Homeschooling is awesome. Except when it’s not.

Nine years. That’s how long I’ve been homeschooling. My family has changed significantly during that time. When I started, I expected only to homeschool one child: Kathryn. My then-new stepson Brandon was deeply involved in the high school band (even though he was only in 8th grade) and already knew he wanted to pursue a career as a band director. We believed the path he was on was right for him, and it was: he’s a band director now, and happily married with a baby on the way!

Back then, we didn’t plan to add to our family — but two adoptions and three more kids later, things look different than I’d ever imagined. And gosh, I’ve learned. My Pollyanna view of homeschooling is long gone.

why homeschooling is awesome (and why it's not)

Even after all these years, I still love homeschooling because of…

the flexibility it allows our schedule.

We’re planning a beach vacation while local kids are still in school. I’m working out of the house part time each week. We can declare a picnic/play day at the park if it’s gorgeous weather. We can declare a pajama day if it’s cold and rainy and especially if somebody isn’t feeling well.

the customization it allows for each child.

If a curriculum isn’t working, we can switch, even in the middle of the year. If a child has a particular interest, we can find books and resources to fuel that fire. If a child isn’t catching onto a concept, we can shelve it for a little while and come back to it when he/she is ready.

the relationship development within our family.

I believe Kathryn and I are closer than many moms and teens because of the time we spend (and have spent) in close proximity. For families with children adopted at an older age, it gives us vital time to make up for some of what we missed in the years prior to school-age.

the availability of non-traditional friendships and opportunities.

Kathryn often visits with and/or helps our neighbor with household chores; she describes Ms. Marsha as a friend who is a little bit like a grandmother, and I love the fact that she is so comfortable with people of all ages. She runs an etsy shop, which requires a considerable chunk of time. Things like this would simply be possible but far more difficult if she was in traditional school.

the influence we have.

When we saw how Scout quickly picks up habits from other kids, we realized how easily she is influenced by her young peers. Of course I want her to be able to play with friends her own age but I want the majority of influence about how she views the world to come from us. Kathryn has reached the age when social media is a part of her life; even with reasonable supervision, I can’t control every way this may influence her — but I can continue to be a big part of her life, and I can trust that her early years have provided a stable foundation.

Let’s be real, though. Homeschooling is not all roses and butterflies. It can get ugly.

Homeschooling is less-than-awesome because of…

the constant-ness.

These little people are loud. Teenagers aren’t always pleasant when they wake up in the morning. There are so many meals to prepare and someone always needs something. Sometimes I long for a 7-ish hour stretch of time to myself, or the ability to do something as simple as walking the dogs on my own time-frame.

the head-butting.

Spending so much time with the same people provides ample opportunity for differences of opinion. Or clash of personalities. I live with one child whose personality is very like mine, one child with a polar opposite personality from my own, and one child somewhere in-between; every combination allows it’s own special variety of head-butting.

being the “bad guy.”

I have to enforce not only home rules and chores, but school assignments, too. No putting the blame off on a “mean” teacher; I’m the mom and the teacher all rolled into one, and it’s not a glamorous job.

Homeschooling has both good and bad aspects — but like everything worth doing, it’s worth doing even when it’s hard.

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