Homeschooling:16 Pluses and 4 Minuses

I don’t have beef with the public school system. I don’t educate my children at home out of fear of personal harm, bullying, or indoctrination. (If you do homeschool for these reasons, I’m not throwing off on them. Those are just not my reasons for homeschooling.) 

I homeschool because I feel called to do it. I homeschool because I feel my children’s education is my job. Lastly, I homeschool because I love watching my children learn and grow. 

However, I’m an advocate of doing what is best for your family. If this means public school, private school, Christian school, online public school, or homeschooling

I have many friends considering homeschooling (and some who were thrown into it unexpectedly thanks to COVID-19.) I felt it my duty as a seasoned homeschooler to offer the advantages (and disadvantages) of homeschooling to help anyone considering this method of education make an educated decision.

Here’s the advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling:

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Advantages

1. You Pick the Curriculum

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I’ve loved this advantage from the start. One of the reasons I felt led to homeschool was when my high schooler (at the time) came home and began questioning everything we’d taught him because a science teacher was telling him something else.

He told us how confusing it was to him to sort out what he was being taught between the two places because they both felt so convincing to him. 

We let our high schooler make his own decision to be homeschooled (which he decided to be), but this helped us see that our younger two children needed to be homeschooled.

I don’t avoid teaching my children things that don’t go along with our beliefs, but they’re exposed to it knowing that this isn’t what we believe, I share why it goes against our beliefs, and use it as an opportunity to reinforce apologetics. 

Looking for a fun way to teach apologetics to your kids? Try this curriculum!

We loved this devotional too!

Homeschooling allows you to decide what you want to teach, how it should be taught to your children, and allows you to buffer certain subjects that otherwise would be presented as facts. 

2. Spend Time with Your Children

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A huge advantage to homeschooling is spending a lot of time with your children. Some parents might be thinking, “Oh boy!”

But seriously, it’s great to be able to spend a lot of time with your kids. You get to know them better, do life with them on a consistent basis, and you’re there for everything. 

As my boys have gotten older, I’ve been able to be there with them through everything. I’ve seen them struggle with school, have their first girlfriends, experience their first heartbreaks, first dates, etc.

You get this when your kids are in public school as well. However, as a homeschooler I feel you’re more involved.

Because your kids spend so much time with you, it’s normal for their friends and girlfriends/ boyfriends to be around you as regularly as they are your kids.

Your kids confide in you more because you are there to help them through everything from math problems to heart ache. Homeschooling takes your relationship with your kids to a much deeper level, and I think it spawns from the fact that they’re with you so much. 

3. Safety

I know I said this is NOT one of the reasons I homeschool, and it didn’t have anything to do with why I pulled my children from the public school system.

However, I’ll be totally honest, it’s a nice perk. I don’t have to drop my kids off at a building each day for 7 hours and entrust their safety to someone else.

I took my kids to a public school a few weeks ago to volunteer for a blood drive. My youngest son said, “Mom, why do they have police cars, cameras, and automated locks on the doors?” 

It took me by surprise because I didn’t think anything of it. Yet, those things are foreign to him. He’s my only child who has never been enrolled in public school. 

As a homeschooler, you get to decide what lengths you want to go to in order to better protect your children. It’s in your control. 

4. The Greenhouse Effect

Many people (wrongly) assume that when you homeschool your children you’re trying to keep them in a bubble. I’ll never forget people telling our oldest son, when he chose to be homeschooled, that it was better for him to stay in public school so he’ll know how to deal with real life. 

I laugh thinking about this. Homeschooled kids probably have a greater chance at dealing with “real life” stuff than public school kids because they spend more time out in the real world. 

While many kids are sitting inside a building for 7 hours a day, my kids are at the library, the grocery store, the post office, church, homeschool group, etc. They’re interacting with the real world.

This is what I call the greenhouse effect. I read it a long time ago and though I’ve forgotten who wrote this idea, I’ve never forgotten it.

Basically, your kids aren’t in a bubble as a homeschooler. They’re in a greenhouse. In a bubble, there’s no chance for anything to grow.

In a greenhouse, you present the right conditions for the right things to grow. If you see a weed popping up, you pull it while it’s still small, but you cultivate the good things, the godly things in your children’s lives.

This is what I’ve always aimed to do by homeschooling my children. 

5. Exposure

When we started homeschooling, my mom was extremely worried. She didn’t know how it was going to turn out and wasn’t fully convinced it was the right choice.

Six years later, she’s my biggest cheerleader. She tells me all the time, “Jennifer, homeschooling is the only way these boys would’ve made it through school.” 

I know she’s right because my kids march to their own drum. In public school, the kids who march to their own beat usually cause distractions and get into a little (or a lot) of trouble.

Where it’s just us at home, my kids can march to any beat they want, as long as they get their school work done. 

However, my mom worried about my boys getting enough exposure to different things because homeschool sounds as though they’d be home all the time.

It’s actually quite the opposite. I tell my mom now that I wish I had been homeschooled. I wasn’t exposed to nearly enough through the public school system, and my kids have been given so many opportunities because they’re homeschooled.

It amazes me how at 9 and 14 years old, they have a pretty good idea of what they want out of life because they’ve been exposed to a variety of things they love.

Homeschoolers have so many opportunities between homeschool groups, homeschool co-ops, the local library, art classes, music classes, dance classes, children’s museums, STEM classes, LEGO groups, sports,BETA club, volunteer opportunities,  etc. to figure out what their interests are. 

It may take research, but there are plenty of opportunities for your kids to be exposed to plenty of awesome opportunities. 

6. Hands-On

I’ve mentioned this a little bit above, but I wanted to make sure you fully understand how great a benefit this is.

When you homeschool, you get to be a hands-on, in your face, right there kind of parent. This is so important.

You get to do life with your kids! This can be hard some days. Yet, when life gets tough, your kids will come to you.

There will be a bond there you never knew was possible because you are the parent who cheers them on when they tackle something you’ve watched them struggle with.

You’re the parent who has helped them through a trouble spot in school, who is there for every field trip, experience, and play date with friends.

The one who all their friends know. Your mom-friends are their friends’ moms. Your lives are totally intertwined in a unique way that kids who aren’t homeschooled don’t get to experience.

This is a huge advantage and one that can get heavy at times, but the reward is so worth it. 

7. Flexibility and Pace

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This is one of the reasons I began homeschooling. My youngest son had amazing preschool teachers that let me know there were some things going on with him that could prove difficult as he got older and in the public school system.

When he was younger he had some sensory processing issues. They weren’t extreme, but they were enough had he not had the amazing preschool teacher that he had, preschool would’ve been a nightmare.

I wasn’t comfortable leaving this up to chance when he got to kindergarten so we decided homeschooling would be a good start. Our middle son was showing he needed some flexibility in his educational routine as well. 

All of this pointed us towards homeschooling. Homeschooling allows you to create any schedule you like.

If you want to start school in the afternoon because your kids are more alert then, you can. Your school can start when you want, end when you want, and move as fast or slow as needed.

You can school 9-10 months out of the year, or you can school year-round. 

It’s up to you. 

8. Flexibility in Schedule

Your school schedule can be flexible, but so can the schedule for your life. This was one benefit I wasn’t expecting when we started homeschooling.

I loved the fact that if my kids wanted to go visit their grandparents for a week, any week would work. We didn’t have to check the school calendar.

It was amazing that we could go to the grocery store, field trips, and even take vacations when no one else was there because everyone else was in school.

9. Teach How You Like

I love this benefit. My kids are hands-on learners. This meant when my youngest was learning how to read, we didn’t sit at a table and read words.

No, we wrote words on a white board and shot the words with a Nerf gun

When my middle son gets bored with science, I go on Pinterest, find a cool science experiment, and we make something bubble, change colors, or have an eye-catching scientific reaction.

If spelling becomes boring, we spell words with magnets. When studying history, we go places.

You can teach any way you like, and you can change things up to make sure your kids get the most benefit from the chosen curriculum

10. Efficiency 

I remember when I first began homeschooling, one of my mom-friends who had homeschooled for years said, “ When we first started, we were done by 11am. I was wondering if I was doing it wrong.”

Homeschooling takes a quarter of the time it takes in public school. Why? Because there are only your kids.

This means, no waiting or busy work. When your kids are done, you move on to the next thing.

11. Skip the Drama

Again, this isn’t a reason we homeschool, but it could be an advantage to you. If your kids have dealt with negative situations in school, removing them from it could be a step towards alleviating the problem.

If you don’t monitor your children’s social media accounts, cell phones, Xbox Live accounts, etc. it won’t help.

However, if you participate in these areas with your children, you can stand in the gap for them when drama arises.

You know what I’ve realized? When troublemakers run into the parents, before getting to your kids, they have a tendency to go the other way. 

We have had a few spells of teenage boy drama, but our son came to us immediately when something went wrong. His dad and I blocked the person, contacted the adults in the situation, and the situation ended. 

This isn’t so we can dictate our son’s life or “shield him” from learning how to deal with confrontation. It was about showing him how to deal with conflict directly. You don’t run from it, but you do handle things maturely. 

That’s the only way to keep so many of the crazy things that happen today between kids and social media from escalating to places they shouldn’t go…for anyone. 

I can’t say it enough, homeschooling allows you to do life with your kids. When you do life together, they come to you easier and allow you to help them. In turn, this avoids a lot of unnecessary drama. 

12. Independent Learners

I do not “spoon feed” my kids when teaching them. When they were younger, I would do more. As they get older, I’m slowly backing away and letting them learn independently.

Why? Because if your kids can read, comprehend a lesson, and figure out how to do whatever the text asks, they can do anything in life.

I’m raising independent learners. My middle son will come to me when he’s completely stumped on a math problem, but he’s going into high school and for the most part, he does his school work on his own. He’ll bring it to me to be checked for accuracy.

My youngest is still a little young to be doing school work on his own, but he wants to. Some things he’ll do on his own. Other things, I still sit with him while he works through them so I can guide him where necessary.

When you homeschool, you have the opportunity to give your children the chance to be an independent learner. That’s one of the greatest gifts you could ever offer them. 

13. Fewer Sick Days

My pediatrician laughs at us because we’re the family she usually only sees once a year for check-ups. Why? 

Because we hardly ever get sick. Kids can create germs for two weeks after they’ve gotten over an illness.

You put a bunch of kids together in a public school setting, and it’s a tiny germ factory. When kids are homeschooled, they aren’t around a mass group of children at any given time.

This allows them to lessen their exposure to germs and maintain good health. 

14. Parents Grow Too

I’ve learned so much during my time as a homeschool parent. I was a public school graduate, and I wish I had retained everything I’m teaching now when I was younger. 

The amount of knowledge I’ve gained through teaching my kids is mind blowing. I know more about US History now than I ever have in my life. Science was my least favorite subject in school, but I find it much more interesting now. 

I’ve always been an English person, but there are so many good books I didn’t read as a child. I read them now because I make sure my kids read them. You (as the parent) will learn a lot when homeschooling.

15. Empathetic Kids 

Homeschool kids are different. They’re not usually exclusive or clicky. They don’t usually avoid people who are different. They also tend to treat everyone the same.

I love it! 

My kids don’t shy away from anyone, and everyone is the exact same to them. 

I truly think this has to do with the fact that my kids spend more time out in the real world with people of different ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. To them, there is no “norm.” People are just people, and we’re all different yet beautifully unique.  

Therefore, homeschool kids have a tendency to be more understanding, accepting, and empathetic because they grow up around a variety of people instead of only kids their own age that are just like them. 

I’ve noticed, especially in my youngest child, that differences aren’t viewed the same within some homeschool kids. Where many people feel like a difference is almost a “fault” because it’s harder to fit in with a certain group, my youngest shows that he thinks differences should be celebrated.

When someone points out something about him that’s different (even if they have cruel intentions) he doesn’t take it in a negative way. He smiles and receives it as a compliment. I truly admire that about him! 

16. Don’t Miss Out on the “Normal Things”

Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the normal things of life. For instance, you can get involved in a homeschool group, a homeschool co-op, or other organizations where they host a variety of events such as:

  • Graduation
  • Prom
  • Homecoming
  • Field Trips
  • Beta Club
  • Picture Day

And many other events. These opportunities will obviously vary by location, but if you have these opportunities around you, take advantage of them. 

Disadvantages

Though there are more advantages (in my opinion) than disadvantages to homeschooling, there are still downsides. Here’s what you should look out for before jumping into homeschooling full-time:

1. Busy Life

Your life is going to be busy as a homeschooler. If you participate in any extracurricular activities, you’ll stay on the go.

Even if you don’t, trying to juggle everyday life around schooling your children and your children being home, will be enough to keep you on the run from morning till dark. 

But at least your time will be spent with your kids instead of waiting in car line. 

2. Live on Less

Most of the time, when you choose to homeschool, you’re choosing to live on one income. One parent will go to work during the day, while the other is a stay-at-home parent.

This isn’t the case in our family because I work from home. Again, my day is full! 

However, I don’t make a full-time income…yet. Therefore, we’ve adjusted to living on less money. 

Be prepared to live on a budget if you choose to homeschool, unless you have an amazing support system and can still manage to work full-time. 

3. Self Care is Necessary But Hard to Get

When you pour so much of yourself into your family, your home, and your children’s education it’s easy to become depleted.

Self-care isn’t a suggestion. It’s a requirement, but it can be hard to find the time to fit in time for yourself.

I’ve finally learned that lunch time is my time. I fix lunch, get my kids settled, scarf down whatever I’m going to eat, and head to our gym in the basement with a book in hand.

I ride an exercise bike for 30 minutes while reading. It takes care of my body, my mind, and somehow relaxes me all at once. 

You must make the time for you because you can’t pour from an empty vessel. 

4. Juggling from Home

As I mentioned, I work from home. Sometimes I feel like my schedule is never ending. I don’t have set hours like my husband does.

I work whenever I can fit it in. It’s common to see me at my desk at 5am, 3pm, or even at night when everyone is in bed. 

It’s all about doing what needs to be done, taking care of everyone, finding a little time for me, and still finding time to make some income to help my husband carry the financial load.

I feel like a professional juggler. This can be exhausting. 

However, I wouldn’t change this life. It’s busy, it wears me out sometimes, but the benefits are so worth it. I love my children, I love doing life with my kids all day, every day. But juggling may not be everyone’s cup of tea so consider it before taking the plunge into homeschooling.

There you have it. Homeschooling has its ups and downs. It isn’t a fairytale. It’s hard work, taxing on the person who is doing it, and requires a ton of grace.

But if you feel led to take this journey, I encourage you to. Pray about it and if God says, “Go!” don’t delay. 

Good luck to you and your homeschooling adventures.