Thursday, April 17, 2008

"The Real Cons of Homeschooling"

Don't know how I missed this one until now, but it's definitely worth another look. Back in October 2006, Tammy posted this article on "The Real Cons of Homeschooling." With all the talk that goes on about the negative side of homeschooling, this is a great post on some of the real challenges homeschoolers face. What are they? Here's Tammy's list.

1) Parents and kids have to learn to accept each other as they are, and to get along with each other so well that they can live together peacefully.

2) Parents have to accept responsibility for their actions and live their lives, pretty much all the time, in a way that they want to see their children live their lives.

3) Families have to listen to a lot of smack, and field a lot of questions about their decision. It takes a long time to convince the world around them that it’s OK that they don’t send their kids to school.

4) Parents have to be resourceful. Parents have to learn how to find things in their community, how to get information on their own, how to access people who can answer their questions, and how to communicate well.

5) Parents have to let go enough that they can balance their devotion to their children with their own interests and self-care. Parents in school have to do this too, but it’s more poignant in homeschooling, because it’s very easy to spend every waking moment dealing with homeschooling “stuff” and kid “stuff” that we forget about who we are as individuals with our own interests.

6) Homeschooling requires dedication - but not to workbooks and curriculum. Homeschooling can involved these things, but the dedication has to be towards being a good person, being open minded, and to being involved with the family. It also requires parents to be dedicated to understanding their children.

7) Homeschoolers have increased chance of making themselves sick with worry, with fear and with guilt. One of the biggest cons of homeschooling is the time it takes to learn to live as a homeschooler without these hovering over us. Homeschoolers have to pave their own way. Even if there is support and resources available, ultimately, homeschoolers have to shovel most of their own snow. In other words - homeschoolers have to be independent and willing to put in the footwork.

9) Often, homeschoolers have to stand up, alone, and do what they have to do even though others around them are doing something different. Homeschoolers have to be OK with not conforming, and know themselves well enough to be able to walk into a situation and know they are the only ones there who homeschool, and will probably be questioned, talked about or even confronted.

10) And finally, homeschoolers have to accept that no matter what they do, life will never be perfect; kids will always have holes in their learning, the house will never stay clean, and there will never be enough time to get everything done that we want to do. The hardest thing about homeschooling is choosing between the million and one options, million and one workbooks, projects and learning opportunities. The biggest benefit of homeschooling is also the biggest con of all - freedom.

I thought of another one as I was looking at these:

Parents have to have a heart for their children more than for their routines and methods. Parents who choose to be rigid may achieve what they want in the short run, but in the long run, they will drive their children away, and undo everything they have worked so hard for. This is true even if you're not homeschooling, but it's very much more true when you spend almost every waking moment with your children - if your heart is not really given to them, you will likely lose them.

What do you think? Are there others you can think of?


Shawna said...

I struggle with all of these, except #3. I have been fortunate enough to have nothing but support and admiration from friends and family.

However, my son has had to endure snide comments from friends and their parents.

Now only gutless individuals can ridicule and question and poke fun of a child and yet not say a word to the parent when encountered.

I have been writing my own series of questions regarding home education... when my questions tend to run low or out I plan to write a series questioning public schooling. I think that lists like what you have posted and questions like I am asking help those investigating and researching the idea of home educating!

Thanks for sharing that list... I don't feel so awful now :-)

Marcy Muser said...


I'm glad the list was helpful. I do think it expresses some of the areas we all struggle with when we're homeschooling - and at the same time points out exactly the values we're fighting for.

After all, it's a GOOD thing we have to learn to accept each other and get along, right? (In the long run, I mean - in the short run it's pretty aggravating!) And it's a good thing we have to live our lives as we'd want our kids to live, and to be resourceful, and to take care of ourselves, and so on.

It seems to me the hard part of homeschooling is really the hard part of life - we have to grow up and become responsible, contributing adults. Many people are able to avoid some of that by sending their kids away to school about the time they begin to really challenge them - as homeschoolers, we have to deal with those issues instead. Long term, I think we will be better off for having done so.