Homeschoolers who give up teaching their children at home don't plan to fail; rather, they usually fail to plan. This month's "What's on Your Mind" question takes a hard look at the eight most common reasons parents quit homeschooling.
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Q: I already have my hands full taking care of my family. If I add homeschooling to the mix, how can I be sure I won't fail in my efforts and have to put my kids back in school?
- Anonymous in Iowa
A: There is a vast array of reasons why parents who start homeschooling return their children to public school. For most, the decision is equally or more difficult than originally deciding to homeschool. Although the following reasons are presented in no particular order, they encompass the majority of causes for homeschooling failures.
1. Lack of Conviction
God's Word asks, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it" (Luke 14:28)? Like most worthwhile things in life, homeschooling requires personal sacrifice and hard work. Homeschooling parents need God's strength to remain committed when it's not easy to take the road less traveled.
2. Disagreement between Parents
"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand" (Matthew 12:25).
Homeschooling requires a combined effort with both parents in agreement on how to make it succeed. Whether Mom does most of the teaching with Dad providing support or both provide instruction in different subjects, parents need to be on the same page with a vision of homeschooling's benefits and educational goals for their family.
3. Discipline Problems in Children
More people give up homeschooling due to parenting issues rather than their ability to teach math or another difficult academic subject. When a child doesn't want to study or willfully disobeys, homeschooling parents have to take control. Although a child's feelings are important, parents have to remember that they must dictate the homeschool day!
4. Discipline Problems in Parents
Homeschool parents are expected to be mature, responsible adults. They can't skip school to shop at the mall, surf the Internet, or work out at the gym. Like their children, homeschool parents can't let feelings determine their actions. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, and it is the parents' duty to be the best teachers they can be, as they follow God's will.
5. Lack of Self Confidence
A strong sense of self worth based on who God says you are is a must as a homeschool parent. The need for approval from extended family, friends, and the community can cripple the hearts of those who aren't prepared to deal with criticism and rejection for homeschooling's unconventional approach to education.
6. Unrealistic Goals and Expectations
Huge projects and grandiose ideas of expecting a child to read War and Peace in second grade aren't the best ways to approach teaching subjects. Children learn at different speeds, but many parents fall into the trap of thinking their children aren't learning what they need to know compared to other homeschooled students. Rather than giving up, parents need to take the time to understand learning styles and customize curriculum to meet their child's individual needs.
7. Family Financial Strain
Quite simply, homeschooling takes money. Sure, parents can get creative with free resources online and save with used books and curriculum, but homeschooling still strains the family budget. Without proper financial planning that accounts for living on one income, the wear and tear of living in a home 24/7, and the additional cost of making three meals a day, most families will have difficulty with the monetary changes that homeschooling brings.
8. Unforeseen Circumstances
When a spouse loses his job, a child's medical tests come back as malignant, or someone finds himself as the sole caregiver for his elderly parent, it's tempting to think homeschooling is no longer an option for a family. Depending on the problem, times of major stress require regrouping, reorganizing, and prayerfully rethinking how homeschooling can still work.
Overall, homeschool parents who care enough about their child's education should never consider themselves as failures. In fact, the real homeschooling failures aren't those who try and give up; rather, they are those who let the fear of failure prevent them from experiencing the immense blessings of homeschooling.