4 Questions to Ask When You’re Having Homeschool Doubts

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Occasional doubts are common among homeschooling parents. We wrestle with a myriad of worries, and the niggling question of whether or not homeschooling was the best educational option for our children is sometimes among them.

When you find yourself doubting your decision to homeschooling, consider these four questions.

Why did I start homeschooling?

What were your reasons for homeschooling in the first place? Most families don’t begin homeschooling on a whim. It is usually a decision made after careful deliberation and weighing all the options.

Perhaps you began homeschooling because:

  • your child was struggling academically or not being challenged
  • your child was being bullied
  • you wanted to be able to tailor your student’s education to her specific needs
  • you wanted to customize a schedule that would meet your family’s needs
  • you’re a military family, and you wanted to be able to provide educational consistency
  • you had faith-based concerns

Whatever the reason, has the situation changed? If it hasn’t, why are you wrestling with the idea that your family might be better served with an alternative educational option?

What do I hope to accomplish?

Because homeschool doubts are common, it is wise to brainstorm with your spouse and children to formulate a homeschool mission statement so that you have a clear picture of your homeschooling goals. Such a statement can help you get back on track if you’ve strayed too far from your purpose or reassure you if it's clear that you haven't.

When formulating your family’s homeschool mission statement, consider the following:

What are your ultimate goals for your children, academically? Is college important to your family? Would a trade school or apprenticeship situation be a viable alternative?

Either way, you probably have some basic academic goals in mind. For example, my bare-bones goal for homeschooling has always been to prepare my children for whatever career goals they might wish to pursue after high school.

At the very least, I want my kids to be able to express themselves well in writing, be competent in high school level math, and be able to read fluently so that they can continue to learn throughout life.

What are your character goals for your children? We probably all hope to raise polite, respectful adults. Perhaps you want your kids to be well-versed in politics or public service. Maybe you want them to be actively involved in their community and serving others. You may have faith-based goals based on your religious affiliation.

How do you want your children to learn? This may change as your children grow, and your homeschool evolves. However, it’s still wise to consider as part of your homeschool philosophy. Do you love living books? Hands-on projects? Project-based learning?

Do you espouse a particular homeschool style such as unschooling, the Charlotte Mason method, or a classical model?

While these style preferences may change, having your initial thoughts (and those of your spouse and children) written out can help you identify when you may have gotten off track. Your doubts may be originating from the fact that you’ve strayed too far from your vision and preferences.

Is there any truth to my doubts?

The following statement may be shocking to some viewers. Not all doubts are bad.

Contemplate the thoughts that are keeping you awake at night. Are you worried that you’re not doing enough academically or that you’re doing too much?

Are you starting to suspect that your struggling reader may have a learning disability or that your student’s sloppy handwriting is more than lack of effort?

Doubts are sometimes rooted in fact and need to be addressed. Assess the situation as objectively as possible. Ask your spouse’s opinion or talk to a homeschool friend. Observe your children.

There was a time in our homeschool when I realized that we really weren’t doing enough. After assessing the situation, we wound up making a complete curriculum change mid-year.

When my son’s reading struggles continued well past the median age for acquiring reading skills, and despite consistent efforts on both our parts, I had him tested for dyslexia. Those concerns were founded, and we were able to get him the tutoring he needed to overcome his struggles and become a successful reader.

Is public (or private) school the solution?

For some homeschooling parents, the doubts may lead to speculation as to the possibility that public or private school might be a better option. For some families in some cases, it may be. However, most homeschool families, after considering the source of their worries, will likely decide that it isn’t.

The answer, for your family, lies in your replies to the first three questions.

Why did you begin homeschooling? Have the circumstances changed? Perhaps your student has shored up his areas of weakness and would no longer struggle academically. Maybe your family has retired from the military or is no longer on active duty, so educational stability is no longer an issue.

However, if the circumstances have not changed, it is unwise to allow doubts and fears to cause you to choose an educational alternative previously determined to be ineffective for meeting your student’s needs.

What do you hope to accomplish? Are you still able to reach your goals in spite of your doubts? Would a traditional school setting afford you the same opportunity? Customized education? Character training that meshes with your family’s values?

Will a traditional school setting address your doubts? Whatever your doubts, can you expect them to be addressed in a typical public or private school setting? When thinking of learning struggles, it's important to note that most schools are no longer able to offer accommodations for common learning disabilities like dyslexia and certainly not for less common ones like dysgraphia.

One thought that always stops me in my tracks when I wonder if public school would have been a better option for my children is the fact that my dyslexic son never had to deal with feeling inferior because he struggled to read. I was able to read text aloud to him or allow him to do work orally so that no other academic area suffered due to his reading struggles.

Homeschool doubts are common, but keeping these four questions in mind can help you deal with them as objectively as possible. There is no need to allow needless worry to derail your homeschool.