Are you feeling unmotivated and uninspired?
Has homeschooling become a daily grind rather than an ongoing inspiration?
Have you lost sight of why all this effort to homeschool is better than the alternative?
After all, your friends have over six hours to themselves every day, while you are nagging kids to do their schoolwork, refereeing sibling conflicts, preparing food and cleaning up messes ALL DAY LONG, and generally feeling like you are daily sacrificing your wants for everyone else’s needs.
It can be tough to remember the big picture.
I am here on iHN today to renew your motivation by reminding you of why you are keeping your kids at home rather than sending them off to the local school.
As a former public school teacher, I have inside info about how the school system really works. And as a veteran homeschool mom who has graduated four kids who stayed home K-12 (one left!), I am well aware of the struggles you are facing every day.
Let’s compare the two, shall we?
Homeschooling vs Public School Side by Side
As a homeschool mom, you feel like the bad guy, because you have to nag your kids to work without becoming distracted, to finish within a reasonable amount of time, to actually learn rather than just checking the box, and to move on to the next thing without wandering off. Sometimes it seems like you’ve spent the entire day just pushing your kid along. The public school teacher would do all of that for you, right?
Nope. At the school your child is one of many. The teacher does not have the time nor the mental resources to keep track of each one with much level of detail. While your kid is in their classroom, the teacher may try to have some input about work habits, but as soon as one class departs from their sight, they are focusing on the next group of crazy kids. Teachers HAVE to wipe the slate between classes or they will go crazy. And they have no desire to take that emotional baggage home with them — they do have lives and families of their own, after all — so they ignore it until class the next day.
Or, in the case of elementary school (although classes do change between subjects there now more than they used to), the teacher is only able to do so much. She doesn’t have just 3-5 kids to deal with all day long; she has 20-25. You tell me how she will do a better job of getting your child to get stuff done than you can.
Yes, there is outside accountability. Translated that means due dates and grades are a thing. But it will still be you, the mom, who is doing the nagging, keeping track of assignments and when they are due, pushing your kid to get their homework done, etc. And in some ways it’s harder, because you didn’t design the assignments, nor do you know how they were taught. Trying to figure out what was in the teacher’s head can be a challenging task.
So while it is difficult being the force behind your kid getting anything done all day every day, it’s easier (and more effective) than doing it as a reaction to someone else’s work load and expectations.
Related Reading: Homeschooling Teens Who are Easily Distracted
You worry because it’s taking forever to complete the curriculum you’re using. You feel guilty for not getting through it all. Will your kid learn everything they are supposed to? Are they experiencing gaps in their education? At the public school they are more on top of things like this, right?
Nope. I remember taking SIX WEEKS off of the regular curriculum (every year) to prepare for the standardized test the kids would be taking. Because if they scored well on the test, the school would get more funding. So forget about 7th grade math — let’s just focus on multiple-choice logic questions and learning how to read graphs — FOR SIX WEEKS.
Public schools have so many things that steal their productive classroom time. School assemblies, pep rallies, holiday celebrations, field trips, fire drills, that rowdy kid who pushes the teacher’s buttons every day, movie days, substitute teacher days — and the list goes on. I certainly never finished the curriculum in a given year — and I don’t know of a single teacher who did. Gaps in their education? You bet.
You are probably getting through more of the curriculum at home than they are at the public school. Truly.
One of your kids struggles with learning in a big way. And/or one of your kids learns so fast it’s scary. It feels like you don’t have enough knowledge to really help them. The local school has resources and programs for kids like this, with teachers who specialize in these areas — surely your kid will get a better education there, right?
Listen, y’all: even those specialized teachers don’t know your child like you do. And they still have classroom timetables to keep and MANY students to deal with. Even in a smaller classroom situation, if that small class is filled with students who have special needs (in either direction), that teacher will still not be able to keep up with it all. More on this in a bit.
But for now, please remember that while you may not have as much knowledge as that teacher, you can still provide a COMPLETELY INDIVIDUALIZED education for your child. You can structure their day for how they work best. You can adapt to a bad day or a newfound interest. And guess what? The internet is a thing — you can research your child’s individual issues and find ways to meet them that are best for the child AND for your family. The resources out there are numerous these days, including iHomeschool Network bloggers who can come alongside you with encouragement and information.
The public school, even with all its “resources,” will still groupify your very individual child. Just sayin’.
Related Reading: Opportunities My Teens are Missing Because We Homeschool High School
You feel like you are stuck home every day doing school rather than being able to go out and do things. If you just had some time to yourself, you could be so productive! Putting the kids in school will give you freedom!! You can have some peace and relaxation!
Not so. Unless you put your kids on the bus (which can be a sketchy proposition these days), you will have to get them up before dawn every morning, rush around to get ready — very likely nagging them to keep moving the whole time — and drive them to school. Then you get to do it all in reverse later in the day. This definitely cuts into your “me time,” hello.
But wait! Today is a half-day, so you have just barely dropped them off before you need to turn around and go back. Oh, and Johnny has sports practice after school, so you pick up his siblings at the regular time and then have to return to get him a couple of hours later. Tonight is the choir concert, and tomorrow is your day to volunteer in class, and yikes, you forgot about that parent-teacher meeting; Suzy is supposed to be bringing cookies to celebrate some miscellaneous holiday, and Betsey left her essay on the printer, so you have to take it to her before third period…
Freedom? No, instead you are tied to a schedule that is not of your own making. You are the servant of everyone else’s plans for your child and family.
This means that your teen cannot sleep in and get that extra rest they so desperately need during these years of crazy physical and emotional growth. Your 7-year-old takes forever to get over that stupid cold they caught from the kid at the next desk, because they can’t take a nap when they need one. And you are actually MORE stressed from all the running around.
If you value your time, then homeschooling is actually less stressful, because you indeed have more choice about how that time is spent.
Mom vs professional
You feel like you are always uptight and overwhelmed. You don’t like that your kids are exposed to that all day; certainly a professional teacher will provide a calmer, more emotionally-safe atmosphere. Calgon, take me away!
Here’s a truth bomb: teachers in general are a stressed-out lot. They are usually not given the resources and help they need to teach effectively and happily; instead, they are often under the gun of administrative bureaucracy. Criticism from parents can be a frequent thing, not to mention the handful of highly disrespectful students who seem to take the most time and energy and leave little for the rest.
Many teachers are not knights in shining armor but ordinary, flawed people who don’t necessarily even enjoy being there. Conversations around the teacher’s lunch table can be rife with complaints about so. many. things. Though a teacher may have started out with high ideals and the desire to help little minds grow, their mindset often degenerates to the goal of just getting through the day and leaving it all behind when they go home.
Teachers yell, too, did you know that? And they get impatient. And sometimes they wish they could just go hide. Don’t ask me how I know.
(And don’t forget all the other stress your kids would be subjected to at the public school that is absent at home: peer pressure, the bully in second period, keeping up with the Jones’s clothing or toy or electronics choices, not understanding fractions but the class has moved on, conversations about all that stuff you’d rather tell them yourself…)
Related Reading: What to Do when You are Overwhelmed by All You Have to Do
When thinking about homeschooling vs public school, we can tend to focus on our day-to-day homeschooling difficulties yet use rose-colored glasses to imagine the public school lifestyle. Let’s not.
The fact is that each choice has its pros and cons. But with homeschooling, you can know that your kids are in the hands of the people who know them best and love them most — their parents. This can make some of the difficulties feel more endurable, and it can also remind us that the supposed advantages of the public school may not really be all that great.
If you still feel like quitting — and we’ve all been there, sometimes many times, lol — iHN has a wonderful book that will encourage you to stay the course. It’s written by many of the iHN bloggers, each one with words of inspiration about many of the doubts we all struggle with. Homeschooling: What to do When You Want to Quit is definitely a resource to have on your shelf and consult over and over again! You can read more about it in my review here: When You Feel Like You Want to Quit Homeschooling. And there are other ideas in that article for when you are at the end of your homeschooling rope! So be sure to check it out!
You can also head straight to the shop and purchase it by clicking here (referral link): Purchase Homeschooling: What to do When You Want to Quit.
If you want a paperback copy rather than digital, you can get it from Amazon by clicking here (referral link): Get Homeschooling: What to do When You Want to Quit from Amazon.
I could go on about the advantages of homeschooling vs public school, but I hope you are inspired enough to keep going by now. Homeschooling is a long-haul gig; there will be ups and downs, seasons of plenty and seasons of drought — but in the long run, you will be glad you stuck it out. Trust me on that one, from a mom who has lived to tell the tale!
- In Defense of “School at Home” - June 13, 2019
- Homeschooling vs Public School: from a mom who has taught both - February 9, 2018
- Christmas Break Tasks for the Homeschool Mom - December 3, 2015