Sunday, March 4, 2012

5 biggest challenges in homeschooling

Now that I've been at this homeschooling game for about 6 months, I can look back and assess where I am, what I've learned, where I excelled and where I fell short.

The number one thing that I have learned is that homeschooling is not easy! It takes so much commitment from the homeschool parent. Homeschooling also requires an inordinate amount of organization. I have always been very organized; a huge believer in "a place for everything, everything in its place". But homeschooling takes much more than that. I had no idea when I started out how much structure homeschooling requires. Without structure and serious organization skills, it is very easy to get lost in every day minutae and not get school work done.

Structure and organization aside, here are the 5 biggest challenges I face as a homeschool parent.

1- Finding a homeschool support group in my area.

I live in Central NJ and there are no homeschool support groups in this area. I have tirelessly searched the internet and while I have found a group here and there, they are usually very religious/Christian. Since I am looking for a group that focuses more on socialization and academics than religion, these groups are not a good fit. I have also come across 2 listings that sound like homeschool groups. The first one I contacted was actually someone's private home number and she told me her kids were now in college and she offered some advice which led to dead ends. The second listing must have been outdated. I never heard back and after 3 or 4 attempts I gave up.

As of now, my daughter and I are on our own and I do feel that socialization is an important aspect to consider, which bring me to number 2 on my list.

2- Availability of extracurricular activities.

Actually, the lack of extracurricular activities for homeschooled children. Of course, there are community programs that offer dance lessons, music, art classes and the list goes on. However, these classes cater to kids who go to public school and most classes, if not all, are offered after school. Also, the kids who attend these classes are public school kids so their experiences are different than homeschooled children. It's hard to connect and make friends.

3- The financial aspect.

As a homeschool parent, I am responsible for all of the material and activities for our homeschool. It can get expensive to buy books and arts supplies, enroll in a variety of extracurricular activities and do other things such as field trips. I want this experience to be exciting and fun for my daughter, so I have to be creative. I use the library a lot for books. I enrolled my daughter in our local YMCA for classes; the variety isn't great, but there are enough classes to keep her busy for now and the prices are good. As far as field trips, my husband and I plan ahead and set money aside for trips to museums, etc.

4- Keeping the lessons interesting.

Spending everyday together reading, studying, learning, can get boring. I want my daughter to love learning and to want to learn something new every day. I am always trying to think of fun things to do, interactive projects, hands on science experiments, computer based activities; teaching that goes beyond worksheets.

5- Finding "me" time.

This is actually a pretty big one. My friends told me before I embarked on this journey that I could not forget about me; that in order to keep my sanity, I would need to find time to do things that I enjoy. I was sure I would be able to do that, but reality has been quite different. The fact is that we can get caught up in planning, preparing, teaching, mentoring, that we forget who we are beyond that. There are days when I feel like being alone, even if it's something simple like taking an extra long shower. I allow myself to indulge in that. There are other times that I will just go out by myself. Even if I have nothing to do, I will get in the car and go to a store and just walk around by myself. The one thing I have missed out on is doing yoga. I rarely find the time to do it and it's so important to stay healthy physically and mentally.

I am working hard to turn these homeschool challenges into success stories! It's a matter of finding the resources and finding balance....


  1. hi, im shia, currently with only 1 son, 31 months old. i am all for homeschooling but i am not sure if i would be able to do it full-time.

    hence I'm looking forward to hear your success stories despite all the challenges. that said, i hope i'll have more motivation to do more activities with my son.

    good luck to us! =) cheers

    1. Hi Shia,

      Yes, it's challenging, but it has also been the most rewarding thing I've ever done! I love seeing my daughter learn and discover and excel.

      And I love spending time with her.

  2. Hi - Just found your blog. I belong to a homeschool group that sounds a lot like what you are looking for - Green Valley Homeschoolers ( Lots of social events and a weekly playdate - all in Central NJ. I'd be happy to share any info you might need.

  3. I just found your blog, and your above reasons are some of the reasons why I am nervous to try homeschooling with my son. He's 4 years old currently...almost 4.5. Have things improved at all? I really dread putting him in public school the way things are these days. He is such a SMART little guy, and I think he will get bored so quickly in public school. :/

  4. Hi Beth,

    If you find a homeschool group that you like, then you'll have plenty of activities for your son and you'll get to meet other like minded people. I've recently found some programs locally that are for homeschooled kids which is great. As far as me time, sometimes on weekends I'll go shopping by myself or just go for a walk just to get out of the house and be alone. It helps.

    Good luck!