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Good Reasons To Quit Homeschooling


TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: When It's Time to Quit HomeschoolingThere are some times when some homeschooling parents should decide to quit homeschooling.

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We’re used to cheerleading for homeschooling and supporting homeschoolers through temporary hard times. We’re accustomed to supporting people who have short-term or medium-term misgivings about homeschooling, but their kids are really doing fine, and they’re really doing fine.

But if we’re really going to be “Homeschoolers Helping Homeschoolers,” as I’ve been writing about in this series, then we also have to provide support for homeschoolers who are making the decision to quit.

What are some good reasons to quit homeschooling?

  • The primary homeschooling parent has an untreated mental health problem, or a mental health problem that is not adequately responding to treatment.
  • The primary homeschooling parent abuses alcohol or drugs.
  • There is abuse or neglect of children in the home.
  • The primary homeschooling parent really doesn’t want to do this any more.
  • The primary homeschooling parent feels the kids would truly be better off in school — not just on a bad day (we all have those), but with a long view looking at the child’s overall education and experiences.
  • The plan has always been for the kids to attend high school, and now it’s time.
  • The family situation has changed due to a move, economic crisis, or relationship change, and homeschooling adds too much stress to the new dynamic.

Homeschoolers in these situations should be supported in making decisions not to homeschool. There can be exceptions — such as someone with a mental health problem who has incredible family support, oversight, and resources — or someone who doesn’t want to do this any more — but who can make it work long enough to keep children out of a school situation that is even more negative.

But in general, sometimes the decision not to homeschool is something homeschoolers need to acknowledge as sometimes positive for a family.

What can you say?

“You feel your kids will be better off in school. Sounds like you have made a good decision for this situation.”

“You’re wiped out by homeschooling, and you feel you will be better off if the kids are in school. Sounds like you have made a good decision for this situation.”

“Things have changed for you, and you don’t feel homeschooling is best any more.”

“Wow — high school is here already. You reached your goal to homeschool through middle school!”

Then, if you are close enough as a friend or family member, provide support during the time the homeschooling parent is enrolling the children and transitioning them from homeschooling to school.

And of course, cases of child abuse or neglect, regardless of whether the abuse is of school children or homeschooled children, and regardless of whether it occurs in schools or homes, should be reported.

There are times to look past the general benefits of homeschooling and the reasons why most of us end up glad we didn’t quit homeschooling. Homeschooling through high school is not every homeschooling family’s goal.

And homeschooling does not prevent serious, real life problems that can occur in any families, regardless of how the children are educated.

Homeschoolers who are helping homeschoolers are wise to remember that the most important thing is to have the best possible situation for each family rather than assuming it’s always best to homeschool no matter what.

Jeanne Faulconer

A popular speaker at homeschooling conferences, business groups, and parents’ groups, Jeanne Potts Faulconer homeschooled her three sons in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia for twenty years. Jeanne is director of Brave Writer's Homeschool Alliance, which provides homeschool coaching, community, and "grad school for homeschool" for parents. She is the contributing editor for TheHomeSchoolMom newsletter and writes the popular Ask Jeanne column, addressing homeschool parents' questions here at TheHomeSchoolMom. She is a former college faculty member, former editor and book reviewer for Home Education Magazine, a long-time editor for VaHomeschoolers Voice, and a news correspondent for WCVE, an NPR-member station. Holding her Master of Arts degree in Communication, Jeanne has conducted portfolio evaluations for Virginia homeschoolers for evidence of progress for many years.

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  1. Katie Seaward

    I’m dealing with some brokenheartedness with this topic. I’ve been homeschooling our daughter this year for 2nd grade, and its been so wonderful to be with her more, the connections I’ve made with my two kiddos because we’re together more. This year my husband, at 37, had somewhat of a midlife crisis. He decided over and over that he didn’t want to be married anymore. We’re in counseling together, but its made me so anxious and put me into a bit of a depression. Everyone has pushed me, including him, to put our daughter back into school, to give me time to recover. Its so hard to let go of this dream though. And theres a lot of resentment on my part that if he hadn’t done all of this, we wouldn’t be here. I think this is just such a tough decision to make, even if it is best, because it can be hard to see clearly as to what will be best for everyone in the long run.

    • Jeanne Faulconer

      Hi Katie,

      I’m sorry to hear about the challenges in your family. It is so hard that when marriages don’t go well, so many other things are affected. That includes our own emotional health and our homeschooling. This then has a cascading effect, because often a homeschooling parent’s identity is tied up in homeschooling, and it means letting go of a heartfelt ideal we embraced for our children.

      There are some things we can keep in mind that may help. One is, the connections you’ve made with your kids will have a lasting effect. Another is, you will not always be in the midst of this crisis. There will be healing and a new normal over time. And third, education decisions can be revisited. If you do decide your children will go to school, you may be able to homeschool in the future. Admittedly, it can be hard to get the kids’ other parent to agree if you are in a custody situation, so I’m not trying to get your hopes up. But some couples who divorce or who reconcile do agree on homeschooling in the future after the marital crisis has settled down. When we are in a state of anxiety or depression, we tend toward black and white “forever” thinking, but that may be a poor picture of the possibilities.

      It’s also possible that the children will flourish in school, or even that it will be “good enough,” and that, in combination with your connection to them, it will be a healthier situation than homeschooling in the midst of crisis.

      I will be thinking of you during this difficult time. Take care of yourself and your kids. Know that when things change, we can adjust and grow into new good situations.


  2. Jeanne Faulconer

    Hi Joy,

    I’m glad you stumbled across this article. I agree that people often end up with “near-sighted” opinions – meaning what works for them and those near them is something they want to prescribe for everyone else.

    Homeschooling is a big commitment. I think that people should not feel guilty if they want or need to change their child’s education situation. In some circumstances, NOT doing so could mean their child is shortchanged. I wanted to counter the pressure from within some homeschooling communities that “everybody” should “always” homeschool.

    I’d much rather parents consider this decision on an ongoing basis, trying to do what is best for their child and their family.

    Thanks again!

  3. Joy

    Thanks for writing this article! I don’t know how I stumbled across it since I am not planning on homeschooling my children. The homeschool/public school debate (or war if you want to be accurate) needs some peacemakers. It is so damaging when people assume what’s best for their own family (and the group of friends they have formed who are very similar to them) is best for every family. There is a lot of pride in those hearts.

  4. sheila

    I have to close my home school. My daughter is a high school senior. I have a friend who would enroll her in her home school. How do we do this? I had heard that you are able to homeschool one other child in a homeschool who is not your child. Please advise

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Sheila – Homeschooling is regulated by the state, so each state has different requirements. It’s best to get in touch with the local homeschooling organizations in your area for guidance with questions like this.

  5. Windell

    This is a good kind of article, but I gathered a big guilt-trippy vibe from it. The fact the list of reasons to quit come down to the primary homeschooling parent having “issues” speaks volumes. Blame, blame, blame.

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      I’m sorry you got that from the article. Obviously anything to do with the primary homeschooling parent’s ability to continue homeschooling is going to affect the choice to continue, but in no way are those things the only reason nor are they presented as blaming that parent for not continuing to homeschool. There are lots of reasons people stop homeschooling, and many times those parents are criticized for the decision or feel like they are letting their children down. They should be free of those criticisms so that they can make whatever is the best decision for their family.

      My own kids were in many school situations over the years including public, private, university model, and homeschool. Jeanne’s post reflects my own belief that every family needs to make that choice for themselves without feeling guilt or the need to live up to other’s expectations. No blame involved.

  6. Cathy

    I have a question someone might be able to answer and I will be so very grateful for that. My daughter was home schooled since 4th Grade (in NM). She did not follow a “curriculum” for 9 and 10 (living in IL). We enrolled her in Seton for 11(while living in IL) and now she is in a public school in Albuquerque for her Senior year. I’ve sent her transcripts but they are requesting Course descriptions to determine if they accept her credits and told her that she needs like another year worth of credits to graduate. Does anyone know if this is right?

  7. Cindy

    I’m a huge advocate for homeschooling and have succeeded with seven children from the beginning, now ages 13-27. In hindsight, my oldest would have greatly benefited from a charter art high school nearby. It may have opened up opportunities for him that when his mental health crisis hit, might have buoyed him better. He’s found his way regardless. That’s life and it works many ways.

    That said, I’m figuring out what’s best for my youngest. Home/unschooling isn’t working right now. I’ve contemplated finding a good fit school. Luckily, private tutoring is working so far…woohoo! But, I’m open to seeing what happens as life continues. Someone asked me, “But doesn’t that go against everything you talk about and believe in?” And my short reply was, “It only works if it works for the child.” My beliefs are still there, and private tutoring is pulling his interests and passion out of him and it’s translating into his home life. Good fit for meeting everyone’s goals!

    It’s an important topic, Jeanne. Thanks for putting it out there. We must all be cautious of being too married to any ideology, no matter how good we think it is. My surest focus is letting the child lead out to what he/she needs. Lots of growth for everyone that way!

    • Mary Ann

      “It only works if it works for the child.”

      The truest words ever written about homeschooling. My kids have been at home, in public school, in private school, and in university model school. I loved having them home and they had a lot more flexibility here, but there were times being at home didn’t work best for them, just like there were times that school didn’t work best for them. Sounds like you have a great perspective – thanks for commenting!

  8. Fatcat

    We public schooled for 6 years, then homeschooled for 10 and I always felt that homeschooling made crises easier but I know that my style of schooling and my way of dealing with stress (retreat!!!) is not the same as everyone elses and other people may have the opposite feelings about it. Good article!

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