Is Homeschooling Harder Than Public Schooling?

Guest writer Amy Saunders of Orison Orchards answers the age-old question of whether homeschooling is harder than public schooling. She makes some great points you might not have thought about!

Is homeschooling harder than public schooling?

Several years ago, at the conclusion of a fun weekend with my sisters-in-law and their families, I lamented the fact that summer was over and school would be starting soon. My husband’s oldest sister patted my shoulder and said, laughing, “Spoken like a true homeschooler,” making it obvious that she and my other sisters-in-law were overjoyed about sending their kids back to school.

An overthinker, I couldn’t help but ponder her words the entire two-hour drive home. None of my sisters homeschool, either, and at that time, nor did many of my friends. They expressed similar sentiments:

“I could never homeschool!”

“I’m not patient enough.”

“I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

And perhaps the most honest of all comments came from another sister-in-law,

“I’m too selfish to homeschool. I need my ‘me’ time every day.”

I get that.

I assure you I am no saint. I’m not particularly patient. I’m not a genius and I’m not a martyr.

It took me years of homeschooling, along with some difficult and painful homeschooling experiences, to fully realize and to be able to articulate that I homeschool precisely because I am selfish, because I don’t know everything and because I want to learn to be a better mom and human.

I homeschool because it is EASIER than sending my children off to a government school and I’m lazy.

Let me explain.

Is homeschooling harder than public schooling? Let me give you a few reasons I think it's actually much easier!

Advantages of Homeschooling over Public Schooling

1) I have MORE ‘me’ time.

My best friend has five kids in four different schools: one in high school, one in middle school, two in elementary school and one in preschool. My friend often spends from 6:00 am – 9:00 am, depending on the various activities her kids are involved in that day,  driving her children to their respective schools. Then she does it all in reverse from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm or later, again depending on her children’s activities. 

She also has to pick up her preschooler at noon, take her kids their forgotten lunches and/or homework and attend orchestra concerts, plays, PTA meetings and bake-sales. And her 10th grader’s schedule changes daily, depending on whether it is an A day or a B day, or whether there is an assembly, a holiday or an early-out day.

Gah! Kill me now!

We do school around the kitchen table on Monday to Thursday from 9 am to noon most weeks, unless someone is sick or we decide to take a trip, or an interesting opportunity comes up. Most Fridays are spent taking interesting field trips or skating or skiing or something fun with our homeschool group. 

We all have quiet time in the afternoon and then my kids and I work together, weeding the garden, folding laundry or whatever needs to be done that day. They are a huge help! I don't know how I could ever accomplish all of that work by myself!

My children never have “homework” like my friends’ kids. She complains that it takes her at least two hours every evening. We spend our afternoons and evenings together as a family with no requirements on our time.

We can set aside school work in favor of hiking on particularly beautiful days and build snowmen in the yard when it snows for the first time each year. During growth spurts my kiddos sleep late and take extra naps.

When we need a sunny, beach vacation in January, we don’t need to ask anyone’s permission or collect missed assignments or anything. We just go! We particularly enjoy top destinations during off season while there are no lines and admission is half-priced.

The flexibility and freedom of being able to create my own schedule for my family and adjust it to meet our individual needs feels like freedom. Public school moms are just tied to a schedule that someone else created. One that they have no say in nor control over.

My family's schedule is MINE and mine alone, plus I spend less time facilitating my children’s educations (I only teach them math – I hire out the other subjects) than most of my friends spend facilitating their children’s schooling.

More from Amy: 10 Things Homeschool Moms Want You to Know

2) I would still be the adult responsible for their educations.

No matter how good the teacher is, it's still the teacher’s 9-5 job, and upper grade school teachers have hundreds of students, and at the end of the day teachers have to go home to their own families.

Teachers will make sure your child sits in his seat quietly — that he isn’t disruptive. And yes, the teacher will assign work, complete with due dates and grades. But you will still do the nagging and keeping track of those assignments and due dates. If your child doesn't work independently at home, what magical sauce will make him do it at school? 

3) I don’t have to un-teach things I disagree with and I don’t have to be at odds with my children.

I know that most teachers choose the education profession because they want to make a difference. I have family members who are teachers, and I know how much they love their students. Still, though, I may disagree with their values, and I don’t want them imparting those values to my children. That's my job!

Twenty years ago, in high school, my health teacher taught us about “alternative lifestyles.” The concerning part of the lesson was that he told us not to tell our parents because they were old-fashioned.

Regardless of anyone's stance on this topic or others, I will definitely object anytime a teacher tells students to keep things a secret from their parents. Parenting is hard enough without our children feeling they are at bitter odds with us over our beliefs that their teachers tell them are wrong.

4) I get to keep learning and I love it.

I think I mentioned earlier that I’m selfish and that I don’t know everything.

Eighteen years of homeschooling will teach you a thing or two. When my oldest first reached Calculus a few years ago, I had to dust off my old skills. It was rough.

When my second child studied Calculus a year later, I was a better tutor. When my third child studied Calculus, I made connections I never had before, and his skills reflected my improved skills. This year, my 13-year-old is learning Calc 1 and I actually finally feel competent. I’m still finding my footing in differential equations with my older son, but I’ll get there. 

I’ve learned Spanish, ASL, and many musical instruments alongside my children, too. Of course, I’ll never know everything, but I freaking love that I get to keep learning!

The very best things I’m learning are attributes. 

I’m more patient, generous, and kind than I would have been had I not chosen to homeschool all those years ago. My children come to ME when they have a problem, and they know they can trust me because society hasn’t taught them that they can’t.

My children’s best hours are spent at home every day. I get to laugh with them at lunch. I get to bake with them and clean with them. Selfishly, I love having them home so I can enjoy them.

Related: Our Main reason for Homeschooling

If they went away to school, I would only get the rushing hours – rushing to wake up and get ready, rushing to music lessons or soccer practice, rushing to finish dinner, clean up, complete homework and get to bed. I would get the bad attitude that results from the exhaustion of being at school all day.

Not only are the relationships between my children and me better for homeschooling, but my kids are also each other’s best friends. We, as a family, get to share each other’s best and brightest moments. They fight, too, and nothing is ever perfect; but I think living each day in such close proximity is a thing of beauty.

And even more from Amy: 10 Things Homeschool Moms Don't Want You to Know

Is homeschooling harder?

Thanks to homeschooling, I have more ‘me' time, a flexible schedule, and the freedom to travel and take advantage of fun opportunities. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to impart my own values to my children, and I feel grateful that they respect my beliefs and values. I am grateful that I am close to my children, that we have time every day to talk and share ideas and concerns. I'm also thankful that I get to keep learning.

I know that these benefits of homeschooling aren't exclusive to homeschooling. I know that there are fantastic schools with fantastic teachers out there, and that parents who don't homeschool can find other ways to connect with their children. But with only 24 hours in each day and myriad responsibilities, I also know that adding another thing can feel impossible — and it's nice that homeschooling is our way of life rather than having to try to squeeze all of these things into an already busy day.

In my opinion, homeschooling is SO MUCH EASIER than sending my kids off to government schools. There is a learning curve, but that's easily remedied! Jump in; the water's fine!

Related: Episode 37 – How to Start Homeschooling High School Part 1

Amy Saunders
Latest posts by Amy Saunders (see all)

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