Likes and Dislikes: A Homeschool Mom Confession

Homeschooling is a non-negotiable in our family. My husband and I agreed that we would raise our children this way long before there were even two pink lines on a stick.

And then there’s the fact that I am a homeschool grad. My parents were homeschooling pioneers, the kind who still had to answer the question, “Is that even legal?” (And, at that point in time it was a fair question in parts of the U.S. because it wasn’t clear in all 50 states.)

So, that’s a quick background: I’m a homeschool grad and a homeschool mom. You might think I love everything about homeschooling.

Well, not exactly. There are things I love. But there are also things that I don’t particularly enjoy.
likes and dislikes homeschool confession

5 Things This Homeschool Mom Loves:

1.Being there for all my children’s “Firsts.”

I love that I have missed very little of my children’s lives. And I love that I’ve seen so many of their “A-ha!” moments as they figure out reading, or a tricky math problem, or a puzzle. From a baby’s first steps to a teenager’s first independent job, being a homeschool parent means getting to witness the big (and small) milestones.

2.Living a life surrounded by books.

I love to read. And I love books. I even love words themselves. And yes, I love writing, too.

Filling our home with good books and the chance to introduce my children to my favorite books, ideas, and people, is one of the great joys of my life. (After all, I want to raise readers.)

3. Choosing our own curriculum and course of study.

I love choosing what we’ll study. For instance: I love that Latin is part of our curriculum from 3rd grade (or even younger). I love teaching my children History instead of “Social Studies” and Grammar instead of “Language Arts.” And I love that my children are learning cursive. Honestly, I love that we have time for P.E. (Since so many schools are cutting recess and gym classes.)

4. Giving my children the kind of childhood I had.

I love that my kids don’t spend 8 hours cooped in a building, with a thirty minute (or longer) bus ride home. Followed by several hours of homework.

I love that they have time to explore their own interests. Or that they get to play outside for hours. I love that we have time to get in deep discussions. And I definitely love that they’re learning about cooking and cleaning and child care with me.

To repeat point #2, I love that they have hours to read good books, whether those are part of our “school” or not. I love that we can eat almost every meal together.

5. Flexibility in all things.

I’ve talked about this before (see: Enjoy the Journey and Schedules, Routines, and Real Life).

I love that we can have “snow days” on a particularly lovely day in March when no one else is at the playground. Or that we can go visit family or go on vacation without worrying about missing days of school. I love that a day trip to a Children’s Museum one state over will totally count as school for that day.

And I love that we can sleep in when we’re tired, keep at a task long after the bell would have rung in a school setting, or completely change tactics midstream if that’s what we need to do.

There are so many things I love, it was honestly hard to limit myself to five.

Those were the first five that came to mind, so we’ll stick with that.

With so much to love, does that mean I love everything about homeschooling? Unfortunately, no.

3 Things This Homeschool Mom Dislikes About Homeschooling:

1. The daily-ness of it all.

Butting heads with strong-willed children. Dealing with attitudes. The school bus looks kind of tempting when I’ve had a stressful day with a hormonal thirteen year old, a grouchy ten year old, a bouncy eight year old, a disobedient 4 year old, and a toddler who must be getting teeth because seriously, why is his nose running constantly and why won’t he let go of me? (Um, purely hypothetically, of course…)

The concept of sending some of my children away for a few hours? Yeah, that has sounded almost idyllic on occasion.

See, the thing about life as a homeschool mom: no one else to blame.

The “Bad Teacher”? Yeah, that’s me. Ignoring an attitude problem until it becomes just too big to ignore? My deal again.

Discipline is hard work.

And I’m talking about my own discipline, not my kids’.

The discipline to:

  • sit down to some lessons I dislike
  • correct bad behavior or attitudes before they infect other children
  • load the dishwasher, switch the laundry, change (another) yucky diaper, and then cheerfully help a child sound out simple phonics (that I feel like we should have moved on from by now, surely?)

But that, friends, is life.

There are rewards for endurance. Rewards like seeing your teen thrive at her volunteer work, or watching a big sister kindly help her younger sister in the bathroom, or realizing the ten year old just switched the laundry without being asked.

2. That homeschooling has to constantly defend itself instead of the other way around.

See, I don’t think the concept that children are raised by their parents (or “belong” to their parents) instead of the state should be radical. I don’t think it should be radical that I want my children to grow up into capable, well-rounded adults who know how to think, reason, act, and speak.

And I don’t think I should have to ask our state for permission for our children to be “Excused” for the next school year. I think I should be able to notify my state: your assistance will not be required in this matter, thank you very much.

Personally, I get tired of being on the defensive about homeschooling. (“No, really, it works. Listen to my child recite this poem. Do you want to hear her do her multiplication tables?”)

I also hate it when my children feel left out or strange around their friends and neighbors.

My children are funny, delightful people (if I do say so myself). But they also get tired of explaining what homeschooling is or why they don’t attend the local school. They want to be treated like people, not like zoo exhibits. (“SHE’S HOMESCHOOLED!”)

3. The financial burden.

Yes, you can homeschool on a budget (and like it).

Sure, you can be as frugal or as spendy with your dollars as you’d like. But it still costs something. (Even the homeschoolers who say they “homeschool for free” are surely using things like ink cartridges to print all those free resources from the web.)

The $200 I spend to keep all my children in math curriculum is $200 I don’t get to spend for something else.

There are parents who get more annoyed about this than I do: they think they should get some of their tax money back for these expenses.

After all, homeschool families pay property taxes the same as everyone else, but our children don’t get the benefits (real or imagined) of the local schools. I am not one of these homeschoolers.

I’d prefer not to have the government involved in my homeschool in any way. (Which is also why my children do not participate in sports or classes offered by the local schools. Even though it is our right to request that they do so.)

But that doesn’t mean that I love paying for everything.

The financial repercussions of homeschooling do need to be considered.

Not only will you need to buy your own textbooks, science equipment, math manipulatives, school supplies, etc. you will also have the costs associated with one spouse not working outside the home (generally speaking). Or the fact that you will be feeding your children all three meals every day, even if they might be eligible for subsidized meals at the local school.

None of those reasons would be enough for my family to consider NOT homeschooling, but they are real and they might matter more to some families than others.

So, yeah, our family budget is tight.

We try to squeeze those pennies. I try to be wise about what I buy (or don’t buy) for our homeschool. I have to be more creative than I’d like sometimes. Sometimes I have to pass on trying the latest, greatest homeschool material. If I focus on that too much, I might resent it.

So, I mostly don’t. I’d rather think about the five things I love about homeschooling, and really, the hundreds of other reasons we love and enjoy this life.

Because there is Joy in the Journey, including learning how to rise above the challenges and annoyances.

If you’re a homeschool mom what do you love about it? What do you dislike?

Favorite Homeschooling Resources:
Notebooking Pages Free Resources

To see other posts about what my fellow homeschool mom bloggers love and dislike about homeschooling check out this round-up:
homeschool mom confesses likes and dislikes

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  1. Your dislikes arE real for me too. I want to encourage you in point 3. The longer that I have homeschooled the more I noticed that less is more. It is less about the books you buy and more about doing the work. You could grab an old Algebra text at Goodwill and be fine if you do it. Homeschooling curricula is big business, and they market it to us a necessity. Very little of it is actually necessary. Just something I learned. I hope it encourages you.

  2. My biggest dislike is the same as your #1 dislike – **I** am the one that has to be disciplined and consistent. Self-Improvement is so annoying. I agree with Tressa that Less is More, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping me from buying a new science program every year. Hoping to someday find the one I actually want to do… You’d think someone who spent five years in college studying the sciences would suck less.

    • I guess these two dislikes are related: probably anything would work if I would actually USE it. But I won’t, so I have to find the things that inspire me to get them done. And as my children get older, I have to find things that are at least partially independent from me. We’ve settled on what works for us on a lot of subjects but a few things I’d like to cover we’re still experimenting.

  3. Yes! I’m with you on all of these likes and dislikes.
    The financial cost to homeschooling is real, and it increases as our children reach the upper grades. (We now have graduated five (almost six) children from our homeschool, and have three more to go.) I’m thankful my husband has been happy to spend money on quality curriculum and online classes which has made my job easier. But there are other costs which can’t be tallied up in our budgets. My husband once responded this way to a child who asked if homeschooling was expensive: “The financial expense isn’t all that great. The primary cost is your mother’s blood.” That said, after 25 years and several more to come, I continue to be super thankful for the opportunity to teach and train our children in this way!

  4. Kimberly Pitman says

    What can I say except, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!” ;)

  5. “See, I don’t think the concept that children are raised by their parents (or “belong” to their parents) instead of the state should be radical.”


  6. Karen,
    I just found your blog through a THSC link and have spent the last hour reading many of your posts….while I should be prepping breakfast. :) I appreciate your down-to-earth encouragement. Thank you!

    I had to laugh at your 1st dislike about homeschooling, because I identify with it. From dealing with bull-headed attitudes from my 10 yo. (who was joyfully helpful this morning, but is now refusing to do math…..that I know he would easily understand if he would just take a breath); to hormones – be they mine or my daughter’s; to my being disciplined about getting our work done.

    My other dislike is living in a messy house. Despite everyone having morning and afternoon chores and all of us pitching in to do a run through in the afternoon, our house seems to always be in a state of mess. But I love the flexibility of homeschooling. I love the freedom to choose what we will study, to dig deeper, or set it aside briefly for another opportunity. I love to see my children act compassionately, seek wisdom, and try to walk faithfully to scripture. I love seeing them mature. I like that they are innocent of and protected from many things of the world.
    Thank you for your encouragement and sharing your journey.

  7. Great blog. How i deal with #2 on the dislikes. Why should anyone have to defend their educational choices? Why should a parent who chooses a private correspondence or cyber school have to defend herself to the ecclectic bunch. Around here she does. There’s a coolness competition. I don’t want school to be something people have to justify, because then fairs fair, I should have to. I just march forward and do what I think is right without thought to the validity of another choice.