What Are the Disadvantages of Homeschooling?
I’m not going to lie: homeschooling is going to cost you.
Homeschooling will cost you time — hours out of your day and years out of your life. Author Carol Dix sagely observed that in parenting, “quality time” requires quantity, and the same is true of homeschooling.No matter how much you streamline or multitask or outsource, effective homeschooling requires an investment of time. One of the first things you learn as a homeschooler is that teaching your children is one more ball that a homeschooling parent has to juggle. The daily realities of laundry, meals, and other responsibilities must fit into that juggling act, too, but without an increase in the number of hours in the day. On a larger scale, the time spent homeschooling is time that you might have envisioned using in other ways once your kids were in school: getting a job, starting a business, pursuing a hobby, getting a degree, renovating your home, etc. Homeschooling will require rethinking your original plans for those years.
The good news is that homeschooling doesn’t last forever. Eventually your homeschooling journey will be complete, and your time will be more fully yours again. You didn’t lose those years — you spent them on an educational safari and are returning from your trip with your horizons broader than when you started.
Homeschooling will cost you money — and that’s in addition to the school taxes you will still have to pay. First, many homeschooling families are one- or, at best, one-and-a-half income families. Not only is the homeschooling parent not earning income if she/he is not employed outside the home, but taking time out from a paid career to homeschool can mean a loss of experience and seniority in one’s career when one returns later. Second, some of the extracurricular activities your child might have gotten in school, you may now have to pay for yourself. (Not that they’re free in school! The silver lining of paying for them yourself is not having to peddle overpriced tchotchkes as fundraisers. 😉 ) And third, in most cases you will be purchasing curriculum or supplies. Some people believe that “curriculum” means a universal canon of teaching materials ordained by the educational gods and that when you homeschool, you simply go to the school district’s office and tell them the grades of your kids, whereupon someone goes in the back and emerges with a stack of public school textbooks. Thankfully, no.) Others are under the impression that you can homeschool using only workbooks from Walmart (or Office Depot, if you’re a snob 😉 ). But the truth is that unless you worship at the feet of the Queen of Hearts of Militant Unschooling, it’s a safe bet that if you homeschool for any length of time, you will spend some $$$ on curriculum.
The good news is that it’s not necessary to spend a fortune to homeschool — there are many free or low-cost resources in libraries, online, and in the community, as well as inexpensive curriculum options. Experienced homeschoolers can point you in the direction of ways to keep costs under control without sacrificing quality.
Homeschooling will cost you the approval of people around you. They may be family, or friends, or neighbors, or fellow church-goers, or doctors, or perfect strangers. It is a veritable given that there will be people who disapprove of your homeschooling and are going to use every opportunity to voice their disapproval.
The good news is that they are not your child’s parent: you are. The good news is also that as homeschooling continues to grow, it becomes more visible, better understood, less “fringe.” Everyone, it seems, knows someone who homeschools.
With all of these disadvantages, why would anyone homeschool? It’s true that any or all of these could be deal-breakers for someone considering homeschooling. But for most homeschoolers, the disadvantages pale in comparison to what homeschooling has to offer to their children. Homeschooling is simply worth it.