The Truth About Homeschooling: Part 4

Every so often on the homeschooling message boards that I occasionally read there will be a post that tells a story something like this:

My 10 yr old son can’t read. I’ve been just waiting for him to be interested but I’m now pregnant and on bed rest with my 8th child. That and my chronic disease have me exhausted and the medications I’m on make my head a little fuzzy. My husband recently lost his job and our house will go into foreclosure at the end of the month. We will be moving into my in-laws basement. My husband and his parents do not support homeschooling so they will not help with the teaching. Do you think it’s ok if we just take the rest of the year to pursue interests?

Invariably, the responses will all be along the lines of “don’t worry,  homeschooling is giving your kids so many good things, just take the time, your kids will be fine.”

And while I think it’s great to reassure each other and support each other, I think the truth is more complicated.

The truth is that homeschooling is not always best.

Homeschooling might not be best if it’s not working. If a child isn’t learning. If they aren’t thriving. If family stresses are so great that homeschooling is adding an overwhelming burden. There might be circumstances or seasons of life that make homeschooling not the best choice temporarily.

Obviously we can’t make choices for someone else, nor should we. And as a homeschool community it is good to support each other. However, sometimes support is saying “it’s ok to stop” as much as saying “no matter what you should keep going”. As a community when we pretend that there is never any other choice we do ourselves a disservice and we destroy our credibility.

Don’t get me wrong. I think homeschooling is often best. I think we should do everything we can to support others in our community. But I also think we should admit that homeschooling is not necessarily best just because it’s homeschooling. If we aren’t being honest with ourselves about that then we run the risk of becoming complacent and not pushing ourselves to be the best we can.

Homeschooling can be the best choice for many families. It is for us right now. It might not always be the best choice for us though. And if that becomes the case I hope I have a community that can support that choice.

6 thoughts on “The Truth About Homeschooling: Part 4

  1. It’s complicated at times, isn’t it? I pray that I have enough sense ( and humility) to see it (and mostly, the grace to accept it) if that’s ever the case for us. Homeschooling is something I do because I love it and it feels so right for us. We’re all thriving, despite the inevitable bumps in the road. However, if there comes a time when my children will be better served by being schooled by others elsewhere, I intend to be willing.

  2. I think the key is to make sure homeschooling is a positive choice- not one that is being made out of fear. Certainly our concerns about outside influences, etc can be part of the decision, but ultimately we need to be able to say with at least some confidence that we are offering our children something that is at the very least on par with other options, and hopefully better in some areas. I hope that if we reach a point where that is no longer the case I will be able to have the perspective and humility to admit it and do something else.

  3. I think you’re absolutely right, Amber. We typically say when people ask us how long we will homeschool something along the lines of “one year at a time”. That’s not the real truth as we don’t really expect to stop. However, I think what we mean is “as long as we think what we’re doing is providing a better education than they can get elsewhere and as long as it’s working for all of us. ” But that’s too long an answer and a little too pompous. 🙂 The shorter version says that we’re not ideologues and are open to change even if it doesn’t really tell the whole truth.

  4. That is the very advice I got when my 3rd child wasn’t reading. Because of it (and my inexperience with LD) I waited far too long to get her intervention. Now I’ve become a bit of a “get them tested” broken record when mom’s ask that question. It was a long road getting her proper help but, putting her into school was the best choice we made for her and for our mother/daughter relationship.

    I completely agree…homeschooling isn’t always the best choice in every situation. Every family and every child is different.

    • Thanks for sharing that experience Deb. It sounds like you all very much made the right decision for your family. I’m glad your daughter ended up in the right place for her.

      We also often say that we can imagine scenarios where we might have different kids in different educational settings at different times depending on their needs.

  5. I kind of thing that our situation is this wonderful, God-given opportunity, but that it’s a fragile balancing act. To just focus on the last part, there are so many things that can come up in life which might force the decision, and we would lose the ability/opportunity to be with our kids as they are growing up and learn. So, for now, I’m just so grateful and happy for this time, and I think our kids are flourishing (not that they wouldn’t or couldn’t elsewhere).

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