9 Things You Don’t Want to Hear About Homeschooling

Mother helping son doing homework at dining table
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If you're considering homeschooling, chances are you've been busy researching and weighing the pros and cons. You may have found many encouraging facts and statistics on pro-homeschooling websites, and I'm confident the Internet isn't lacking for anti-homeschooling sites offering a more discouraging viewpoint.

The fact is, there are many benefits to homeschooling - but there may be facts that you don't want to hear as well.

So that you can make an informed decision, consider the following:

1. Homeschooling is hard.

Parents considering homeschooling often wonder if homeschooling is hard. Yes, it is. A homeschooling parent chooses to accept sole responsibility for guiding his or her children's education - often without the support, understanding, or encouragement of friends and loved ones.

2. There will be days when you want to quit.

Because homeschooling is hard, there will be days when you want to quit. There will be times when you can’t see that “love of learning” about which you hear other homeschooling families talk. Your kids will grumble and complain about doing their schoolwork. They won’t consider or care about all the time you put into writing lesson plans, searching out the best resources, choosing curriculum, and trying to make learning fun.

There will be days when you’re right there with them.

Homeschooled children don’t seem to understand that their parents enjoy school breaks as much as (and sometimes even more than) they do.

They don’t understand that some days there are things we'd rather be doing than being the teacher/facilitator. They don’t acknowledge or understand the time and effort that goes into homeschooling them.

Homeschooling, like parenting, can be a thankless job until kids are older and can appreciate the love, care, and concern that went into educating—and raising—them.

3. There will be nights when you lie in bed and worry.

It doesn’t matter how academically successful and socially well-adjusted your children are (or aren't). It doesn’t matter how confident a homeschooling parent you are (or aren't). None of us are immune to worry. It seems that parents inherently worry, and homeschooling often serves to add yet another layer.

Many homeschool parents are skilled nighttime worriers. That’s when we're plagued by self-doubt and our minds fill with worst-case scenarios. 

4. Your house won’t be passing any white-glove tests for a few years.

I’ve homeschooled for well over a decade. In that time, I’ve often been asked how I do it all. The answer is, I don’t – and neither do most of the other homeschooling parents I know. There are only so many hours in a day, and when you homeschool, a good many of those hours are dedicated to educating your children.

Homeschooling parents need to discuss housekeeping priorities with their spouses and children. Determine what is important to your family and what you’re willing to let go. Enlist your children’s help. Use school breaks to teach life skills, such as cooking and housekeeping, to help the school year run more smoothly.

5. You may need outside help.

It’s possible that you’ll find that you need to add academics next to housekeeping on the list of all the things you can’t do alone. Most homeschooling parents pride themselves in taking personal responsibility for their children’s education, so it may be difficult to come to terms with the realization that you may have to seek alternatives or outside help for some subject areas.

As with housekeeping, however, it’s vital that we realize that we can’t excel in every area. Your child may need help in subjects with which you struggled in school, such as writing or upper-level math or science topics.

You may have a child who struggles academically due to a learning challenge or a gifted student who needs more in-depth information than you’re able to provide. Perhaps you have a child who is musically or artistically inclined or wants to pursue an elective course that you have no idea how to teach.

There will likely come a time when you'll have to outsource some area of your homeschooled child's education.

6. You’re not going to win any popularity contests.

Despite the fact that homeschooling is on the rise and is becoming increasingly mainstream, it attracts its share of vocal critics. Sure, you think you’re making the right educational choices for your children, but don’t expect the masses to agree.

I've talked to homeschool parents whose children have been quizzed in the grocery store, and those who have encountered complete strangers who've insisted that the parents are ruining their children's chances at a normal life or a decent education.

7. You may need to brush up on your multiplication facts, state capitals, or history trivia before family gatherings.

Unfortunately, some of the most vocal critics of homeschooling might be your own family. It’s not unheard of for relatives to question your qualifications to homeschool or quiz your children on everything from math facts to obscure historical facts.

8. You may not find the support you're expecting in the homeschooling community.

Not only will there be people outside of the homeschooling community telling you that you’re ruining your kids, but you’ll likely have plenty of people within the homeschooling community insisting that you’re doing it all wrong, too.

Sadly, as a community, we’re not always known for circling the wagons and supporting our fellow homeschooling parents. Instead, whether we’re simply passionate about our own choices or seeking to alleviate our personal insecurities, we often debate topics that are really a matter of personal preference, such as homeschooling styles, curriculum choices, school start times, and even whether homeschooled kids should be allowed to school in the PJs or get dressed in the mornings.

Secular homeschoolers may feel out-of-place and unwelcome in faith-based homeschool support groups and vice versa and homeschooling parents using any sort of hybrid approach may not feel welcome anywhere.

9. Homeschooling isn’t a cure-all.

Many homeschooling parents seem to think that if they homeschool, they will be guaranteed happy, compliant children who never bicker with their siblings, rebel, or make poor choices as teens/young adults.

Homeschooling doesn’t mean that your child isn’t going to bully or be bullied; that you’ll raise academic prodigies or sports superstars; or that your children won't resent your choices.

These facts about homeschooling may seem discouraging, but that's not the intent. Instead, they're intended to give you a realistic view of the less-than-stellar aspects of homeschooling. Again, one can liken homeschooling to parenting.

Chances are parenting is harder than you'd ever have imagined - but also much more richly rewarding than you'd dreamed.

Homeschooling is like that, too.