Since the day I started homeschooling my kids — 5 years ago now — I was getting comments from other parents. Some of them were positive, like “You’re doing such a great thing for your family!” Others were negative, such as “You’re ruining your kids by homeschooling them.” But I was surprised how many were wistful parents, expressing how much they’d LIKE to homeschool, many even expressing that they feel God is calling them to homeschool, but they feel they can’t.
These are the parents I’m talking to today.
I’m going to address several reasons people think they can’t homeschool, and why that is, in fact, not true.
“I’m not patient enough.”
Let me tell you something. Patience is not something that I was born with. It is something that has been grown in me over time, and developed over patience-demanding situations. It’s a commonly-held belief that 10,000 hours of practice in any field will make you an expert. If that’s true, then I’m well on my way to being a perfectly patient parent. Without this “practice” during our homeschool days, I would not be as patient a mom as I am, because I would not have been honed in that way. Believe me, it’s one of those skills that God develops in you on-the-job, not beforehand!
“I don’t have enough time.”
Homeschooling, in my opinion, actually gives us the blessing of time. Since we are not tied to a school system’s schedule, we are free to do whatever we want with the hours God has given us. So, if you want, you can sleep until 10. Or do school at night. Or school on the road.
Most homeschoolers I know spend an average of 2-3 hours (for elementary) and 3-4 hours (for middle/high school) on school work. I don’t know about you, but that sound like less time than a kid in regular school would spend: a) getting dressed; b) gathering supplies; c) driving/walking/riding the bus to school; d) driving/walking/riding the bus home; e) sorting through the multitude of things they brought home; f) and doing homework. And none of this even includes the time they are actually at school.
Our days look more like this: Sleep in, family breakfast, do a little schoolwork, go do something fun together, a little more schoolwork, rest/read/play, do some chores, eat dinner together, play some games, and family reading time before bed. It’s a TON more low-key and flexible than it would be if the kids were in school all day.
“I don’t have enough money.”
You guys know I’m ALL about saving money. I’ve done the math many times, and I’ve come to the conclusion that homeschooling is actually CHEAPER than sending my kids to public school. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of places to get curriculum for free. And there are a dozen more ways that the family saves money by homeschooling. I have an entire blog post about the subject here.
“I don’t know enough.”
Here’s a little secret… the answers are in the back of the book. Seriously, though. “Real” teachers don’t know 100% of the knowledge they teach our kids. They need a refresher on this stuff just like we parents do. The answers are in the book, and if you need further help on a particular subject, the internet is a vast and exhaustive resource.
Also, when you don’t know the answer, this teaches your kids a few valuable lessons: 1) how to seek the answers when they need to know something, and 2) the humility of admitting you don’t know, instead of playing it off like you know everything. And learning things together is a fun bonding experience!
“I’m worried about socialization.”
This one is just a ridiculous societal myth about homeschoolers. It’s true, there are some homeschoolers that live out in the boonies and never see people. But probably 99% of us are very involved in our communities. We go to so many activities, that many homeschoolers are guilty of OVER-socialization. In my family, we are involved in swim lessons, homeschool PE, summer camp, open gym, church, kid’s club, library programs, and multiple programs within our local homeschool group. Studies actually show that homeschooled students do a BETTER job of relating to others than kids who go to public school, because they have so much experience talking to people of all ages in many situations. Children from public schools spend all day in a classroom with children their own age, so they are trained to relate to people with the same age and life experience as them. No place in the “real world” is like this. In a real-world work setting, people will be working with a wide range of ages, from fresh-out-of-college to the brink of retirement. Homeschooling better prepares them for this environment of varied ages.
“My spouse won’t let me.”
This is the only reason that I think is a valid one. The Bible tells us to submit to our husbands, and I believe this means that the husband has final word over decisions like this. But I also believe that a good husband will listen to your words and opinions and take them into consideration. So this is how you should/could approach the idea of homeschooling, if your husband is less-than-keen on the idea. Gather information – books from the library, blog posts, articles – that show the many benefits of homeschooling. Present all of the information to your husband, along with how/why you personally feel God calls you to do this, and any reasons specific to your family. Don’t be pushy or over-explain, just give him the information and ask him to read it over. Then pray. Ask God to change his heart. Occasionally mention that you feel God is calling you to homeschool your children, so he knows that it still matters to you, but don’t nag him about it. In time, if it is God’s will, he will come around.
Those are the biggest and most common reasons I’ve heard from people who wanted to homeschool, but feel like they can’t. What do you think? Did I miss any?