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Top 6 reasons people don’t homeschool

Sometimes a count-down to the top is fun – today it seemed appropriate. For me, these all seemed equal in my mind when the kids were little, and instead of homeschooling like my husband wanted to, we stuck them in school. The only exception was number 1 – so I saved it for last.

Reason number six: 

“I have to work full time. I can’t NOT work because we need the income/I love my job/etc.”

I’m not saying don’t work.

There, I said it. You don’t have to be a stay at home mom to homeschool. If your family can afford that, and it’s what you want to do, then go for it. Ours can’t, and so I don’t. I work outside the home 15 hours or so a week teaching music, and I work about 20 hours a week on Learning Tangent from the house.

This required some lifestyle changes. I left the school where I had been teaching music (without a degree, I’ll add). We were terrified of the possible outcome of this – it wasn’t a lot of money because without a degree and credential, it wasn’t much money. But it was still lost income. We scaled back everywhere we could, cut costs in every place we could find. Then the unexpected happened. I called a local music store to see if they were looking for violin teachers. They were, and within six months I had a full studio of young students.

This was a miracle for us, and it made it possible to homeschool without the stress of income, because I was earning more than I had in working for the school. We took a leap of faith and it’s paid off. Will it work out that well for you? I don’t know. But you won’t either until you try!

Reason number five: 

“I need my quiet time. Being around my kids all day will make me crazy.”

I’ve talked about this pretty extensively here. But in reality, you probably loved being around them when they were little, but you got used to the idea of sending them off to school. We hear from parents daily who just need a little quiet time. Homeschool families are no different. We sometimes need to enforce quiet time because I do believe that everyone needs it from time to time. In our home, we have afternoon quiet time where we read quietly or work on some project by ourselves. There is value in quiet time, and it needs to be taught in a way that is nurturing. I don’t think sending them off to school is it.

Reason number four:

“I’m not a teacher – I couldn’t possibly teach my kids what they need to know”

I’ll respond to this with a question or three2014-06-18 11.07.12 (you can also read more)… Did you teach them to tie their shoes, use the bathroom, count, and to recite their alphabet? Aren’t you already teaching without labeling it as such?

I think the second we place a label on something, be it teaching, cooking, whatever, it becomes a specific skill set in our minds. The implication is that those lacking this skill set cannot do it without some form of education. However, when you look at it logically, you can see how silly this is. As adults we have all had to “teach” someone, somewhere, something. Whether it was in a job where you had to “train” the new employees, or trying to explain the finer points of coin collecting to someone who had no idea what made them so special.

Teaching happens every single day, it is the sharing of information with the goal of bettering the recipient or their lives in some way.

Reason number three:

“I just don’t know enough about  (insert subject or subjects) to be able to teach it right.”

There are many subjects about which I know very little, and yet I am teaching those subjects to my kids.

How can I do this? I’m learning with them. I don’t speak Latin fluently or even at all, but we are learning Latin together. My knowledge of math doesn’t exceed high school geometry, but I know enough to follow a good curriculum so my kids get a strong foundation. I am learning American history, and improving upon all the other areas of history so I can share that knowledge with them.

When learning becomes a family lifestyle, you can learn anything.

Edited to add: The exception is algebra. I struggled mightily with it through school, and still have trouble with the subject, so my husband helps with that one, along with a multitude of excellent online videos.

Reason number two:

“My kids won’t let me teach them anything.”

“We have constant power struggles and nothing gets done.”

“They just won’t listen to me.”

These things have some pretty interesting causes, at least the way I see them. Whichever version of the reason is expressed, the base issue is two-fold: lack of confidence of the parent, and lack of respect on the part of the kids.

I think this particular issue is rampant throughout the world right now. Especially in the U.S. where schools have been slowly but surely taking over the raising of children. This appears to have created the idea that in order to get something done right with the kids, we have to outsource it. They have created an atmosphere where parents are there to play with their kids, not educate them and this, I believe, has created a whole subset of societal problems.

We have generations of parents who truly believe that they cannot homeschool because their kids will not listen to them.

I have a question: Who’s in charge of this parenting thing anyhow? Do the kids get to decide when they go to bed? Do the kids decide what they eat, whether to brush their teeth? Not generally. Because we are the parents. It is our job to teach them to make healthy choices, to take care of themselves, to be self-sufficient. We’re the ones who get in trouble when they are truant from school, or do something illegal while they’re under age. We get all the responsibility, why not all the fun too?

Here’s how it works for our family, and it requires a small shift in perception:

I approach our schoolwork as a team effort, we are learning together. We have made learning a lifestyle choice

I think this subtle perception change can alleviate many issues, from power struggles to kids who don’t want to listen. Not all, because children will always push boundaries. It is in their nature, and natural for them to push. It’s our job as parents to show them the boundary and stick to it.

  • Yes, I am the authority figure.
  • Yes, I am responsible for their learning on a day to day basis.
  • Yes, they know I’m in charge.
  • Yes, they fight with me.

They argue, they try to push their boundaries, we could talk about how they challenge me for days! This is a natural part of growing up, of learning how to behave and how to interact with people. Kids do things in such a “filter-free” way that it becomes very irritating at times, to say the least. But it is necessary that they push boundaries. They need to know what the limits are, and that there are consequences for exceeding those limits.

I’ll point something else out: what about all those fun times you have had doing some art project or science experiment or baking cookies with your kids?

You were teaching. You were also working as a team, exploring the world, and learning in meaningful ways. You taught them more in doing those things than they probably learned in school in days, but you can’t measure some of the things they learned.

Ready for it? The top reason people say (including myself) that they can’t homeschool:

“I’m too scattered/unorganized/uneducated/(insert adjective here) and I’m afraid I’ll mess up my kids.”

I feel like this is the biggest reason people choose not to homeschool. Really and truly, I do! We have been programmed over generations to send our kids off to school so the “professionals” can do the job right, that we are dead scared of messing it up. This fear very quickly becomes paralyzing, and prevents what could be become a beautiful story of overcoming obstacles in the search for the best education for our kids.

It sure did for me.

The bottom line is to use that fear as a motivator, to make you better as a parent, a teacher, and yes, a friend.

Really analyze your reasons for not homeschooling, honestly and without malice or judgment. It’s not about making you feel bad for sending them to school, it’s about honestly assessing the true reasons for the decision at which you arrive.

When all is said and done, knowledge is power, and the more you know about what your kids need to learn, and how they learn, the smaller the fear becomes. It reduces to that little voice in the back of your head that keeps you moving forward. So read, read and read some more. Sign up for magazines, the paper versions are nice to keep around because you don’t have to remember what website it was, you have the print copy handy.

What about you? What was your biggest fear? Let me know in the comments.