5 Best & 5 Worst Things About Home Schooling (According to a Newbie)


HomeschoolSince my oldest went off to school almost seven years ago, I have grown to know spring as a frantic time of year. It is usually filled with testing, concerts, spring sports, award ceremonies, field days, field trips, talent shows, meetings, teacher appreciation luncheons, volunteer appreciation luncheons….oh, my head swims just thinking about it. This year is different. This school year, we decided to home school. The reasons were many, and on another day, I’ll probably tell you all about it, but today I’m going to share my quick list of what I have found to be the 5 Best Things and 5 Worst Things about Home Schooling.  I don’t claim these are true for everyone, and they may even be different for us once we are a little more experienced. (Oh, please let my children love this as much as I do so that we actually get to be “more experienced.”) These are just my list as seen from the perspective of an only-been-homeschooling-for-seven-months-but-wow-this-is-a-whole-new-world-mom.

5 Things I Love About Home Schooling

1. The Calm. Yes, that’s Calm with a capital “C” because this is probably what I love best. I have always been the “less is more” kind of mom. We usually only did one activity per kid at a time, we made sure to be home for dinner together five nights a week, and I personally tried not to volunteer for too much so that we could all be well-rested and not too stressed out. But it never worked. We were still super busy. There were nights we raced to get to a practice or meeting, fit in dinner, baths, homework, reading, and still fell into bed exhausted with a mile long to-do list for the next day. It seemed that no matter how much I limited our involvement, we were always expected to do more. More spelling practice, another meeting,  another event, a make-up game, an extra trip up to school for “family night” (which was anything but), and on and on. Now, if we are tired, we rest. If we don’t get an assignment done, we set it aside for tomorrow. If we feel sick, we stay home. If we are distracted, we take a break. If we were up late, we sleep in. Am I teaching my kids to be slackers? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think I am teaching them to be mindful. Those things did not make me or my family happy so why should I continue to do them? Hopefully, I am teaching them that you don’t have to participate in the rat race just because there’s a race. Pick what’s important to you, and do that.

The Calm. And The Crazy.

2. The Laundry. You may have noticed–I’m not exactly one for following all the rules, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. That line is with presenting yourself (if you are my children) in public as reasonably clean and hygienic people, especially as it relates to the impression it gives others of your mother (me). Which means that if you are going out in public, your clothes will be clean, un-slept in, and not the same ones you wore yesterday, especially if you are seeing the same people you saw yesterday. This led to a lot of laundry when my THREE children had to be dressed for school in clean and relatively matching, appropriate clothing five days a week for school. (Dang, that’s a lot of laundry!) Now that there are sometimes two or three days a week that we don’t leave the house (and even then, not to see the same people), well, let’s just say that I’m not as concerned about how many days in a row my kiddo has worn the same hoodie. Until the level of food or toothpaste on that sweatshirt starts to gross me out, anyway.

3. There are weird people here! Just like I’m not one to follow all the rules, I also tend to be a little on the outskirts of normal. Not that I don’t have friends and do normal stuff. For goodness sake, my kids have all at one time or another played soccer, and I religiously watch Grey’s Anatomy every Thursday. Yet my friends frequently raise an eyebrow when I voice an opinion. “Really?” is a response I am very familiar with. I’m guessing this is all pretty obvious since I home school. Thankfully, at the very start of our adventure, I somehow stumbled upon a group of home schooling families where we (ok, mostly me) fit pretty well. I don’t usually feel like the oddest person in the room around them. (And just in case any of them are reading this, that’s a good thing. A very, very good thing.)

You want to WHAT?!? Make maple syrup from the sap you collected from the neighbors’ trees? Uhh, sure. Ok. That sounds like math and chemistry and botany to me. And you want to wear your pajamas all day while you do it? Sure, whatever.

4. NO LINES!! Seriously, if I ever have to go back to a regular schedule to do fun stuff, I may never leave my house. We get to do ALL THE STUFF when everyone else is in school or at work. It is the best thing ever. Ok, the best thing after The Calm. We can go to the zoo or museum on a Tuesday morning when it’s practically deserted. The kids can read every, single sign on every, single exhibit if they want to, with no one rushing them or not-so-patiently waiting behind them. We can go out to lunch at 2:00 without a crowd. We can go to Kings Island on a weekday when lines are much more bearable. We even went to Orlando for vacation in early November. It was heavenly. I cannot remember the last time I had to drive in rush hour traffic. I am totally spoiled now.

5. Love of Learning. Oh, that’s right! That’s why we’re doing this crazy thing. And it’s working. It took several months to feel like we were getting anywhere or feel like we even had our feet under us, kinda knowing what we were doing, but we are getting there. The more we catch our groove, the more I can see my children’s love of learning re-emerge. My oldest will take a novel to his room and read for eight hours straight minus a lunch break, devouring literature just like his early-adolescent stomach devours groceries. My younger son wants to help the world eat more healthy food so he decided to start a blog of healthy, kid-friendly recipes. His tech savvy big brother spent the afternoon helping him set it up. I cannot tell you how much I love everything about this. (If I were writing 6 things, I’d tell you about how close my kids have grown in this process) He also loves hula hooping. Who knew there was a hula hooping class? Not me, until now. Is he the only boy in the class? Yep.  Is he the only person under 40 in the class? Yep. He doesn’t care. That’s what we call a passion around here. For everything that my kids want to learn, we can take as much time as they need to satisfy their curiosity. Even if that is forever. We do not have to rush past the things that really interest them to make sure we cover all the standards before the “big test.” Their list of interests grows and grows. It kind of scares me that we have so many things to learn, but it is also the most exciting, wonderful thing. It’s why we are here.

Let’s make a website today. You hold the dog; I’ll type.

5 Things I Don’t Love About Home Schooling

1. The Loneliness. Our close friends are still our close friends, but they are busy and can’t get together much when school is in. We also get out of our house for home school events, a co-op, field trips, and sports practices several times a week, but it has been a slow process to move from acquaintances to meaningful friendships with new people. I try not to get frustrated, reminding myself that it took some of my kids years to make friendships in public school. I also miss seeing other moms and teachers every day, but it is a trade-off. We can’t fill our time with all the people, everyday, and also have The Calm. We are working on the right balance. We aren’t there yet, but we are definitely making progress.

2. The Stereotypes and Awkwardness. Home schooling is rapidly growing so more and more people know at least a little about it and maybe even know someone who does it, which makes this a lot better than in the past, I imagine. Still, plenty of people have assumptions they make about home schoolers. Maybe that we are religious. Or anti-social. Or just weird. (Hey, I said they were stereotypes; I didn’t say they were all untrue.) None of that is really a big deal since anyone who spends some time getting to know us figures it out. Worse is the awkwardness with people we have known for a while, especially friends, moms, and teachers from our former public school. It seems like they just don’t know what to do with us.

3. There are normal people here. Not that I don’t love normal people. Most of my friends are normal. I just had this little fantasy that since home schoolers spend a whole bunch of time, energy, and money educating their kids, that everyone would be polite, well-manered, open-minded, academic….yep, total fantasy. To have all types is both a blessing and a curse and of course, totally normal. People home school for a lot of different reasons, some to provide more structure or rigor for their kids, some to provide less. Some do it to expose their children to more experiences and more people, and some do it to expose them to less. People do it for behavioral reasons, religious reasons, social reasons, academic reasons, and a whole bucket of other reasons. Their kids may be brainy or behind. Their kids may be polite or obnoxious. Their kids may be friendly or grouchy. The parents may be friendly or grouchy. Which means that while we have found a group where we mostly fit, there are still plenty more places that we don’t.

4. I am with my children ALL. THE. TIME. Don’t get me wrong–I love these little people more than anything on the planet, and in fact, I really like hanging out with them more than I like hanging out with a lot of adults. But I am also an introvert. Despite the crushing sadness in my heart when I sent them on the bus each day knowing the frustrations they faced, once they were out of sight, I let out a huge sigh of relief and treasured the hours I had all alone. It’s been a big adjustment. We are figuring it out. They have a striking capacity to understand the needs of others when they need to. I will survive. So will they. In the meantime, hiding out in my car until someone notices I’m missing seems like a perfectly good coping mechanism to me.

5. The Questions. Not all the questions. I welcome questions like, “What are we reading today?,” “Could you explain how the stock market works?,” “How many tablespoons are in a cup?,” or “What’s the past perfect subjunctive form of ‘swim’?” These questions are awesome. It’s all the OTHER questions I’m talking about: “Can I have a snack?” “What are we doing today?” “Where are we going today?” “Can I play Minecraft?” “Can my friend come over?” “What’s for lunch?” “What’s for dinner?” “Is it time for lunch?” “Is it time for dinner?” “Did we eat yet?” “Who farted?” “What was that noise? He farted!” “Are those two bees trying to make babies?” Eyyye yie yie.

Reading, reading, reading…we love reading. And you want to know the best part about reading? It’s quiet-with no crazy questions.

 Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.

-Helen Keller


  1. Tara, I love this article!!!! Well said. Ive homeschooled for 6 years now and though you call yourself a newbie I wholeheartedly agree with so much!!! Thanks for sharing!!! Oh. The. Questions.!!!!!!

  2. Such a satisfying read! Every bit you wrote was vivid truth!

    Normal People!… Questions!… Treasured alone time>Delete! Challenging even for a dyed in the wool extrovert.

    And I will hold onto the precious reminder that also my children “have a striking capacity to understand the needs of others when they need to.” This part of ” the calm” happens more consistantly the longer we do this homeschool thing. (It may have been trending the opposite direction before we left the busy-ness of traditional school.)

    Thank you for writing, Tara. This resonated with me and I will share it with others!

  3. Thanks so much for this article! I am moving to Cincinnati in a few weeks (from Minnesota) and intend on homeschooling my 5-year old. We are definitely seeking some homeschool groups to get involved in. Any information you have would be much appreciated! We are going to live near Mason. Thanks!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here