Read this when you want to quit homeschooling

Read this when you want to quit homeschooling

Is homeschooling feeling like drudgery (or worse) to you lately? Have you lost your motivation?

I’ve been there (every February, ha, ha!), I totally understand!

Two of my daughters have decided that math is not their thing, which — what?! Math is the best subject known to man! Not that they like any of their other subjects, either. I guess school is not their thing, ha, ha. But they fight me the hardest over math, and math is the subject of most of the complaining.

These two girls take hours to complete a single math assignment. They know I can’t won’t sit at the table with them that long, and the minute I leave, they disappear. I have chores to do, too! I can’t sit at the table all day!

When I return, I have to round them up from the nether regions of the house and get them going again.

It’s rather like getting our old tractor to start. We lost the key ages ago, so we have to put the tractor in neutral, then use a huge wrench (bigger than an adult femur!) to touch the starter and solenoid and it jump starts the motor. The engine cranks for a few minutes while the whole thing shudders and shake and blows dark clouds of exhaust before it settles down to work.

I think getting my girls going is actually much harder than getting the tractor going. Their dark clouds and shuddering is far more grating, and it rarely results in them settling down to work.

Lately, I can’t help but feel like a failure and think that public school would be better for them. And for me, if I’m being honest!

My non-homeschooling friends have more than six hours to themselves every day!

So when I tell you I get it, I really do.

The big threat in our household — the one that I issue when at the very end of my rope — the one that sends kids scurrying into action — is, “That’s it! You’re all going to public school!”

And then, while gearing up to find all the shoes and wash all the faces and load them all up in the car to go register them and drop them off to be nagged by someone else, I have a minute to think. And it’s a good thing I do.

Because when I make my lists, the homeschooling column always has far more pros than cons, while the public school column has far more cons than pros.

Let me share my list with you!


Homeschooling vs Public School


As a homeschool mom, you have to be the bad guy. You’re the one nagging your kids to complete assignments or to redo poorly finished assignments. There are days when I feel like I’ve done nothing but nag! If I sent my kids off to public school, wouldn’t they take care of that for me?

Sorry, but no. The teacher is just the teacher from 8 am – 3 pm. She has a life and family of her own outside of school — she can’t take your child’s problems home with her. And she has 20-30 kids in her classroom. If it’s hard for you to keep track of your kids, imagine how much harder it must be for her.

She’ll make sure your child sits in his seat quietly — that he isn’t disruptive. And yes, she will assign work, complete with due dates and grades. But you will still do the nagging, keeping track of assignments and due dates, and requiring your child to finish homework.

I think it would actually be harder to nag and keep track of things assigned by a school teacher than by me, because I’m not actually in that classroom, and I’ll only know what my child tells me. Plus, I’m going to balk at having to help my child complete busy work that I don’t find worthwhile. Dioramas? Nope!

Quality of education

Probably the single best thing we do in our homeschool is that we strive for mastery of our subjects. For example, my children will complete a math assignment, I check it and hand it back to them, they correct the problems they missed, I recheck the assignment, they re-correct the problems that are still wrong, and so on until the assignment is perfect.

My kids definitely learn a whole lot more from making the corrections than from completing the rest of the assignment. Yet, that part never happens in a public school setting. Students turn work in, it’s graded and handed back, and it goes in the trash can. The most profound part of the learning is entirely skipped! It would be impossible for a teacher to go through the correction process with all of her students.

Further, the teachers at the public school have to set expectations and standards at a level that even the lowest-achieving kids can attain. They’re going to let sub-par work slide through with good grades.

Schools care about test scores and graduation rates because that’s how they are evaluated. But they aren’t concerned about individual children’s levels of comprehension.

Even the best teachers don’t have time to interact individually with their students. They don’t know your child’s potential, or that he is cabaple of work far beyond his grade, so they won’t expect it.

Educational gaps

I never test my children. When we encounter tests and quizzes in our curriculum I just skip them because I don’t want to waste a day.

I also don’t worry about teaching my kids what the Department of Education says they were supposed to have learned that year (the published education standards). I can’t because I have eight kids!

I use Unit Studies (except for math, which everyone completes on their own level) because it’s much easier to teach all of them human anatomy together and then electricity together and then American history together than it is to have them each learning their own science and their own history and their own literature. That would make me crazy!

So I ignore the state standards and do what works best for my family. I don’t even know if my children have educational gaps, let alone where or what they are.

And what about all the breaks we take? We travel a lot, and we take lots of field trips, and I take nice, long sabbaticals whenever I have a new baby.

Wouldn’t a public school be more on top of things like this?

Nope. My mother-in-law, a teacher, talked about her frustrations own frustrations with the schools she taught at. She said that it almost became a requirement to take SIX WEEKS off of the regular curriculum each year to prepare for standardized testing. Because if students scored well on the test, the school would get more funding.

In addition to time spent on test prep, there’s summer break — 3 entire months of it — and Christmas break and spring break and other holidays. Summer break alone is so detrimental to the learning continuum that teachers have to spend an entire month on review when the kids come back to school.

Public schools have other things that steal their productive classroom time, too. Assemblies, pep rallies, class parties, field trips, fire drills, discipline problems, substitute teacher days, etc… And then there must be days that teachers are just plain tired and unable to put their best selves forward. They’re human!

The thing about public school is that it’s harder to adjust for less than ideal circumstances. So the 5th grade teacher isn’t going to start the year off finishing the 4th grade math book, just because one of the 4th grade classes didn’t finish it the year prior. No, she’s going to start in the 5th grade math book.

Gaps in their education? You bet!

You, however, can pick up where you left off because you set your own schedules.

You get the leftovers

I’ve always felt bad for moms who have to work full-time and leave their children in daycare. It would break my heart if I missed out on my babies first smiles and steps and words!

But that’s kind of how school is. The majority of each day, and the best part of each day, is spent with someone else. Your kids’ friends get to enjoy all of the best moments with your child, while you get only the less desirable parts of the day — the rushing to wake up and get ready and then the bad attitude that results from the exhaustion of being at school all day.

Not only will you not know your children as well as you’d like, but they won’t know each other.

My kids are all each other’s best friends. We don’t have many close neighbors here in this farmhouse, but even if we did, it wouldn’t matter. My kids would still just play with each other, because that’s what they do all day long every day.

We, as a family, get to share each other’s best and brightest moments, funniest sayings and accomplishments, and we’re closer for it!

Quit homeschooling

The socialization issue

Everyone talks about socialization in regards to homeschool. Yes, it’s a thing, but I think it’s actually backward from what everyone else is thinking.

Most people wonder how homeschooled kids can possibly be properly socialized if they don’t interact daily with 20 other kids their age. That’s exactly the problem, in my opinion. Real life will never situate you in a social or work setting with 20 other people your exact age.

Have you read Lord of the Flies? It’s a perfect example of mob mentality. Mob mentality describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items.

Schools exacerbate the problem of mob mentality. Your child will be exposed to new temptations, new ways to talk back, new insults, and the popular kids who seem to compete to be seen as the most destructive and rebellious.

Because you and your child will be spending less time together, and you’ll naturally exert less influence over your child.

I was one of ‘the good kids’ and nearly always a favorite with teachers and adults all through school — because I mastered the art of ‘the facade’. It’s very common for children to approach teachers with one demeanor, friends with another, and parents with yet another.

Yes, there are some fantastic teachers in schools. I know several personally! However, your child will not be surrounded by great teachers — they’ll be surrounded by peers. Thus the majority of what they will learn will come from other students. And some of those students will come from families with extremely different standards than yours.

Oppositional beliefs from school teachers

I know that most teachers choose the education profession because they want to make a difference. They work tirelessly for little financial compensation.

Still, though, your children will undoubtedly be taught by teachers with different values and different ideas than yours.

While high schoolers have a better-formed sense of self, younger children will be confused if they’re taught young-earth Creationism at home and Darwinism and evolution at school.

My health teacher in high school taught LGBTQ principles as just an alternative lifestyle, the same as any other lifestyle and then taught us that we should keep what we learned in class secret — not talk about it with our parents — because he claimed our parents were all homophobes.

Parenting is hard enough without our children feeling they are at bitter odds with us over our allegedly antiquated beliefs.

Personal Time

Oh, if I could only get back all of the hours I’ve spent sitting at the kitchen table waiting for my kids to complete their schoolwork!

The reason I left this argument for last is that it’s the biggest struggle for me, personally. It’s pretty obvious to me that sending my kids back to school would not be the best for them. Even as I’m making the threat, “That’s it! I’m sending you to public school!” I know that it would not be in any of their best interests.

However, it’s really hard to not feel like it would make my life easier.

I don’t want to go shopping or to the spa or out to lunch with friends. That’s not me at all. But I’d love to build and sew and paint and create! And oh, how I crave quiet! A few hours a day of quiet sounds like absolute heaven!

It often seems that I only get the dregs of the day for myself.

I realize that our mornings would be more hectic, forcing tired little people awake and rushing them around to get ready, then driving them to school. There is a school bus route out here — we watch the school buses drive past the bottom of our driveway — but I don’t know if I could put my kids on it after my own bus-riding experiences.

Sorry for the tangent, but the older boys on our bus were huge pyromaniacs and always lighting things on fire at the back of the bus — seats, kids, whatever they could get to catch flame. We knew better than to sit by the bad boys, and always saved each other seats at the front of the bus.

One day those boys brought fireworks and lit one off. It shot over a bunch of seats and embedded itself in my friends hair. She had a fluffy, permed and heavily-hairsprayed head, and the firework was caught there for some time, burning. How could I ever put my precious little people on a bus?

Having to drive my kids back and forth to three different schools (because I have the whole gamut of ages) would be annoying, but would still free up several hours of personal time, right?

Well, unless I had a kindergartener, necessitating another trip back and forth to the school. Oh, and early-out days. Wait, I think that’s every Friday!

Oh, and then there would be the days that my kids needed to stay after school for extracurricular activities, which would mean more driving and waiting. And then there would be orchestra concerts, and PTA responsibilities, and the bake-sale, and forgotten lunches!

And all the required homework! My neighbor complains that it takes her at least two hours every evening. What makes me think my kids would complete that on their own?

Never mind. How silly of me to think I’d have more ‘me’ time!

Public school moms are just tied to a schedule that someone else created. One that they have no say in nor control over.

What was I thinking?

Once I calm down and remove my grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side glasses, I can see clearly. Why would I sign up for public school when I have to retain accountability, my kids will receive a lesser-quality education, possibly with even more educational gaps, I’ll have to deal with rebellious behaviors learned from the other kids and ideas contrary to my our family beliefs, and do it all on a schedule created for me by someone who doesn’t even know my family?

Why would you?

At least while homeschooling, you will know that your kids are being taught and mentored by the people who know them best and love them most — the ones who have been stewardship by God — you!

No, public school is not the answer. Sending your kids to public school won’t solve the problems you have at home.




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Related Reading: The Ultimate list of FREE Homeschool Curriculum


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11 thoughts on “Read this when you want to quit homeschooling”

  • Hi–Homeschooling mom of 2 and this is our 7th year–10yo and 12yo. I’m feeling like I’m in a particularly vulnerable state…we just got back from visiting family whose kids are all in private school. At their school, they’re active in sports, have lots of friends, are in a Christian learning environment, etc. Lately, when we have returned from visiting them, I have this nagging feeling like my kids are missing out. My family members don’t make us feel this way, but I start wondering what it would be like if we put our kids in our church’s private school (its PK-12). I think of the time I would have to dedicate to my growing Christian business/ministry I started at home a few years ago. I think of all the activities they’d be able to do (we can’t do as many now because we’re mainly on one income). I daydream about how I could do my work full-time during the day, make enough for their tuition, watch my business grow as my focus is no longer divided, and be there for all the before and after school stuff and enjoy our weekends together. I work so hard and I just imagine them thriving at this private school and I start to think it’d just be better for all of us. I know there’s no guarantee of that , but my daughter already has friends there and would fit in well, my son would enjoy making more friends his age, and overall the allure is just so very strong. I wonder if these feelings are all foolishness and selfishness or if they’re God leading us there. I have friends who rave about the private school and their kids just seem to have so many opportunities. And of course I have tons of homeschooling friends who would have a lot to say about continuing on our homeschooling path. We attend a co-op where both kids take four classes every Tuesday and have friends there…my daughter is in a Christian Youth Theater organization… so it’s not like they do nothing. .. Anyway, I just wanted your take since so many articles are dedicated to why you should homeschool instead of sending your kid to public school, but not many people talk about taking their kids out of private school to homeschool or vice versa. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Leah!

      I think you should pray about it first. It just might be inspiration from Heavenly Father, because this private school could be a fantastic opportunity for your kids! Anyway, you don’t have to sign up for life, right? You could give it a try and see how your kids feel and how you feel, and whether you want to proceed or not. It might just be a case of the grass being greener on the other side, but it might not.

      I’ll share my experience. Seven of my kids play in a private, Christian school’s orchestra, which is absolutely fantastic. We pay a prorated tuition so we can just be involved in that one thing. Several years ago, my husband talked with the administrators about going full time, and we started looking at ways to be able to afford the tuition for all of our children. It’s expensive!

      But then I was over there one day, working on orchestra music (I volunteer as a librarian for the orchestra because I’m there with my kids anyway) during a school day, and I watched a teacher interact with a child. She was a kindergarten teacher, with probably only 10 kids in her class, sitting on the floor around a rug, and one of them was a noisy, wiggly little boy. She took him aside, but where other kids could still hear, and really chewed him out for being so wiggly. The little guys face fell and he went back to the rug quiet and forlorn. After a few minutes, the class went to lunch, and they all lined up and marched like little soldiers down the hall. It really disturbed me.

      Now, this woman seemed like a great, fun teacher. But she has to manage a classroom. All of those teachers have to manage their classrooms. This means quiet obedience and marching down the hall like soldiers. There is nothing wrong with that, really. But I don’t want my kids doing it. If you’ve read Dumbing Us Down; The Hidden Agenda of Compulsory Education by John Taylor Gatto, then you know all about the Prussian models our schools are based on. That was what I objected to. I don’t want my kids marching in straight lines, and I don’t want them sitting quietly in seats, being ‘taught’ things.

      I really object to them being taught, even if I agree with and approve of the ideas that are being taught. I just don’t want my kids thinking that they need to be taught, you know? Instead, I want them out of their seats, noisily learning, and really self-educating as opposed to being taught. I don’t want them to think that learning and being taught are the same thing, because they’re not. Self-education is far superior.

      And that’s why I told my husband no. I still think that private school is far superior to public school, but it’s still based on the Prussian models. I don’t want my kids to be little soldiers. I want them to have opinions and be assertive, lifelong, self-learners. I don’t want them to be obedient to any person, just to God.

      All of that probably sounds pretty rebellious, and I have really wondered, at times, if I was messing my kids up. But my oldest three are all thriving at prestigious Universities, on full scholarships. And they are also still self-learners, because colleges facilitate that, even though it’s trained right out of students in primary school. I feel like my kids had a really easy transition to University, because it wasn’t really a transition. And believe me, I failed pretty hard during SO much of our homeschooling time, just because I was either pregnant or nursing and up all night for 16 YEARS!

      It worked, though, because it’s natural. Kids are naturally inclined to make sense of their worlds. They WANT to know how things work and WHY! They need a parent to facilitate that learning and provide opportunities, but they self-educate quite efficiently and effectively. So I can totally work my own business at home, and self-educate myself (because setting a good example is HUGE) while my children work on their own self-educating, and we can all enjoy our own work.

      If you still feel strongly, though, about your private school, it may well be that your kids will thrive there and that Heavenly Father knows it and is trying to tell you something. He can give you far better advice, because your children are also HIS, than I ever can. Good luck and hugs, fellow mama in the trenches! I know your worries, because I’ve been there.

  • I love your transparency here, Amy! And we are SO likeminded on this! The main reason I chose to homeschool my children (before my firstborn was ever born!) was because I wanted to be the one teaching my children their core values, laying their foundation, helping them understand the difference between right and wrong, etc. Another great reason that you hit on was the fact that we are the ones who are going to ensure that our kids really GET what they are doing – not just grade their assignments and move on. And I will add a big AMEN to the herd mentality section! I totally could have written this post, apart from the teenage girls, lol…boymom here! But I absolutely love your heart on the entire homeschooling topic. And totally got a kick out of you threatening your kids with public school! 🤣

    • You’re so wise that you knew all of this before your children were even born! I stumbled into homeschooling by accident, but I am sure grateful I did! It has made all the difference for my family!

  • I’ve always really admired families that homeschool. It can’t always be easy, but it’s not always easy to have your kids in public or private school either. I like the idea that you can really be with your kids though and that you can make sure they are actually learning what they need, and not just remembering facts for a test and then forgetting them as soon as it’s turned in.


    • I agree that being a parent is just plain hard, whether your kids are in private school, public school or homeschooled. But it’s so worth all the hardships!

  • Hi Amy and thanks for such a good, honest article. It’s great to read the bad bits as well as the good – I’ve been Home Educating for about 8 years now, but the last 2 or 3 have been the hardest for me. My 11 year old isn’t interested in anything I suggest and is very “Strong Willed” – I have other children with complex needs and I have ADHD so she has mastered the art of distracting me away from Schoolwork!! Reading your article has reminded me, though, that even with her sloping off upstairs at every given opportunity – she is still learning more than she would be at school and is ONLY learning the good stuff!!! You struck a chord in me when you said ” But I’d love to build and sew and paint and create! And oh, how I crave quiet! A few hours a day of quiet sounds like absolute heaven!” and I think this is something I need to build into my daily life to help me cope a little better!

    • I think my kids have mastered the art of distracting me away from schoolwork, too! Or maybe it’s this blog… ha, ha! It’s something! I also need to build more quiet time into my daily life, but it’s hard lately. Right now, mowing the lawn is my very favorite chore because I can’t hear anyone over the mower (too loud!) and it takes me about 3 hours. Thanks for the your comment!

  • This is awesome….I am not homeschooling yet but we are going to be adopting and I want to homeschool so I love reading posts like this so I can be prepared!! Thank you for always sharing your stories!!

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