My kids and I finished our 8th year of homeschooling two weeks ago. It was the very best year we’ve ever had, in spite of being interrupted by endless sessions of editing my book and then launching the book in March, complete with lots of interviews and excitement.
As I think about our 8 years as a homeschooling family, I have to be honest. It hasn’t all been happy faces and gold stars. There are some homeschooling downsides that not many of us like to talk about.
1. At times, your children will be outsiders. They won’t be hip to all the latest fashion trends, video games, music, and fads. Many of these are fun and harmless, but it will be your kids who may seem like the odd man out because they won’t fit in.
2. Sometimes you will be the outsider as other moms talk about the teachers at their kids’ school and which sports their kids are into this year.
3. There will be times when school will be no fun at all. For anyone.
4. You’ll have to listen to public school parents brag about their kids being accepted into gifted programs and how great their kid’s school is. You might detect a bit of defensiveness but it wouldn’t be polite to point that out.
5. Sometimes virtual strangers will confront your decision to homeschool. “You can’t shelter them forever, you know.” Yes, I was told that when I informed someone I would be homeschooling our 5-year-old.
6. You’ll spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself:
- Should we have chosen that other curriculum?
- Am I doing enough?
- Am I doing too little?
- Are my kids well-adjusted?
- I thought homeschooled kids weren’t shy but my daughter is. What did I do WRONG???
7. It will be hard to gauge how “normal” your kids are because you will seldom see them in a large group of kids, all the same age. I’m pretty sure my son is really big for his age, but it’s hard to tell because he hangs out with kids of all ages.
8. When it’s time for your “female annual exam,” you may have to bring the kids with you. My doctor is used to it. They sit in the hall and she gives them each a lollipop.
9. Ditto for bra fittings, but no lollipops.
10. There have been lots of times when I wanted privacy just to have a good cry. Maybe I was discouraged, disappointed, sad, whatever, but it’s hard to cry when you have little people examining your face for any sign of tears.
11. Did I mention that a mom’s privacy is pretty much a thing of the past?
12. Friends and relatives look forward to sitting you down with the news that your child doesn’t know their math facts, or your son has terrible handwriting, or your kids don’t know how to play dodgeball, and you suspect they gossip about this behind your back.
13. When your kids are confronted with bullies, they will be completely unprepared for it. Life with bullies is a way of life for public school kids. Not so much for the homeschooled.
So why are millions of us sticking with our commitment to homeschooling?
Our kids are worth it. Our family is worth it. At the end of my life, I’ll never be able to say, “I missed out on some of their most important moments.” Nope, I was there for every single one of them. Our family bonds are tighter than ever, in spite of, or maybe because of, the squabbles and rubbing each other the wrong way because we are together so much.
Homeschooling may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for our family. We wouldn’t have it any other way.