"I want to homeschool, but I’m afraid"
12 common concerns about homeschooling, and a request for advice
The whole idea of homeschooling used to be utterly unappealing and baffling to me, but after getting to know a lot of homeschooling families as well as researching the subject for three years now, my husband and I have come to believe that some sort of home-based education (which might include co-ops, online classes, occasional classes at outside institutions, etc.) is the best option for our family. The details of how we arrived at that conclusion are the subject of another post, but I listed some resources that I found compelling at the bottom of this post in case anyone’s interested.
Anyway, I do have days (like, uhh, today, for example) where the ratio of household chaos to my energy level is so high that I think in exasperation, “What was I thinking? There is NO WAY I could EVER homeschool!” Based on the number of emails I get on this subject, I know that I’m not the only parent who feels this way: I want to homeschool but, gosh, how could I possibly do it?
I decided to put together a collection of the most common concerns I hear, and put them out there to get advice and encouragement from experienced homeschoolers. When I talk to other parents who are considering going this route, these are the most frequent worries I hear discussed:
- “I worry about getting physically and mentally overwhelmed — I find motherhood hard enough without the responsibility of being primary educator of my children. Is there any way to both homeschool and make sure I get the breaks that I need?”
- “My kids are already in school. I worry that they’ll balk at the idea of doing school in the house.”
- “I have babies/toddlers around and will probably have more in the future. How can I make sure the older kids get a good education with little ones underfoot?”
- “I’m not particularly good at math [or other subject], and I worry that my children’s education would suffer in that area.”
- “There are so many curricula out there! I have no idea how to find one that’s right for us.”
- “Our families are adamantly opposed to the idea of homeschooling and would put a ton of pressure on us not to do it, which would be distracting and demoralizing.”
- “I worry that my children won’t respect me as a teacher and/or won’t strive to succeed they way they would with the external approval that comes with traditional schools.”
- “I don’t worry about giving my young children a good education, but what about when you get to the high school level? I don’t see how I could provide the same quality of education as, say, an AP-level class at a good public high school.”
- “I’m naturally disorganized and scattered. I worry that my children would have zero structure in their lives and/or that I wouldn’t be able to keep on top of everything.”
- “I worry that my kids won’t have any friends” or “I don’t have a large family; I’m concerned that my child/children wouldn’t get enough interaction with other kids.”
- “We have a small house that’s already cramped. I can’t figure out how we’d even make space to homeschool, and feel like we’d all go stircrazy being in the house all day, every day.”
- “Money is tight — I worry that buying all the curricula, books, supplies, etc. for all the kids would break the bank.”
If any experienced homeschooling parents have shared any of these worries and found ways to overcome them, we’d love to hear about it! (I don’t expect that any one commenter would feel up to tackling all of these — I’m thinking that people could just write in and address whichever concerns they most relate to.)
Also, I want to clarify that the point of this post is not to suggest that homeschooling is right for every family or that it’s “wrong” not to go this route. I hope that this discussion will simply be one of friendly encouragement for people who have discerned that this is the right path for their family but feel overwhelmed by what all it involves. I look forward to reading your comments!
- Ann Voskamp had some lovely thoughts here about the pros and cons of homeschooling, as well as how and why her family went that route
- The Philosopher Mom’s “Why I homeschool” post has some great food for thought
- Schooling at Home by Sally Thomas is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on this subject
- This post has an excerpt from an interesting study about homeschooling and socialization
- This post about how to get started homeschooling has a wealth of information — a must-read for anyone about to take the leap
New here? Come say hi on Twitter at @jenfulwiler!