As a homeschooling mom of five who’s been at this gig since 2006, I have a lot of reasons to homeschool. I would never pretend, though, that there are no drawbacks. Here are some reasons not to homeschool.
Drawback #1: Your Time or Your Money
Raising five kids on ten paychecks a year (my husband is a public school math teacher) means we have to make every penny count.
I learned early on that paying someone else would save me time but would also cost me money. (Piano lessons! Packaged curriculum! Pre-shredded cheese!) If I couldn’t fit it into the budget, then I needed to do it myself.
Time is also a limited resource, so I had to look honestly at my calendar and determine how much I could realistically do and do well. Over the years, I honed my tightrope walking skills, but it was often exhausting, and there were definitely moments when I didn’t know if I’d make it to the other side.
Frequently I see new homeschoolers who want programs that are rigorous, independent, individualized, and free. They are bound to be disappointed. One program may meet some of those criteria, but nothing does it all.
Drawback #2: It’s All on You
Being responsible for my kids’ education means I have to be…well…responsible. When a kid wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, I still have to get them through their spelling lesson. When adolescent hormones strike, I bear the brunt of their unhappiness. And when my kids reach high school, I add the role of guidance counselor to my already-full plate.
It also means continually monitoring progress. I remember relatives asking, “How do you know when they’re ready for the next grade?” The answer is there are many ways, such as looking at state standards, following a grade-level curriculum, or doing end-of-year testing. But whatever guideline I choose, it falls on me to implement it.
That constant evaluation sent me to specialists on more than one occasion: neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Sometimes that professional assessment led to interventions. Sometimes it led to reassurance that all was well. Either way they all provided useful information, but I had to seek out.
Drawback #3: Relationship Strain
When a parent takes on the role of home educator, it means there are few breaks. I have outsourced some classes, and my kids have extracurricular activities, but mostly we are together.
All. The. Time.
Homeschooling allows families to cultivate deep relationships, but it also adds friction when other issues bubble to the surface. (I found the strategies for conflict resolution in this book helpful.)
Sometimes it’s better to pass the educational baton to someone else and just be the parent, cheering from the sidelines rather than calling all the plays. I always believed it was okay to change paths if homeschooling stopped working for me or my kids.
Although we’ve offered each child the option of attending high school, none of them have taken us up on it, which means I’m in this for the long haul. But this only works because, in our case, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.