I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {Part 2}

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {Part 2}

Written by Jessica.

February is late winter, a time many educators feel unmotivated or stuck in a rut. Some call this “the blahs.” It’s the no-man’s land of the school year – the freshness of a new school year is long past, the fun of the major holidays are over, and spring is still far away. It’s in this season that our day-to-day challenges and real-life shortcomings can seem magnified.

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Times like these can cause homeschoolers to worry and question. Is home really the best place to learn? Would ‘real’ school do it better? 

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {Part 2} #homeschool #homeschooling

Recently, I pushed back against a few common homeschooling doubts and fears. But there's still so much more to share. Perhaps you've had some of these same thoughts.

“We always seem to be ______ (falling behind…getting of track….unable to stay on schedule). Maybe this wouldn’t happen at school.”

For starters, the atmosphere of homeschooling is completely different from the traditional classroom. It’s far less formal because education and living life as a family happens in one place. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling, but sometimes that informality can make the school part of our days feel less than productive. We all have times when it seems we’re doing far more laundry, cleaning up after meals, assisting little ones, and asking kids to stop playing and come “do school” than doing actual schoolwork.

When we feel like we’re falling short, it’s easy to assume that in contrast schools are well-oiled machines where amazing learning is happening all the time - but that just isn’t the case. 

In schools, there are countless things that slow the pace or throw the routine off schedule. Many of those things are unique to that specific setting: weeks spent at the beginning of the year getting to know a new class, teacher, and routine, weeks spent reviewing for and taking standardized tests, weeks spent at the end of the year doing absolutely nothing but controlling the utter mayhem. Throughout the year there are assemblies, concert/play/open house preparations, fundraisers, school spirit weeks, and dismissal/fire drill/emergency procedures practice. At holidays and before vacation weeks there are often classroom parties and busy-work just to fill the hours. Days are given off for staff development, parent-teacher conferences, and weather-related issues. And on any given day in any classroom, there are dozens of ways learning is interrupted, simply by the sheer number of kids in the class and the myriad of issues that crop up.

There are many times, as a homeschooler, that I feel inadequate or less-than because we’re behind or not getting everything done, but I know from experience that learning doesn’t happen seamlessly in the traditional classroom either. Perfect, uninterrupted academic learning is not happening constantly at schools. The reasons for falling behind or getting off track are different than in the homeschool setting, but schools have interruptions to their daily and yearly schedules, too.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {Part 2} #homeschool #homeschooling

“Friends/socialization/being part of a community is an issue for ______. Maybe things would be different at school.”

As a former classroom teacher, I can tell you that sending your child to school will mean the following:

…Your child will spend approximately six or more hours a day away from home and family, largely in the presence of one other adult and about twenty or so classmates.

…Your child will be socialized by that adult and those classmates, as well as the other adults and children that they interact with less frequently during the school day.

…Those interactions will bear fruit; some of it may be good, some of it may not.

…People will no longer gossip about you or ask point-blank if your child “has friends” or what you “do for socialization.”

And that’s it.

In every one of the five years that I was a classroom teacher, I had students who were well-liked by their peers, who had friends, and who others gravitated to and included. And in every one of the five years that I was a classroom teacher, I also had students who were not as well-liked by their peers, who had few or no true friends, and who were frequently left out, not included, or last chosen. In some cases, it was obvious why a student was well-liked or not well-liked, but often there was no clear reason. Friendships and group dynamics are complicated things.

Similarly, in every one of the five years that I was a classroom teacher I had students who were one or more of the following: confident, poised, comfortable in themselves, good at speaking, talented or skilled at some things, easy-going, able to roll with whatever came along, not facing internal or external adversities, or able to interact easily with others. And in every one of the five years that I was a classroom teacher I also had just as many students who were one or more of the following: shy, quiet, reserved, a little or a lot awkward in some way, sensitive, prone to conflict, less talented or skilled at some things, carrying the burden of a medical/academic/personal struggle, or unable to interact easily with others. (And no, not a single one of the students I ever taught was a former homeschooler!). The bottom line is that personality is a huge factor, and that nature, nurture, and life circumstances contribute to personality far more than educational setting does.

Going to school simply means a child is with other kids every day. It does not automatically mean that a child will have true friends or will develop amazing social skills. As homeschoolers, friendship and socialization issues can be sticky ones because of the extra scrutiny we receive from choosing a less conventional path, or because of temporary or long-term circumstances that make those issues challenging. There are many excellent ways that homeschoolers can develop both friendships and social skills. School is the culturally more accepted way, but it is not the be-all and end-all.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {Part 2} #homeschool #homeschooling
“I am so overwhelmed and have no time for ______. Maybe things would be different if the kids went to school.”

Parenting is fulfilling, wonderful, fun, heart-filling, and life-changing - and it’s also hard work. Homeschooling adds another layer to parenting because it doesn’t provide that break during the day when kids ordinarily go to school. Rather, it adds a lot more work into the days, and often late into the nights as well. If you’ve ever imagined, however briefly, all the things that you could get done if you just had a few six-hour days in a row all to yourself, you’re not alone.

As a former classroom teacher, though, I know that sending your child off to school does not automatically mean a parent gains free time. Getting your children up early, fed, dressed, and prepared to be away all day is a big, time-consuming task. Waiting for the school bus or driving to school in all manner of weather, at both ends of the school day, eats time. Sorting through and responding to all the paperwork and correspondence from school takes time. Communicating with the school about your children’s health, emotional, social, or academic issues takes a lot of time. Helping your children initiate and cultivate friendships with classmates and families that you don’t already know takes much time. Participating in or taking a leadership role in things at your children’s school is very time-consuming. Attending school events in the evenings takes up time. Helping your children decompress, do homework, prepare assigned projects, process events from the school day, and get ready for the next day also takes lots of time. Creating meaningful family time in the evenings and weekends because you’ve been apart all week takes intentional time. In other words, what you might gain in “free time” during the school day may be replaced with “lost time” in your mornings, afternoons, evenings, or weekends – and that’s not a gain, but a wash.

As a homeschooler, the middle portions of my days are very full because I am doing school with my kids. But, I know that life is still exponentially easier than if I sent them to school. Mornings are not rushed. Late afternoons are for play and fun together. And our evenings are our family’s own. The only schedule we are on is the one that we make for ourselves, and we truly wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you’re passionate about and committed to homeschooling but just feeling overwhelmed or discouraged right now, know that you’re not alone and remember that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. Connect with your kids by doing something that you all love, give yourself grace and maybe do some things to help yourself recharge…and take time to remind yourself of all the reasons you love homeschooling and chose this way of life in the first place.


If you are drenched in doubt and filled with fear, be sure to check out my new book, Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child With ConfidenceIt will help point you to the courage that you need to finish strong and give you the tools to do it well. 


  1. well said. At the start of each year, I find some on topic but different worksheets, book etc. I just put them aside for this time. I have also included little mini studies that we can do. This year we have dino studies using Lego this includes following the direction. How to keep your temper if you've done something wrong and the rewards of having a completed project. For a 4 1/2 year old

    1. Those sound like fun ideas! Late winter is definitely a good time of year to add some new and different things into the usual homeschooling routine to keep kids engaged and interested.