Isn’t it Difficult to Homeschool?

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I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this all encompassing question.  But I never have sat back and really focused on if it is difficult for me to homeschool.

Let me give you the complete scoop on what I find challenging and also a few of my favorite rewards of being a homeschooling mom.

Challenges In Homeschooling

There can be a lot of challenges when it comes to homeschooling your child.  Really there are a lot of things to consider and it’s not a decision that you just jump into one day, unless of course something like COVID-19 forces you too (hang in there parents you are going to get through this!).

In my five years of homeschooling my children, I have found a few things that I feel are some of the biggest challenges with homeschooling.

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Time:

There are only so many hours in a day and having the time to sit with your child and go over lessons is extremely important.  It is also a big amount of time that you will not be able to spend accomplishing other tasks during the day. Add multiple children to that equation and you have lost a large chunk of your waking hours.

Prepare yourself right away with the understanding that school is a priority and some days you will finish quickly and other days you will spend more time than you planned for.  This is life.

Remember through all of the frustration that this is your child’s education.  Slow your schedule down and prepare to spend some time working with them.

Space:

You are going to need a place where you teach school and house all of your school materials. I know many moms who use the kitchen table but I don’t suggest that approach. Believe me I have been there and it makes for chaos when papers are moved or milk is spilled. Just trust me and make a special place for your school and school items.

We have used a nice little table that a friend of ours got when a preschool was closing near him. But since then we have advanced to some old school desks (Amazon has a variety and the ECR4Kids laptop desk looks amazing). These were being sold from a school back where I grew up and we were able to get them for just $10 each. Well worth the investment since each kid has their own space and storage options.

I also want to mention a cart, like this one, to house all of your materials in. You can find them very inexpensively really and they are easy to assemble. There is more than enough space to sort your school items by grade, course, or even supplies like arts and crafts.

Money:

There are many different approaches to how to pay for homeschooling. The first big thing you have to ask yourself is if you want to claim it on your taxes. If you are going to go this route know that you cannot have any religious materials that are claimed.

You can purchase brand new materials just about anywhere online these days. Even Amazon has complete kits available for each grade. I think this is great if you have the financial capabilities. In fact if you are just starting out and you can afford it I would go this route. These kits usually give you every subject, workbook and the teachers manuals to guide you. They are great for the beginner who isn’t sure where to start.

If you need to take a more conservative financial approach there are a few options. I would suggest starting by talking to the public school to which your kids are assigned to report to. They will generally give you copies of textbooks if you as for them and once a year there is also funding made available for each of your children. It varies by area but it helps. Right now our school districts is about $78/child.

The other option I would suggest for those that are taking on a more conservative financial approach would be to purchase used. Our homeschool conference here in MN has a used book sale every year. I always go and I always haggle. It’s like yard sale-ing but for school supplies. If you don’t have access to a used book sale try looking online for a local homeschool group.

My favorite way to get used items is through Thriftbooks.com. I LOVE THRIFTBOOKS!!! I really can’t say that enough. Let me give you a little example of why. I once made a list of school books I wanted to get for the coming year. The total was $137.50. WHAT?!?! I started looking through the list to see what I could cut out. This was just much higher than I was able to pay. A search online and I found Thriftbooks. I was able to get 7 of the 11 titles I wanted and only paid (drum roll please) $37.80!!! And all orders over ten dollars have free shipping. Be sure to sign up for their rewards program too. Great stuff.

Your Child:

Each of your individual children will play a role in how challenging it is to homeschool them as well. I have very strong-willed children. They are all boys and loaded with energy. (There is a reason I drink coffee in the morning.)

My oldest has a touch of dyslexia. We have not had him diagnosed but he shows the classic flipping of letters often. I don’t want to say he is necessarily at this point because he could just be a reluctant reader like his father was. Tractor Man, as I affectionately call him, is a builder and loves to create things with his hands. Our days are more challenging because everything he does he wants to create. Think of mat 2×6=12. Most kids could draw this. Tractor Man used eggs from his chickens.

Our middle son is very creative and loves stories. He could listen to me read all day long. He has started his reading program and may catch up to his big brother over the summer. Tag Along, his cute little name though he may need a new one, likes to do things where he sees a big result. Creating a chicken coop, building a tree fort (did that today), baking something. He likes concrete things to show for his hard work.

Try to find the strengths of your child and accept those things that are challenging with grace and many deep breaths.

Critics:

This is my least favorite part about homeschooling. My advice on this one is to prepare a mini script in your head for when someone bashes your homeschooling to your face or online.

Mine goes a little something like this but you can create yours to fit your personality and teaching style.

“My kids are very well adjusted and get plenty of social interaction. They participate in several events during the week and have many friends at these events. I am a licensed teacher and used to teach in a public school setting. For me having my two children is very different than the classroom full of thirty kids I used to teach. May I ask why you feel I am failing my children?”

The little question at the end will generally never be answered. However I am always open to respectful discussion between individuals with differing views. If all else fails and they won’t leave you alone feel free to tell them to butt out.

Rewards In Homeschooling

Life Skills:

Our children are learning life skills.  For example we enrolled them in the Kids Cook Real Foods e-course.  It is a self paced family based program that guides you in teaching your child valuable life skills in the kitchen.  No microwave cooks in our family!  If you are interested click on the link above and check it out.

I love this program so much that this is the first program that I ever promoted! My kids and I are still using it. If you get the VIP membership, like I did, it includes lifetime access so I could even teach my grand kids someday.

They have also learned to build items from scratch, grow their own food and care for livestock. Our oldest has recently investing in chickens and started selling the surplus eggs for $3/dozen. Not a bad starting business for a nine year old.

Quality Time:

Your kids are only young once. Let me repeat that and you can read it really slowly. Your kids, are only young, once.

I know for a fact that if our kids were in public school we would be in a ton of events. That is in fact the new norm these days. Not that it’s bad it just wouldn’t work for me.

I love that my kids are around and ask me questions at random, play games and haven’t lost their curiosity for the world around them. They still enjoy learning, even if some days can be a struggle.

Freedom:

That might sound crazy to some people but I need that freedom to be able to move about during our school year. We do year-round homeschooling so that we have more flexibility than most.  Our daily items are a few less than most but we still cover all the grade content each year.

Freedom to come and go is a huge blessing. Two years ago we went to Duluth during the late fall when the school kids were already in their classrooms. We were able to homeschool from the camper and explore the world around us as part of the learning process. Having the freedom to participate in school wherever we are gives us the opportunity to travel more and enjoy a classroom on wheels. One of my goals is to take the kids and our camper and visit as many national parks as we can during September and October.

Choose What Is Right For You

Ultimately you need to choose the best option for yourself and your family. Homeschooling, like parenting, will always have challenges and struggles. Knowing that you have so many great reasons to keep at it is what’s really key to your success.

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