This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. 

Everything is so hard right now. I am tired—I can barely keep my eyes open to feed the kids, and all I can think is how the orthodontist told me the preteens are not brushing their teeth often enough. I am so stinking tired I can’t even manage to tell them to keep their teeth clean.

I can think of all these good reasons why I should be the exception to homeschooling and just quit. But every time I do, I find there is an anti-school core running straight through me that will not bend. But’s here’s why maybe someone should quit homeschooling.

1. You should stop if you have special needs kids.
I have 2 special need kids in addition to 3 typical kids
.  My younger two were born meth-addicted—my son is the bio mom’s sixth child, and his sister was that mom’s ninth. We have weeks of hell as their bodies try to come down from all the drug exposure and as we try to repair damage. It’s crazy. I can’t hold my eyes in focus and now wear glasses.  I have a grey streak in the front of my hair from the stress.  I have gained 10 pounds for every year I have done this. I should stop homeschooling, right?

Zach can’t speak very well.  He has so much sensory hitting him he can’t concentrate on talking. He can’t sit still long enough to eat. At school, he would be made fun of for his speech, be the kid who gets into trouble in the class, and slowly turns into someone I don’t want him to be. I could get him an IEP at school, and fight the system, but why not just let him stay home and be himself with no worries?

Life would be easier for me, but not for Zach.

2. You should stop if your household is crazy.
I have no idea why Andy and I thought it would be a great idea to live within our means.  We chose to buy a remodel and live in it while fixing it. We are converting two connected houses into one.  Many days school is interrupted because I can’t find the material, or we are moving one room to the next to work on something.  I have moved my bedroom 6 times in the past 3 years.

If I sent the kids to school I could move things around faster, and not spend weeks trying to move stuff, feed, clean, and school.  Yes life would be easier for me (and cleaner).  My kids would be right at grade level instead of above, they would learn to shut up and follow the system, and most importantly their friends would be the top of their list, instead of family.

Life would be easier for me, but it would not be the way I want them to grow up.

3. Your spouse isn’t a help.
My husband works so many hours. When we moved to this gloomy state 3 years ago, Andy had a great job of 60 hours a week.  He was laid off 4 months later, and started a new job that required a 100 hours a week. I knew no one here, Zach had a fresh diagnosis of autism, and I live in a remodel my husband has no time to work on. These were good reasons to quit.

But I didn’t.  I kept faithfully lying to myself that the next year would be better.They are getting better. Slowly, I have hired contractors for the house.  The kids are older, and I made a couple of friends.  Andy’s hours are becoming fewer. Money is increasing.

I’m glad I didn’t quit, because we all grew from family to Friends.

We all have a list of reasons not to homeschool. Some lists seem more reasonable than others. The fact is you and I aren’t willing to bend, our cores are all made of different, unchangeable principles that keep us going and unite us.  Can you imagine what life will look like with such a large generation being raised to think for themselves?

That is what my core is made of: hope.

20 replies
  1. Gena
    Gena says:

    I just love this post! It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I have a lot on the list too and I won’t bend either – Thank you!

  2. mh
    mh says:

    Hang in there, Sarah.

    Thanks for a great post.

    I like what you said – your kids just aren’t themselves if they have to go to school all day.

  3. Cher
    Cher says:

    EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

    I think I can’t homeschool this child ONE. MORE. DAY. He was born addicted to meth. He is extremely ADD, although not being in school he has not been given the official diagnosis. He lies about his school work. He sits staring at his work without doing anything for hours on end. He lies to me some more. He makes horrible decisions because he only thinks about what feels good right now, no worries about the trouble he will be in for it later. He lies to me some more. His thought process is unlike any normal person’s (trust me, this is NOT in a good way). He lies to me some more. If the answer is not spelled out exactly like the question is asked, he can not answer, even if I reword it 100 different ways. He lies to me some more. He gets angry at me when he has to do tasks over because he didn’t read the instructions and did it incorrectly the first time. He lies to me some more. He cannot remember anything for more than a few seconds. He lies to me some more. He cannot follow even the simplest of verbal instructions without multiple repetitions. And then he lies to me some more. Really, it would be SO much easier to send him to school and say, ‘it’s your life buddy, sink or swim’. Let him lie to someone else for a change, put him on schedule 2 narcotics because he now is diagnosed, let him spend lots of time in the office because he made another bad choice, let him lie to someone else for a change, not have to deal with him every minute of every day, not be the person he lies to about every single little thing….but 7 years later I’m still at it because I know that he wouldn’t learn anything within their walls.

    • Sarah Faulkner
      Sarah Faulkner says:

      Hi Cher,
      Yep I get it. My son is getting much better. So I can give you some help/share with you what I have learned and am learning. I am working with a researcher on Meth effects on kids and what helps them. This is really helpful. My email is sarah@thesarahfaulkner.com, First what I did was run a nutritional panel to see what vitamins he was lacking. Just getting his body healthy has really helped. Next, we started targeting the dopamine part of the brain, and forcing the brain to produce more, by teaching it and putting him in situations to use it. Zach actually has an imagination now, and can show remorse. The lying is gone. He doesn’t hurt people as often, and can some what focus. He is almost 6. :)

  4. galeforcewind
    galeforcewind says:

    I don’t have kids, but hope to in the next couple years. Even telling people that I hypothetically want to homeschool my as yet unconceived children raises weird looks and dismissive responses. “You’ll know better when you have kids.” It’s seeing the resolve in the families that have chosen the same route I’d like to, even in the face of such difficult challenges, that makes me think this is the right solution for me.

    Thank you for sharing your doubts and difficulties.

  5. stephanie
    stephanie says:

    And that is precisely why I am so afraid to home school. I am afraid that I will be so exhausted, run down, confused and bored that I will make a mess of the whole thing. Better to let someone else do it and the blame can fall on their shoulders. But then, then I read the good bits. Then I look at my little one and decide once and for all to do what’s best for him. I cannot do it for my oldest. I just don’t have it in me and the ball is already rolling , and she is happy, but in school, and I wish I had done differently for her. Maybe I don’t think I will get enough keeping her home, and all the fears come back.
    But I will keep my convictions strong for the little one. Thanks for the post. It speaks to everything I am thinking.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      If it makes a difference, when both my husband and I were working we had our baby in daycare. He was one year old but he was our only one so he was a baby.

      And we were run down, exhausted, and felt trapped.

      So the truth is, I think parents experience this all the time and then it’s a sign that something must change in the approach to life.

      It happens both inside and outside homeschooling.

  6. Jen
    Jen says:

    I have 5 kids none with special needs, but I still fell like forget this, sometimes . When I think of my options there are none so I keep going. Hard work produces great things.

  7. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    This is very well written. It sounds like you have enormous life stress. I hope you have resources outside the immediate family that can help you!

  8. CrisH
    CrisH says:

    I have a special place in my heart for honest posts about homeschooling because, yeah — it’s tough and life happens and there are sacrifices that you never signed up for but oh, sh*t, I’ve done too much research and believe in it too much and now I’m trapped into it because if I quit everyone will say “I told you so” and “the schools aren’t so bad” and “they will do fine” but I won’t ever agree with that. Not ever.

    That anti-schooling core is solid as steel, I know. That core is made of hope and trust and love and is rooted in the perspective you have gained from living life without school. As ugly as it can be, this lifestyle is the most beautiful thing I can imagine for my family.

    Lovely post. Simply lovely. Sending strength from California…

  9. Jenn Gold
    Jenn Gold says:

    I love that you are solution oriented and you dont make excuses. Don’t quit! This post was inspirational because I see a determined mother handling the problems as they arise because her kids need her.

  10. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    You should never quit, because you should not be the sole dictator of your child’s education. If your child isn’t involved in the decision process, you’re doing something radically different from the rest of us. You quitting means you’re putting your kid back in school against his will, which is not setting him up for success.

    If your child wants to quit homeschooling exclusively, and use school for a while, that’s a different story. You should respect and support his choice in that as well.

    One of the most difficult parts of parenting is working with the child we have, not our imagination of the child we have, the child we were, or the child we wished we had. This is made more complicated by the way children keep changing. The march of maturity does not happen at an even pace, but through lulls and leaps.

    One day your previously school-antagonistic child may surprise you by declaring he intends to go to the most rigorous school in the city. Changing your plans to support his preparation for that isn’t quitting homeschooling, it’s follow-through.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      My (almost) 8 year old keeps asking me when she can go to college. This is a child who shuns traditional school classroom environments to the point where we don’t do any co-ops right now.

      I’m slightly confused since she wants to be an engineer yet loves our unconventional approach to learning being autodidacts.

      For now we keep unschooling and I have the house stocked with math, science, and engineering equipment, games, apps, pre-made curriculum etc. She is also an artist and you get that vibe from her as soon as you meet her, so I’m sort of just winging it right now since she is younger, although LA has many early entry programs at public universities here… that just seems so counter to what we are all about right now. If she could be in college right now she would go. I guess that would be quitting homeschool, right?

      • Sarah Faulkner
        Sarah Faulkner says:

        A good friend of mine is an engineer. He was a high school drop out, but really wanted to do engineering. He doesn’t fit the “mold” either. :)

      • Commenter
        Commenter says:

        For me, homeschooling is more about locus of control than locus of instruction.

        Homeschoolers get to use the tools they think are necessary. That may include schools. The difference is that they are in charge, not the system.

        Good luck with your seven year old engineer. It’s not too young to start breadboarding.

        • Elizabeth
          Elizabeth says:

          One of the things I appreciate the most about your comments is you make me need to look words up. Like, I would probably need a dictionary app handy to have a conversation with you. Breadboarding…

  11. Erin
    Erin says:

    LOVE! Oh my goodness, I am so right there. I have three boys, ages 9, 3 and 7months. My 3 year old we just adopted this past September and he has anger issues he came to our house with. His brother is our 7 month old, both were born with meth in their systems. We are still foster parents and have constant appointments with doctors, social workers, etc. My house is a disaster and my husband works long hours. Thank you so much for this post. I, too will not give up. I know people think I’m crazy, but those are the same people who never really understood why I homeschool in the first place. Again, thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

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