I guess I’m kind of a veteran now. Finishing, what, my seventh year of homeschooling? My kids have never known anything different. We made the decision to homeschool when our oldest was four. Intimidating decision as it was at the time (and let’s be honest, some days continues to be), I saw only the pros:
- I wouldn’t have to send my little ones away,
- I would know exactly what they were learning,
- and I’d have a little longer to strengthen their foundations.
I remember in those early years being in homeschool bliss. It was easy, it was fun, and it made me a more attentive mom. I’d go to homeschool conferences and see speaker topics on “avoiding burnout” and “how to keep going when you’re ready to quit,” and I’d think,
I can’t imagine wanting to quit. Burnout? Why?
Well, now that I’m a slightly more seasoned homeschool mom—and some days maybe a little overcooked—I get it. There are days I want to throw in the towel, and days I wish I’d listened to those talks.
Older moms have always told me it gets easier; and maybe it does, but I’m not there yet.
Each year seems to get a little bit harder, but each year, too, a little more rewarding. The pros that I recognize now are not the same as then, and a few cons have joined the list.
This is not an exhaustive list of the pros and cons of homeschooling, and some of these truths are more frustratingly funny than they are consequentially significant; but these are the factors, blessed and otherwise, which are now a part of my daily equation.
An unexpected blessing of homeschooling for our family has been that the schedule doesn’t always win the day. If our family vacation destination would be best enjoyed during the school year, we plan ahead and adjust accordingly. If unseasonably warm weather strikes in February (as it did), we take our books outside and soak up the sun.
Con: Time Commitment
Flexible though it can be, there’s no way around it: homeschooling is a commitment. Time spent homeschooling is time not spent elsewhere. Taking a backseat only to food (and I wish I could add “laundry,” but alas…), homeschooling demands a top priority position. And some days when “the list” looms extra long, that sacrifice of time can be harder to make.
Pro: Knowing One Another
But that time carved out isn’t purely academic, and it’s certainly not an unworthy sacrifice. Maybe THE biggest benefit to homeschooling my kids is the added amount of time I get to spend with them. We aren’t just sharing the same roof over our heads; we’re engaging together in an intentional way that’s taught us as much about “us” as it has about our studies.
Con: The Kids Are Never Gone
I love spending time with my kids, but having them around every minute of every day means more than just having their company. It means more meals, more messes, more mom-ing. By the end of most days, I feel like I can’t possibly make one more decision, answer one more question, or clean up after one more snack.
Pro: School Lunches
I often joke that my kids could never make it in public school because when they’re hungry they want to eat NOW. Perhaps schooling in the kitchen makes food a little too accessible, but I am glad they can eat when they’re hungry.
Con: Fighting the Distractions That Freedom Affords
On the other hand… it wouldn’t kill them to learn to wait. Hunger has been known to strike at rather inconvenient moments, and the perceived freedom to make a snack at just any ole time can become quite a distraction. Likewise, toys at the table, cartwheels between subjects, Momma’s iPhone at any given moment… are all distractions we continually fight.
Pro: Learning Together
There was a short-lived time at the beginning of our homeschooling that I thought I had to look like I knew everything I was teaching. It didn’t take me long to figure out that was neither possible nor necessary. Instead, I’ve taken the posture of learning alongside my kids, and I haven’t shied away from letting them know that. We celebrate the joys of learning together, and my own love of learning has become a teacher by example.
Con: The “Classroom” Mess
Love it or not, learning is messy. Books, worksheets, pencils, and bins quickly consume our living space each day, and the mess isn’t finished even when it’s all put away. Everything we accomplish creates more for me to do (papers to grade, records to file), so most days, frankly, the mess lives on—because at some point I’ve gotta have a recess.
Maybe my recess will eventually come by way of public or private school. For now, we’re taking it year by year and enjoying each step of the process. In the end, the decision to homeschool comes down to more than pros versus cons.
Every venture has its ups and downs, but it’s the overall direction of the journey that matters.
If you are considering homeschooling your own children, please know that this list is personal to me and by no means an all-inclusive picture of the endeavor. Making this decision can be tough, and for those who go for it, it’s one that is continually made.
A good place to start is to first consider your overarching goals for your child(ren)’s education(s). Then, make your own list of reasons for and against the schooling options you’re considering, and weigh those options against your bigger-picture vision.
Have you already made the decision to homeschool but don’t know what to do next? Visit the Homeschool Iowa website for information about getting started with homeschooling in Iowa. Then, start talking to people! There is an enormous amount of support for homeschoolers in Des Moines, and those homeschool moms who’ve gone—and are going—before you are happy to share what they know.