There can be so much stress and doubt when trying to decide if you should homeschool or not. Making the decision was one of the most relieving things because I didn’t have to keep going back and forth! I do think it’s really important to consider the pros and cons of homeschooling and not just the benefits.
I didn’t feel like the passionate homeschooling type that despises public schools, and yet there were a ton of reasons that kept pulling me to try homeschooling. It was easy to find reasons why it would be great for our family, and harder to find why it might not be (from people who have actually homeschooled).
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling I’ve found so far, as well as others I’ve heard from homeschooling friends.
Why I didn’t think we would homeschool
I’m a mom to 3 kids ages 5.5 and under, and have been homeschooling preschool for only a year and a half. We decided to give it a shot and go by the motto “one year at a time”. I’m no experienced guru and definitely still feel out of place all the time. But I gave myself one year to try homeschooling as a “test” to see if I wanted to do kindergarten too. We do! There are many reasons why I didn’t think I would begin homeschooling.
- It sounded overwhelming!
- I’d have to spend A LOT of time researching so many things.
- If I chose to homeschool, then when would I get a break from my kids? I get overwhelmed without breaks. What I didn’t know until recently is that I actually wanted few hours here and there to myself, not an all day 5 days a week separation from my son. Not yet.
- Everyone I knew (locally) was sending their kids to part time preschool and planning on beginning full day kindergarten. It’s hard to be different sometimes.
- I loved my public school experience, and have fond memories all the way back to kindergarten.
- And on top of that, neither my husband or I were homeschooled. It’s not a culture I’m familiar with.
- We live in a great school district.
- Fear of failure.
Pros and cons of homeschooling
What I’ve found so far is that there are two main hurdles to homeschooling. If you can conquer these, you’re all set.
- Being with your kids all day.
- Figuring out what to teach them and making a plan to do it.
Number 1 has been my most challenging part of homeschooling and also the reason I want to continue. It’s hard. If that’s your reason not to homeschool, I get it. And I won’t think you love your kids any less because you don’t homeschool. I have been a stay at home mom since the start so this was kind of my normal. To me, sending my kid to school was just what you do at age 5 or 6. So choosing not to do that took a mindset shift. I had to commit or get out of the way.
Take it one year at a time
It was freeing to know that we were on our homeschool journey one year at a time. That helped me not feel as overwhelmed. And, the thought of giving up a lot of our daily flexibility if we didn’t homeschool sounded rough.
One veteran homeschool mom recently said to me, “I knew I could do kindergarten, so we committed to that. By the end I thought, I could probably figure out 1st grade.” And so it went year by year and now her oldest is 10!
Pros of homeschooling that convinced me to do it
1. You get to spend quantity time with your kids
I think a lot of special conversations happen by default of being together so much. It’s those random unexpected moments where they just tell you things! Since I’m always with them, I’m also around to see when they are rude, selfish, or disrespectful. To me, especially at kindergarten age, this is a pretty big time to work on, well everything.
2. Be completely in charge of your schedule
Not going to lie, when I was considering public school for kindergarten I began to mourn my freedom. I’d have to pack up all 3 kids twice a day and worry about being late. Not to mention being dressed with a lunch packed.
And, I love knowing I don’t have to answer to a school office for an absence. If my kid is with me, they are learning.
3. Siblings spend a lot more time with each other
You may be thinking, “girl, that’s no benefit”! I get it, a lot of siblings bicker and fight. Mine do too. But having my kids together all day forces me to deal with the “why”. Believe me, some days I’d rather send them to school than hear “Mom, he took that from me!” (insert whiney voice) one more time. But for the most part now, they adore each other. I’m so glad they will be each other’s best and most reliable buds.
4. Freedom to travel on less busy (& less expensive) dates
It hit me that if we choose public school, the ONLY dates we can travel are the dates everyone else can too. Kids don’t get more than 10 or so days off from school at max without big consequences. We now have the flexibility to vacation during less busy (and cheaper) times of the year.
5. Kids are home when my husband gets days off
Whenever Peter gets an extra half day or random vacation day off, the kids soak him up! And I shout for joy too because mama gets a break. They are also home if he gets assigned a week of vacation time when kids are normally in school. As a resident doctor, he doesn’t have 100% say over the weeks he gets vacation so this is a big one to me.
6. Kids get WAY more time to play
A deal breaker for me for public school at the kindergarten age is how long the days are. I grew up going to half day kindergarten, which was perfect. All of the moms I know with kindergarteners this year say how hard it is on their kids that the days are so long. Not much rest time, too much unnecessary school time, and not enough play in my opinion. Not to mention their kids are so tired when they get home. I don’t want my son’s most tired hours to be my only hours with him Monday through Friday.
7. Decrease bad influences and increase good ones
Kids learn from kids behavior, and there’s plenty of variety at school. I guess I just feel I’ve worked so hard on character training that I want it to be more engrained in who he is before sending him on his own. A little over protective? Maybe, but I’m fine with that considering I’m talking about a 6 year old right now.
I also think you become like people that you spend the most time with. And so for now while he’s young, I want to be that person and to influence who his friends are. We have found wonderful friends through a Wild and Free homeschool nature group and through church.
8. I can teach hot topics to my kids
While my kids will learn about a lot of things I don’t agree with eventually, I love knowing that I can postpone some things until I think it’s appropriate and can explain it through my values. Young kids especially adore their teachers and tend to believe whatever they say. I worry some things could undermine what we teach at home or confuse kids when they are young.
9. No homework in the evenings
Parents I know with kids in school get pretty frustrated that they have to spend what little time they get with their kids in the evening doing homework. Since I was in public school, I remember having lots of it at times! It was normal. However I’d love for my kids to have more time for other interests if they are able to get the same work done in half the time. It’s just easier to be efficient when you are self taught and the only (or one of a few) students at home.
10. You control what the curriculum is
This kind of terrifies me to be honest. Because the temptation is to always think something else is better. That another homeschool family has the golden ticket with their curriculum. But how cool that if a kid is interested in cars, horses, or cooking that you can add that in to make learning enjoyable.
If you are considering homeschooling a preschooler, here’s my preschool curriculum review for Playing Preschool by Busy Toddler. I’m loving it! It’s easy, hands on, no worksheets, and almost no prep.
Pros of homeschooling that are less important, but nice
11. No school drop offs and pick ups
Traffic, getting in the car early mornings, waking up the baby earlier than I want to…happy to leave that behind for now.
12. Your kids can learn at their pace
My son was interested in learning to read earlier than necessary. Here’s how I taught him to read with no experience, and I love that we can just build on that without fearing he’ll be bored or ignored at school.
13. Staying up late is no reason to panic
Get back late on a Sunday night from a trip? Stayed out past bed time at a friend’s house for dinner? Hurray for being able to let the kids sleep in till their bodies wake them up.
14. You will get better at not caring what other people think of you
No one hops on the homeschool bandwagon because it’s easy or to blend in. Family and friends will wonder why you are adding any more responsibility on to your already full plate. And no one else will have 6 year old (and older) kids with them mid day at the grocery store or park.
15. Way more outside time
As soon as we got a fenced yard, I LOVED that I could make them go out and play. Many times a day when it’s nice enough. It’s like my automatic response when they are naughty and restless too. Thank goodness we live in a place where it’s temperate most the year. Remember recess never being long enough? It’s because it’s not. Huge pro if you homeschool!
16. They can learn to teach themselves a lot once they can read
We are not there yet, however my son just started to sound out a lot of words in his workbooks! It’s incredible and frees me up a tad. I’m definitely going to love it when my kids are capable of reading their own directions!
17. Incorporate life skills into curriculum
Parent’s with kids who go to public school can also teach their kids things like how to do laundry, cook meals, and other things like money management and how to fix a hole in a nice shirt (no seamstress here btw). It just seems a lot easier to have those skills taught in a regular school day than after school and sports and music lessons.
18. You meet really amazing homeschool parents that “get it” and support you
Once I decided to homeschool I felt pretty isolated in my decision. No one else I knew here was doing it, and other moms would have time I wouldn’t when their kids went to school. As soon as I found a Wild and Free nature group to join, I felt at ease. My kids would have homeschool friends, and I found moms who’s day to day life is very similar to mine!
19. You will learn a ton at the same time as your kids
An insecurity of mine is not remembering much of what I learned as a kid and not being able to teach my kids. One such thing is state capitals! Apparently I wan’t taught to memorize them or never did a good job. I’ll have the chance to refresh my knowledge on so many topics as they learn.
20. Field trips count as school, and you can do them often
A lot of local places allow homeschoolers or homeschool groups to take tours! Plus, you can usually count on no kids over age 6 to be at the zoo, science center, or hiking trails on a school day. (Unless it’s the end of the year, then you can expect busloads).
21. No school fundraisers
I hadn’t even considered this one but I see a lot of my friends have to help their kids sell things for fundraisers. And, guilt tripped into buying stuff they don’t need at high prices to help their kid and the school out. I’ll happily pass on this one!
22. Moving is less hard on the the family
Thankfully my husband’s medical training is when our kids are young, so they are very flexible and make new friends easily. However, we still have two moves ahead of us in the next 4 years. One for a fellowship and one for his first job done with training.
I think homeschooling will make moving easier in many ways. This is one reason why a lot of military families also enjoy homeschooling.
Cons of Homeschooling
It’s easy to be swayed by reading all the benefits of homeschooling, and if we ever decide to stop homeschooling I’ll miss a lot of them. But it’s also realistic to consider that there are some cons. Lets take a look at some.
1. The responsibility of being the primary teacher instead of support
Talk about pressure! When we first considered homeschooling, I thought how much easier it would be to send my son to school. All I would need to do would be to get him there and he’d learn what he needed to, right? Plus a few things I wish he wouldn’t learn I’m sure.
2. A lot of your time will be spent learning about homeschooling
Before I knew it, I was reading tons of homeschooling blogs, googling how to homeschool and researching curriculum choices. Homeschool parents feel pressure to pick the best choice for their kids and worry if they are doing too much or too little.
3. You can’t just copy another homeschool family and call it good
In some ways, I’d love for someone to just hold my hand and tell me what to teach and how to do it. The problem here is that my kids are different than yours or that homeschool mom down the street. So what works well for them may not work well for 1 or 2 or 3 of mine.
Plus, when you are getting started, you don’t really know what you like yet! Or what your kids like. Or how they soak in structured material. It’s all really a big giant experiment with your first and you have to step out in faith a bit.
4. You are in charge of keeping records
This will vary depending on what state you live in. But in the end, you are in charge of storing and organizing proof that your child is being educated and “attending” homeschool. It’s more important the older your kids get. You can find out homeschooling requirements by state through HSLDA.
5. Fear of being targeted
While we have a lot of freedom in the United States to homeschool, there are still some shocking cases of misconduct towards homeschool parents. Thankfully you can become a paid member of HSLDA, a large homeschool defense association as they offer legal representation should you ever need it.
6. Being with your kids 24 hours a day 7 days a week
We had our 3rd baby in 4 years and 3 months later moved across the country away from all family. I was familiar with having no break from my kids since we started preschool at home with my 4 year old. And secretly, I longed for something to slow down. For time to myself. Since we couldn’t afford a mother’s day out preschool program, I just figured kindergarten would be a time where something would be lifted off my plate.
But sending him to school for 7 hours is not really what I wanted either. There were other new concerns that came with that idea. I highly recommend reading this post from Lauren at The Simple Homeschooler to see why she decided to homeschool for 1st grade even though she never though she would be a homeschool mom.
7. You are forced to deal with your kid’s behavior
This really could be a pro and a con of homeschooling!
When your kids are with you and each other all day, you can’t say things like “I can’t wait till summer’s over and the kids go back to school”. I hear this all the time. It makes me think maybe parents are missing some of the good stuff. The part where you want to be with your kids and they want to be with you. (Not all the time, but most the time).
On the other hand I get it. Kids are hard work, sometimes super annoying, and they get on each other’s nerves and can be so testy. But homeschooling means there’s no “end of the summer” to look forward to and you have to 100% deal with how you cope with that. Plus, you are forced to address sibling fights, whining, boredom, and obedience or else life at home is pretty miserable.
8. Kids may miss being with friends their age
Since my kids have never been in public school, they don’t know what they’re missing. And, they have each other to play with which is a HUGE benefit of having 3 kids close in age. It’s near impossible to find kids the same age and gender as my 3, but they do adapt and learn to play with anyone 1 or 2 years older or younger.
Socially, it may be a challenge to homeschool an only child, kids with a big age gap, or very social kids who had great friends at school prior to homeschooling. If that’s you, you can definitely still homeschool but may need a regular homeschool community to fill in social gaps.
9. You have to teach things you may have no interest in
You may not have loved school, and perhaps stunk at memorizing random facts. But you can be committed to finding fun ways to teach things your kids. A little bit of effort and searching can go a long way!
10. You may run low on patience
Need I say more? Clear boundaries are super helpful. I don’t know what I would do without a little recharge while all 3 kids are napping or resting. Here’s how we do rest time/nap time with 3 kids every day.
11. Errands will be with all your kids
Unless you plan to do things on the weekends or hire a babysitter, you will have your crew with you for everything. Groceries, doctor appointments, thrift stores, whatever it is that you do. It’s slower, and often boring. But on the bright side it’s fantastic for kids to see what goes into running a household! And since you are at home most the time, these errands can be a good change of scenery.
12. It costs money
For some reason, I completely forgot that homeschooling would cost money! We did preschool for next to nothing, but that won’t continue. If you are looking into buying a boxed curriculum where the planning is done for you, then those go from $300-$650 a year (though often can be used by other siblings too). Utilizing the library will save hundreds as well as keeping your eye out for used curriculum on Ebay and Facebook groups. You will not be saving money by homeschooling.
Do the benefits of homeschooling outweigh the time and energy?
While it’s not as easy as adding up the pros and subtracting the cons to see if homeschooling is right for you, you can weigh each one. Find your why, for whatever path you choose and stand confident in it. No one else has your values, your kids, your personality, or your abilities. Leave me a comment and let me know where you are on the homeschool journey or if you are still deciding!