Homeschooling pros versus the cons?
Homeschooling is really hard. It’s also very rewarding.
Sounds a lot like parenting right? We have our good days and bad days. Truth is homeschooling is parenting on steroids. It’s a lot of work, but if your homeschooling pros are higher than the cons, it’s well worth the energy and time investment. Our kids are only with us for so long before they become adults. Our homeschooling pros and cons will have a lot to do with how we want to raise them in this world, and what our available time or personality type is.
Some of you reading this are already homeschooling, others are thinking about doing it for the first time
Whether you’re thinking of home educating for the first time, have been doing it for years or you fall somewhere in the middle (like the mid-year homeschool burnout where you want to quit homeschooling?) this post will hopefully help you revisit your own homeschool pros and cons list.
First a little background
I’m a homeschooling mom of 4 (baby-age 8) that works from home. We live in the Canadian mountains (west Kootenays of B.C.) and live on an acreage where we grow a lot of food to feed our family, keep chickens and try to spend many days outdoors. I’ve homeschooled pregnant, with a toddler and while working from home. I first started homeschooling because of this video which opened up my thoughts about how we educate our children.
I’ve been homeschooling for 3 years as I write this and I’ve had fantastic homeschooling days and really disheartening ones.
I’ve almost given up on homeschooling countless of times for many reasons.
It’s times like this that make me revisit that pros and cons list which is what we’ll discuss here today.
What are the homeschooling pros?
Homeschooling pros and cons has a lot to do with the day, how the kids are, how you are that day and your motives for home educating. We all have different reasons why we’re thinking of home educating our kids.
This post will cover
- Reasons for homeschooling
- Pros of homeschooling
- The cons and challenges of homeschooling
- Is homeschooling right for your family?
Some reasons for homeschooling (in no order)
- Private school is too expensive but you don’t want to put your kids in public school.
- We’re protective of our kids (over protective?) and dislike what we’re seeing in the public school system. This goes from violence to the way modern kids act. You want to keep our kids in a reduced bullying atmosphere.
- Travel lover? Your family likes to travel a lot and you’d like to roadschool the kids. Home education offers the freedom for global travel and adventures while schooling.
Choosing what you teach
- You have specific religious beliefs and wish to teach your kids a Christian curriculum.
- Nature loving family! You want your kids to be out in nature as much as possible and do lots of learning outdoors. You think that kids spend way too much time sitting in boredom when there could be adventures to be had.
- The public school system is boring and you dislike standardized testing which lumps kids all into one category and age group.
- Unschooling for freedom in choice and daily life.
- Field trips whenever you want! YOU get to design your life
Alarm clocks suck!
- You hate alarm clocks (is that a thing?) and you’re sick of spending every morning rushing out the door.
- Live out of town? Living far away from a public school can mean your kids would spend hours a day on a bus.
- Budget cuts in the public school system are constant. Teachers are striking frequently (at least that’s happened here in B.C) .
- There are good teachers in the public school system, and many that don’t care as much as you want for your children.
- Your child is currently struggling in the public or private school system, has a learning disability, is getting bullied or peer pressured.
- Sometimes it’s your kids grades are poor at school. Are you spending many hours a week with extra teaching or spending it on a tutor?
- Do you have that kid that’s a genius and can’t advance because the school teaches in ‘grades’?
Pros of homeschooling
- The freedom to teach your kids what you want them to learn.
- You can tailor your kids education to their interests and needs.
- Wider range of curriculum and resources used for learning.
- Increased potential to be outside and not sitting in a desk.
- You’ll get to explore your local area to find fun field trips and educational opportunities.
Strong family bond
- Strong family bond, working together and increased time spent with your kids.
- Reduced rushing and running around getting to places (depending on how many extra curricular activities your kids have).
- You get to learn some new things and remember the old ones.
- Your kids have the same teacher (you) for years to create a bond.
- If your kids have a learning disability or learning challenges, you can move at a slower more connected pace.
- Multi-age learning with siblings. Older kids are great at teaching younger kids some basics.
Be the boss of your own time
- You get teach your kids year-round and spread out learning or stick with the same schedule as public school.
- Be the boss of your time. Sort of. By home educating you can create your own schedule, or how you spend your day.
- If something isn’t working for your family, whether it be a learning style, curriculum etc, you have the flexibility to change it.
- You get to witness your children’s education. Most of us have no idea how our kids learn or get to see them learn something new and important. It’s very wonderful to see the transformation and be a part of their education.
- More control (although not total) control of the influences in your kids life.
- Kids can sleep when they need to. Kids go through growth spurts and need extra sleep during this time. Homeschooling means you can allow them to sleep until their body wakes up instead of racing around and setting an alarm.
My favorite of the homeschooling pros?
Kids get to ‘chase the spark’
Chasing the spark means they can follow their own interests.
If your kids loves birds for example, you might spend a long time learning about that topic. You can entwine science, writing, math, games, field trips and outdoor time all inspired by that topic. I first heard about chasing the spark in this podcast with the Wild + Free online homeschooling community.
When your kids are engaged in what they’re learning they’ll retain it more.
Now for the homeschooling cons
Now that we’ve taken a look at the pros, there are some very real cons to homeschooling.
- It can be utterly exhausting. This is especially true if you have babies, toddlers, preschoolers and extra hard if you’re lacking in sleep.
- You’re not a patient person. I will be honest and say patience is something I’m getting better at over time, but it takes a lot of practice and we all have different levels of patience within us.
- Family and/or friends will not understand your reasons for homeschooling. You’ll likely have to defend your choices, multiple times.
- Socialization. Many people think kids that homeschool aren’t ‘socialized’ and need to ‘just deal’ with bullies at an early age. There are bullies everywhere, the difference with homeschooling is that they get reduced influence. I will say it helps for kids to take extra curricular classes and have lots of play dates. As long as they are seeing and interacting other humans, they are getting socialization. Mentors are important too.
- You’ll have to spend quite a bit of time planning and researching curriculum or book choices for home education. There isn’t a one curriculum suits all like what they do with public schools. Your freedom in how you educate your kids is also extra work trying to find the right resources. This is especially true once you start homeschooling because you’re new to it all. It took me a couple of months of online reading to learn about the different homeschooling styles (Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Christian, Secular, Waldorf, Montessori just to name a few!).
Flow with your kids learning style
- It will take you a time to learn how to homeschool and what your kids learning styles are. Often it take weeks or months to get into a rhythm.
- You don’t get a break from the little people. It really helps to have something else in life that offers you a break. Whether it’s going to a yoga class, having coffee with friends, make sure you schedule breaks for yourself because homeschooling doesn’t offer much in the way of breaks.
- Constant interruptions will happen if you have babies and toddlers. In fact they will throw a wrench into your whole day. You will feel frustrated constantly. I learned to accept the ‘phase’ of this time period and accept a reduced workload. Grace and acceptance on not doing it all will be help you feel better about your decision.
The struggle is real
- Your kids don’t listen to you now, how could you get them to learn something? Listening is a constant struggle for most parents, we still struggle with this constantly.
- Usually one parent needs to either work from home or not be working to have the time to homeschool.
- Homeschool burnout from doing so much.
- Things won’t go as planned. You might envision the perfect cooking class at home with your kids and it turns out to be a disaster. There will be good days and bad.
Is homeschooling right for your family?
You’ll need to make your own pros and cons list if you’re considering homeschooling (or quitting). I will say this: It will take practice to become a home educator, unless you went to school to become a teacher, this is a new job. Many homeschoolers give up before getting into that rhythm. Give yourself time because just like parenthood, you likely weren’t perfect at it right away and had to deal with many learning curves. Homeschooling is no different. With parenting and homeschooling, you’re constantly learning and making mistakes.
Homeschool burn out
Frustration is super common and there will likely be times you’ll want to quit homeschooling. This is especially common in February and March half way through the school year. Homeschool burnout happens to most of us and you might have to reevaluate whether it’s a phase or if you feel like you need to make changes to your daily rhythm, curriculum or if homeschooling is even right for your family.
I highly recommend a support group
You might not find it right away (it actually took me 2 whole years!). Many towns or cities have facebook groups for support, you might also be able to find a local tribe through Wild + Free or other homeschool networks. You can find a support group locally or online. I really found that using essential oils (especially the mood ones) helped ground me when I need it. There’s something about aromatherapy that’s really helped my daily life ( I use these essential oils)
In the end, only you know what’s best for your family
Remember that your life and decisions will change over time. I know that I love homeschooling, but because I work hard and currently have a baby I’m beyond exhausted and it’s very taxing. I’ve often thought about putting our kids into public school just to have a quieter house for a few hours. I also know to do that I’d have to make and pack lunches, get them out of bed and onto the bus, do homework with them and undo any behavior or discuss problems related to school. For now, we’re sticking with homeschooling. What the future holds, I don’t know.