The Selfish Truth About Homeschooling

I’m used to certain set comments when people find out I homeschool. There is the variant of “Wow! I don’t know if I could do that.” I’m fine with that. I’m not a believer that everyone should homeschool. There are also the people that ask really specific questions, usually ones that’ve I’ve heard before. (How do you pick what to teach? What about socialization? What about testing? Do you have to report to the state?) I don’t find these offensive or annoying, for the most part. I’ve only had one person be really openly hostile about homeschooling and it was just sort of funny to me. Most people I find are genuinely curious or sometimes just making polite conversation. Increasingly I find I meet people who are asking because they are considering homeschooling for their family.

There is one comment though that I have a hard time responding to: “I could never be with my kids that much.” I have to admit I really don’t get that and it leaves me somewhat speechless, especially if their kids are nearby.

I believe in having time away. I go out semi-regularly for coffee with friends and it’s sanity-saving for me. H. and I treasure any precious date nights that we are able to have. I love the time at the end of the day when the kids are asleep and he and I can talk alone. I just got back from a women’s retreat and it was fabulous and refreshing. We have bad days where I’m frazzled and make it clear to everyone that I just need to be ALONE for a little while. So I understand the need to get away.

I can also understand that homeschooling isn’t right for some families. I understand that many parents either want to work outside the home or have to work outside the home. I do understand the desire and need to work and I realize that I’m blessed to have a situation that allows me to both work outside the home and be at home.

Last week, we had a day where I barely saw John. We got up and went to our weekly co-op where he is in classes away from me. Afterwards, he went home with a friend. He came home for about one hour before needing to quickly eat dinner and go out for basketball practice. We’ve been lucky enough this season to have a coach who drives him to practice, so we said good-bye and he came home right in time for bed.

For him, I think this was a good day. He enjoyed it. Increasingly, I’m realizing that time away from us is going to be something he enjoys and that is good for him. However, in the middle of the day I realized I missed having him home with us. It was just one day but it made me think about how much I’d miss getting to see him if he was in school 6-8 hours a day. As I’ve said before, we aren’t die-hard homeschoolers. I can imagine times in the future when we might think that what is best for one of the kids is to be in another school setting. But I can’t really imagine a time where I’d say that what’s best for me is to have the kids in another school setting. So, the selfish truth right now is that homeschooling lets me spend the day with the three of my most favorite people. And I can’t understand not wanting that.

8 thoughts on “The Selfish Truth About Homeschooling

  1. Alice,

    This is almost exactly how I feel. In fact, I’ve even expressed this to my husband before–that we homeschool for “selfish” reasons. As overwhelmed as I feel sometimes (and I do!), there’s simply no one I’d rather spend my days with than my children. And to get to do fun, nerdy things with them? Ah, heavenly! 😉

    I’m curious, though, about how you expect to know when a child might benefit more from going “out” to school. What do you think the signs of this might be?

  2. Oh, and I meant to say that it’s good to finally put a name & face together. That is a precious picture!

    • Hey, I took that picture! (I always somewhat feel like I’ve won the lottery when she posts a picture that I took).
      Amy, thanks for being a faithful friend/reader to my wife, and I hope it works out that we can visit in person in the fall…

      Maybe because I don’t do the hard work of school planning, but I have unmitigated enthusiasm for our homeschooling. The process I predict happening is that over time, each child might have increasing demands/interests outside the home. More than any other format, though, I see homeschooling being able to accommodate with the incredible flexibility of scheduling. We have older homeschooling friends who have coined the joke, “it’s called ‘homeschooling’ but we’re never home!” There certainly could be other factors that come in that don’t allow us to continue, but for now I think there’s room to keep on going until high school and maybe college.


    • Thanks Amy! The picture is actually a funny story. It’s a book that I read every year at Christmas (Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant) and I cry every single time. This year my husband took photos of me reading it and a video to get the weeping on film. I think the glee on my middle son’s face is more about thinking it’s funny that Mommy is going to cry at a book again than at the joy of reading. 🙂

      As for how to know when a child might benefit from another school option….that’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. I think in part it’s just trying to be really in tune to your kids and know what makes them tick and if they are thriving. I can imagine some scenarios where we might all think another school option is better. For example, there is an excellent science magnet high school in our area. If our oldest is still the scientist that he is today and if he was to get in (big ifs) I could easily see deciding that that school setting would provide him with an education and opportunities that I couldn’t at home. I could imagine another scenario where a child is very unhappy with homeschooling for a variety of reasons. We’ve had friends make the decision to no longer homeschool because of kids who are passionate about sports, kids who have a personality that is just clashing with a parent-teacher and kids who were really isolated and felt that wanted more of a social life. We’d have to take into account the child’s age and the reasons and what we as parents thought was the best course…but I could imagine a case where we’d decide this isn’t working. There isn’t really a formula. I think that for us it’s mostly about being open to other possibilities even while we desire to continue doing what we are doing.

      • Thanks, Alice and Alice’s Husband, for answering my question! I try to hold homeschooling loosely and live “in the moment” with it, but it’s hard for me to not try to predict the future. ;-). Our options here are fairly limited in that most highschools in our area are very similar and both private schools that we’d consider are neither particularly strong academically nor affordable on our single (plus my part time) income. Anyway, I think we’re in a good position when we remain open (all the while hoping to keep our best teaching gig ever!) and pray about it contInually.

  3. I’ve been home educating for a couple of weeks and I concur that one of the reasons was because I adore being home with my kids, aged 7 and 3 and since my son had been miserable at various schools for 4 years, and loves home, home was where his love of learning must be instilled. Great to hear another Mum feeling the same and yes, I find it incredibly weird that so many mothers can’t seem to wait to get rid of their children at Nursery, playgroups, school and say so in front of them! Happy reading!

  4. I enjoyed your post. I agree with what you are saying. It leaves me baffled sometimes when I hear other mothers say how they can’t wait to get their child into day care or back to school. I consider homeschooling to be the best decision now for us, and one of the most rewarding parts is being able to spend the formative years with my children. It is so worth it to me, frustrations and all, to see them learning and watch them grow.

  5. Pingback: What’s old is new again. | Supratentorial

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