Investigating the Disadvantages of Homeschooling
© Beverley Paine, July 2006
"All I ever seem to read about on the web is positive homeschooling experiences. I'm on the verge of deciding to homeschool my 4 kids, but I don't want to go into it with an unrealistic picture. So, do you know of any stories where people have homeschooled and it hasn't worked out? What happened and what were the reasons?"
I've written extensively about how to cope with 'burn out' - something that can often happen to over enthusiastic homeschooling parents in the first year with expectations out of whack with reality. Remember, reality is usually different for different families. What works for you or your children may not work for me and mine.
Home educating seems to be, by and large, self-correcting. Problems can often seem insurmountable but there's ample time to solve them and progress is steady and sure, unlike the kind of problems you often get in a school environment which can drag on for years and really damage a child's educational/social development. It's much easier to solve problems when you're only answerable to your children and yourself and you have plenty of time and space to explore all the issues and solutions to find what works best for you.
You can find many more articles about the benefits and disadvantages to home educating on my site. And if you need more reassurance or support, there is plenty to mull over in the Managing Homeschoooling Life category, although any of the other categories contain lots of tips and practical ideas for avoiding some of the issues that regulary crop up in homeschooling life.
Sometimes it's how we read that gives the illusion that all is wonderful and well in homeschooling land. Most of who share our experience by writing tend to write about what we're discovering about learning, our children, ourselves, family life, parenting, how the whole process of homeschooling becomes easier as time goes by and why... It does sound rosy a lot of the time but usually what prompts us to write is that we've found a solution to a nagging problem, or are celebrating a success or insight that is the end result of a usually protracted learning journey. For instance on my The Educating Parent Yahoo and Facebook groups most of our emails are from people struggling with one problem or another. Some of these issues and problems would test even my resolve to remain home educating. I am heartened by the grit and determination of the parents to stick at it and find solutions, which often work for a week or two before new problems arise and we're all back to worrying and seeking more comprehensive solutions.
When we read about homeschooling it helps to remember that it's usually those parents that have fought hard to overcome their own set of particular problems that made homeschooling seem difficult or impossible that write about those successes. We're reading the 'happy ever after end' to the story - the how to overcome the conflict and obstacles and what those obstacles and conflicts were are usually embedded within the story.
You are most welcome to subscribe to the The Educating Parent Yahoo and Facebook groups. We rarely stray off topic and don't get into long and frustrating debates. Our aim is to stay respectful of diversity and celebrate all forms of homeschooling.
"I have only recently discovered this group also and have received much support from all the ideas put forward by so many intelligent, wise and open minded people. The practical support is very thorough and realistic too." Sophie
The more we chat the more comfortable about home educating our children we become!
Read some other responses to this frequently asked question by other experienced home educating parents below:
Susan Wright writes:
If you mean the kids turn out just awful, the best example I can think of home education not working out is those horrible racist American twins who were homeschooled - Lamb and Lynx Gaede. But from their mother's perspective, homeschooling worked just fine and she was able to pass on the values which are obviously important to her!
However, what the official studies don't show up is the anecdotal stuff which is:
Sam (from Sydney) writes:
Things I have struggled with:
1. Insecurity - I battle the thoughts that I could do better, my children could do better, my family are right, school is better...
2. Very little time to myself. I have never had much time for hobbies or outside activities. The children are with you 24/7 and as they get older they get used to this and sometimes they can forget to give you space. This can be improved by setting good boundaries but I have not always done it. There are days when I think... If they were at school I could spend 2 hours (uninterrupted) just reading my bible or doing some scrap booking etc, etc.
3. People often don't visit anymore because they always think you are homeschooling (or should be) I have not had a non-homeschooler drop around
4. You can stop wanting to do some of the extra curricula activities because
5. The outspoken thing that others have mentioned. My children never think
6. Your entire life becomes centred around homeschooling. This is both a positive and a negative. Some days I would like to just be "normal" yet I can not look at anything without considering how it affects my children's education.
7. It is difficult to become involved in daytime activities when they are older. People are happy for you to bring your 6 or 7 or 8 year old along to a craft group but when you are bringing a 16 year old and a 14 year old along to a ladies bible study people become uncomfortable.
8. Socially you must provide avenues for them to make friends. This is as easy as anything when they are younger but as they reach their teen years it is much more difficult. I have 3 aged 14, 16 and almost 19 and finding children their age has been hard. Not a lot of folks HS at this age and if they do they usually have already established their support group and it is hard to break into. It often involves traveling larger distances to get together.
9. Connected to the problem above is that my children became social misfits to a degree in that they don't swear, check out boys, listen to heavy metal, want to experiment with drugs, smoking or alcohol etc etc etc so people think they are "immature" and naïve or just strange. My son is still happy to play with a two year old and my daughter still likes dressing her cat in dolls clothes. My 19 year old has never been on a date or even had an open crush on a boy and her favourite past time is still reading not partying!
All of this means that they don't fit I with "normal" children their age. They also tend to speak out vocally against unrighteousness and social injustice, etc, which means they are quick to put people off side. This is all good in my eyes as far as their heavenly destiny goes but be warned if you want children who fit into their peer groups easily. All of my children can fit into any social setting fairly easily but they soon discover that they are not happy to remain with a group that is interested in checking out girls or gooing over a cute boy or discussing how horrible the "olds" are.
The pressure is on to make sure there are other likeminded people around for them to associate with comfortably. We have managed this but it has had its ups and downs.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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