Encouragement Homeschool

5 Reasons You May Feel Like a Homeschool Failure

Feel like a homeschool failure? Then you MUST read this!

Homeschooling is a challenging path. So what is it that overwhelms you as a homeschooler? Is it the responsibility? The work? Perhaps. But I doubt it. In my experience, it’s mostly our fears and feelings that get us overwhelmed, not the actual work. Most of the time when we experience feelings of failure and discouragement it’s because we have fallen into a few common homeschool thinking traps.

5 Reasons You May Feel Like a Homeschool Failure

5 Reasons you feel like a homeschool failure… but aren’t:

1. Homeschooling is hard.

Homeschooling is a huge endeavor.  It takes time and dedication.

Don’t compare yourself to others around you or you’re sure to feel like a homeschool failure. Making unhealthy comparisons is probably the number one factor that can skew a homeschool mother’s perspective and result in feelings of inadequacy. You and your children are unique, having your own strengths and weaknesses. What works for others may not be right for you. In addition, every family also has its own dynamics and needs. We can learn a great deal by following the good example of other homeschoolers, however, it’s usually not helpful to mimic their examples. Ultimately, we must carve out for ourselves what homeschooling looks like for our family.

2. Homeschooling constantly changes.

Life changes, kids change, mom changes, needs change, family dynamics and size changes.

Homeschoolers must be willing to change; sometimes even our expectations. Healthy expectations are needed to run an effective homeschool. But often, we can have idealistic expectations of what our homeschool should look like. Then when difficulties and trials arise, and they always do, we have limited our home schools to only that model. If we have the wrong type of expectation about our homeschool then we cannot adapt our methods. Circumstances such as moving, having a new baby, and illness or injury cannot conform to most idealistic ideas of homeschooling. Too often when a mom is placed in a circumstance in which she can’t live up to her ideal homeschool, she begins to feel like a homeschool failure. Don’t fall into this trap; be willing to rethink things.

3. We can’t do it all.

I know many moms who get overwhelmed trying to give all their children everything they need, or think they need. There are so many curriculum to choose from. What if we miss something?

Providing our children with a good education is our goal. But the idea that we must provide our children with a fail proof education, without gaps or limitations, is an unrealistic concept. We have taken on the responsibility of educating our children, that’s true. But what does that actually look like for us as parents? We must often manage multiple ages and abilities in our homeschools while guiding them through a program of learning. Our role is as teacher, yes, but even more as guide, helper, and facilitator of learning. We are there to help them when they need it and to provide the tools for their success. Let go of a failed concept of responsibility, it will enable you to be the helper your children deserve as they walk their educational journey.

4. Homeschooling gets more challenging as time goes on.

Even though your children should be more independent as they get older, in other ways homeschooling gets harder. The material gets more academically advanced for middle and high schoolers. As your family increases, you’ll find out that the expense of homeschooling does too!

You may find yourself feeling like you’re being spread too thin in multiple ways. You’ll have to adapt your budget over the years. Spending wisely and getting more for your money will be something you’ll get good at, it just takes time. Don’t be too hard on yourself while getting there.

5. Homeschool moms teach everything!

In most cases, homeschool mothers teach all or most of the subjects. Now multiply that by the number of kids. It all changed for me when I realized that even with core subjects alone, at one point, I was teaching 15 different courses for my three children!  And that’s just the basics for only 3 children. Sure you can double up on some subjects and teach children together. In addition, you’re teaching your children to be as independent as possible in their work.  But even if you are managing it all right, you’re still teaching a wide variety of material. For example, I was teaching my youngest to read that year while planning, grading, and facilitating high school biology with labs for my sophomore. Now that’s range!

So we can’t be like the public school teacher who teaches third grade year after year after year and becomes an expert. No. We can’t. It’s not because we are failures. It’s because God has called us to a very high calling. With His grace and help, we are able to tackle the new challenges of every given year.

Don’t worry, my friend. You’re not a homeschool failure. So be good to yourself. You’re only human. Inventory your successes along the way and realize how amazing you really are!

What is it that makes you feel like a homeschool failure? Are you having trouble with a particular subject? With behavior issues? Special needs homeschooling? We would love to hear from you! And you may see your comment or question addressed in a future article, so be sure to take a moment to comment below! 

About the author

Stephanie Harrington

Stephanie was a military spouse for 20 years and has homeschooled for more than 17 years. She and her husband of 25 years retired from the military and settled in their native state of Iowa where they continue to homeschool their youngest child. Her homeschool style is eclectic with Charlotte Mason and classical influences. She continues to encourage and support homeschoolers through her writings and curriculum development.
When she isn't teaching or writing she enjoys sightseeing, gardening, and cooking.

12 Comments

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  • Absolutely true! The needs of the kids and home are always changing and we have to be able to adjust accordingly. Flexibility was my biggest stumbling block when we first started bc I was trying too hard to be school-at-home rather than homeschool. Today it’s easier and smoother, but there are always those days I wonder if we accomplished anything at all!

    • Kelly, I think we all have those days! 🙂 I found that flexibility was a great help in my homeschool too. I’m the kind of person who likes a schedule and predictability for my days, but homeschooling has really pushed me in that area. It’s been good for me, and it has definitely helped my homeschool too! Thank you for your comment!

  • I am at a loss homeschooling my 9 year-old. My child will sit for hours and not complete one problem. I tell him if he needs help to let me know and when I see he isn’t getting anything started I try to help. All I get is a stare and a refusal to answer. I’ve asked him what are his likes and dislikes at homeschooling and what he thinks we can improve on. Never answers and just stares at me with bad attitude. I’ve tried to say do a few problems and then reward yourself by jumping on your personal trampoline! He just stares with big eyes and attitude. I have tried switching scenery, going outside, taking breaks with bike rides, walks, or games. I’ve been homeschooling him for three years now and he is getting more difficult. I don’t know what else to do with an incooperative child. I feel his ill manners will have negative effects on his county required 4th year test scores. I feel like he will give me no choice in the end but to send him to public school.

  • I’m pregnant and we are building a house, so not only are things chaotic but I’m crazy tired! We will be moving a couple months before the baby comes. So I just feel like we get nothing done, and it’s hard to imagine things ever getting easier. I’m trying to focus mostly on reading and writing with my 5 year old because I feel like those skills are the most important at this age, but I still find myself feeling like a failure because our days look vastly different than his public school friends who spend 6 hours a day at school (even at 5 years old).

  • If you are always taking your temperature as a homeschool teacher, you will never realize how well you are doing, and you will never have time to see how well your children are doing. You will be a mess inside. Your children will feel it.

  • Hi there,
    I love the reason we decided to homeschool and I have been doing everything at our own pace but I feel like I have my 10 year old nowhere near where he “should be” compared to the public schools in the area. I feel like giving up even though both of us like it. I am so afraid he is going to fall so far behind his peers. Literally in a crossroads of continue or send him back to public school.

    • You may want to give him a standardized test to see where he is academically and to see what areas need more work. Also, it could be that your current curriculum isn’t working well for him. I don’t know your son, but if he has any kind of learning difference or needs more time to learn, it really won’t help to put him in school. If he requires more time to learn, it could actually be worse for him if you put him in school since they can’t wait for him to “get it.” You’ve got to keep in mind that all kids are different. I’ve homeschooled all 3 of my children (two have graduated from our homeschool), and each of them learned at a different pace and learned different things well.

  • Help!!!!, so this is the first year of homeschooling for me. I’m at a complete lost. I feel like i am failing my girls. We have four daughters, 12, 10, 6, 3. So we started out in public school for our oldest 2. We took them out because the class ratio was 27 per 1 teacher, on top of all the other issues that was happening. So we took them out and had them in private school. But the cost was so high(3girls). So we decided to give home schooling a try. Now i have friends and my husband has family that homeschool too. I’ve talked to several people regarding homeschooling, even arranged a sit-in to see how a day of homeschooling would be. I left feeling confident and ready!!! Well here we are in October and i feel like a complete failure. I am having a hard time getting organized. I feel like I’m everywhere. I’m doing daily plans instead of weekly. I don’t even know how to start a lesson plan. I’m also having a hard time with documenting the hours. I don’t have a set curriculum like everyone else. Kinda piecing everything together. My husband lost job last month so money has been kinda tight. can’t really afford the high price curriculum at this time. IXL have been a safe haven for us right now. It’s cheap but have everything they need per grade level. I’m seconds away from putting them back in public school!!!! I guess i just need encouragement ?? idk

  • Thank you, I have been struggling with feeling like I am failing my son. He has been doing so well with Pre-K, K, and 1st but this year has been … well not very good, for either of us. We started 2nd grade strong but I was sick and in and out of the hospital in Oct and that threw us for a loop. We haven’t found our groove back. Our schedule is totally wacky, I work a full time job – graveyards at that, homeschool, and have to be mom/wife/etc (you know all the other hats we have to wear). This article is exactly what I needed to read/hear. I am going to step back and take a good look and what I am doing wrong to fix where I am lacking. My husband wants to send him to public school but neither my son or I want him to go, we love our homeschooling. Thank you again for your article. It is good to know that I’m not the only frustrated homeschool mom out there.

    • We’re so glad this article was an encouragement to you! Another thing to keep in mind is that you may be trying to do too much with your son. For first grade, you really don’t need to be spending more than a couple of hours or so each day on school work. If you’re doing more than that, you may both be getting frustrated because you’re simply trying to do too much!

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