“I don’t know how you do it! I could never homeschool! Being with my kids all day would drive me nuts!” says that friend/stranger/acquaintance/family member to me for the thousandth time! You know what? I don’t know how I do it either, and some days being with my kids all day does drive me nuts.
This homeschooling gig is hard work. It should not be a spontaneous decision made without prayerful discernment just because it sounds like it might be fun to go on daily field trips and/or stay in your pajamas all day. If we truly are giving our children a worthwhile education, a lot of struggle and sweat are involved!
Why Is It SO Hard?
For me the most challenging part about homeschooling is that it is all up to me. I have complete control over my children’s daily lives, education, activities, etc. in addition to their clothing, food, and general health. That means that there are so many decisions that I have to make on a daily basis that it is usually quite overwhelming.
Also, even though successful homeschooling is completely dependent upon my efforts, sometimes I just don’t feel like doing all the things. There is no supervisor to tell me what to do and when to do it or to chastise me when I sleep late or don’t get the schoolwork or chores done for the day. I often lack the motivation to be consistent, and then, of course I worry and panic that I am not doing enough.
Furthermore, homeschooling is generally extremely isolating, and I am a bona fide extrovert. I need people! I thrive on and crave adult interaction, but yet I choose to be the only adult home with my children all day, every day. We rarely participate in weekly co-ops due to the varying needs of my particular children (although I’d love to join ALL the co-ops, just for the social aspect), so we really are on our own the majority of the time. Many days I can feel very lonely.
This isolation tends to create a bubble separated from the outside world where I don’t really fit in well with others who are not homeschooling, too. The grocery store clerk sees me with my children in the middle of the day and knows we are going against the norm. We are unaware of current trends and out of touch with many aspects of our culture (a definite positive but still isolating). I have a hard time holding conversations with people who don’t homeschool, and it’s tough for me to make and keep friends with families whose schedules are so different from ours.
But It’s SO Worth It!
Having two teenagers now is proving to me how incredible this homeschooling choice has been for our family. They are these amazing individuals who are passionate about their own interests and confident in their own personalities. There are so many reasons I love homeschooling!
Most importantly, I am protecting the souls of my children. There is no doubt that my kids are maintaining their innocence and developing a foundation of faith that will serve them all of their lives. We are able to discuss our faith openly and frequently, applying the lessons of Christ to our every day and to the challenges they will face when they go out into the world. And we pray together, usually many times a day!
A local priest reminded a group of homeschoolers a few years ago that if you kept your children home doing coloring pages for 13 years, their souls would be in much better shape than the child who goes to a brick and mortar school for 13 years. By the very nature of homeschooling, we are able to instruct our children in the faith and lead them to Christ every moment of every day both by our words and our example.
My other favorite benefit of homeschooling is the relationships we build with one another. I really like my children, and it is obvious that they love each other, even if the boys do fight every day! As we learn together, we grow together, and the bonds we form through the mere volume of our shared experiences are powerful. We enjoy being with one another (most of the time).
There are many opportunities to grow in interpersonal skills that will serve my children well in their adult lives. We go through highs and lows together and process those experiences with one another. The intimacy I have with all of my children is obvious, especially with my teenagers who still choose to be with me and both willingly give me hugs, and that’s a precious gift that this mother’s heart will always treasure.
What About You?
Homeschooling is challenging for many more reasons than I have mentioned and has many more rewards than I have listed. Generally, the realities that I struggle with are the same realities that provide the benefits that remind me what a blessing this way of life is for me and my family. That’s how God is choosing to sanctify me, I suppose.
What is the hardest thing about homeschooling for you? And what makes you choose to do it anyway?