Busting the “I Don’t Have the Patience to Homeschool” Myth

There were several reasons I said I’d never homeschool. Teach a kid math? Are you serious? And what about the time commitment involved in homeschooling? How was a mom to get anything else done? Besides, (and please pardon my past ignorance here,) why on earth would I devote years to educating my children when there were good schools available everywhere for just that purpose?

no patience for

But this was my favorite excuse. If anyone managed to derail my other defenses, I could always fall back on this one. It was, after all, at the core of all my other objections: “Me, homeschool? No way! I don’t have the patience for that.”

Yes, it was a copout, but it also perfectly reflected the attitude of society at large. When the subject of homeschooling comes up now, without fail someone will raise the patience issue. And moms bewildered by my decision to homeschool, by the fact I actually choose to keep my four children home with me all hours of the day, will often add things like, “You must be a saint,” or, “You are Superwoman!”

Now the vain side of me would love to revel in such compliments, but I’m far more troubled by statements like that than I am flattered by them. For one, I know I’m far from super or saintly! But I’m also a bit befuddled as to why a mom who does what moms have done from the dawn of time should be considered superhuman for it.

After all, children are not a new invention. They’ve been around for a long time, crying and fighting and making messes and complicating their mother’s lives in unbelievable ways. The world has changed, but the nature of children hasn’t and now families are generally smaller, advice is more readily available, sources of entertainment are more numerable, and toy boxes are more ridiculously stocked than ever. Reason would dictate that children should be easier to handle now than at any time in history. Why then do most parents act like there is nothing more overwhelming than the thought of actually spending every day with their kids?


When did the I-don’t-have-the-patience-to-deal-with-my-own-children thinking become the norm? What has persuaded us, at one time had persuaded me, that we don’t have the wherewithal to handle the very blessings many of us begged God to give us?

Our culture has a sadly negative view of children and it’s naïve of us to believe those attitudes can’t affect us. In subtle and often not-so-subtle ways society teaches that children are an incredible inconvenience. They drain our pocketbooks, over-expend our energy, limit our abilities, and stifle our dreams. If we’re to believe what the culture implies, children are a source of great physical, mental, and emotional stress and the sooner they can be shipped off to someone else’s care, the better.

Of course, isn’t it ironic that the same society that tells us we can’t manage our own children also assures us that perfect strangers can! Mom, you can’t deal with you own child, but a school teacher or day care worker who barely knows their name can handle them and 29 others without a glitch!

Right. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

But isn’t it also reasonable to assume that many parents struggle with the idea of dealing with their own children for no other reason than they’re completely out of practice at it!

Nearly a century has passed since compulsory education laws were put in place, so at least a few generations now have grown accustomed to sending their children off to school several hours per day. The materialism of our society makes matters worse by convincing many families they can’t survive on a single income, prompting both parents to work outside the home and spend even less time with their children. How can we possibly expect to have the wisdom and patience to impart morality and knowledge and proper discipline when we’ve not had the day-to-day experiences that develop the wisdom and patience in the first place?

Where my own homeschooling effort is concerned, I cannot underestimate the power of prayer. I learned early on that there is always grace and patience available to the soul humble enough to ask for it. But I’ve also been amazed at the ease with which my children and I have bonded as we’ve homeschooled together. Not to imply there are never days when my patience wears thin, but overall I’ve found that being with my children day in and day out is very…well.…natural.

They are my children, after all, and raising them and teaching them was a part of God’s design from the beginning. It isn’t rocket science; it’s good parenting. And good parenting and the patience that goes along with it, like all things of value, takes time to develop. But it can develop and, for me at least, it decisively debunked the “I-don’t-have-the-patience” myth!


My name is Tanya Holt.  First and foremost, I’m a servant of Christ. Beyond that I’m a wife to Alika, my Hawaiian-born, Texas-raised husband whom I met in Pennsylvania, and together we’re raising and educating four amazing kids in my home state of Kentucky. I love to cook, frequent flea markets and junk shops, work in children’s/youth ministries, and write. You can follow my blog at www.kentuckysketches.blogspot.com where I love to muse about all of these things, along with my greatest passion–homeschooling.

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  1. It is sad that so many parents these days don’t seem to want or know how to spend time with their own children. Several years ago a good friend of mine was commenting how she wasn’t looking forward to the end of the school holidays, how she’d miss having her kids around etc. I wasn’t surprised when she decided to homeschool shortly after. When I get the “You must be so patient” line I just know that my kids are standing behind me roilling their eyes! I often think that it is school parents who are the patient ones – having to deal with teachers, principals and the “system”. I wouldn’t have the patience for that.

    1. I’m just getting started with homeschooling, I ‘m a grandmother, who is trying to teach my 7yrs old grand-daughther. So much is out here for Homeschooler, I don’t know where to start. I did start by taking my Madison out of that teachers hand. Public school started 2 weeks ago, this teacher has done everything except teach, please can some one help me with scheduling, maybe examples. I have been looking at A beka lesson. Thank you so much!

      1. So glad to hear you’ve started on this journey! It can be really overwhelming when you first begin looking into homeschooling methods and curricula. There’s so much to choose from and everybody has their own ideas about the best approach to take in your homeschool! But personally, I recommend starting with a “boxed curriculum,” like A Beka, Horizons, or BJU, for the first year. In a boxed curriculum you have everything you need to teach the child in one set and if you buy a teacher’s kit as well, you have detailed lesson plans to go along with it. It makes it much easier when you’re starting out. Then as you work your way through that curriculum your first year, you’ll learn better your granddaughter’s learning style and you’ll have the time to do more research and discover other approaches and different curricula you might want to try.

        I’ve learned by pouring over homeschooling blogs and magazines and by reading every homeschooling book I can get my hands on! Beyond that, I’ve learned a lot about homeschooling just by doing it! I’m sure you’ll learn a lot along the way as well! I wish you well on your journey!

        1. I agree with Tanya! Start with an organized curriculum. We have used Abeka, B.J.U. and Liberty. There is also this curriculum: http://homeschool.calvertschool.org/ They are a secular curriculum, but the advantage is that they tell you everything to do, step by step. You can add or change things to be God-centered. They are used by military, missionaries and other out-of-country citizens and homeschoolers. After you get experience with a prepared curriculum, you will feel more confident to strike out into something different. We have homeschooled our 12 kids over 25 years, and for years, now, we have had an eclectic blend of materials. We have liked/disliked certain things out there, and have kept it or changed it accordingly. That is also keeping in mind your state’s regulations. We were in N.Y. (strict), and now we are in VA(which has religious exemption) Overall, though, relax… and just do the best you can! My husband says, “A bad day at homeschool is ALWAYS better than a good day a public school!! 🙂

      2. We are using the Son light curriculum. And we love it. In the teacher folder, it tells you exactly what to teach every day for each subject.

    2. In reply to the paragraph how in today’s world, children are considered an inconvenience, I say: Thus the Democratic Partly!

  2. This is a great reminder for us all that our children are certainly not an inconvenience. I gave up a great teaching job because I fell in love with my first son when he was born. I thought to myself, ‘why should I give my son to someone else to raise while I teach other people’s kids?’ It just didn’t make sense to me. My husband and I are excited to about homeschooling (our boys are still preschoolers) so we are praying for direction and still trying to figure out how we can creatively find some income to make it all work.

    1. Please continue to pray about it. It is the most wonderful privilege to homeschool (mine are 10th and 8th grade) and I’m so glad we pursued this. There have been times when I worried that we weren’t doing t he right thing, but God always provided a “sign” that we are absolutely doing the right thing. It all falls into place and the relationship your children will have with you and with each other will be fabulous. Even as teens, my kids are so close with each other and I think it is because we spend time together.

  3. This is the most beautiful post I have ever read on this topic and it’s going to take my last bit of will-power not to copy and paste relevant bits to put on nay-sayers’ Facebook walls 🙂

    Patience is not an excuse not to homeschool. I must be the most impatient homeschool mom on planet earth (well, I’m getting better after 5 years), but not hubby, the kids or myself would change it for a thing. We’re loving every second of being together and hubby & I adore that we are good stewards over our kids. When we get compliments on our childrens’ characters – we relish in them. But like you say, it’s not about being superwoman – it’s about doing the task that God ordained us to do.

    Thanks again – I’m going to bookmark this and share it everywhere I can 🙂 (Hoping the right people read it!)

    1. Hi Lizette! We are happy for you to share Tanya’s guest post! Please share Tanya’s bio info and blog name/address and the Hip Homeschool Moms site/address too if you will. 🙂 I too have heard this “I don’t have the patience” excuse many times, and I’ve really been at a loss as to how to respond. I would hate to know that I sent my children off to school instead of enjoying the many blessings of having them at home because I “didn’t have the patience” to teach them at home.

      1. I am probably not the most patient homeschooling parent around, but I know that it is best for my family. I pulled my son out of public school after 6 weeks of first grade. I DID NOT have the patience to keep dealing with daily phones calls and emails, my son coming home crying because he didn’t know why he was getting in trouble, etc. I had one mom complain about the same school my son went to and said the only reason she kept him there was because she didn’t have patience. I told her I have bad days, that my son drives me crazy sometimes, and he is so much happier now.

        1. I think kids see it as their duty to drive us nuts! 🙂

          My boy (10) told me last night that it really irritates him when “obnoxious people” ask him if he wouldn’t like to go to school instead.

          Life is too short to spend it away from the ones we love and our relationships would be tested, it’s only natural. It’s part of our growth.

  4. Love this. I hear this all the time from parents who say…that’s wonderful that you can do that but…I don’t have the patience, its not me, etc.. I have to tell them that I’ve been down every educational route with my children over the past 10 years and we are the happiest we have ever been in our lives now that we homeschool. I have had to grow in patience but if you never have to practice how will you get better?

      1. Your totally welcome to it. It came from the Lord and not me so its free for all. I know it was from HIM because I said to myself, “that was a great line” when I saw it on the screen…. I was a little surprised it came from my fingers.

  5. I loved this post. That comment, ” is just do not have the patience,'” has always struck me as the hardest one to just smile politely about. I always want to say, ” and you think some one else will want to put up with your brats!” You really can’t say that, but it is always in my mind. Even if your kids are well behaved, no one will have as much devotion to their welfare as a parent. That is just how it is in life.

  6. I love this post, and I completely agree with you…well, on the majority of your points. The only thing I disagree with is when you say “Reason would dictate that children should be easier to handle now than at any time in history”. I am not so sure we do in fact have it ‘easier’ as parents now a days. We have become such a paranoid society that we no longer allow our children out the doors without supervision. When my Mom was little she would spend the entire day away from home playing with the neighbour kids – from morning until dark – leaving her Mom at home to contend to household stuff, and/or time to herself. I do feel that life was a whole lot simpler in those golden years.

    I just started homeschooling my children this past school year, and I have to admit that I do worry about my patience level some days….but I do think that it is entirely worth the effort!

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

    1. You make a really good point. Certainly there are aspects of parenting that are harder today than in the good old days. A lot of modern conveniences have certainly made life easier however, and no doubt there are more devices available today with the express purpose of entertaining children. I suppose you could just say that as modern moms we have it far easier in some ways, harder in others.

    1. Hi Mrs. Hearts! We are so glad that you enjoyed Tanya’s post and chose to share it on your own blog! We (on the Hip Homeschool Moms team) were blessed to have Tanya guest post for us.

  7. I do love the idea of not having to send my children off to school. I would love to homeschool them but I’m just not sure if I actually would. I do not think that all parents who send their children to public school are wanting to be away from their children. My son is in preschool and he loves being around other children. I think it’s really good for his to learn those social skills. He’s only gone for 2 hours a day and for me it’s really hard for me. But I know he really enjoys it. I think whichever works best for your family may just be what is best. I do not think anyone should question you or judge you as a parent or judge one way vs the other. I was not homeschooled so that may be why I feel placing my children in school is best. I absoultely loved school. I loved making friends, going to the library, being in groups and doing projects with other kids, music class, field day, luch time lol. I think about if I was home schooled, if my mom were to be home with me all day teaching me those things, I feel like I would have missed out on a lot. I do think if you send your child to public school you should most definetly be involved as much as you can and know what is going on. And then when your child comes home from school it’s important to continue to be involved with them. A parent can teach their children at all moments of the day. Anything a child does with their parent can be turned into a fun learning experience. Scavenger hunts at parks is something my son really enjoys and he learns so much. But like I said I think both options are great options. But I think what works best for one family may not work best for another. There might come a point in my life when my children get older that I do want to home school them. But I would not want any parent to feel guilty or told that they send their child to public school because they are overwhelmed or don’t have the patience to deal with their own children.

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for your comment! I don’t think, however, that Tanya’s point was that ALL moms who send their kids to school do it because they “don’t have the patience” to teach them at home. You are correct that some families choose for their children to attend school for other reasons that they feel strongly about. You must make a decision about what YOU feel like is best for your own children. And, as you pointed out, any moment can be turned into a learning opportunity! It does sadden me that some moms who would really like to homeschool are afraid to do so, though, because they truly believe they don’t have the patience for it.


      1. Wendy is exactly right–I don’t believe for a moment that every mom who sends their kids off to school does so because they don’t want to deal with their children. Nor do I think badly of parents who are convinced they don’t have the patience to homeschool. I was once among them!! But now I question what led me to that sort of thinking in the first place and I regret that so many people are like I once was–unwilling to even consider homeschooling. Fortunately I came to a different opinion with time and I’ve been so amazingly blessed in my effort.

    2. Stephanie .. I can understand your concerns about social issues. When I started homeschooling my children 14 years ago, I was concerned they would “miss out” by not being in the classroom with other kids, and involved in other school projects. My thinking was wrong though. God opened many doors for my children that went beyond what public education could offer them. They were involved in theatre, sports, children’s ministry at church, homeschool co-ops, missions trips, radio and television internships … the list goes on and on. Each of them got jobs early, and one graduated at 16 and was accepted into college. I don’t share this to pride myself. Please know there were struggles and challenges along the way. My point is, public education is only one way for children to have social connections. There are an abundance of opportunities for homeschooled children to get plenty of socialization. The difference is homeschool families have to take initiative to seek out these connections, rather than letting the school do the work for them.

  8. This is a great post! Just this week someone on Facebook tried to start an anti-homeschool discussion with me and their reason against it was “who wants to spend that much time with their kids anyway?”. It’s so sad to see that children are disposable in the age we live in. Even the children who are “planned” are pushed aside like an outdated toy. It’s heart breaking.

  9. THANK YOU for writing this! I may have to memorize it for the next time someone says that to me. That statement has always confounded me. What do you MEAN you don’t want to spend all day with your kids? Then why did you have them in the first place?!

  10. I agree with the one lady who said that no one should feel guilty about not wanting to homeschool. I commend those who choose to do it, but I’ve also seen some parents who’ve done it the wrong way and their children are not learning anything. If you’re going to do it, by all means do it with the Lord’s leading and your whole heart and soul but if you’re not giving your all or you’re spread too thin, which I’ve seen in some cases, then you should not do it. It isn’t for everyone and it’s not best for every family or every child for that matter. I know some families who’ve homeschooled for a season or some kids went to school and some stayed home, but there is no right or wrong choice in regards to homeschooling or sending your child to school. And yes, if some people don’t feel comfortable with it, they shouldn’t do it either.

    1. I would never wish to criticize a parent’s choice for their children’s education, nor would I ever want to make someone feel guilty for not homeschooling. I understand there are many parents whose circumstances make it impossible for them to homeschool and of course I don’t recommend homeschooling to anyone who doesn’t plan to give it a whole-hearted effort. That said, I feel like far too many people toss the idea of homeschooling aside without giving it even the slightest true consideration. People are simply convinced they can’t do it and they immediately shut the door to the very suggestion. I know that to be the case because I did it myself for several years! I’d just like to see more parents look at homeschooling with a truly open-mind and willing heart. If they do that and still decide against it, then I fully respect their decision.

  11. I think the ‘patience comments’ really strike a nerve with most homeschooling moms because, truth be told, most of US don’t feel like we have the patience to homeschool either! And yet we do it because we believe so strongly in it. It’s the sacrifice and the control and the hard work we put into it that makes us so passionate about our decision to homeschool. If it was easy, wouldn’t everybody be doing it?

    1. I would agree. I also hate being called Supermom. Oh if they could see the many days I have lost my patience, just turned on the tv and hid in the computer room. The days I have said this is not working, lets go to the park…or the days I have lost it and yelled at my kids (it happens). I am not a Supermom, just a mom trying to do what is best for my children. We started out in public school. I was looking forward to days with my oldest out of the house, just me and little ones at home. 6 weeks into the year my son was pulled out and homeschooled. At first it was “until we move to a better school district” (the school he went to K at was a great school). Now I truly love homeschooling and don’t want to hand my children over when we do end up moving.

  12. Thank you for this post that says so eloquently everything I’ve been thinking these last several years! THANK YOU. (I am going to link to your article from my blog.)

  13. I don’t think patience is a problem. Whether you have it or you don’t. I don’t, I have like zilch. But I do have TENACITY and when I fail to be patient, when I fail to be calm and understanding, I get back up and try again. 🙂

  14. I’m so glad I found your blog. I am a new homeschool mom and really breaking out of a mold. My husband and myself went through public school and state colleges. I never knew anyone who homeschooled growing up, but I believe that God layed this on our hearts to homeschool our children. I will continue to read your blog for further encouragement and keep going with the wonderful adventure with our children full throttle. Thank you!!!!!

  15. Wow, I’m not a homeschooling mother, but since moving for my husbands job and not finding another for myself last year we decided it would be best for our family if I stayed at home. My son is not in public school yet and won’t be until the 2013 school year, but we chose to not send him to preschool this past year. He will be going in a couple weeks for just a few hours a day this year. I enjoyed your post and you brought up something I’ve felt but never realized. I have no problem spending all day with my children but have been looking forward to my oldest starting preschool, partly for selfish reasons. Those feelings were there the whole time but I wasn’t fully aware of them. Thank you for your words, they helped to keep me in check about my time with my children!

  16. I regularly run into women who use this excuse to as why they can’t homeschool their children. I always tell them “I don’t have any more patience than you. And I’m no more qualified to homeschool my children, than you are to homeschool yours. Homeschooling is a walk of faith. Patience as well as any other Godly virtues that we need for the task of homeschooling are developed as we go along!”

  17. It is interesting that many think it impossible for them to teach their small family, but think teachers can handle a class of 20 to 30.

  18. I like how you say it’s the day-to-day experiences that develop patience. It reminds me that patience is fruit of the spirit. Fruit doesn’t just pop onto the tree fully formed. It grows slowly…at an almost imperceptible pace.

  19. That’s very true, Andie. I must confess I never dreamed my patience would grow as it has. Not to say it’s grown as much as it needs to!! But God has blessed and helped in ways I never dreamed. Though I shouldn’t have been surprised–He never asks us to do anything without also providing everything we need to do it!

  20. When I homeschooled my kids, the most frequent comment I got, too, was that I must have a lot of patience. My boys and I in unison would say, “No, she doesn’t.” But, since it made such an amazing difference in their lives, obviously it was worth it.

  21. Tonya, I will give confirmation to your admonishment to pray. We are in our 12th year of homeschooling and without prayer I would be a deflated shell. Pray for wisdom, pray for encouragement, pray for evidence that your children are learning, pray for direction from the One who loves your kids with an eternal love. It is by God’s power that we can raise our children in the way they should go and it is by His love in us that we can look at them and feel our hearts overflow with gratitude for the privilege of being able to raise them.

  22. First of all, let me be the first athiest (I think) to write and concur about how lovely it is to be home with our children. Our oldest really prefers to be at school so she is and she is thriving. Our middle and youngest have been homeschooling for three years. People tell me all the time what a “supermom” I am, how patient I must be and how they don’t have that quality. Well, like many of you, I don’t really count patience as one of my strongest virtues but I did figure out that my kids learn a lot when I am not strictly adhering to a curriculum, so I have let the reins loose since starting out, and this takes a good bit of pressure off of me as well as the kids. We are eclectic bordering on un-schooling and our kids always get compliments on their character, how articulate they are, how well-educated they are, etc…I think of homeschooling them as my being a more experienced co-learner with them, not a teacher per se, and that is working out so well. One needs trust that kids want to learn what they are interested in, and so my job besides being a co-learner is to expose them to potential interests and help them fulfill the interests they tell me they have. BUT…I can see the attraction to school as a social benefit, because when I was growing up one need just step out the door to find dozens of potential neighbor playmates, and now the streets are bare, we need to call in advance to arrange “play dates” with the kids across the street. We are trapped in a sense, and so schools become a way for kids to be around other kids, unnaturally. That is my big regret about raising kids these days.

    1. You’re very right…neighborhood kids don’t play together like they used to, for a lot of reasons, I suppose. I have to say I don’t necessarily see that as a negative, however. Sometimes socialization with peers is anything but healthy! I believe the vast majority of homeschooled children receive plenty of contact with other kids through homeschool groups and extracurricular and church activities, and I feel these provide much better “socialization” because parents are generally present and heavily involved.

      I agree whole-heartedly with the joy of homeschooling without strict adherence to a particular curriculum. It certainly makes learning more fun and natural. Or at least it has for my children! And for me, too, though I know every child is different and what works for one may not work for another. But when you can make the whole learning process easier for the TEACHER, it’s bound to help her patience level, too!

  23. I enjoyed your post. While you are correct that there is a lot more *stuff* that makes parenting easier, I think there is one major change from what moms have done over the generations, and that is a network of support from other moms who are raising their kids. That is what is most intimidating for me. It is not having adult contact all day long. That is very common in more traditional societies and was more common in our society when kids were “homeschooled” before the IR.

  24. Thanks. I am a 21 year homeschool veteran and I’m doing research for a Question and Answer Session about homeschooling for our church and community. I loved your article and couldn’t agree more. I plan to use some of your thoughts in my session. Thanks again.

  25. My wife and I are still undecided about whether to home school our children. My oldest it just over four, likes to learn, and love affirmation. It’s very difficult to not get frustrated with him when we go over lesson plans. After about 5 to 10 minutes, I give out before he does, and I can feel my patients eroding away with phrases like “I can’t do it”. I know an angry reaction to the four letter “C” word won’t help either. Praying before we start, then getting jolly and joyful helps, but I think having a realistic expectation of what he can do and where he’s at developmentally is what I lack. This was a long winded way of asking, how can I find out mental and emotional milestones. I don’t what to hinder his, and his younger siblings, development due to my lack of intelligence about their capabilities.

    1. I’ll jump in here (hope that’s okay!) Your son is still really young. That’s great that he likes to learn! So, keep it fun and joyful and don’t stress over what he can’t get. He’ll eventually understand things and will do so more quickly if you’re not stressed about it. Just enjoy this PRE school age and spend lots of time with him reading, exposing him to lots of new things, playing game/sports, etc. Going over a curriculum at such a young age can add undue stress that’s not necessary. Just my opinion. You sound like a very intentional parent who wants what’s right and best for your children. Enjoy your time with him!

      1. I think you’re right. As a parent, I want to make sure our time together is fun and rewarding, but at the same time I want to help prepare him for the rest of his life. That could be too much to expect from a young developing mind. Maybe flashcards and games for now. Funny, I find myself being a bit more instructional with my oldest and more playful with the younger kids. I know what to expect from a two and a half year old since I already had one, but in my actions I expect the four year old to do trigonometry with his left hand while paining a sunset with the right. I should keep in mind that he will never be this sweet little four year old again. He may be a sweet five year old eventually, but he will never again be four.

  26. My wife and I have discussed homeschooling over the years, and the stumbling block I’ve always had was with organization. We have discussed doing “trial runs” of homeschooling over the summer and while it works fine for a couple of weeks, invariably something happens to derail the process. Be it illness, family emergency, vacation time, or just a couple of days of extra errands, the school work ends up stopping. We haven’t really discussed this, but I’m wondering if it isn’t a spiritual or mental block that we know that there is the convenient (or guaranteed) drop back to regular school that causes a lack of focus instead of a lack of discipline and organization.

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