Wednesday, May 8, 2013

In the Name of Transparency: Negatives of Homeschooling

How honest should I be here?
Well, I'm a bit too honest, I have heard, and this post will be no different.  Especially since I am PMSing.  Homeschooling isn't perfect.  No form of education and no parenting is perfect.  I have a strong need to be open and honest and to show readers the truth about (our) homeschool experiences.

People come to this blog for many reasons.  From the statistics available to me, I see many many people out there searching for negatives of homeschooling, disadvantages of homeschool, and posts against homeschooling.  (These are actual search terms that bring people here again and again.)  I try to accommodate them, but I'm not sure my information is what they are looking for.

Still I try.  I'm here to tell you about the negatives of homeschool in our family, in our house.  Our lives aren't perfect.  But our lives are good!
I am aware of growth areas that our family possesses.  We are imperfect.
Here, I am going to make it clear and transparent.  I am trying to discuss the "negative" as honestly and clearly as I can.  I have talked to the kids about this and they are supportive of the post.
  • Normalcy - The kids both have questions about what is "normal."  Are they "normal?  They both have had experiences where they have felt outside of the group and awkward when around large groups of school kids.  It's true.  They have both had experiences where they found these larger groups of kids confusing and ostracizing and creating of self-doubt.  They have both, at different times, walked away from events with groups of kids wondering why no one liked them. 

    Do I think this means that homeschooling doesn't work?  NO!  Not at all.  I think these feelings are absolutely normal, ironically.  I remember having these exact thoughts and feelings myself, and I was a public school kid.  Also, unlike my experience, they can put these thoughts into words and discuss them.  We are taking steps to improve their ability to interact in more situations and they are able to identify and verbalize their confusion.  Could you have done that at their age?
  • Hierarchy - The kids don't really "get" the social hierarchy of the school-kid groups and nor do they get the group mentality thing.  I remember not getting this either when I was a kid...  When at a playground, such as an event that happened today, I see John trying to figure the "popularity" thing out...and doing pretty well.  Other times he just doesn't understand the qualities that count as "cool" in mainstream kiddom.  The other day I was talking to a young girl who goes to school and asking her about this issue of status and popularity.  She was totally clueless about how the popular kids work.  Again, we can't really say this is a homeschool issue, but a kid issue, an issue of growing up and learning.  But homeschoolers are not excused from it.  Just today my son was talking about how weird he finds it when kids in his class (he is taking a drama class) don't listen to the instructor or when they can't stay on topic, or when they can't focus during group activities.  He doesn't get why kids are so uncooperative in group activities.  I can't help but wonder if he is really the one struggling to understand groups..?
  • Friendship Challenges - As a homeschooling family we have to deliberately seek out friendships and work to nurture them.  They aren't right next door or sequestered with the kids in the classroom year after year.  The kids have extremely excellent friendships, though.  Friends that I see as truly amazing people.  So, again, homeschooling friendships require more work, but they are worth it.
  • Regret - Will the kids regret not having gone to school?  Will they look back and wish that they had had a daily injection of public school and what that brings?  We talk about this sometimes.  At this point they feel quite certain that homeschool is completely their decision and choice.  Will they regret it?  I don't know.  Will public school kids regret not having been homeschooled?
  • I don't know everything - I absolutely do not know upper level math.  But when we do algebra and geometry, the kids get it.  We use high school textbooks for our lessons and we have always been able to figure it out, whatever it is.  I am usually able to get it long enough to get through a lesson, but I don't get it for the long term.  But they do.  As a matter of fact, this is an excellent example of how homeschool does work well.  The kids are learning how to learn algebra and geometry.  Learning how to learn.  Maybe this one shouldn't be on the list, but it's staying anyway because it's true; I don't know everything.  I couldn't list all of the presidents.  I don't know the constitutional amendments, I can't even remember what a hypotenuse is right now.  But I DO know how to find this information out!  And so do the kids.  Some would argue that knowing how to find out information is wisdom...,
  • Unmotivated Learners - No kidding, neither of my kids wants to learn algebra.  No one is interested in politics.  Neither of the kids cares much about other cultures or history or earth science.  It is murder trying to teach things to kids that they don't care about.  I know this for a fact, because I remember classrooms full of kids like school.
  • PMS - I can be very moody and PMSing at times.  I dislike it tremendously.  The kids dislike it tremendously.  One of the kids also has PMS herself.  So this delight effects us regularly.  The nice thing is that we can organize ourselves around our best and more productive days and times.  But the PMS is no joking matter.
  • I am lazy - No doubt about it, sometimes I am the one who is not motivated.  Also, I dislike structure and rules.  This does effect my kids.  Bonobo definitely responds well to both structure and rules...  He and I have often discussed his needs and my difficulty in meeting those needs.  "No problem, Mom," he says, "I know what to do at those times."
  • It is difficult homeschooling kids who are not "readers" - at least for me.  I think of reading as a gateway drug.  It's like the door to so many wonderful worlds.  But neither of my kids enjoys reading anything that comes to them as an assignment.  The Doctor has read a hundred books this year...none of them from the list I gave her.  LOL And Bonobo really isn't a big reader.  Not his thing.  And DANG!  I am a huge reader! 

There it is, my list.
But it's MY list.  Other homeschool families would have a different list because there is no one family or list or description that covers all homeschool families.  So, if you, Dear Reader, came here looking for the BULLET that explains why homeschooling is bad, sorry to disappoint you.  But this is all I've got for you.

Even though this egregious list is before me in all of it's glory, in black and white, our family is still very much a homeschooling family.  Why?  With all of this ammunition against it?  Because we don't view the competition as any better.  AND because we choose it.  We are committed to the lifestyle.


One more thing, the kids have asked me to out them with their real names. 
So, I present to you:
The Beautiful and Amazing 

and The Awesome and Talented  


If you enjoyed this post you may also like:  

*  This blog post is why I shouldn't blog while I am PMSing.   *grin*


  1. For the sake of balance, please let me tell you that I read your blog for the exact opposite reason: you show me the good side of home education ;) You are someone who is deeply thoughtful, who is constantly checking and researching to make sure that what you are doing is right for your children. You aren't afraid to talk about what is hard or frustrating or isn't going well because you are interested in finding ways to be better. You aren't home-schooling because of an ideological imperative that makes you unable to think critically about what you do. I read your blog because I have a negative perception of homeschooling, and you give me balance :)

    1. I am so deeply appreciative of this.
      Goodness. How nice to read.
      Thank you!

  2. Interesting list! We share some of yours and others are quite different. My oldest cares too much about politics sometimes, for instance (I wish she'd stop following so much depressing stuff!) and most of mine love reading, science, etc. Algebra is a struggle here with at least a couple too, though. :) I think the biggest thing I've noticed is that my kids just totally skipped all the "normal" stuff and just don't get it. The girls don't care about makeup or fashion, for instance, and have no tolerance for the small talk that most of the kids their ages engage in. All of my kids could be considered "odd" in various ways, and they absolutely do not care. I remember being so self conscious in middle school and high school, and the older kids went through some of that but not about appearances and fitting in the way I did. I consider that a blessing and I learn a lot from them. Still, it's hard sometimes to see them as outsiders in our little town full of kids who are so much alike and have that sense of community.

    I found you via Pinterest, BTW. Nice to meet you. :)

  3. I just found your blog by Googling "homeschool disadvantages" LOL. I think why you get blog hits from these terms are because people are afraid to step into the homeschooling world without knowing the pros and cons. At least that's why I Googled it. Love the blog...I'm signing up for the feed now. Thanks!

    1. If course you're right! I did the same thing!


Leave a comment!