The Most Common Reasons Parents Quit Homeschooling

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).

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.

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Comments(10 comments)

VICKI C 09/03/2009 04:50:28

This is a good article. I am a grandmother who homeschools. Are any other grandparents homeschooling ? This is a pleasure to teach my grandchild and instruct him in God\'s word.

CANDICE L 09/03/2009 05:07:20

Homeschooling has been a blessing to me as a mom.......spending days with my kids and believing that I\'m doing the best for them! It is worth it, every minute, every dollar! I would encourage every mom, if God has placed this on your heart....don\'t ever think twice.....God will be there for you! Just enjoy this time with your kids! It goes by so fast!

SANDRA G 09/03/2009 06:20:28

Vicki C, I too, am a grandmother, who has adopted our grandson and this will be my second year at homeschooling. It sure is a learning experience for both of us, but I can say with God\'s help, it is the only way.

Sandy G

DENISE B 09/03/2009 09:39:59

I am homeschooling my 2 sons. One of them, age 16, has developmental delays and mild autism. Someone told me that I was too proud or too fearful to allow him to attend public school special ed. I found myself questioning my reasons for homeschooling my son with special needs. I know I\'m not perfect, but have felt that the home setting is very conducive to learning and with much less distractions in comparison to a public school special ed classroom. I appreciate any words of encouragement or insight at this time.

A concerned mother

ELISHA H 09/03/2009 12:55:15

Elisha H

Denise b, i too am homeschooling my two sons (7 and 13) by eldest has aspergers syndrome and others have given me their \"friendly advice\" about the social aspect of it, however there are so many social activities we can get involved with that actually cater to our delays. i was encouraged by my son\'s Social skills therapist that this may be what he needs to excel. We can go at his pace therefore, reaching academic excellence and I can direct his social activity to be a positive success rather than a negative hinderance. Public schools aren\'t equipped enough to understand Autism and it\'s spectrum disorders, So much is focused on the more \"obvious\" learning disabilities (add, adhd, ocd, odd) This was also told to me by my social skills therapist who worked 12 years in the public school district special ed.This will be my first year, so I don\'t feel equipped to give advise on what works but please be encouraged and remember that God\'s grace will be sufficient in every situation. God Bless!

09/03/2009 15:49:00

I really enjoyed this article. When I got past what others thought and knew this was what God had in mind for our family; God began to work. When I got past the mind set of \"doing school\" and realized it was to become a lifestyle for us; I felt more freedom and began to enjoy my children and our school days with less stress. That was 15 years ago and I would not change one moment of those years for our family. God has been good!

I try now to be an encouragement to others when they become discouraged.

Regina, Ohio

JENNIFER D 09/04/2009 00:10:19

I am homeschooling my two children and my brothers two children. They range in ages from 11, 10, 9 and 8. When I pulled them from the school system, they didn\'t know anything (basic math, language arts). After starting them all on third grade SOS, I have seen so much improvement. Children need the basics and need to be guided by God! I will do my best to obey and follow what God\'s plan is for our family and I know he will provide!

AGNES F 09/04/2009 13:29:10

I am also a grandmother that is homeschooling her 12 year old grandson. He has Aspergers, His social skills are not good and he was in a lot of trouble in the public school last year. He loves being homeschooled and I am enjoying spending time with him. We are both learning and he get to be involved in the community more. He is learning how to deal with people in the real world. I wish I would have homeschooled my own children.


MARYANNE S 09/07/2009 19:11:29

Marianne ST

I have been homeschooling my girl for 3 years, the first year was really tough. Juggling between house work and homeschooling. When i finally got the hang of it, it was really a breeze. I am enjoying every moment of it. Spending more time with her and learning things togerther. She doesn\'t want to go back to public school. With God\'s guidance and a lot of patience from my end, everything is going smoothly and i will be starting my 5 year old next year.

PATRICIA T 10/02/2009 15:15:59

I\'ve been homeschooling for 13 yrs and in that time I\'ve seen many of my homeschool friends stop homeschooling. Reading this article was like \"reading their mail.\" ... it touched on everything I saw happening with them and in their families. Unrealistic goals and expectations on the part of the parents has actually been the one that I\'ve seen the most of and it causes so many problems within the family that many of the kids turned out to be better off not being homeschooled.

Homeschool eNews

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