I’m Not Patient Enough to Homeschool

Finger Painting - An Everyday Story Paint Roller - An Everyday Story

“What school does your son go to?”

“He doesn’t. We homeschool.”

“Oh wow. That’s great. I’m not patient enough to homeschool.”

Over the last few years I have noticed a change in people’s responses when they learn we homeschool. It has gone from disbelief that they have met some crazy fringe-dweller to one of acceptance (often people know someone who homeschools).

Then I will see people think for a brief moment….Homeschool? Could I homeschool? Would I want to homeschool?  Then comes the self-criticism;

“I could never do that…. I am not smart enough to homeschool…. I wouldn’t know what to teach…. I am not patient enough to homeschool. … I’d love to homeschool but…”

It got me thinking about why so many of us doubt our abilities to educate our children and I think it comes down to our view of learning and how children learn. These attitudes towards learning are undoubtedly influenced by our own experiences.

I think so many of us see learning, for children beyond the early childhood years at least, as stressful; with children needing lots of coercing to learn.

Can you really blame us though? We are constantly bombarded by toy manufacturers and advertisers telling us their product makes learning fun. We see the extrinsic rewards offered to children (stickers, lollies, the promise of playing games) to get them to complete their school work. Even here, our local school’s motto is ‘Where learning is made fun’.

And so our view is formed; that learning, while essential, is not fun. Kids don’t want to do it.

Camelot Jnr - An Everyday Story Bush Walking Together - An Everyday Story

But learning IS fun. And kids do WANT to do it! They just don’t want to be told what to learn, when to learn and how to learn it. And honestly, is that so unreasonable?

When we change our view of what learning is, what it looks like and how it happens, then we start to trust that YES in fact we can educate our children.

“I’m not patient enough to homeschool”

Impatience happens when our expectations aren’t being met. But if we change our expectations; if we change our thinking from what our children should be learning to nurturing their own interests then we find calm.

 “I am not smart enough to homeschool. I wouldn’t know what to teach”

Self doubt happens when we compare ourselves to others. But when we focus on our children and acknowledge their individual development then we learn to trust. We learn to trust that we can support their interests and their learning. We learn to trust that we don’t need to control the learning. We learn that when we let go of our intentions, we make room for theirs. We learn to let go.

Gum Tree Teepee (An Everyday Story)

Alphabet Flashcards - An Everyday Story

When we listen we will hear what they want to learn. We don’t need to know everything about everything. We don’t need to know how to plan lessons, we don’t need to know how to motivate our children, all we need to do is learn how to listen.

Trust that you can do it! You can educate your children.

33 comments on “I’m Not Patient Enough to Homeschool”

  1. Bea

    Also did you make the alphabet cards? They are beautiful!

    • Kate

      Thanks Bea 🙂 No I didn’t. I got them from Teepee Learning. Aren’t they beautiful?! Each card has a different photo of a fruit or vegetable taken at a farmers market. The back also has information about the fruit/vege and a recipe. We love them.

  2. Emma @ P is for Preschooler

    What a wonderful post! I’m guilty of the self-doubt – I’m not confident enough that I would teach the right things. Though this post is making me double-think that!

    • Kate

      I think if we are open to finding information together rather than the adult being the giver of all knowledge then there really is no right way to teach things. Rather it’s more of a dialogue and a discovery between the parent and the child to find the answers together.

  3. Amber

    Yes I get that one a lot! And the “don’t you need a break from your kids?” But my kids are usually so engrossed in their play (um, learning!) that I don’t have to be as hands on as people think (in the minutia of things, I would still consider myself a hands on parent!). Switching to more free learning has been key for family peace for us.

    • Kate

      Yes I get that one too…”don’t you need a break? I would go crazy!” I think that comes from children being disengaged and so are looking for attention or something to fill their need for engagement. And so when they are engrossed in something like you said, then you really can leave them to play and learn independently.

      I think again that is where our idea of learning needs to change. From one of teacher/adult-directed to one of child interest-led. If we do that then we will always have engaged children.

      • Suturn

        Reggio Emilia approach, despite being a schooling method (community learning rather than individual) argues for interest-led learning. However they don’t expect the children to learn exclusively this way for the rest of their lives. Math, grammar, foreign languages, technical knowledge… besides curiosity require a certain amount of discipline and structure. Developing this discipline and self-control will help the child to find a job in the future, to find a place in a society with a growing request for education. I wonder if home-schooling provides this discipline and if you find this discipline valuable in any way.

  4. mpeachase

    I actually think when people say “I don’t have the patience to homeschool” what they actually mean is “I will have a nervous breakdown if I never ever have a break from my kids”. Which is pretty much how I feel haha. I believe in homeschooling VERY strongly but I am pretty sure my sanity cannot handle it. I have a 4.5 year old and a 2 month old. My 4.5 year old has been super high needs from the moment he was born. He is loud, and I mean LOUD. He is intense. He is dramatic. He is stubborn and contrary and needs everything to be his way. He is not cooperative. He wants to be engaging with another person every single second of every single day. I am quiet and introverted. He has been home with me for the past 4.5 years and I already often feel like I am losing it. I feel like a terrible mother saying that, and I love him more than life itself, but we just have such opposing personalities. Also, I feel like I will be completely sacrificing my health for homeschooling…how do you possibly have any time and energy to do things like exercise with your kids home all day every day? I really really really want to make homeschooling work but I just can’t figure out a way to do it right now without losing my mind. My son is going to pre-k this year since we just had another baby, so we have one year to decide what to do before Kindergarten. I am horrified by the idea of sending him, but terrified by the idea of not sending him…Any feedback or advice appreciated!!

    • Melissa D

      I am an introvert raising an EXTREME extrovert, and we decided to homeschool her for a variety of reasons, including I didn’t want her to be constantly “in trouble” for talking all day long at school. We are working on self-control everyday (both of us!). She’s six now, and I do expect her to be quiet for a period of two hours every day–that “rest” time while her sister is napping gets me through the afternoon until my husband arrives home from work.
      Oh, and we exercise together. 🙂

      • mpeachase

        Thanks for responding Melissa! That gives me hope! 🙂 Can I ask how you get her to stay quiet for 2 hours?? We have tried quiet time but it is never successful and I end up giving up.

        • Melissa D

          It’s taken a long while. Thankfully, she LOVES to read, so she will do that during quiet time while her sister sleeps…with the promise of something fun AFTER nap time. (Save the big guns like swimming and/or a movie for later in the day!) But I remember well the months where she would sing and/or clap constantly. I love her to pieces; a teacher might find her behavior annoying or recommend medication. :/
          You might enjoy reading the book MotherStyles–it talks about Myers-Briggs personalities and how we can use our strengths to be the best parents we can. Good luck to you!

    • Heidi

      I just want to encourage you that, should you end up sending your older child to school for a year or two, you still have plenty of time to homeschool after that. Starting him in school, doesn’t mean you have to keep him there forever. I know parents who homeschool and have babies at home, but it must be very difficult. Usually Kindergarten and 1st grade are pretty easy-going at school and a lot of schools still have smaller classroom sizes during those grades. They also make a lot of time for art and play. I think the more crucial time to homeschool is starting 3rd grade (or as soon as you can handle it). Good luck with whatever choice you make. Just wanted to encourage you that it’s never too late to start … even if it’s not this year 😉

  5. Stephanie

    Wonderful post. I tell myself “I am not organized enough to homeschool”. The planning and structure even just to set aside time for schooling in a Reggio philosophy is overwhelming to me. I feel overwhelmed now trying to juggle systems for staying sane and keeping sane and keeping the kids engaged and encouraging good habits etc. I cannot even imagine how I would feel if I had the added pressure of homeschooling

  6. Memoirs of a Childhood

    Thank you for this post, it’s really powerful. You’ve articulated brilliantly thoughts I could never quite form before. I hope this reaches all those who are working through their fear and doubts x

  7. Amy

    Wonderful post! Home schooling is not common where I live and so even though I have been dreading having my son go into full time prep next year and having his love of learning potentially squeezed out of him, I haven’t even been brave enough to articulate my desire to home school him to anyone. This post just makes me want to do it even more. Thanks for articulating my fears and attempting to dispel them with your own experiences.

  8. Jackie

    A really thoughtful post. I think it’s a positive one for all parents to read- not just those considering homeschooling, but I think you will encourage parents to feel more positive about themselves and parents

    For me, our education choice is not really a case of me doubting myself. I believe I have actually been homeschooling my children over the past five years- I just haven’t given it a label.

    As my child approaches Australia’s school starting age, I must admit I am sad to lose those special moments with her, but I am excited about what is ahead for her. I don’t think current school structures/philosophies are perfect but I’m excited about the wonderful people my children will encounter (outside of our family and friendship circles) who will share their different knowledge, experiences, ideas, teaching and learning styles, approaches, strategies to learning etc…..which will hopefully be very different to mine.

    Our decision is to send our children to school but I believe that parents and family still have a very huge impact on their child’s learning and education. I don’t believe school and family need to be separate entities. My wish is that our family unit will have a dynamic and positive relationship with our children’s school.

    • mst

      I had the same thoughts, Jackie! And I had to think about how to reconcile that with wanting to customize our kiddos education through homeschool.

      Just some encouragement in case you ever find yourself wanting to continue with your homeschooling, I realized that my experience as a private music teacher set up some great experiences from which to draw as I made the decision. I see my voice students just half an hour once a week, compared to how much time they spend in school. Yet MANY times I am the one they confide in, I have helped many apply for collegiate music programs, and I often get parents writing me notes telling me how that half an hour a week has changed their child.

      As a homeschooling parent I realized I could find those people for my son too as he starts lessons, sports, activities, perhaps co-ops, etc. And I started to think, what if (ideally, I realize) EVERY teacher/mentor experience my child encounters strives for that relationship? Maybe we could have the best of both worlds? – What we love about homeschooling as well as a diverse group of mentors? What amazing effect could that have?

      I think similar to the philosophy of homeschooling, the one-on-one (or at least a very small teacher-student ratio) relationship which is consistent over years and years ends up having incredible influence. Plus, again like homeschooling, it is customizable to the child and you can weed out teachers that aren’t positive influences when they are so young. I can attest to the fact that you can still have that dynamic relationship between teacher and family, as I experienced it from the teacher’s side. As the parent I can also control how wonderfully diverse those teachers/mentors can be. (For instance, our son is Ethiopian so I can now seek out – and have – wonderful Ethiopian role models for unique opportunities like Amharic lessons.)

      These days, now that I’m getting old and stuff, haha, I still have students who have since gone on to college and graduate school write me for advice! And a choir of them even sang at my wedding :). It’s a wonderful relationship.

      Just wanted to share as it is something I thought a lot about in our choice to homeschool and it sounds like we had the same concern when considering homeschooling!

      • Jackie

        Brilliant- thank you for taking the time to reply. It really was an interesting response to read and really ignited a thought in me that i hadn’t considered before.

        My daughter is only five, so she doesn’t have too many extra-curricular activities (just swimming and dancing). I am always at those lessons. I had wrongly assummed that if I chose to homeschool her, but enrolled her in some more classes/workshops like these that I would always be there.

        What I like about the idea of school, is that I am not there to influence her directly or subconsciously with my own thoughts/expectations etc….

        But I had never given thought to sourcing mentors that would have one on one time with her, without me being there,

        You are right, it kind of answers my questions about diversity in role models/mentors/ teachers.

  9. 1nifer

    Quite beautiful, unfortunately, single mothers don’t get the option to home school. But, I love the photos.

  10. Juliette

    We have decided not to homeschool for a number of reasons – but self-doubt is a part of it. My 3 year old seems to much more engaged in things at his preschool than at home. I’m working part-time and the days we have at home aren’t always quite how I would want life to be like everyday for him. Having a baby to look after too makes things tricky sometimes (if he is crawling around outside I have to give him my full attention for example) and cooking, clearing up, laundry etc. take a chunk of time, and although I try and get the 3 year old to help there are still limits to what he can help with. I still cherish those days, and we often have playdough, paint, sand etc. out but I read homeschool blogs and I don’t do anything near what they all do. There is also the question of budget as I’ve just had a year not earning as well as the fact that I’m not sure that constantly buying new and exciting things is the right thing to do.

  11. Emma

    Thanks for this post! I haven’t thought about it from this perspective! Good food for thought!

  12. Shelley

    Thank you so much for sharing. I have been asked all these questions many a time in that past 7 months since ‘officially’ starting homeschooling our eldest of 4 kids when he turned 5. Funny thing his ‘education’ started at birth really. The worst one for me is ‘So how long do you spend with him each day doing schooling? Just the morning?’ Well, yes actually, we spend ‘just the morning’ on focused activities such as maths because that is the only time we get quiet enough while the two little ones are in bed…and in fact the remainder of the day is spent reading to the younger siblings, creating amazing engineer-worthy designs out of Lego & Duplo, writing letters to friends and family and learning about care for others and helping out in a busy household, so it is all day as a matter of fact. I really am on the brink of letting go of all expectations of myself (I started out as a very expectation driven Mum, ‘We must get at least two pages of maths done, 5 days a week!’) and expectations from others, ‘How many hours per day are you doing?!’ and learning to relax, sitting reading lots of books more often, slowing down and listening to his keen interests, and following them and encouraging learning in every way a Mumma can. It is scary, but your post made me feel all the more encouraged to do so. So thank you!

  13. lori

    Thank you for writing this. I hope to homeschool in a few years but the self doubt is almost too much. I “know” all of this, intellectually, but it can still be hard to convince myself that it is true- we don’t have to be teachers. We just need to listen and trust.

  14. Savannah

    Thank you for this. I was a preschool teacher before I had my son and have wrestled with sending him to school (we have just about every type of school where we live) or to keep him home. Sometimes, I think parents just need someone to give them a little encouragement too:)

  15. studyathomemama

    I think the biggest thing that I encounter now is 1. you’re weird for homeschooling 2. you must think you’re better than me or that my choice to traditionally school is wrong.
    I am more aware of my faults as a parent now, so homeschooling has been revealing. People often tell me that I am incredibly patient but I’m really aware of where I am not; I feel like I have something to prove because I’m consciously choosing homeschooling and people are looking for my daughter to be different/better as a result, so when we hit snags I can (as you said) have too heavy of expectations.

  16. katepickle

    I think we often forget that we all teach our children… regardless of what schooling philosophy we choose! And we forget that our children are learning all the time, in everything they do, that learning is more than academics… I wish all parents understood that!

    But I wonder if sometimes those comments come from a place of feeling like they need to say something, but not wanting to say something negative or judgmental about a choice that is different to theirs?

    My best friend homeschools, but our kids go to a local state school. When people realise we are close friends and that our kids are very close they often can’t understand how that could work… “Don’t you feel judged all the time? Or like you have to justify your choices?” someone asked me the other day…

    It made me wonder if that is where these comments come from, let’s judge ourselves before the other person does to fill that awkward silence when you are not sure what else to say but feel like you should say something!

    I could tell you why we chose to send our kids to school, and I am sure my friend can tell you why she chooses to home school… but these are personal decisions about what is best for our children and our families, and I am not sure anyone expects a long drawn out conversation about that, so we just fill the gap with the first thing that pops into our head…if only that first thing was “oh that’s cool”

    I bet you get as many odd comments about homeschooling as I do about having twins! LOL

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