Homeschooling: Unrealistic Expectations vs. Reality

October 17, 2022
Written by:
Andrea Dillon

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! Now that you’re several weeks in, you may 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?

Unrealistic Homeschool Expectations

When imagining your homeschool year, did you envision a wonderfully quiet atmosphere, blooming with learners who would be ready to soak up all the What to Expect When Homeschoolingknowledge 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…

Here are a few examples of unrealistic expectations:

  • Expecting your child to sit still and quietly work for 6 or so hours, raise their hands with questions, and act as though they are at public school
  • Expecting your children to never complain or whine to try to get out of doing their schoolwork
  • Expecting your child to be excited about every single craft and activity you plan

I’m so sorry to be the one to break it to you, but while these things (and more) are lovely to imagine, they are works of pure fiction.

Homeschool Reality

You probably realized that your expectations may have been WAY too high and unrealistic on the second day of school. 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 of. 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

Homeschooling Solutions

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?

  • Remind yourself of WHY you started homeschooling in the first place. You do what you do, not for your personal convenience, but for your children to get the best education and life experiences possible.
  • Look at the statistics about public schools. That’s a quick way to put things back into perspective. You don’t want to go that route!
  • Reevaluate your goals. What is most important to you that your children learn? Once you have those goals set, you can create a better idea of how to pursue and meet those goals.
  • Release the high expectations you once had. That doesn’t mean totally lowering your standards or anything, but it DOES mean letting go of some of the lofty ideas you may have had – such as no distractions in schoolwork at all times.
  • Consider joining a co-op. Many families enjoy having “help” by allowing other co-op parents to assist in teaching their students. A co-op will relieve you of some subjects.
  • Think about what subjects you can do together, as a family. Don’t end up purchasing five different science curriculum books and insist 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. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it goes. 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!


Additional Homeschool Resources

PODCAST: Getting Started and Unrealistic Homeschool Expectations

Is It Too Late to Change Homeschool Curriculum?

30 Encouraging Homeschool Quotes

Andrea Dillon

Andrea is a previous public school teacher turned accidental homeschooler. She earned her B.S. in Elementary Education, then followed up with a Master's in Early Education before deciding to give homeschooling a try with her first child. Many years later, she is still homeschooling her now teen children and loving it. She enjoys making crafts, reading books, playing video games, and cuddling her cats.