I was homeschooled for most of my childhood, and now I’m in the early years of homeschooling my own daughter. Those two experiences have given me a lot of insight into the misconceptions, struggles, and joys of choosing to be a homeschool mom.
I’ve heard every comment, answered every question, and even held some stereotypical beliefs about homeschooling myself. After walking this homeschooling life since I was in the fifth grade, I can tell you a lot about what homeschooling moms (and their children) want you to know.
We Aren’t Judging You for Your Schooling Choice
I think this is one of the most important things to understand about homeschooling moms: we aren’t sitting here judging you for choosing public or private school for your own child. We know a lot about getting judged for school choice, so we would never want to place that judgment on someone else.
In fact, we hope you feel empowered to make the choice you feel is best for your own child — because only you know what that is. We love a moms-supporting-moms approach to everything in life!
We Aren’t All Stay-at-Home Moms
Many people don’t know that homeschooling moms come in all shapes and sizes: some work in the home, some work outside of the home, and some make homeschooling their full-time gig. I was homeschooled from fifth grade until I left for college (we’ll get to the college misconception later). My mom worked outside of the home for most of those years.
For me, I’m currently homeschooling my daughter as a work-from-home mom. Every dynamic is different and some circumstances depend upon how much help is available from other family members. Many homeschooling moms are stay-at-home mom rock stars, but a lot of us are learning how to choose homeschool for our kids and careers for ourselves at the same time.
We Have So Much Love & Respect for School Teachers
Just because we choose to guide our child’s education at home, that doesn’t mean we have any less respect for the people who spend their lives educating thousands of kids in the traditional classroom setting. In fact, we adore teachers! We know their job is challenging and that guiding a growing mind is a huge responsibility. If you’re a teacher, know that the homeschooling moms are cheering you on!
Some families also choose online schools where their kids have access to teachers virtually, but a parent is the "learning coach" that supports their child's education each day. This involves parents and teachers working together in a less traditional way. Education can take so many forms and involve support from many fronts today.
We Must Follow Strict Rules & Guidelines
Depending on the state, the rules and regulations for homeschooling can be fairly hands-off or very involved. Either way, we have to follow those guidelines. Homeschool moms actually have to go through quite a bit of paperwork and follow up filing every year to make sure their children are getting an education that falls in line with their local school board and state laws.
Our Kids Aren’t Always Undersocialized
“You would never know she spends all day at home.” That’s a real comment I’ve received about my daughter, multiple times. She’s a social butterfly and loves meeting new people. In fact, she’ll practically talk your ear off if you let her.
Shyness, being timid, and not knowing how to handle certain social situations are all stereotypes of a homeschooled child. What you’ll find, in many cases, is that kids with those qualities (which aren’t actually negative qualities at all) would have those qualities regardless of their school situation. My daughter was destined to be an extroverted, talkative little socialite. No amount of time at home is going to change that about her.
The other element of the stereotype is that many people assume homeschooled children are shy and avoidant because they are undersocialized. But many homeschooled children experience plenty of socialization, it just doesn’t happen inside a classroom. Here are a few ways homeschooling moms socialize their children:
Sports & extracurriculars
Church or faith-based groups or programs
Leading by example and showing them how to make friends anywhere
My daughter is the only one in her friend group who is homeschooled. She gets to interact with lots of other children in public and private school situations because of these socialization approaches.
Sometimes the Stereotypes Are True
Though many homeschooled children aren’t undersocialized, some are. As with anything, stereotypes often exist because they hold some small fragment of truth. So, you may encounter homeschooled children or homeschooling moms who meet some of the stereotypes you hear.
The truth is, we are all different and you’ll see that even in the homeschool mom community. But, sometimes we do fall into the default category of what homeschooling looks like. The thing to remember is that just because something is a stereotype, that doesn’t always mean it’s bad.
Homeschooling Is Really Hard
Just like choosing to send your child to school outside of the home, homeschooling can be very difficult. There is a unique set of challenges that homeschool moms face and most of us aren’t shy about sharing it.
Schooling children of different ages, managing a busy schedule, and homeschool decision fatigue are just some of the struggles homeschool moms face. This comes down to one truth across the board: being a parent is hard. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed in the school pick-up line or sitting at the table over a tough math problem, you know just how true that is.
One school choice isn't harder or easier than the other. Both have challenges and both have things that make the challenges worth it. When traditional school and homeschooling are hard, we just have to choose the hard that works best for us.
We Have to Practice Some Serious Self-Discipline
Self-discipline comes up a lot in the homeschool world. I had to learn that lesson early on as a homeschooled child. The temptation to blow off schoolwork, stay in your pajamas all day, and go outside to have fun all day is real.
For moms and kids, self-discipline has to be a crucial part of the homeschool journey. Falling behind can happen easily and we don’t have time for that sort of mom guilt. So, many of us stick to strict schedules and work really hard to model a disciplined lifestyle for our kids because we know it will help them be successful.
Homeschooled Kids Can & Do Go to College
Take it from a homeschooled gal herself, college is far from out of the question. I remember many family members and friends asking if I was even allowed to attend college since I was homeschooled.
Not only did I graduate from a university, but I also got my high school diploma just like most kids do: I walked across the stage and shook the high school principal's hand as he handed me my diploma in front of hundreds of people. Homeschooling is not a death sentence on your child’s higher education. There are countless high school diplomas and university degrees (even doctorates) hanging on the walls of previously homeschooled kids.
We Don’t Believe Homeschool Is Best for Everyone
I loved being homeschooled. My husband thrived in homeschool, though he struggled in the private school setting. My brother preferred a traditional school setting and finished high school as a public school student. What do we all have in common? We are adults with no regrets about our school choice.
Homeschooling moms might be pretty outspoken about what is best for their children, but we also know that homeschooling isn’t right for every child. Some kids truly thrive in a traditional school environment or they lean on the structure of a school setting to be successful.
I’ve known many people who were successful in the homeschool and public school environments and I’ve known many who wish they were given a different option. Discovering where a child thrives is the true key to homeschooling, and sometimes that means you choose to stop homeschooling altogether.
Some parents let their children make a choice about their schooling approach once they reach a certain age. My brother chose to go back to public school while I chose to stay home during our high school years.
We Make a Lot of Sacrifices to Homeschool
Just as moms to kids in public and private schools make sacrifices, homeschool moms do as well. We often find ourselves making sacrificial choices for the sake of our child’s education. We might have to give up certain parts of our social lives, careers, and finances to make homeschooling possible.
Just as any parent would, we choose our child’s success in education over many of our own desires, and that rings true for parents of children in every type of school setting.
We Don’t All Homeschool for Religious Reasons
Truthfully, religion plays a large role in why some moms choose to homeschool. But that’s not true for every case. Though my husband and I are raising our daughter in a Christian home, we aren’t choosing homeschool solely for that reason. In fact, it’s pretty far down the list.
We chose homeschooling because we want to have a hands-on approach to her education. We want to steward her mind, her growth, and her excitement about learning well. Our desire is to show her there isn’t only one way to do something, including education. We chose homeschooling not because we want her to experience less of the world, but rather because we want her to experience more of it.
We Feel Financial Pressure Too
Every school choice comes with a unique financial burden. Private school is expensive, public school requires a lot of fees, and homeschooling can come with its own unique navigation for finances.
From needing one parent to stay home, paying for curriculum and courses, and investing in the right co-ops, homeschooling can get pricey. As you’ve probably already gathered, we’re all in the same boat here; we’re just using different oars to guide us across the water. Parenting (and schooling) is hard from every angle and none of us are exempt from the financial pressure of seeking a great education for our kids.
Sometimes We Fear Judgment From Others
“Why isn’t she in school today?” That’s the question that sends a shot of pure anxiety through my body. Whether we’re at the grocery store, at the park, or signing for a package delivery at our own front door.
People are curious and that is totally okay. But I get so nervous when people want to know why my three-year-old (who looks more like she’s five, honestly) isn’t in school on a random Tuesday.
Truthfully, I sometimes dodge the question by saying something like "Oh, she's hanging out with Mom today." I do that because the looks I’ve received when I say “we homeschool” aren’t always the kindest. Fear of judgment is real. This goes back to my first point: we aren’t judging you, Mama. We are just moms trying to avoid judgment, too.
The temptation to prove ourselves as homeschool moms is also very real. We sometimes feel pressure to show the world that our kids are just as educated as other children.
We’re Doing What’s Best for Our Kids, Just Like You
Here’s something I know to be true about homeschool moms and moms of kids in traditional school: we’re good parents. We’re making choices based on what we know is best for the little life we’ve been entrusted to guide.
Here’s another truth: there is enough mom-shaming in the world. So, homeschool moms want nothing more than to link arms with moms choosing traditional school environments and shout to the world "we're doing our best" followed by a round of hugs for being the best moms we can be.