Homeschool regrets are inevitable – in much the same way that parenting regrets are.
As much as you may try to avoid it, you are going to make mistakes and missteps that you so wish you could undo.
I recently saw an article that listed the author’s only homeschool regret as not starting homeschooling sooner.
Um, that’s a straight up lie.
Imagine someone saying that their only regret about parenting was that they didn’t have kids sooner or didn’t have more kids. We all know that when we are honest, there are many things we would have done differently – or at least we wish we could have done differently.
I have actually had the good fortune of hearing other moms talk about their homeschool regrets and I have always tried to take them to heart and learn from them – in hopes that I don’t make the same mistakes.
For that reason, I decided to completely open up and write today about all of my own mistakes, missteps, and homeschool regrets.
At times I thought that maybe it was too much. I mean nobody likes an oversharer, right?
But I decided to lay it all out there in the name of vulnerability and authenticity.
I hope it helps you avoid these homeschool regrets or at least lets you know you’re not the only one.
Homeschool Regrets That Still Haunt Me
1. I Regret Caring So Much About What Other People Might Think About My Decision to Homeschool
I still remember being physically nauseous while talking to an elderly woman while I was walking into church.
She kept asking me over and over again what school my kids would be attending while I tried desperately to dodge the question. I had just pulled my oldest daughter out of kindergarten and had not really told anyone – aside from family and close friends – that I was making the insane leap to homeschooling.
I was afraid of what this woman would say to me. What she would think about me. And worst of all, what she would assume about me.
And this was just a nice old lady from church! How was I going to field questions everywhere else??
As the years have based, I have become significantly more confident about homeschooling, and that mostly comes from seeing the fruit of homeschooling. My kids are thriving and I am proud of that! When people ask me questions in doctor’s offices, at sporting events, at the grocery store, or at parties, I don’t hesitate for a second to start talking about homeschooling with confidence and conviction.
When I hear that someone disapproves of homeschooling, it rolls right off of me now. I don’t spend a second letting it bother me or cause me to second guess my own choices.
Myself and the other homeschool moms I know laugh at the things people assume of us. We joke about wearing long jumpers and keds, being socially awkward, and never leaving our house – which is all such nonsense!
I regret not starting out with the same strength of conviction and confidence about my decision to homeschool that I have ended up with. Maybe this only comes with time, but I wish I could tell my old self to stand up straight, speak with authority, and not to fear the naysayers.
2. I Regret Comparing My Homeschool to Everything and Everybody
The tendency to compare your homeschool (and your kids) can be crushing.
In my first year or two of homeschooling, I thought for sure that everybody was homeschooling better than I was. I was convinced that everybody had better curriculum, better routines, and of course they were having more fun.
All the other homeschool moms were surely more patient, more organized, better at explaining things, and more relaxed than me. All the other homeschool kids were probably happier and learning more than my kids were.
I imagined that everybody else was in this homeschooling utopia with perfect classrooms, and I needed to catch up.
And of course I was always thinking about the public school that was a half mile from my house. Was my daughter hitting the same marks as that school? Would she be better off in that school? Was my homeschool enough?
I’m sure you can see that it was a heavy mental load to carry.
Again, time has turned this all around for me. I have spent so much time with homeschooling moms and other homeschool kids that I can now see that no one has “it all together.” No one has the perfect homeschool, and most homeschool moms would laugh at even the thought of a perfect homeschool.
For example, I have a homeschool mom that I greatly respect and think of as “having it all together.” Some time ago I found out that she hired a regular tutor to teach one of her kids because she “just couldn’t teach her.”
I was floored!
How could this be?? Wasn’t this the perfect homeschool mom?
If you feel the compulsion to start comparing your homeschool – shut it down! Stop assuming things about the people around you. You have no idea what is going on behind closed doors.
Keep your eyes on your kids and you’ll all be much happier.
3. I Regret Pushing My Kid Too Hard – In Order to Validate My Homeschool
My poor oldest kid was definitely a guinea pig in our homeschooling journey.
I made all my mistakes with her, and my younger children have greatly benefited from what I have learned though the years.
I have a “Type A” personality that always wants to reach for excellence and I regret allowing that to taint our homeschool.
If I was excellent, then I thought I would produce an excellent student, and thus have an excellent homeschool.
For example, I remember telling my 1st grader at the time, “Do you really need those math manipulatives?” I wanted her to just memorize all of her math facts, because I thought that would be more efficient…and also a good homeschool success marker for me.
And it just about destroyed our homeschool before it had really started.
Oh, how I wish I could back and tell myself to get a grip, step back, and let her learn at her own pace.
There are no medals or rewards for pushing your kid to do something before they are ready. In fact, it might make your kid take twice as long as you struggle through it.
Don’t let your desire to prove others wrong about homeschooling cause you to push your kids too hard.
4. I Regret Listening to Others Instead of Trusting My Instincts
When I took my little 1st grader to a homeschool evaluator (to meet our state requirement for homeschooling), he only had one comment.
He said that she should have started learning cursive a year ago. I needed to start her on cursive now or she might never fully grasp it and use it as an adult.
I missed the mark and I needed to scramble to get my kid on track!
Sure, everything says you shouldn’t start cursive till 3rd grade, but who was I to question the almighty knowledge of a homeschool evaluator?
Of course I purchased the best cursive curriculum that I could find…and my daughter spent most of 2nd grade crying over it.
She was so frustrated, hated it so much, and begged me to “skip” cursive often. Being the Type A, strive for excellence homeschool mom that I am, I said absolutely not.
She was about 10 pages away from finishing the cursive book, when I finally caught the error of my ways.
What was I doing? Why did I care so much about what this evaluator thought? Why wasn’t I listening to my kid, and recognizing what her individual needs are?
Whenever I think of that cursive book, I shudder and deeply regret not following my own intuition as a mother and a homeschool parent.
We did nothing with cursive in 3rd grade, and then picked it up again in 4th grade.
And do you know what?
My daughter breezed through it! I would almost say she enjoyed it. And she now chooses to write in cursive for some of her school assignments.
Always defer to your gut feelings about your kid’s education, and don’t listen to people who say “The sky will fall if you don’t…”
5. Field Trips – An Ongoing Homeschool Regret
I once heard a group of older, more seasoned homeschool moms talking about how much they regretted not doing more field trips with their kids when they were younger.
Middle school and high school is a much more intense pace, and they wish they would have enjoyed the elementary school years more instead of stressing about things that “didn’t matter.”
I took that to heart, and then of course started to feel mom guilt about field trips.
I have taken my kids on field trips to the zoo, aquarium, historical sites, and state parks, but it does not happen often.
That Type A part of me feels like a field trip is really a day of missed school work and that doesn’t fly well with the consistent homeschooler I try to be.
I also don’t like braving traffic, parking, and crowds with younger kids that are unpredictable in terms of their temperament and energy level. Kids of this age are also highly likely to forget the experience and the money and time I put into making it happen.
And of course COVID is really helping to enable my field trip aversion this year.
I tell myself that when my kids are older, we will do more field trips.
I guess I’m just hoping I don’t regret that.
6. I Regret Stressing Way Too Much About Enrichment Subjects
If you have been following me for any length of time, you have probably heard me talk about core (reading, writing, and math) and enrichment subjects (everything else).
When I first started homeschooling I didn’t know what those were, so I stressed EVERYTHING.
I tried to smash history, science, art, music, P.E., geography, etc. into our day, and it made for a long day and an exhausted homeschool mom.
Being the Type A person that I am, I persevered and made sure all the boxes were checked.
You can imagine my horror in finding out that my oldest child has almost no memory of 1st and 2nd grade now. I had to show her pictures to remind her of all the things we did together.
So much effort and stress, only to find out that it didn’t matter nearly as much as I thought it did.
Since learning that core curriculum is the foundation of education and the measurement of progress, it has dramatically helped me to focus my homeschool.
If nothing else gets done, we do reading, writing, and math every day. Of course enrichment subjects are still important and we do them, but I am MUCH more relaxed about it.
I have blocked off 1 – 1.5 hours a day and that is when we do those subjects together – usually including a hands on project of some kind. It’s light, it’s fun, and my kids enjoy it!
I don’t stress about them remembering dates or retaining every little fact.
I focus on them loving learning and having fun. I am confident that I will have no regrets about that!
7. I Regret Attending a Co-op When It Was Clearly Too Much for Us at the Time
When I first started homeschooling, my kids were 6, 3, and 1.
I signed up for a co-op that met twice a month from noon – 3pm. A lot of good things came from that co-op, such as neat classes for my kids to take, a break for me, time with other homeschool moms, and a break from our homeschool routine.
But, I quickly found out that it was just way too much for my kids.
My kids were so tired after lunch, which is when the co-op started! My younger two kids desperately needed their naps and I found even my oldest looked a little dazed during her 2pm astronomy class.
It was normal for me to carry my exhausted, crying one year old out of the building while dragging my equally exhausted 3 year old to the car. It got to the point where I would bribe them with a McDonald’s ice cream cone if they would just walk to the car without making a scene.
Yes, a shameless parenting choice.
I dreaded going to co-op, but I carried on with it because….I felt I had to follow through with the commitment and I thought that a “good homeschooler” should be involved in the homeschool community. I mean we didn’t want to isolate ourselves right?
Regrets, regrets, regrets.
I wish I could shake my old self and tell her to take her baby home and put her to bed!
Care more about what your kids need than what you imagine other people expect from you.
It’s easy to see that in hindsight, but it was a struggle at the time.
We switched co-ops the following year and we are much better off with morning classes. I was also proud of myself for dropping our co-op all together this year. All of my friends continued with it, but I said it is just too much to juggle with COVID and other things going on in our household.
And I have no guilt or regrets about that decision.
I followed through with what our homeschool needed, and that has made for a really great, stress free year for us!
If something doesn’t fit in your homeschool life right now, that’s fine! Don’t try to smash it in, and don’t apologize for it.
8. I Regret Taking So Long to Find the “Right” Curriculum for Our Homeschool
As I’m writing this post, my oldest daughter (almost done with 4th grade) just walked by. I asked her – no holds barred – what she regrets about our homeschool.
She said immediately, “The math curriculum.”
This regret is somewhat individual to our homeschool, but it is an intense one.
My poor almost 5th grader has suffered through 6 different math programs, 4 different language arts programs, and 3 spelling programs.
Yikes! We have switched gears a lot!
I wish so much that I could go back in time and just start with the curriculum we have now. It is so solid, and it just works for us.
We had to kiss a lot of frogs, but I am glad we finally found what works for us now.
9. Using a Homeschool Evaluator Instead of a Standardized Test
Standardize Testing makes my mouth pucker when I say it.
I don’t have fond memories of it when I was a kid, that’s for sure.
I thought that one of the benefits of homeschooling was avoiding standardized testing for as long as possible, so I jumped at the mention of a homeschool evaluator.
My experience was not good, but we went for 2 years in order to avoid testing. I didn’t feel like the evaluator was able to give me very good feedback or a good measure of how our homeschooling was doing. It only took 30 minutes and he mostly just flipped through her work and asked me if we were having any problems.
He sent a bland letter to the state saying we were “progressing” and that was that.
At the end of 3rd grade, I decided to take the plunge and order the Stanford 10. It has no time limits and my kid was able to get up and come back to the table as much as she wanted. We took it slowly and she completed it in about 5 days.
I learned so much just from reading the test myself and seeing what they were “looking for.” It definitely grew my confidence as I compared it to what our curriculum was teaching.
I also figured out that my kid has no earthly idea how to take a multiple choice test – a skill we needed to sharpen. At the recommendation of a teacher turned homeschool friend, I purchased this reading workbook and math workbook to help her for next year.
It was a bit anxiety inducing and exciting as we waited for the results to come back.
When they finally arrived, it was so much more helpful than anything the evaluator could tell us.
My husband and I poured over the page as we looked at a mostly objective measurement of where our daughter was excelling and where she needed to work harder.
This is less important, but still notable – as a homeschool parent who used to care a lot about what other people thought, I enjoy having a piece of paper that proves my kid is learning and getting a solid education.
10. I Regret Being an Angry Homeschool Mom
Starting to homeschool was a big adjustment. And there were times that I didn’t handle it well.
I can remember getting so exasperated that I would yell, and I even have some fuzzy memories of making my oldest daughter cry.
I specifically remember saying something to her in anger about sending her back to public school if she didn’t finish her work that day.
Hello, crazy homeschool mom. Sheesh.
I asked her today if she remembers anything about 1st grade and me being angry or her crying. She said that she remembers crying, mostly about math.
Neither of us can remember me being angry or her crying after 1st grade.
Why is that?
Well, I realized that getting angry never accomplished anything. It was like burning down my own house while trying to “fix” it.
I learned how to control and use my homeschool mom anger, but I still wish I could go back and erase those embarrassing, shameful memories.
The best advice I could give you is to treat your kids the way you would expect a public school teacher to treat them – with respect, patience, and kindness.
Let that be your measuring stick for every school interaction.
7 Things I Don’t Regret About Homeschooling
1. I Don’t Regret Choosing to Homeschool
Now I will admit to periods of doubting my decision to homeschool, but overall I continue to be thankful I had the courage to change the trajectory of my kids’ education and our family.
My kids have soared in so many ways and I am constantly thankful for the homeschool we have built together.
We are truly blessed.
2. I Don’t Regret Skipping Homeschool Preschool and Most of Pre-K
I had heard the regrets of several homeschool moms saying what a waste of time it was. I did my own research and decided to wait on starting formal curriculum until kindergarten for my younger two children.
It has paid off in spades!
I continue to be shocked at how much further along they are academically and how eager they are to learn!
It is also a joy to see how much more time they have had to play and just be a kid.
3. Walking Away from My Job
I used to be an Emergency Room Registered Nurse before I decided to stay home with my kids. I always thought I would go back to the hospital at some point, but I now see that homeschooling has caused that “ship to sail.”
And I have not spent one minute regretting that decision.
If I was still working a thankless shift work job, I would miss so much with my kids, my paycheck would be going to pay for childcare, and my house would be in chaos.
Homeschooling has given me the opportunity to keep my kids out of childcare. And I can give them a customized, one-on-one education! I am the one who gets to shape them and teach them, and I don’t miss a moment of their childhood.
4. I Don’t Regret Spending All Day, Every Day with My Kids
Okay, some of you may think of “not missing a moment” as a nightmare.
But I have no regrets whatsoever about spending the large majority of my day around my kids.
Homeschooling gives our day a wonderful structure – full of reading, activities, working together, and playing.
I get to see my kids at their very best, and they get to see me at my best.
I have also built such strong bonds with my kids, and that makes it a delight to be around them.
5. I Don’t Regret Making Financial Adjustments to Afford Homeschooling
This is a big one for a lot of families.
Choosing to homeschool usually means a loss of income and an increase in expenses. Curriculum for multiple kids adds up quickly!
Yes, we have had to make some adjustments to our budget and our long range planning, but we consider this to actually be an investment in our kids’ future.
We believe that this investment will pay off when we have produced critically thinking, self reliant kids who are ready to take on the world.
Sending them to public school and hoping someone else takes care of their education is more of a role of the dice to us.
6. I Don’t Regret Sending My Oldest to Public School Kindergarten
I know this may shock some people after everything I just wrote, but it truly was a blessing to have that experience.
We know first hand what the public school life is like – we don’t have to wonder.
And more importantly, my daughter remembers the public school life, and she does not want to go back.
It is so wonderful to have that affirmation for our choice to homeschool.
7. I Don’t Regret Using Rewards to Motivate My Kids to do their Work
I have been using a rewards system for 4 years now, and all I can is that it works!
My kids are motivated to be productive and come to the table every day. It makes my life easier so much easier too.
I have also not had to increase the reward to keep their attention. Highly recommend!
But Do You Have Any…Social Regrets About Homeschooling?
The million dollar question.
Everybody wants to know about the socialization aspect of homeschooling.
Thankfully, I figured out really quickly that my very social oldest child needed me to make social time part of our “core” curriculum. I am a natural introvert, so this went against my personality a bit.
We went to the park daily. I would even drive to different parks if there weren’t any kids at the first park we went to. I also scheduled multiple playdates a week – even though I found them exhausting and draining.
We joined multiple sports and a scouting group.
Our family moved to a different neighborhood during our third year of homeschooling that was much more conducive to outside play and had more homeschooled kids.
I continue to schedule playdates and make huge efforts to keep my kids connected to their friends.
I have no regrets whatsoever about socialization.
I can see that it could be a regret for some homeschool families who think socialization is about carrying on a conversation with a grocery store cashier.
If that is you, check out Homeschool Socialization: An Uncomfortable Truth
Recap Homeschool Regrets
Well there you have it – a pretty enormous list of all of my homeschool regrets and the things I don’t regret.
If you are struggling with your own homeschool regrets today, I hope you can see that homeschool regrets are unavoidable. Just like parenting, we cannot avoid making mistakes and missteps along the way.
Nobody expects a perfect parent, so don’t hold yourself to the standard of being a perfect homeschooler!
All you can do is recognize the mistake and learn from them. And when you are in a circle of homeschool moms, don’t put forward the facade of perfection that we are all tempted to lean towards.
Be honest about your homeschool, and that will encourage others to be honest too. You can learn from each other and be better for it!
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