March 8, 2011

The Good and Bad of Homeschool according to Me

(I know not all children are the same and not all families are the same. This is how it works in my family with my children. Obviously homeschooling isn’t right for everyone so don't take offense. None is intended.)

I often get asked why I decided to homeschool, and thought I would share my reasons for keeping my children home.

I never imagined myself a homeschooler. When my oldest was almost 5 I was upset she had to wait another year to start Kindergarten because I thought she was so advanced. But as the time drew closer for her to finally go, I began to be sad that she would be gone all day, and I started to look around for a half day kindergarten since they only have full day public Kindergarten here. I found one at a private baptist school and signed her up to go to half day preschool 3 days a week so that I could have priority registration for their half day kindergarten the next year. She attended the preschool and loved it, although at this point she was already reading and it was mostly just a social activity for her. After several months of the driving back and forth, buckling the boys in and out of the car, and working our lives around her preschool schedule, I realized I didn’t like it. She didn’t need to be there, it interupted our home life, and the boys missed her, so I pulled her out of preschool before the Christmas break. Then as it became time to register her for Kindergarten, I realized that she would not miss a thing if I kept her home from school. I could teach her just as well if not better at home, and thus it began.

That’s how I started homeschooling. Here are the reasons why I continue, in no particular order:

Making our own schedule - I love the freedom of starting and ending our days or taking days off when we need to. We can take vacation whenever Jason has time off and not when the school system says too. Places are less crowded when we go because most kids are in school. If we are sick or didn’t sleep well the night before, we can start later in the day.

quantity and quality together time - Now obviously I don’t KNOW this, but I would imagine it would be difficult to have a lot of positive interactions with my kids if they were in school. You see them at the worst times of day - in the morning, when they’re tired and you’re trying to hurry them off to school, or in the afternoon - when they’re tired from a long day at school and you’re trying to get them to do homework, chores, and practicing while you’re trying to make dinner. We have lots of time together at home during the best hours of the day and our relationships are positive. Of course, they are still young, but I have high hopes that it will continue when they’re older.

Including the gospel in our studies - Our day begins with our “homeroom” class, where we do a bit of calendar and then we talk about our picture of the week (from the gospel art kit), recite our scripture of the week, and sing our hymn of the week. Then we say a prayer to begin schooltime. I love it! It makes a nice start to our day.

Sibling relationships - My kids have lots of time to play together and practice getting along. There is still some fighting of course, but I also hear things like “That looks great, Joshua!” or “I love you Maren!” accompanied by hugs several times a day. They enjoy playing together and helping each other.

Teaching - I figure even though I have 4 kids of varying age, it’s still a better ratio than in a classroom, especially if there are trouble makers who require much of the teacher’s attention. I’m able to teach to my kids needs, focusing on what they struggle with and lightly reviewing things they do well.

Time - School doesn’t take as long when there are fewer students in the class, less waiting for other kids to get done, no waiting in lines, waiting for teacher to discipline other students . . . So there’s lots more time for other things. Maren is an avid reader and loves having the extra time to read her books.

Recess - The kids have much more time to run around and play during the day, inside and outside. And when I notice my kindergartener is starting to get overworked, I just send him outside to regroup before he acts out.

Afternoon activities - I can enroll my kids in lots of “afterschool” activities without feeling overscheduled because we’re home all day long. By the afternoon, the kids are usually ready to get out a bit.

Music - There is more time to practice. My daughter takes both violin and piano lessons but if she went to school she’d only be able to do one (actually, she might like that consequence of going to school). Plus we are able to get in with the teachers we want because we’re able to go to lessons while other kids are in school.

Homework and testing - Don’t have to do it

Field trips - we can take off on a fun field trip whenever we feel like it or need a break from our regular routine, and it’s usually not crowded.

But of course there are not fun things about homeschooling, and things that make it hard. These are the things I struggle with:

Organization - If you are a super organized and disciplined person, this might not be hard for you, but I struggle to keep up with filing things away and keeping track of what we’ve done and what needs to be done in the future.

Housework - Our house is messy and not nearly as organized as I’d like it to be. Since we are all at home and are all making messes, it gets messy quickly. Plus by the end of the day I’m kind of tired and it’s hard to motivate myself to pick up. Hopefully as the kids get older they can get more involved in this part of life

Going crazy - I’m with my kids all day long. Sometimes I lose my patience. Sometimes I go a bit crazy, especially if the kids have been arguing and disobedient. I send them to their rooms for quiet time an hour a day so I can be alone, and occasionally I’ll get out at night to the store by myself.

Social life - My social life suffers as a homeschooler. I have 4 kids with me all the time, plus we do school in the mornings, so we don’t get invited to play groups. Some people even think I’m a bit strange for homeschooling. I don’t worry about my kids socially. They play with other kids at church and afterschool activities. Plus we try to invite kids over to play occasionally.

My time - I don’t have time to pursue my other interests since I’m so involved in my children’s schooling. It’s a sacrifice, but I know in giving up something good I am getting something better - more time with my kids. I think having my children home at this point is better than crafting or sewing or working outside the home.

Errands - Grocery shopping and running other errands is difficult and interupts the school day. I usually go grocery shopping at night once a week when my husband’s home. Doctor and dentist appointments also interupt schooling and are annoying but have to be done.

Church service - Visiting teaching is very difficult as I don’t want to go in the morning when I’m schooling and people don’t usually want all 4 of my kids invading their house anyway. So much of my time is taken up for schooling kids that I’m limited in what I can offer the church in terms of service outside the home at this stage in my life.

Homeschooling will be what you make of it. You can stress out about it and hate it or you can relax and enjoy it. Sometimes when I’m having a hard week where I think we’re getting nothing done and the house is a mess, I have to remember why I’m homeschooling - which I think is because I like being with my kids. So we take a break and read books together, or dance, or act out a story, or go on a walk, or play play-doh, and just remember that we like each other. My kids continue to enjoy being schooled at home, but if one of them wanted to go to school, we would let them try it out.

For me the postives outweigh the negatives for homeschooling, and I do enjoy it. Kids grow up so fast, and moms always say that once the kids are in school the time just flies by. I guess by keeping them home I’m trying to slow it down a little, and make memories together. I don’t know that we’ll always homeschool, but for now it feels right. Of course we pondered and prayed about it, and we felt that homeschooling was an okay way for us to go. Only you can decide what is right for your family. I say if you’re thinking about it, try it! It’s not going to hurt to pull your kids out of school for a semester or a year. If it doesn’t work out, just throw them back in.

I think that covers pretty much all my thoughts on the subject. Different homeschoolers will have different opinions and struggles, but this is how I feel. If I think of anything else I’ll add it in. Any questions?


  1. Erin,

    I saw the link on facebook to this post--your list is very similar to why we chose to homeschool for K last year. Full-day was our only option and I just wasn't happy with sending my 5 year old away from me for the best part of the day.

    She is in school this year, but we just recently switched to a private school with a shorter school day and MUCH better education philosophy because the long days with HW at night was working out exactly as badly as I'd imagined. Now that we have long afternoons together again, and she comes home energized and happy because they are very physically active in the new school, our family is much happier overall. But I still miss HSing and think we might return to it again someday.

  2. That's great that you found a school that works for you Kim! I wish there was a school we could afford out here that had shorter days. I think we'll be in and out homeschoolers, some years home, some at public school. We're taking it year by year. Jason's main concern is for my sanity, not the kids education.

  3. Erin
    Thanks for the notes. It is always interesting to see about home schooling. I did think about it with Elizabeth but they let me put her in 1/2 day at squires so Ben and i decided to do that. It was nice to have her home more...after this year of full day...I know it was for the better.
    For better or worse I think I would want to do a lot to home school and then I would just not do it all...and I would feel bad.
    But I am glad it is working for you...When you said Jason is worried about your sanity...I was thinking that is exactly what Ben would think for me.

  4. I found your link on a fan page I follow on Facebook.

    Thank you so much for your comments on homeschooling. I took my oldest daughter (6) out of 1st grade in October. It's been a tough first few months but my husband has already noticed how much happier everyone is when he gets home. My problem is staying organized. I love reading and listening to other people give ideas and helpful hints on how to try to make the day run smoother.

    Thank you for giving your advice and reminding me to take it day by day and not worry if things don't go exactly as planned. :)

  5. I've been thinking about school a lot for the past year. My oldest starts Kindergarten next year, and they only have full day around here too. I looked into sending him to half-day at Montessori, but we have a terrible position on the waiting list and probably won't get in. Part of me just wants to keep him home next year. Academically he's a lot like your oldest (already reading, etc). But with my time being completely consumed with the babies, I'm afraid his "quality" education might suffer if I keep him home. Then again our neighborhood school doesn't exactly have a stellar academic record. Then there's the whole I'll miss him while he's gone aspect. Decisions. Decisions.

  6. I just found your blog! I am starting Homeschooling this summer, and am excited and scared at the same time. I will be starting with a 5th grader and a 3rd grader (with a 2 year old along for the ride) They have been excelling at school, but like you I feel very cheated that their teacher's get to spend so much time with my kid's!!
    So we are jumping in with both feet!!
    Wish me luck!!!!

  7. I just commented on another post, but I just want to say that this post is also so great. I must have saved this because you are a homeschooler. I have been a mom for 16 years and I don't have the confidence you do. I am just now getting brave enough to state similar reason for homeschooling and not care what anyone thinks. I did this once before when my oldest was in 3rd grade, we got through it, but I was trying to imitate school. This time I am taking more of an uschooling approach and just teaching about whatever comes up. I have a feeling I will be reading more of your blog- thanks for your confidence and sharing your feelings here! You are an answer to prayers today!

  8. Thanks Jeanne! It's always nice to know that something I've written has helped someone else. I hope homeschooling goes well for you.

  9. It's always encouraging to read someone else's ups and downs on homeschooling. Thank you for sharing.

  10. I love reading your story about homeschooling. I am presently homeschooling my children too and experiencing everything that you have said in this post.

    MomMy Hanny

  11. I found this today, and it was an encouraging read. I agree with so much of what you said! You get what you make of it- attitude is so crucial. I can get overwhelmed with all the household tasks that are not done. Then I try to remember that this is a season! I will have seasons when the kids are older and my housework will get done. For now, I will rejoice for the opportunity of teaching our kids, and do our best!

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. So glad it could be helpful Jen! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


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