There are many reasons why people decide to start homeschooling their kids. But what prompts a family to stop homeschooling?
Last summer some friends of ours decided to pull their two boys out of public school because they were frustrated with the quality of teaching and worried about the negative influences of certain bullies on the playground.
The parents were enthusiastic about homeschooling and the possibilities for learning. I warned the mom, who would be the primary teacher, that the first year was a tough time of adjustment to a new and very busy schedule.
She had it under control, she told me. She was organized and ready.
Within the first month she voiced her first minor complaint to us, about how much time it was taking her older boy to finish some of the assignments. My main piece of advice to her was to relax and be flexible about the work. Homeschooling shouldn’t be rigid. I like to encourage fun learning and discovery.
We heard from our friend off and on over the months, and it was always the same refrain. “They’re falling behind,” she’d say. “We work from morning until night and the boys are starting to hate school.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I just offered simple words of encouragement and continued to tell her, “The first year is difficult. You’re learning how to be a teacher, and your kids are figuring out what’s expected of them. Most of all, you have to learn how to be flexible.”
I thought she’d turned a corner in the new year when we didn’t hear anything negative for the first two months. Then, out of nowhere, I get an email from her. Not only has she completely soured on homeschooling, but she won’t even finish the year. She marched her boys down to the local school and re-enrolled them with just two months left in the semester.
In her letter, she explained to me why they were quitting:
“I’m VERY burnt out. I am so tired of spending every day going over teacher manual after teacher manual (on and off the computer) and trying to keep up with the boys’ work. I’ve gotten so burnt out that I’ve decided that we are not going to continue homeschooling.
I’m also missing having some time at home without the kids. I’ve just found that everything I do is for someone else and it’s exhausting. I have been stretched so far in so many directions that something had to change, and quickly.
I finally had to admit that I can’t do it all. Not unless I could figure out how to get more hours into a day, and I don’t know anyone who can do that.”
Let her reasons serve as a warning to you if you’re thinking of homeschooling. It is not a decision to be made lightly. Taking on the role of teacher to your kids is a major life changer. You have to give up a lot of personal time.
For some people, that’s just asking too much.