help with endless math homework. When it all gets to be too much and you need to vent, you probably don’t want me to quip “Why don’t you just homeschool?!?” You’ve chosen what you feel is the best educational method for your family and you’re willing to take the bad with the good.

Even if the situation had gotten bad enough and you found yourself considering homeschooling (as many homeschoolers have considered their local private schools in moments of desperation) when the dust settles, often we find the solution is not a radical departure from our established path, but a new outlook or small change that can minimize or eliminate a tough situation.

We are our children’s primary educators- period. No child will have successful academic career (however you may define it) without a caring, involved parent, or parents. We may turn over some of our responsibility to schools, tutors, online classes, etc. but we are the determining factor in how prepared our children are for adulthood and the world at large.

I choose homeschooling because I don’t want to outsource my role as primary educator to a school for 180 days out of the year. That means I spend a lot of time with my kids, I willingly sacrifice the neatness of my house, my hobbies and sometimes my sanity. It means I’m going to have bad days as a teacher, as a mom, and as a homemaker, but I’m okay with that. My husband is okay with that. Because the payoffs are huge. The benefits are so immense to our family and my children’s spiritual, emotional, physical and mental growth. Homeschooling is a huge investment, but one that has paid us back exponentially  I can honestly say that, even after a horrible, no good, very bad day.

My question to you now is, are you getting the return on your investment? Can you sit down, at the end of the day with a glass of wine, rant at length to your husband or a friend, and still say “But I still believe homeschooling / my children’s school is the best option.” ?

If your homeschool experience is the opposite of mine: you do so reluctantly, with anger, regret and can see no positive return, something needs to change. If your child(ren) is/are enrolled in school, are you happy with their growth? Do you take the bad days in stride knowing that the school you’ve charged with the care of your child is doing it’s best? Or is sending your child to school causing problems for your child or your family?

All parents should reevaluate year by year their chosen educational method. We should never accept things as they are because they’ve always been that way, and proceed blindly ahead. We don’t always need to radically change course, but, sometimes we do. We won’t realize it though, if we don’t stop and pray for guidance. (And as a reminder, I now offer homeschool consulting; let’s work together to figure out what’s working in your homeschool and what can be improved.)

Today sucked. But tomorrow, I’ll do it again and for many more weeks this year knowing my whole school year will far from suck. If I compared my school to the stock market, I’d admit that today we took a hit, but tomorrow, I expect things to rise again. What about you? Where is your year headed? Are you dealing primarily with a bull or bear market?

Why I Keep Homeschooling Even When It Sucks

15 thoughts on “Why I Keep Homeschooling Even When It Sucks

  • 10/06/2015 at 12:53 am
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    Love this post! What a good reminder that all parenting decisions need to be reevaluated as children grow.

    In response to this quote…
    “To those of you who do not homeschool, I’m sure you’re either confused as to why I continue to put myself and my family through this experience or nodding in silent satisfaction at knowing you’ve made the right decision by avoiding homeschooling like the plague.”

    Neither! As you mention in the rest of the post there will always be bad days but there will also be great days!

    No major crisis, but relevant to the sacrifices of parents with kids in public school – I had to sneak away between teaching two classes to go home, make and deliver my son’s lunch today because I totally forgot about it until we got to school.

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  • 10/06/2015 at 1:29 am
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    You know, it wasn’t great for me either. And it was pretty much entirely my own fault. But I have to say that it ended on a high note b/c I just listened to that playlist over and over while catching up on emails and reading your archives. So, thanks for facilitating that win. But I really do agree that it is easy to forget that there is no perfect education. It has taken me a while to go from “This day was so bad so I must be doing it wrong/must not be cut out for it/must not be called to it/must be insane” to just plain “This day was so bad.” It’s just a day and tomorrow will be different, whether I am homeschooling or teaching in a classroom or at home with littles while bigs are in school. And if all else fails, I can recommend a totally sweet playlist.

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  • 10/06/2015 at 8:33 am
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    Thank you, Kelly- I get so frustrated when I see a mom vent on social media about their chosen schooling method and then see a slew of comments along the lines of “that’s why we chose such-and-such schooling!”. Not helpful! I think it’s a good reminder to re-evaluate which mode works best for your family each year, and I feel mom’s should be able to vent now and then without being made to feel bad about their choices for school.

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  • 10/06/2015 at 8:46 am
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    Thank you for this. The house is quiet, I just made my husband lunch/breakfast and quietly ranted to him all the worries on my mind and they sound so very familiar to yours. My main terror is that we have been homeschooling for 11 years, oldest is 16, youngest is 4, and I am deathly afraid that we are slowly going to hell because the love of God and the joy of our Faith is absent from our daily lives. I know that this is a dry phase we are in and that God will provide the answers but my instinct is to put them all in the local public school and absolve myself from the guilt of ruining my children. Then I read your short and logical piece. Thank you for a shot of sanity in my morning. I’m going to up the LOVE in my day and pour myself out in a loving manner and focus on the kids and their well being and not so much on the amount of work they get done. Just to back up your good point of re-evaluating the big decisions, we enrolled in a co-op, two years ago, that meets on Wed and has been a huge help in keeping the kids focused on assignments and helping with the hard classes. Having a 5th child when I turned 42 greatly contributed to my burnout and the good advice of my priest was to find a decent co-op to help with the homeschooling.

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    • 10/06/2015 at 10:46 am
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      I just had a third at 45 – and the second one is 12! I’m constantly thinking that we’re ruining her education and social life being tied up with the baby (and my part time job at the local university). But then I think about all the problems we had when my children were in school – not to mention the ‘fruits’ of those problems I see in my college students. We’re all just doing our best, even on those bad days.

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    • 10/06/2015 at 12:02 pm
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      I’m pregnant with my seventh at age 40 — that’s one of my biggest concerns! I feel like I’m nearly always “not at my best” between first trimester sickness, third trimester fatigue, newborn fog, etc. I worry that my kids are being short changed because mom’s always dealing with pregnancy or a newborn 🙁

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      • 10/06/2015 at 12:23 pm
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        I had my 10th at 45 and 11th at 46.5 years, and I know it’s affected how we parent and educate the middle ones. The high schooler and older ones seem to be ok, and the little ones still too young yet, but the tweens – I feel like we have completely screwed them up and have not had the attention because of the needs of the toddlers. And we do not feel on top of the parenting game – being older and not having a good night sleep in ages really makes it hard to feel like you had a good day. And I do have my kids in the Catholic school in town, so I don’t have homeschooling to blame.
        This piece couldn’t have come on a better day, as I have a worrisome report from my daughter’s teacher about bad work habits, and so it’s time to readjust. (Though at least if I switched to homeschooling I wouldn’t have to worry about homework disappearing in a black hole of a locker.) I’ll be pondering this one in my heart, as I try to figure out what to do with her.

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        • 10/06/2015 at 12:53 pm
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          Yes, those middle kids! My husband is 5 out of 6 and insists it isn’t so bad being in the middle…but I think some of that is his personality. My prayer is that the wonderful benefits of large families and homeschooling outweigh the drawbacks and difficulties.

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      • 10/06/2015 at 2:26 pm
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        Wow, Karyn and mbmom7, THANK YOU for your honesty. I feel this way sometimes and I only have 4 kids. And when I express it, the feedback I often get is, “giving them siblings is the best gift.” Which, yes, is true. But also, they need good and present parents. That’s a nice gift too, no? It’s so hard to to not feel like I’m totally screwing them up and short-shrifting them because I’m pregnant/nursing/not sleeping in an effort to get them that “best gift.” Your honest expressions of those fears is so valuable to me today. Thank you.

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  • 10/06/2015 at 9:04 am
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    I love. ..there is no perfect education decision. ..

    I think we live that reality daily. We are in private, public, and homeschooling in this family, and they all stink for different reasons on different days. And we are always in nauseating circles evaluating what we should be doing.

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  • 10/06/2015 at 9:08 am
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    Amen, Sister!!! I LOVE this post. I have felt all these things. One year I looked up the two blocks from my house to the school on the corner…..”hmm”, wondered I, “maybe they will take them RIGHT NOW. I know there are only two weeks left to the school year, but hmmm…”
    I know God is working especially strong in our home schooling. I just know with certainty that this is the way we are to go as a family. I’ve had many signs (not in the sky or anything = ) ) that we are supposed to continue even though there have been DAYS of doubt, and lots of fatigue, and well, sheer madness. But I wouldn’t trade them now in hindsight. It has made our family very close!! And since 4 of them are doing very well in college, I have the added consolation that it worked!!!!

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  • 10/06/2015 at 9:45 am
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    So true. So, so. So true. My first year teaching history in a “good” public school, the district was considering redrawing the lines for attendance zones. All the parents were up in arms because they didn’t want “those” kids (who lived in apartments) to come to our school. It got pretty ugly. I was talking with my wise Director of Instruction about it (because I was a naive first year teacher and wasn’t sure what to think). She looked at me and said, “it doesn’t matter where the kids live or where they come from. If they have good parents, they will almost always be good kids.”

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  • 10/06/2015 at 11:22 am
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    Yes….because I love having my kids home…but sometimes I hear the school bus roll by at 7:30 am,,,and then see it roll by again at 4pm…and I hear a little whisper, “all the things would get cleaned….all the stuff would get done…” lol! I do wish, just once or twice a month, I could send my kids somewhere from 7:30-4!

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  • 10/06/2015 at 10:08 pm
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    In 6 years of homeschooling including one year where one of 4 kids went to private school, I have found that the problem is not usually with the kids. I have been the problem when I wanted to hurry along because I wanted to do my house chores or run an errand therefore disrupting the peace in our family and in our homeschool by being in hurry or being controlling. Tackling ourselves (getting up before the kids for one), getting help with certain things if the budget allows (cleaning? A mom-needs-a-break-babysitter?), and striving to be kind even when there might be a tantrum over Math is helpful. God can take care of the rest of our fears if we let Him. It’s the doing small things with great love and making loving allowances for bad days for all that really matters. Check out http://amongstlovelythings.com/ for some ways to simplify and to find peace in your harried homeschool day. The peace of Christ be with you!

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  • 10/08/2015 at 2:04 pm
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    Oh Kelly. Kelly Kelly Kelly, I need to print this out in old-people extra large font and paste it around the perimeter of my little school room. It is every thing I needed to hear and will continue to need to hear for many years to come. Just thank you.

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