Homeschooling: Unrealistic Expectations vs. Reality

September 19, 2018
Written by:
Tasha Swearingen

When you started homeschooling did you imagine the perfect learning scenario? One where all your children wake up and start working on their homeschool lessons without being told? A homeschool where everyone was happy and serene all day long? Ah, what a wonderful daydream… but meet reality! Three weeks in, and you consider it a good day if everyone has opened a textbook before bedtime! When you thought about homeschooling, you probably thought about the “good” but did you plan for the “bad” – or even the “ugly?”

Your Expectations:

Did you envision a wonderfully quiet atmosphere, blooming with learners who would be ready to soak up all the What's your homeschooling reality?knowledge you could toss their way? Did these imaginary learners (gasp) talk back? Did they ever flat-out refuse to do schoolwork? Everything was going to be practically perfect and your scholars would come away from 12th grade practically geniuses…until…

Your Reality:

The second day of school, you probably realized that your expectations may have been WAY too high and unrealistic. Instead of soaking up all the knowledge you’d planned to surround them with, your kids are complaining because their pencil isn’t sharpened, someone’s touching someone else, the toddler just had a blowout and now the newborn is up from a nap – all at the moment you were about to start school.

Dear parent, you are NOT alone! In fact, you’d really be hard-pressed to find a family homeschooling just one child. You also might be surprised to learn that a large number of homeschooling families have a busy toddler under their feet while they try to teach their children.

The reality seems much bleaker than the fantasy you’d dreamed about. But, did you know… that’s perfectly normal!? Yes, it really is! For that matter, it’s also totally normal to stare longingly at the yellow school bus in your neighborhood and envision days of peace and quiet all. day. long. Yup, completely normal!

Your Solution:

Now, while that may be completely normal, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer because the kids get out of control and you can’t get much accomplished! So, how do you get out of this rut of feeling down and out about homeschooling?

  1. Remind yourself WHY you started homeschooling in the first place.
  2. Look at the statistics about public schools. You DON’T want to go that route!
  3. Think in terms of homeschool vs. public school – you’d be shocked at how much better off your students are!
  4. Release the high expectations you once had. That doesn’t mean totally lower your standards or anything, but it DOES mean to let go of some of the lofty ideas you may have had – such as immediate obedience in schoolwork at all times.
  5. Consider joining a co-op. Many families enjoy having “help” by allowing other co-op parents assist in teaching their students. A co-op will relieve you of some subjects.
  6. Think about what subjects you can do together, as a family. Don’t end up purchasing five different science curriculum books and insisting that all five of your children sit down immediately and get to work. No! Instead, consider using living books for science and do it together as a group/family!

At the end of the day, your reality isn’t going to match your fantasy – period. That said, it DOES help to know that other homeschooling families are dealing with the same thing. You are not alone! You have the strength to face the everyday challenges of homeschooling – you can do it!

Tasha Swearingen

Tasha is a homeschooling mom to 5 and has been homeschooling for 14 years. Currently, her children's ages span from toddler to young adult. Tasha has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Social Sciences from Florida State University and is working on her MBA through SNHU/Berklee School of Music.