Common problems and roadblocks to homeschooling and how to solve them
Homeschooling gives families and children an opportunity for academic freedom. It provides the ability to customize a child’s education, and can help create a more relaxed family dynamic. However, no-one pretends that homeschooling is easy. Parenting is never easy. There will be obstacles that you need to overcome from financial to logistical to performance. Here are some common roadblocks and problems with homeschooling and some suggestions on how to solve them.
Unsupported parents and extended family
Sometimes your parents, siblings and other friends and families are less than supportive in your homeschool journey. They are typically less than polite when talking about it as well. The best way to deal with it is to be secure in your decision, and let them know that your mind is made up. Also, on your hard days, do not call anyone who is not supportive of your homeschooling. They will only take the opportunity to drag you down. Call on another homeschool family instead.
If you’re feeling alone in your conviction, it is vital that you seek out other homeschoolers that can affirm you in your choice and that you can glean homeschool tips from for success. Read and research so that you can articulate your reasoning well.
Parental disagreement over homeschooling
This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in homeschooling. For that reason, it is imperative to be on the same page with the child’s other parent before beginning the homeschool journey. Homeschooling is very difficult if you are constantly being undermined in your decision, and this can cause anxiety with children and the temptation to pit one parent against the other during challenging homeschooling periods.
It does not matter if you are the teaching parent, or the one asking the other parent to homeschool. Homeschooling requires 100% commitment from both parents, because when one parent feels pressured into homeschooling it often chips away at the family dynamic. It is better to postpone homeschooling than to go into it without everyone on board.
One way to deal with this scenario is to agree to give homeschooling a try for a year or so, but both parents will need to support each other during this time and stick to the agreement for it to work properly.
Homeschooling families are typically two-parent homes, as one needs to work and one needs to teach the children. Single homeschool parents run into problems when considering homeschooling as it is difficult to be both the financially supporting parent and the teaching parent. What a single parent must remember is that homeschooling only has to happen 4 hours a day, 180-190 days a year, on average. If you work outside the home, you can arrange your homeschool schedule to work on weekends, evenings or early morning to accommodate the schedule of the parent.
Centrelink mostly supports single homeschooling parents that are registered and have the other parent’s permission. This is a great privilege, albeit, financially challenging. Homeschooling can provide stability and security for children of divided families.
Parental work schedule
Even when there are two parents in the family, many of them will both want to or have to work. It may take some creative scheduling to homeschool while working and running the household for a family when both parents are used to working outside the home. Both parents going part-time is a good solution if you can manage it. Having both parents homeschool the children is a wonderful situation, and one that is becoming more and more prevalent as parents run their own businesses or work from home.
The first thing to do is to take a good look at your schedules and try to arrange them as much as possible to be able to have someone at home to be with your child. Then to fill the gap, you may need to call on extended family for support to fill in where you cannot. Another alternative is to hire an older homeschooled teen who understands your situation and needs some pocket money. My children have done this and it worked really well for both parties.
If you ask for help, make sure you can provide a reasonable schedule that doesn’t over burden that family member or friend. Maybe getting help a couple of afternoons a week will close the gap in your schedule.
Parents unable to do curriculum
Maths not your strength? Maybe you’re pregnant and just too tired, or you’re not confident at teaching a foreign language? Or, sometimes the work is too difficult for some parents to teach. Perhaps your education is limited or English is not your first language.
The most important thing a homeschool parent needs to know is when they need to get help. If this is you, find a tutor. Ask around among other homeschoolers to see if there is a tutor available. We did this for Chinese lessons and art lessons at one point. Ask university students you know who could tutor in maths or foreign language. Contact local professional tutoring services in your area.
You won’t need to do this for all subjects, but if one or two classes a year needs a tutor, don’t be afraid to hire them. And you may not to keep it up forever. As you go along in your homeschooling journey, gaining confidence, getting more organised and your children grow to become less demanding on your time, you will begin to feel like you can do more.
If you have a skill that another homeschool parent can make use of, you may be able to trade skills and help each other with your strengths and weaknesses.
Children aren’t always on board with homeschooling. There are times when homeschooling the children will be a hard sell. You have to make sure they feel like homeschooling is a reward and privilege and not a punishment. More importantly, your children need to feel reassured that you are 100% committed to educating them. If your child senses that you are homeschooling reluctantly, this will play out in uncooperative behaviour and anxiety.
Talking to your children in positive terms and weaving their favourite activities into homeschooling in a way that would not have been possible if they were in traditional school will go a long way. Even the most hesitant homeschool child will warm up to the idea if they get to do their favourite recreational activities at 9am on Monday morning and they have time to explore other interests they did not have time for before. When my boys began building their treehouse, they would get up at 5am, get their “school work” done by 9 and be out at the treehouse all day. Now that’s the freedom that homeschooling affords!
While this is something that I wouldn’t normally advocate, it can work for some homeschooling parents who need to work or for single parents. You can fit instruction into just about any schedule, and fitting childcare and oversight into your schedule might be a bit more difficult. Some things that homeschoolers do to cover your children while you work are swapping childcare hours with other families.
Looking for inspiration from other homeschoolers? Check out the latest homeschooling books for parents.