Note: This article was originally published in 2015.
Can we be real, here, people? As much as I love homeschooling, there are aspects of the homeschool lifestyle that I don't like so well.
I never want to come across as “everything's a bed of roses” to y'all. Because it's not, it never has been, and it never will be. There are things about homeschooling that are TOUGH. There are areas I've failed. There are many things I wish I'd done differently.
There's a lot to like about homeschooling!! But there are also things not to like. And that's OK. My own experience tells me that this like/dislike tension is true for most things in life… such as marriage, parenting, employment, etc. Why should homeschooling be any different?
Today I'd like to tell you about my likes and dislikes specifically in regards to the homeschool lifestyle. Because it IS a lifestyle, y'all. Being a homeschooler permeates our day-to-day experience. Here's what I mean:
My likes and dislikes about the homeschool lifestyle
1) I LIKE the ease of our schedule on a day-to-day basis.
I don't have to set an alarm to wake up, there are no bells to tell us to switch classes, and we can eat lunch when we are hungry, whether that's at 10am or 2pm.
There is time to stop and smell the roses, both literally and figuratively. If one of the kids and I start having an important conversation, we have the ability to take the time to finish it. If we are enjoying our lunchtime banter, we can prolong it. If math is just not going well today, we can set it aside and try again later.
It's also easier to make medical appointments, because we are available during the weekdays. Not a biggie, but definitely a convenience.
2) I DISLIKE the fact that I am pretty much tied to the home.
For years I have wanted to join a ladies' Bible study that meets every Friday morning, and for years I have NOT joined, because I need to be home with the kids during schooltime. This has not necessarily changed now that the kids are old enough to stay by themselves — even high schoolers have trouble staying on task and/or getting along with their siblings… don't ask me how I know.
3) I LIKE that we are able to adapt our overall schedule to other events happening in our lives.
For instance, we just took several days off of school to go see our eldest's violin recital at college. My husband travels a lot for his job; when he's gone we work hard on school so that when he's home we can slack a little more. When someone is sick; they can take a day or two more slowly — and/or do school while lying on the sofa. We are not tied to the school district calendar; we make our own.
4) I DISLIKE that all that flexibility during the year means that I that we don't get much of a summer break.
There is something so enticing about having multiple months on end with NOTHING to do but go swimming and get a tan… OK, I know that's not really what summer break is like, but the thought of not having to keep kids on task for multiple months on end is truly equally enticing! And around here, that only happens for about a week somewhere around early August… Even with all the will in the world, it can be difficult to keep your homeschool schedule on track.
5) I LIKE that having the kids here all day every day means that we can work hard on character training all the time.
I don't have to base my discussions with them on what happened away from me, about things I'm getting told about after the fact; I see their behavior issues in real time and can address them immediately. For The Man and I, character development is one of the main reasons we chose to homeschool. And while it is not always easy, I am glad for the opportunities to help my children work through their faults and practice considerate behavior that homeschooling provides.
6) I DISLIKE the very obvious evidence in my home that people are here ALL THE TIME.
Wow, is it tough to keep this house picked up! This is definitely one of the character issues that seems to elude us, lol. It sure would be nice to have uninterrupted time to clean, and have that “clean” then stay undestroyed for several hours… but it ain't happenin' here. igh.
7) I LIKE that we have the freedom to explore interests without becoming over-scheduled.
The eldest could play her violin for several hours a day, and instead of having to fit that time in on top of her coursework, she was given school credit for it. Writing, drawing, crafting, reading — we can fit it in, almost as much as we want. The kids can research a topic that intrigues them and follow it deeply or discard it for another. consider this a privilege.
8) I LIKE being able to give my kids a hug WHENEVER I WANT.
I like that we are bonding together as a family in ways that would not be possible if the kids were away from home all day in separate classes. I like that our communication runs the gamut from laughter to tears and back again frequently. I like that we spend enough time together that we can just hang out without having to do anything or talk. We are not just a family; we are a homeschool family — and it shows.
Nothing is ALL rainbows and unicorns. There are some things that I have wished were different about homeschooling, but overall it has been wonderful for our family. The good parts have been worth any disappointments. We are fulfilling our reasons for choosing to do it in the first place, and I wouldn't change that decision now!