Why I Will Never Homeschool My Kids

Am I morally opposed to homeschooling?

No.

Do I think I would be good at homeschooling my kids?

No.

Are my kids better off learning each subject area from certified, experienced teachers?

Yes.

Do my lack of patience and shoddy mathematical ability impact my decision to not homeschool my kids?

You betcha.

Listen, if you homeschool your kids, I’m bowing down to you. I really am. I couldn’t do it. I don’t want to do it. I believe in our educational system, despite all its flaws. I think, as a student, there is something to be said for the social aspect of attending school with other kiddos your age, and it can’t just be my kids who act differently for other adults, can it? When my cherubs come home, the gloves come off. They shed their public personas real quick; what was once, “Yes, please” and “I’ll wait my turn,” become “NOW!!!!!!!” and “THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!!!”

And that’s just one of the reasons why this mother will never homeschool her children.

FITL

Have you ever baked cookies with a toddler? It goes something like this: fresh dough rolled out on the counter, cookie cutters poised for action, frosting and sprinkles waiting in the wings for their big debut. Adorable apron-clad kid posing for her first baking experience photo and then…tears. And tantrums. And unrealistic expectations, like “Why does the oven have to be HOT?!” And let’s not forget my inability to impart any reason through the frustration barrier that is a lack of understanding.

That’s what I imagine homeschooling is like.

Before everyone starts chucking textbooks at my head, let me first say that I am not opposed to homeschooling. In theory, it’s a fantastic way to ensure a child has one-on-one instruction in a productive, safe environment. But in practice? Homeschooling is toddlers baking cookies, only with higher stakes.

As a high school English teacher, I know a little something about the world of curriculum, best practices, and instruction. As a mother of three, I pretend to know a few things about parenting too. Maybe the reason I want to steer clear of homeschooling is because I am painfully aware of what educating a classroom full of students really entails, and I have to tell my kids to put on their shoes 46 times before they actually do it.

The planning, varied instruction, ongoing assessments, and benchmarks are enough to make a trained professional’s head spin. So the thought of applying the aforementioned to every subject area is enough to make this secondary English teacher break out in hives. And doing it all from home, with my own kids? No thank you. And here’s why:

1.  My degree is in Shakespeare and multi-paragraph essays. At least I think that is what my diploma says. I never signed up for algebra or biology.

2.  The idea of being solely responsible for my kids’ formal education is entirely too daunting. It takes a village for a reason. In this case, it takes a certified, specially trained village.

3.  Social interactions tend to be limited, especially when it comes to diversity, when a child is homeschooled. Valuable skills like communication and collaboration can too easily fall by the wayside when a kiddo is isolated during his or her formative years.

4.  School districts hire people to extensively research and test curricula before purchasing and implementing them. The cost and time it would take me to do that is more than my resources allow.

5.  As much as I love my kids, I cannot justify spending every waking moment with them. A little time and space apart is a good thing for all of us. My son is a different kid in school. Not once has he chucked a toy against the wall of his classroom or openly defied his teachers. Mind-blowing, right? He deserves the chance to test the waters of independence, and come face-to-face with the consequences.

6.  What happens to the extracurricular activities? Am I supposed to teach my kids to play an instrument or explore computer programming? Unfortunately, we live in an area that doesn’t offer too much along the lines of “extra” unless we’re going to pay “extra,” which means Mama needs a few “extra” jobs to afford it. I can be a cheerleader for their activities, but I cannot morph into an expert in every field.

7.  Many parents who have tackled homeschooling tout protecting their kids from negative influences as one of the main benefits. Much like homeschooling itself, the idea of putting our children in a bubble sounds good in theory. The world is a scary place, but we can only shelter them for so long. It’s not realistic to keep them under our thumbs, even though there are days that we all want to.

8.  Personally, I loved school. I enjoyed finding my voice and making friends. I came into my own as a high school student, and I firmly believe that foundation helped me find success in college. It wasn’t always easy. The mean girls, the drama, the bad teachers (yes, there are bad teachers) meant some days were worse than others. But my overall experience is one that helped shape me and I appreciate that.

9.  One of the most important reasons I will never homeschool my kids is because I would be limiting positive influences and lasting relationships in their lives. My best friend today was my best friend in eighth grade. From my sophomore geometry teacher to my senior English teacher, I learned about angles and parallelism in writing, but I also learned what it meant to dedicate myself to a cause and never give up. I refuse to underestimate the good people who will shape my kids’ lives as they journey through their school years.

10.  If I am both my kids’ teacher and parent, who do I blame when they screw up? Homeschooling takes away the luxury of finger pointing, and in the age of “not my child,” the scapegoat is second to literacy.*

*That was sarcasm. Welcome.

There are absolutely extenuating circumstances in which I would consider homeschooling, like constantly changing school districts as military families often do, or opting out of the local public schools when they are less than desirable and a private school is prohibitively pricey. But on the whole, a traditional classroom with a flesh-and-blood teacher is an experience I don’t want my children to miss.

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Comments

  1. I have never met anyone in my life that was homeschooled, it’s just not common over here.

  2. This is a perfect post. Perfect. 100% completely perfect.

    P-E-R-F-E-C-T!

  3. EXCELLENT post! I AGREE! Homeschooling is quite popular where I live and I know many moms who do it. I have a great respect for them but have no desire to follow their lead.

    • I would love to talk to the moms near you who do it; I can’t imagine what must go through their heads on “those” days. You know “those” days; where nothing we moms say is right, the slightest infraction leaves our kids wailing, etc. THOSE days :)

  4. I don’t understand the backlash. You’re NOT saying homeschooling is bad. You’re just saying YOU don’t want to do it. And I agree. There’s no flipping way on God’s green earth that I could ever have the patience or the knowledge to homeschool my own chilluns. No way. No how. Bravo to you!!! Great post!

  5. I’m with you on this one. I have a special needs child and considered it for a while…but in the end I knew I didn’t have the patience or the skill set to do it.

    I liked your page on FB (as The Latchkey Mom), hope that helps make up for the de-likings:)!

    • Hey, Allie!! Thanks for your comments, sharing your story, and for liking me ;) Tee hee! I certainly share your lack of patience and skill set. Especially as my kiddos get older, I just don’t have the confidence in myself that I could be science, math, history–GAH!

  6. I am off to go read your page… it makes me angry and sad at the same time that people can’t see other people’s perspectives and have an open heart. Geesh. Completely wrong. SO sorry you had to endure that!!!
    What’s wrong with people?!!

  7. Stephanie, I’m not a mother yet but I think the decision to homeschool is entirely up to the parents. I cannot believe people started “unliking” your page because you had a different POV. People can be so stoopid. I don’t have children yet but I think when I do I that’s a decision I will make then.

  8. Steph, I think you’ve done a beautiful job articulating your opinion, and you’ve made it very clear that you’re not judging anyone for choosing to homeschool. I enjoyed the post!

  9. I read your post with interest and see absolutely nothing wrong with it Stephanie.

    As a teacher you have a full understanding of the work required to build the cirriculum and the organise your classes. You know where your strengths and weaknesses are and in some cases have more qualifications to teach than most parents.

    I see no reason to ‘unlike’ your page or post and send nasty comments. The whole point of blogging is to provide your view and as humans we all differ in that area.

    Personally, I wouldn’t home school – I don’t feel I have the qualifications and while the books etc provided may be extensive I know that if my child was struggling with a subject I don’t know well I would not be able to provide the help they need.

    I did not have a good experience at school; I was the requisite girl with glasses who studied hard and had good grades so I was picked on by a number of people. While I would not want to go through that experience again it taught me how to cope with negativity and bullying – yes those lessons were long and hard but they have helped me cope in employment as well as many other areas of my life.

    I understand that some mothers can provide the help I don’t feel I can, that they have sufficient patience to deal with tantrums on a regular basis (personally, those I had outside school hours were enough….) and that in some cases it may be useful; for example and as you say military families but it is not something I personally could provide.

    So yes, that is my view and it is the same as yours. While we open ourselves up for negative comments when we blog there is no need for people to be nasty about it. They may not agree with your opinion but what is wrong with just saying that rather than be nasty with it?

    • You’re so right in that we open ourselves up for…anything! Negative comments, hateful spite, unintelligent conversations, etc. But it’s so wonderful finding people like you who, even though we do share an opinion, understand the “writer’s perspective,” too. The title of the piece was changed from what I originally wrote and I think that’s what got a lot of panties in a bunch. That and I didn’t “have a right to share my opinion.” Sure, that makes sense :)

  10. We expressed a similar sentiment about homeschooling (respect those that do it, but it’s not for us…at all) and we had a similar experience. Good grief! Headed over to read it right now! –Lisa

    • Thanks for weighing in, Lisa–much appreciated! Sorry to hear that you had a similar experience in that not everyone was open-minded about your decision. Heeeeey. Wait one minute! Isn’t that why people are mad at us? For not having “an open mind about their decisions?” Weird… ;)

  11. I said this before, but I think it’s great that you recognize what works for each family…is what works for each family. Sorry for all the backlash and know that I think you’re wonderful!

  12. I don’t get all the arguing either. I went to school to be a teacher. I taught for 8 years. I have three kids, but homeschooling never really felt like an option to me. To be honest, we couldn’t afford it. My family depends on two paychecks and there isn’t a luxury that would could give up in order to make it on one! My kids love their school and *gasp* daycare. I have no problem with most people who homeschool. I’m glad they have that choice. I’m glad I can send my kids to the public school and give them a good education.

  13. I think anything that provides choice is a good thing, because no two kids or families or circumstances are alike and what works for one maynotwork for so someone else. My kids happen to be thriving in homeschool because it gives them a lot of time to pursue their extracurricular interests. I don’t know if they could pursue them at thehigh level they are with the addition of the time constraints of a public school day. However, we evaluate year to year because kids and situations change and homeschool next year may or may not be the best alternative. So I highly support having good quality public schools available because I like the freedom to make choices depending on where my kids are at. To me, an ideal school would be fluid with extracurricular coomunity learning, meaning kids could get some credit for reallife extracurricular experiences as well as learning in a traditional environment.–

    • Thanks for weighing in on what is apparently a very hot-button topic, Carr! I completely agree with your idea of fluidity in between the school and community. Who knows? Might even make for some more community-minded folks who want to make the world a better place :)

  14. I’m with you Steph. Hats off to those who capable, but I know I could never do it. My kids would be illiterate. Your Facebook comment on sits drew me here… we share a desire to karate chop Facebook on a regular basis. LOVE you blog and your post resonates with me, at least. X

  15. I stumbled across your post while on Pinterest and understand it is a few years old. You seem baffled by the backlash to your post. I consider myself a very open minded homeschooling mother (who was public schooled herself). I fully agree that homeschooling is not for everyone (frankly neither is baking cupcakes with a toddler-which is not hard for everyone-or even having children at all-which I’ve also known a few to choose). I’m glad you feel happy with your decision and I feel happy with mine and that we live in a time and country where we each have the right to pursue what we feel is the best educational choice for our respective children. That said, my guess at why you ruffled feathers is because your post has a somewhat condescending tone to it and is largely based on false assumptions and long outdated and disproven beliefs regarding homeschooling. You want to give your children the educational experience that was what you had. Unfortunately your children are not you, their teachers are not the ones you had and the educational world (as well as the world at large) has changed since you were in school. My children will not have the same experience of life I did simply because they are not me. And that’s ok. It doesn’t lessen or cheapen their experience of life. You are also expressing an opinion that seems to be largely based on your region and what comes off as limited experiences with homeschool families. Homeschooling families are as varied as public schooling families-including their reasons for homeschooling. Regional access, laws and availability of sports and extracurriculars vary widely. I have lived in regions where homeschooling is laid back and relaxed as well as largely secular and I have lived in areas where homeschooling is extremely competitive, rigorous or even more faith based. I happen to currently live in an area where there is a cornucopia of extracurricular availability as well as plenty of sports opportunities. Homeschoolers are as much a part of the fabric educational environment I currently live in as private and public schoolers and it is not uncommon to find homeschoolers here. I am always flummoxed by people who tout developed opinions who don’t seem to realize that life in other places is likely different from THEIR place (I personally learned this lesson very early on in my marriage as we were military and lived well outside the type of life I grew up in and I’m so grateful I did. It helped me have a more open mind and question my initial beliefs.) My children, as well as most of the homeschooling children I’ve known in the 6 years I’ve home schooled in several areas across this country, are not isolated, have no problem with collaboration and in fact are much more adept at collaborating with multiple age groups than public school children seem to be, have extensive socialization with not only same age peers but with many ages and demographics that are not their own, do not live in cultural bubbles as they are often engaged in volunteer work and experiences through homeschool groups, churches, and sometimes missions, have made life long friendships through church, scouting, sports or neighborhood friendships that they maintain in spite of distance due to moves, and the positive influences have in no way been limited in their lives simply because they aren’t occurring inside of a school building. They have positive influences in local librarians, pastors, other parents, sports coaches, etc. I hope you do not take offense by my comment. I didn’t take offense at your post but recognized quite easily that your experience was clearly colored by your lack of knowledge and experience with homeschooling families. Please know I have the utmost respect for teachers and their education. They handle 30 kids at a time to my 3 (soon 4). I also have a college degree but do not qualify my learning solely based on the degree handed to me by my institution of higher learning. I consider myself a lifelong learner and embrace that my knowledge base is not limited to what I learned in college. Frankly that was simply a starting point in so many ways. If I don’t know how to do something I go find out how. That tends to be a common thread amongst homeschool in families. Ultimately, what we do is just as similar as it is different. Thank you for being an educator and public servant in the classroom and hopefully, after reading this having a somewhat more opened mind about what homeschooling is really like. Cheers and blessings!

    • You’re right in that this was written a couple of years ago; unfortunately, the homeschooling “climate” around here hasn’t improved. I’m grateful that the students you’ve encountered have blossomed and you’ve seen positive results. That’s simply not the case here. You can assume I’m small minded because I’ve not traveled as you have, or because I do find baking cupcakes with toddlers to be cumbersome and difficult, but you need to understand that your experience isn’t universal either.

      What you call a lack of knowledge and outdated information, I call our reality. While you’ve encountered successes, we’ve encountered messes. This isn’t an educational journal; it’s a personal blog based on personal experiences, so of course I’m basing my writing and opinions on what I know! That’s not to say I’m completely oblivious of what goes on outside of my community; but because I don’t plan to move any time soon, I also don’t plan on homeschooling either.

      Thank you for reading.

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