Is homeschooling the best fit for you and your child?
Over 15 years ago, I pulled on a soft lavender sweater, spritzed perfume on my neck and headed out for a first date with a young man I had met at church. We sat across from one another at The Texas Roadhouse where the steaks are big and the tables so high that my chin barely cleared the top. We leaned forward to ask first date questions about career, education, and family. We had just covered all of the “nice to meet you” topics when I decided to share that I planned to homeschool my children some day.
He tilted his head and held his green-beaned fork in midair.
Homeschooling was clearly a new concept to the gentleman, but he nodded kindly and – good for him! – said nothing about socialization or denim jumpers.
He married me a year and half later. I homeschool our five kiddos. And he’s one happy man.
(Guess what’s at the top of my “Tips to Win a Mate on Your First Date”?)
Homeschooling is for me.
Is it for you?
When I was a kid, I begged my mother to homeschool me. But it wasn’t for her. And it wasn’t for me, as a kid. She could see that I needed certain things from traditional school. She was right.
Nonetheless, the dream grew in my heart and became my own calling: I longed to homeschool my own children. People talk about being called to be missionaries, artists, or actors. Well, I think I was called to homeschool my children. I can see now that God has provided for me every step along the way – including that supportive husband of mine.
Homeschooling is for me as a mother. And, thus far, it works well for our children, too.
I have homeschooled my children for 9 years and I truly love it. It comes with its costs, investments, and priorities. But it is quite satisfying work for me.
Although I certainly don’t believe that everyone should homeschool, I do love to encourage people who are interested in it.
If you are considering homeschooling your child, I’d love to cheer you on and contribute my two cents to the complex decision before you.
The pros and cons for mothers are entirely different than the pros and cons for our children. You’ve gotta weigh both… because homeschooling involves the whole family.
(BTW: these pros and cons may also apply to traditional schools. All I’m saying is that they do exist in homeschooling.)
The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling for Moms
PRO: The joy of nurturing my children.
Walking hand-in-hand with my children through worship, art, academics, leisure, character development, and relationships is a pleasure unlike anything else. When I’m mindful of it, there is nothing sweeter than providing the encouragement, direction, or cheer that each child needs to thrive.
PRO: My personal growth.
Over the years, I’ve had to mature and to sacrifice my own pursuits and pleasures in order to homeschool my children. For example, it took several years to learn that my self-worth was not tied to a paycheck, a pat on the back, or public esteem. I still struggle with self-worth from time to time, but I appreciate that homeschooling has brought me closer to being content to follow the path that God is placing before me.
Homeschooling has taught me how to serve, laugh, play and, teach. It has forced me to stop comparing myself to others and to develop a sense of agency in the well-being of my family.
PRO: The limitless growth of my own education.
Though I have my B.S. in Biology, and my B.A. and M.A. in English Literature, I’ve gained my richest education through homeschooling my children. I am more well-read in every topic than I ever would be if I hadn’t homeschooled my children. I finally grasp the Constitution. I finally get the Periodic Table, phonics, and sentence diagramming. I’ve learned the fundamentals of sketching, pastels, and water color. I truly appreciate – and understand – Shakespeare, Dickens, and Bronte. The books I’ve read with the children have sparked my imagination, deepened my thought-life, and challenged my presuppositions.
I’ve also grown as an educator. I’ve learned about teaching children according to their learning styles. I’ve learned how to teach children to read. To write. To draw.
I’ve planned preschool story times, created kindergarten reading challenges, facilitated award-winning writing projects, and designed coursework for my children.
I’ve learned how to manage 5 children of various ages in a wholesome, productive, learning environment.
I’ve learned how to manage sleep, food, and my home.
And – of course – I’ve learned how to re-evaluate, give up, and start over when things just don’t go as planned.
CON: The limitless demands for my time and attention.
Being around 5 vivacious, chatty kiddos all day long can be exhausting for this introvert. If I’m not maintaining healthy boundaries for myself, I crash. Or scream. Or sit on the couch and stare into space.
Protecting my time to pray, exercise, read, and work on other projects takes effort while homeschooling. I need to be vigilant about planning and protecting time each day when I can tend to myself and other work. That’s why I schedule an hour for myself each afternoon while the babies are napping and the big kids are reading.
My husband is in tune with the demands of homeschooling and does whatever he can to alleviate the demands, stress, and overstimulation. I don’t know what I’d do without his support.
CON: The limitless demands for my time and attention.
Oh wait, did I already say that?
It’s a real thing.
When you homeschool, you accept a full-time+ job. That means, you can’t necessarily do all of the ministries, projects, side jobs, or hobbies. Something’s gotta give.
Homeschooling literally demands that I be present, engaged, and compassionate most of the day… from crunching math facts to tossing the ball in the yard.
I’ve embraced this homeschooling lifestyle and I’m totally on board with the necessary sacrifices, but I still lose my focus from time to time and feel the ache of the sacrifices all over again.
So, if you’re interested in homeschooling, I suggest that you take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and say, “No whining, Self. This is gonna be great.”
The Pros and Cons of Homeschooling for Children
PRO: The encouragement of their faith.
I love that we worship God freely in our home.
My children have time for personal devotions in the morning and that they work in the context of worshiping God. We talk about how our school work is a way to steward the gifts that God has given us.
We read Scripture together, sing hymns, and pray together several times throughout the day.
The curriculum that we use – Sonlight – thoughtfully points them back to Scripture, glorifies God in all aspects, and inspires them to live for God’s magnificent purposes.
PRO: The sweetness of family relationship.
Our children think, play, create, and work with one another all day.
They are one another’s best friends, creating countless happy memories with one another, and learning how to work through arguments. Because we’re home together all day, every day, we need to work through relational rifts; we’re consistently – constantly – working toward peace.
I love that my 12 year-old daughter can stop her work and help her 6 year-old brother sound out a word. I love that my 10 year-old daughter can cuddle her baby brother in between math and Language Arts. Then, she invests a half-hour each morning to play with her 3-year old sister, helping her dress her dollies and take them to the stuffed animal zoo.
My kids know one another’s daily ups and downs, books and music, artwork and interests.
And, I think, they have an extra-special empathy and care for one another.
PRO: The physical affection.
I hug, wrestle, tickle, squeeze, and physically connect with the kids all day long.
Our 3 year-old daughter thrives with physical affection. She likes me to cuddle her up in my arms, hold her like a baby, and tell her how special she is to me. She likes to be the bread in a “sandwich” with pillows piled high on her tummy and then – ever so carefully – squashed by yours truly, the other piece of bread. She is a happier kid when I hug, cuddle, and tickle her throughout the day.
Even our 6 year-old son needs lots of physical affection. I tussle his hair, tickle him, hug him, and wrestle him. He does flips in my arms, plays ball, and nuzzles in for a cuddle from time to time.
I’m sure to hug my 12- and 10- year old daughters throughout the day, too. I kiss them on the forehead or simply rub their back for a moment if I’m walking past their desk.
I truly believe that this physical affection grounds my kiddos, giving them a sense of peace and security.
PRO: The sleep.
Our little ones – 6 and younger – go to bed by 8 p.m.
Our older ones go to bed by 9 p.m.
They all sleep until 7:30 a.m.
PRO: Focused, intentional, personal education.
Most of the time, each of our children is working precisely at the right level in every subject. Who could ask for more? I’m able to pace them for their own personal success, finding the books and learning style that suits them best. They have lots of time to pursue their own specific interests.
There is no such thing as busy work.
I sit down with each one of the children every day and we work on the subjects that need my care and attention.
However, I do need to point out that their education is also imperfect. Even though they receive a one-on-one education, they don’t get my undivided attention all day. They need to wait their turn and patiently trust me to grow with them when they need a different approach.
And because I am only 1 person and there are 5 of them, they don’t learn every subject that other school children may learn. I’m okay with these imperfections, as I believe they, too, educate children to be patient, creative, and humble.
PRO: Shared stories.
Over the years, we have read countless books together. Our imaginations, senses of humor, and relationships share characters, plots, themes, and scenery. We’ve cried, laughed, and cared about the same things over and over again.
The big kids still gather around when I read picture books to the little ones. And the little ones listen in when I read chapter books to the big kids. Right now, our 3 year old is thoroughly invested in the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Laddie, and Stella.
We have a common language, a common lore, and a common love.
PRO: The lunch table.
The funny guy at the lunch table is their very own brother. And the one throwing the food? Yep, that’s the other brother. The baby one.
We eat together, laugh together, watch YouTube clips, educational videos, and pass the ketchup.
I love that my kids sit at the same lunch table.
PRO: Character development.
Because we’re home all day, every day, I have the opportunity to address attitude problems, poor choices, and unkindness when they are teeny tiny issues. This means that when I do correct my kiddos, the corrections are (usually) not very dramatic. They’re just little adjustments here and there.
I’m so thankful that homeschooling provides this opportunity to us because I prioritize character development over academics. I’m convinced that if my children know how to work faithfully, love generously, and honor others, they’ll do well in their other pursuits. Homeschooling allows me to live out these priorities.
PRO: The low stress level.
There’s something to be said about the way homeschoolers can minimize the amount of stress on children. From schedules to social pressure, homeschoolers can help their child navigate an appropriate amount of academic and social expectations.
CON: Missing out on excellent teachers and staff.
This is a significant drawback for me. Our school district is full of caring, intelligent, gifted teachers who would bless and encourage my kiddos.
When I was in school, I loved my teachers. Each one impacted me in a unique way and added to my development. Homeschooling keeps us from that gift, and I do feel the loss of that.
To minimize the loss, we do participate in a weekly science class that is taught by a lovely world-class science teacher. Our children also take theatre, music, ballet, and Sunday School lessons from awesome teachers who inspire and love them well. I’m so thankful for each one of them.
CON: Fear of missing out.
Homeschoolers are able to do things that larger schools cannot. The other side of the coin is that larger schools can do things that homeschoolers cannot.
Our kiddos haven’t been able to enjoy as many P.E., foreign language, and technology experiences. We don’t have same extracurricular activities, field trips, pizza parties, and bus rides.
We simply miss out on some of the good stuff that happens in traditional school. Sure, we can recreate certain aspects, but other things are just larger school things. It’s okay, but it’s a loss nonetheless.
CON: The difficulty connecting with school district families.
It’s easy for homeschoolers to connect with other homeschooling families, but it’s quite difficult to connect with families who don’t homeschool. Our schedules are different and we just don’t run into each other as much as I wish we would.
We have lots of friends who don’t homeschool, I wish it’d be easier to hang out.
PRO: A love of learning.
I didn’t want to end on a “con”, so I saved this “pro” until last.
Homeschooled kids can pursue their interests without limitation.
They learn for the sake of learning.
They read for the sake of reading.
They play for the sake of playing.
They experiment, craft, converse, tinker, and problem solve because they’re interested and full of wonder.
“Truly parents are happy people – to have God’s children lent to them” – Charlotte Mason
I hope this helps you to make a great decision about your child’s education this year.
God gives each of us a unique call and asks us to nurture our children in unique ways.
Obviously, I’m one mom who loves homeschooling because it has worked very well for us despite the costs. I can’t guarantee that it will always be this way, but I do know that, for today, homeschooling is a beautiful choice for our family.
Do you know someone who would benefit from this information? Send it along today!