If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.
That moment, in homeschooling, when you are sure you Can. Not. Do. This. Any. More.
Maybe it’s because of your kids’ poor attitudes. Maybe it’s because there is way much more need than there is you to go around. Maybe it’s because of your student’s learning disability or challenge. Maybe it’s because of financial pressures. Maybe it’s because your child has the attention span of a squirrel.
Whatever the reason, it’s highly likely that at some point in your homeschooling career, you’ll get to the place where you feel like you are done. When you look around and think, “Anyone could do a better job than I’m doing” or “Why, exactly, did I leave the comparatively piece-of-cake world of outside-the-home work for this?” or “My kids are never going to get a decent education if something doesn’t change” or “What is wrong with my children?” or “What is wrong with me?” or some other version of…
“This is totally freaking miserable”.
When you get there, just know – you are not alone. Lots of homeschoolers go through a period when they want to quit homeschooling.
That’s right, I challenge you to find a homeschooler who hasn’t felt that, at least to some degree, at some point along the way. And that’s because homeschooling is hard. It is fulfilling and exciting and gratifying and interesting, too, but it is also just really plain hard.
But the truth is, you signed up for hard when you had those kids to begin with. I’m going to give you the pep talk I give myself when I get there…at that place of being ready to throw in the towel. So take a few moments, have a mini pity party, and then get back on the horse by reminding yourself of the following:
1. “No matter how bad it feels right now, and how good other options look, those other options have just as many challenges (or more) as what I face now - just different ones.”
Sure, you could send your kids to public or private school. But the challenges you face don’t go away, they just change. Instead of battles over getting your kids to complete their school work efficiently and effectively during “school time”, you battle 2 hours of homework at night after the kids have been gone from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Instead of having to deal with poor attitudes about doing academics, you have to deal with curse words and disrespect learned from peers. Instead of having to suffer through managing a learning disability, you have to struggle with decisions about special education classes and your child feeling not-so-smart because he gets “behind” where the large-scale education standard says he should be. Instead of the financial strain of living on one income, you have the emotional strain of having to manage a household, juggle childcare, and simultaneously hold down a career. The truth is that there isn’t any easy way to well-adjusted, well-educated, responsible, skilled young adults. At least with homeschooling, you have more control over what the challenges are, and how you choose to face them.
2. “No one, regardless of how they are educated, makes it to adulthood knowing everything they should know, or being able to do everything they have the potential to be able to do.”
We all have gaps in our learning. Yep – no matter how we were educated, there are things we were never taught, forgot, missed, didn’t understand, or simply zoned out on. Public schooled, private schooled or homeschooled – you can’t escape the reality that there is no perfect educational option. The difference is that, in homeschooling, you get to decide the areas where you least want the gaps to be! Homeschooling, as opposed to other forms of education, gives you the opportunity to decide what is most important for your kids to learn, and the priority of their goals. If personal character is of utmost value to you, your can ensure that your efforts are not spared toward that end. If giving your kids a strong literary base, or musical instruction, are things you believe are critical for your child’s future, you are able to adjust your time and energies to be certain those areas get significant attention. Instead of someone else, with likely very different values and goals from yourself, determining the priorities for your child’s development – you are in charge of it, and of what areas don't get missed!
3. “Even if other schooling options can provide more educational benefits for my kids than I believe I can, they cannot provide me”.
Homeschooling isn’t just about academics. Home education is a lifestyle of helping children develop into the persons they will be in adulthood – supporting them in gaining the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, relational, practical and, yes, intellectual skills they need to be successful in the world after they leave home. This process of guiding development is so much broader than simply school work – and there is simply no better person to be in charge of it than parents. Homeschooling allows you to be the most significant influence in your child’s life, not people who likely have very different goals, values, perspectives and approaches than you do. Those people around whom your child spends most of his or her time will be in the position to have the most impact on your child’s outlook and outcome – and in homeschooling, that person is you. No matter what educational benefits other schooling options may provide your child, they can never offer what homeschooling does when it comes to your ability to holistically guide your child for the future.
4. “Irrespective of how it may look right now, time goes by very, very quickly, and these ‘troubles’ will be forgotten, because my kids will be gone”.
You’ve heard the adage “The days pass slowly but the years pass quickly”? Well, you don’t realize it until you’ve been parenting for a few years, but it’s true - life is really short. And what seems to be interminable when you’re in the middle of it (colicky babies, anyone?) actually has flown by, when you look back a few years later. The same applies to homeschooling challenges. No matter how hard it is right now, it will pass. There will be a day when there are no more school work battles and no more struggles to get the kids to keep things organized. And when that day comes – the kids will be grown and gone. No matter how challenging homeschooling may be in this moment, one day in the future these troubles will be simply fond memories that we can never repeat. It’s worth making the most of the time we have while we have it, because it truly does pass by more quickly than we ever think it will when we’re in it.
The truth? There is no easy way. Homeschooling is hard, yes, but so is every other path you could choose. Homeschooling is hard because parenting is hard – and home education is pretty much just parenting on steroids. So if this is a path you believe is best for your family, but you’re just at the end of your rope, hang on a little bit longer. Give yourself my pep talk, go find a homeschooling friend and rant a little, get a pedicure or a massage, and then go back at it, knowing you are doing the best you can for your children. Nobody does this parenting thing perfectly, and no schooling option you pick will be perfect, either. You will have bad days and you will make mistakes and your kids will not get everything you want them to…
but they will get so much from homeschooling that they cannot get any other way.
And, in the end, when there aren’t any kids at home to school anymore…that’s what will make it all worth it.