How to talk to your spouse about homeschooling

Lately I’ve heard from quite a few people (in person, via email and in comments to posts like this one), who are drawn to the idea of homeschooling but know that their spouse is not interested.

I know that I have quite a few homeschooling readers, so I thought I’d throw the question out there to tap into your wisdom: how do you approach the topic of homeschooling with a spouse who isn’t interested? Does anyone have any experience with that who might have tips to share?

For what it’s worth, I’ll throw out some homeschooling myths that I used to believe that were a big part of my disinterest in the concept:

- Myth #1: You have to run your home school eight hours a day, five days a week, just like regular schools. When you can give each child customized attention and tailor the curricula to his or her unique needs, you can have your “school day” take up far less time than in public schools. Most of my homeschooling friends are done with the book-learning part of school time by lunch time (though they typically view learning as part of every aspect of life, so in some ways the “school day” is 24/7).

- Myth #2: Your kids have few opportunities to interact with other children and therefore aren’t well-socialized. I threw out statements like “I don’t want to homeschool because I want my kids to have friends and opportunities to interact with groups of children”…without having any facts on what group opportunities were available for local homeschooling families. Once I actually checked into it I found that there are various classes, field trips and groups that meet almost every day of the week that my kids could attend. There are tons of opportunities for them to be around other kids. Also, as Steve G. noted in the comments, it’s not like the Lord of the Flies atmosphere found in so many schools is the ideal way for kids to learn about socialization.

- Myth #3: I’m not up to the challenge. This may be true for some people — I’m sure that homeschooling is not the right path for every mom. However, too easily I brushed off the idea with “I couldn’t do it.” When I put some serious thought into what I actually learned during, say, elementary school, I realized that it actually would not be hard at all to make sure that my children learned all that same stuff at home.

- Myth #4: Once you make the initial decision, you’re committed to homeschooling through high school. To be honest, I’m still not sure that homeschooling through high school will be the right decision for us. I’ll worry about that sometime after I get through potty training. But, as a homeschooling friend pointed out, plenty of homeschooled kids make the transition to regular school during high school just fine. There are also increasing opportunities through universities and community colleges for kids to go to class for individual subjects if, for example, you didn’t feel that you could cover chemistry or biology well enough on your own.

- Myth #5: I’d never have any time to myself. I have to admit, for a while I was looking forward to when the kids started going to school so that I could have a bit more time to myself. But after observing homeschooling families I realized that, for the moms who still had little ones at home, they actually had more breaks than I did (as well as cleaner houses!) since the older children were around to help out with chores and the younger children.

I throw those ideas since they were some of the major roadblocks to my interest in homeschooling. But take what I say with a grain of salt since my oldest is only 2.5.

I’d love to hear from other homeschooling parents, especially anyone who’s had experience bringing up the topic with a reluctant spouse. How do you make the case for homeschooling with a spouse who isn’t interested?

(Also, once again I direct anyone interested in this subject to Sally Thomas’ must-read article called Schooling at Home.)

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5 Responses to “How to talk to your spouse about homeschooling”
  1. Elena says:

    Assuming we are talking about a reasonable spouse who is open to logical discussion, and assuming in this scenario we are talking about the mom bringing it up to the dad, I would just have a conversation about it. Discuss the goals you have for your children and the concerns you have for their education in both institutional schools and homeschool etc. Perhaps attend some homeschool support group meetings. We have new couples attend our meetings a few times a year just for that purpose. Attend some homeschool conferences and listen to those speakers. Get some tapes from the conferences and listen to those and discuss them. In my opinion those are some great ways to get a discussion on the topic going with your spouse.

  2. Anonymous says:

    number #1 thing is prayer-soften him up with some high level bombing…er prayer. enlist anyone and everyone you know with a decent prayer life to lift this up in prayer for you.
    also get to know some homeschool famiies at your parish-if there aren’t any find another parish-when my dh saw that homeschoolers weren’t weird, he relaxed.

  3. yofed says:

    I haven’t done it yet, but what will definitely play in my favour is that I asked him what he hated about school, and found out that all these things can be changed in a homeschool setting (style of teaching,etc).

  4. Sarah says:

    So, for me and my Prince, it has been a looooonnnnnngggg discussion, starting back when one of my dearest (and far older, with four older kids) friends made the transition and I started researching it out of curiosity, back before I was even pregnant with Toddler-tron (who’s 2). So he’s had three-ish years of listening to me say “oh listen to this” and “oh listen to that” and “hmm, I can’t help but get excited about this” and such. But we have had a couple of what I would call intense is-this-possible conversations, and what I have found out is that, despite what I thought would be resistance from him, what he has is actually concern about ME (“I don’t want you getting all burned out” – legitimate given my over-scheduling tendencies!). And we have also determined that it’s God’s problem. So, whether we decide to homeschool (I really think we will, at least early on) or to send our kids to outside school, it won’t kill em. Their education is going to be top priority with us, and it’s a SERIES of decisions, not one singular life-and-death decision. (This single realization has been very freeing for me, as I tend to, um, get a little dramatic about things.)

    So for us, it has been an ongoing conversation. Kind of like a lot of things. It’s not a sit-down-and-hash-it-out thing, like bills are sometimes (and always dreadfully), but a work-it-out-over-time-and-leave-it-in-God’s-hands kind of thing.

    I think Anon is right on with prayer too. But then, prayer is always the best way to start. They are, after all, not OUR children, not really. We’re entrusted with them, but they’re God’s. :)

    (sorry to ramble tonight, I’m catching up and you have some stuff that’s just MAKING me comment and ramble and ramble and ramble and…)

  5. joyroy says:

    Very informative article, and your saying about myths are right