Homeschool. That word. Homeschool. It scares some people. I causes joy to others. It also causes rumors and speculation. I am a big believer in homeschooling, and firmly believe that all parents are called to it, any parent can do it, and every child will benefit from it, when it’s done under the leadership of God. Homeschool won’t always be easy; in all honesty, it usually isn’t. But it will be worth it. It will be worth the sacrifice. Your children will grow in wisdom and stature. And you will grow in grace and mercy.
When we started our homeschooling journey a little under seven years ago there were many reasons why we chose this alternative form of education for our family. Over the years those reasons have changed in some ways. We’ve grown, mentally and physically. And it sometimes feels like we are consistently re-evaluating our “WHY”.
The constant, though, is that we know what our “end” goal is, and we strive to focus on that in our scheduling, planning, and structuring. It has been an amazing roller coaster ride that I am so grateful God called us to; to endure some days, to love other days, and to grow daily in grace and love.
While there are many reasons why everyone should homeschool, there are also many reasons why a family should not. Not not ever, just not at this time. If you are considering homeschooling, or even if you are in the middle of it, I challenge you to seek the Lord’s guidance in this journey DAILY, because that is exactly what it is. A beautiful, long, messy journey. Some days you will hate every second of it and doubt your abilities as a parent AND a teacher. Other days you will feel beyond blessed that you get to have such influence in your child’s life and learning, and will know without a shadow of a doubt that this is what God has called you to do.
Taking the plunge into homeschooling is exactly that- a plunge into murky cold water, where you aren’t sure what is waiting for you under the surface. It is a shock to all your systems-your beliefs, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your spiritual walk. And for that reason, I believe, it takes a lot of heart to heart, and soul to soul praying before jumping head first in to the adventure.
Every parent has their reasons why they SHOULD homeschool. But here are some reasons why you SHOULND’T.
8 Reasons Why You SHOULDN’T Homeschool
- You think it is the popular thing to do. A recent joint study by the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Home Education Research Institute found that the number of kids being taught at home is growing at an average of 5% per year. The latest estimates are that there are 3.5 million children homeschooled in the United States, surpassing the number of students enrolled in charter schools. There is no doubt that homeschooling is finally getting the credit it deserves as a viable alternative to public and private schooling. However, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean your family should run to your local public school and withdraw your child right this second. Homeschooling is not a journey to be taken lightly. It demands much preparation and even more prayer. If you are considering homeschooling, I suggest you first start with prayer and petition for God’s guidance. Then your family can come up with your “why” and a battle plan to successfully achieve that “why”. Because if homeschooling is anything, it is definitely not easy.
- Your best friend is homeschooling. What may be a field full of daisies and roses for your friend’s family may be a train wreck for yours. This not only applies to deciding whether to homeschool but also, if you choose to homeschool, how you homeschool. This will be a constant struggle in your homeschooling adventure. You will be tempted to do what seems to be working for others. But that may not always be the best for your situation and your kids. For every good homeschooling day you see happening in a friend’s home, there are three not so easy days to go with it. No matter how easy your friend may may it look.
- You want to shelter your children from the world. As parents we naturally want to shelter our children from pain, heartache, violence, and anything we deem immoral. And I think as parents that is one of our main responsibilities, under the guidance of God. They are to be a light for others, but we first need to grow them in who they are in Christ and give them a firm foundation before sending them in to the dark world to be that light. However, if your intent is to pull your child home to shelter them from ALL pain, ALL trials, and ALL struggles , you are doing them a great disservice. Children need to be sheltered, but they don’t need to be smothered. They need to experience real life (on a small scale) and not be presented a fairy tale. In our family, we like to say that childhood is practice for adulthood. We want to expose our children to the same basic trials and struggles they will experience as an adult. But we want it to be at a much more manageable scale with less severe consequences and less severe trauma. But the goal is never to take away all pain and all struggle. Learning comes through trials, mistakes, and suffering. To take that away from your child is to deny them the opportunity to use that hardship to grow and seek God and to learn responsibility and consequences.
- You just don’t like the teacher, the principal, the school, etc. It is unrealistic to think you, your child, or anyone will go through life never experiencing adversity or confrontation. There is going to come a time when they will encounter someone that they don’t agree with, someone they have to work harder to get along with, or, honestly, someone they just don’t care for. To pull your child from school because you don’t agree with the teacher, the principal, or the school, or are trying to avoid conflict is teaching your child to run from adversity instead of working through it. There are so many teachable moments when you encounter someone you don’t agree with; so many opportunities to show your child positive conflict resolution. The goal in homeschooling should never be to make life easier for your child; just more controllable for you, the parent.
- You want to make it easier for you child, academically. There is room in homeschooling for individualized education, and there is a time to bring your child home to better educate them at their level and within their learning ability. However, there is a difference between bringing a child home to learn because it will be BETTER for them and bringing a child home to learn because it will be EASIER for them. The goal of homeschooling isn’t to make it easier for your child academically; on the contrary, I would argue that one of the best things about homeschooling is that you can challenge your child to learn outside their expectations and abilities because they have the time to not just make a grade but achieve proficiency. If you are bringing your child home because you want to make it easier for them academically you are depriving them of the opportunity to achieve more, to expect more, from themselves. You are depriving them the valuable lesson in pushing yourself to something bigger and greater.
- You think it is Biblical commandment. While homeschooling is a wonderful environment that allows for religious instruction, it is not a commandment. God calls every parent to teach their children His ways, His Grace, His Love, and His Word. But this doesn’t have to only happen at home. It can happen in the car on the way to school. It can happen at the dinner table over tacos. It can happen at soccer practice in the middle of a scrimmage. It can even happen on the playground of a public school during recess. Yes, homeschooling makes it easier to feed our children God’s Word, and yes, sending your child to public school will mean you have to be a little more creative in getting His Word to them. But it can be done. God is faithful and will provide opportunities for you and for them to grow in Him.
- You want your child to have more time for extracurricular activities. It is true that homeschool children have more time to devote to their passions and interests. Basketball. Swim. Writing. Sculpting. Riding. This is an added bonus to not having to be at school all day. However, if you are bringing your child home to school with academics being second to an extra-curricular activity, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Whether your child is homeschooled, public schooled, or private schooled, academics should always be a forerunner to extra-curricular activities. The value of an education far exceeds the value of a sport, art, or performance program. Academics will carry a child further in life than extra-curricular activities. Of course, there are exceptions. Gabby Douglas, Michael Phelps, Misty Copeland, etc. Odds are, though, your little prodigy is not one. And even if they are, there is never a guarantee that something won’t happen that takes away their ability to continue that sport or skill. The skills may fade away but the education they receive will not.
- Your heart is not in it. I’m going to be a little blunt here. I do believe any parent can homeschool with the guidance of God. I believe every parent has been called to it. However, if your heart is not in it, if you aren’t willing to humble your plan, your day, your schedule, your children to God, you will fail. Maybe not physically fail. But you will fail in your “why”. You will hate every minute of homeschooling. You will struggle with your identity as a parent and teacher. You will dread the day and won’t wake up ready to meet it with joy and ready to conquer it with grace. And homeschooling will not be the positive experience it should be for you or your kids. How do I know this? Because I can honestly say my heart wasn’t in the right place, humbled before God when I started this journey. I wanted to do it my way under my expectations, and I hated every minute of it. It’s been a long journey but I’ve grown in my spirit and have put God where He belongs (or at least I try to daily, if not moment by moment some days!), at the center and the head of it all. On the outside you may look the part of a successful homeschooling parent-you may have the perfect homeschool room, the perfect schedule, the perfect curriculum, and the perfect children. But if you’ve left God out of the center and haven’t humbled your heart to the best reason to homeschool (and, hint, it’s not to produce children who excel academically, socially, and physically), then you’ve missed the joy and the peace in homeschooling. Anyone can homeschool. But only a humbled heart can homeschool well.
Homeschooling is one of the most remarkable journeys a parent can embark on with their child. It is such a great way to connect, build relationships, and feed your child daily and moment by moment with God’s Word. It is so much more than a math lesson or social studies project. But you have to be doing it for the right reasons, or you will regret every minute and will give up even before you have had a chance to order your next year’s curriculum, which every homeschool mom knows, is like missing out on Christmas. In July.