Everyone has their own idea of what a homeschool mom is supposed to look like—even homeschool moms themselves! I’ve come across many stereotypes of homeschool moms; some good, some bad. But all are generalizations nonetheless—an attempt to create a mold that makes others feel comfortable.
Oh if I could’ve just recorded the look on some of my peers’ faces when I introduced myself as the newest member of the homeschool community. I could only imagine what they were thinking. I look nothing like them and my story is nothing like theirs. Needless to say, it was difficult getting people to see past my differences.
Even more difficult? Learning to challenge “outsiders” who not only assumed they knew my reason for choosing to homeschool, but also assumed what kind of person I was based on past experiences they’ve had with homeschool moms.
This post isn’t an attempt to criticize homeschool moms who may fall under some of the following categories, but rather a way to illustrate not all homeschool moms are cut from the same cloth—an important thing to note for prospects and newbies who may feel like they don’t fit the “mold.”
I remember feeling so out of place (still do sometimes) in my homeschool community. During that time, reading posts like these reminded me that there are no rules! So, without further ado…
10 Reasons I Don’t Fit In With Homeschool Moms
1. I’m not wealthy. Not yet, anyway. I may be rich in some areas of my life, but when it comes to finances…let’s just say it’s a work in progress. In fact, only about 16 percent of the homeschool population makes six-figures. The rest of us make a pretty modest income. So all that talk about rich people opting for homeschool only references a small demographic in the homeschool community.
I know that homeschool curricula, coop fees, and the cost of extracurricular activities can seem daunting for those of us with tight budgets. But I’m here to tell you that homeschool doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars. There are plenty of free/low-cost curricula available online, at your local library, and even your local secondhand bookstore. All of my children’s curricula are FREE, but I do pay for any additional supplements I may need.
For instance, my local secondhand bookstore offers materials like A-beka, Saxon, MUS, and more, for just a fraction of the cost—I’m talking under five bucks! I also have a homeschool membership card that offers awesome discounts on school materials.
Furthermore, you’d be amazed at how many free/low-cost opportunities there are to involve your child in extracurricular activities. If you are new to homeschool, please plug into your local homeschool group—they’re a wealth of information (notice my pun here).
2. I’m not white. As if that’s not obvious. I can probably count the number of people of color in our local co-op on two fingers. However, contrary to my personal experience, homeschool amongst the African-American community is on the rise. In fact, reports from 2015 show that Black students made up 10 percent of the homeschool population in the United States. That’s compared to the 16 percent they made up in public school that same year. And while that percentage may not seem that big of a deal, consider that African Americans are the fastest rising demographic in the homeschool community. That means homeschool communities are growing in diversity every year! (Source: The Atlantic)
3. I’m not drowning in curricula and school supplies. As a budding minimalist, I’m always amazed at how much unused stuff is accumulated in homeschool classrooms. It’s understandable, shopping for your classroom can be fun—and addicting! However, I love how minimalistic and clutter-free our classroom is.
Listen, you don’t have to buy every on-trend curriculum, gadget, or office supply. Keep in mind that most popular bloggers and/or YouTube personalities showcasing this stuff are sent these materials for FREE in exchange for a favorable review.
If you’re new to homeschool, I suggest sticking to the basic needs of your classroom—age-appropriate school supplies, a curriculum that works, and a work desk. I found that resisting the urge to fill up my classroom during our first homeschool year really gave me the opportunity to see what our personalized needs actually were—and what we could live without!
4. I’m not afraid to send my kids to public school. Rumor has it that homeschool parents want to keep their kids away from the big bad wolves that may negatively influence their children. I won’t negate that these so-called wolves exist, but I will venture to say that negative influencers are everywhere—including homeschool groups.
Kids will make poor choices regardless of their schooling. It’s all a part of the maturity process. Just as all homeschoolers aren’t unsocialized weirdos, all public schools are not bad news. While my experience wasn’t perfect, I’m a product of the good that public school can do. I was an honor student and a good (but not perfect) kid. I know many successful people who are also outstanding products of the public school system.
If you missed the memo in my earlier posts, I homeschool to give my boys a personalized education that comes with the flexibility and freedom to learn at their own pace and in a manner that best suits their learning style. I also homeschool to encourage a positive relationship with learning that isn’t solely based on memorizing facts and getting high test scores.
(Please also note I live in a district with good public schools, I may not feel the same way if I lived in a low-performing school district.)
5. I hate sweats. I know this is random, but it must be said. One thing that hasn’t changed about me since I was a little girl is my love for dressing up. However, I’ve noticed in the world of motherhood that dressing nicely has a negative stigma attached to it. You’re often judged harsher by other moms, viewed as being selfish or a bad mom just because you don’t look like what you’re going through (pee on the walls because your boys wanted to see how far they can “shoot,” the hidden poopy diaper because pooping in the potty is “scary,” the bruise on your big toe after stepping on a LEGO piece…).
Putting some effort into myself has always been a great practice for my emotional wellbeing. I like to listen to positive affirmations as I’m getting dressed and ready for the day—It’s my time to meditate and reflect while my husband minds the children. In short—it’s a part of my “me-time.”
6. I wasn’t homeschooled. I’ve met quite a few moms (and dads) who were homeschooled growing up. Until then, it never occurred to me that homeschool was a family practice passed down from generation to generation—simply a no-brainer for some parents to carry on the legacy.
I’ve already discussed that I attended public school my entire academic career, but I didn’t mention that I never even knew that homeschool existed until adulthood. In fact, I was introduced to homeschool when I studied alternative modes of education during my master’s program. I was so intrigued with the idea that I just kept studying it—even long after I earned my degree.
Yet, even with all the studying, my knowledge doesn’t compare to that of former homeschoolers I’ve met. This can be intimidating if you let it be. I simply remind myself that, while I’m no homeschool expert, I am most certainly an expert in my own homeschool.
7. I don’t believe homeschool is the only way. This is one of the common misconceptions—In fact, some friends and family members started avoiding me once they found out I’d be homeschooling my kids. I even discovered some of these beloved people unfriended me on social media (ouch!). I guess I was oversharing our wonderful experience!
I’ve found that some parents who don’t homeschool their children are automatically in defense mode once the subject of schooling comes up—as if they expect me to criticize their decision to send their children to public school. This inspired me to write this post on my Instagram…
“Please don’t mistake my being a homeschool mom as a judgement against moms who work outside the home or send their children to public school. We all have different callings in life–unique, yet beautiful, journeys to experience. I respect moms, period, and I respect the decision you make for your family. Don’t get tripped up on my life. Homeschool may sound romantic, but it is hard work and will definitely test and strengthen your faith, character, and patience. But nothing of true value ever comes easy.
Therefore, the challenge is what makes it beautiful. I share snippets of our life with you not to boast (or make you feel guilty), but to inspire you to walk your own path, no matter how outside of the norm that path may be. Believe me, people have their opinions, but in the end I always have the peace of mind that I’m doing what God called me to do at such a time as this.” (Words in parentheses added later.)
8. I’m not that patient…really, I’m not. Probably one of the biggest deterrents for parents that are considering homeschool is whether or not they have enough patience to provide their children with a home-based education. My belief? Patience is not something you just have naturally; it is a muscle that needs to be worked continually.
Yes, I’ve gotten angry, raised my voice, sent my kids to their room, and had to do some serious “woosahs.” I can for sure tell you that I’m not the most patient mom, but the good news is that my patience grows every single day. Most seemingly “patient” people you know have probably had a series of unfavorable experiences to help them grow in that area. You do not have to be patient to be a homeschool mom, but you do have to be committed to grow in patience.
9. I am not a helicopter mom. I won’t pretend I wasn’t when my children were much younger. However, the older my boys get, the more I back off and give them opportunities to make their own decisions, and/or experience some of life’s “hurts.” I don’t homeschool them to be a helicopter mom. That wouldn’t be fun for any of us. There’s no way I can police their behavior for every little thing they’ve got going on. Soon, I’ll be dropping them off to sports practice, extra-curricular classes, a friend’s house, and much more!
Knowing this, I’ve committed myself to helping my boys develop good character that’ll enable them to make good decisions for themselves. I don’t believe in shielding my kids, but I do believe in providing them with a safe and nurturing environment to learn about—and interact with—the world around them. Unfortunately, though, some things about the world kids (as they mature) have to learn for themselves. I accept that.
10. I’m not the poster child for motherhood. Some homeschool moms are like saints. They’re great at everything from planning, decorating, cooking, keeping a tidy home, running a successful business, and raising geniuses—all with a Colgate smile. And while I admit to being good at some of these things, I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that I am not a perfect mom and I do not run the perfect homeschool.
I remember seeing a quote on Instagram that read something like this: “Some days I amaze myself…other days, I look for my phone while I’m talking on it.”
Yep, that’s definitely me! Some days are perfect, some days are in between, and some days I just want to lay in bed and wallow in self-pity. There are so many wonderful things being said about homeschool, but not enough testimony about the challenges that homeschool parents (and students!) sometimes face. If you’re new to homeschool, just know that you don’t have to have it all together all of the time!