Why You Want to Give Up Homeschooling

It’s February. Like clockwork homeschool moms hit burn out mode this time of year.

Yes, it might be cloudy skies, lack of sleep, or holiday sugar-binges catching up with us, but if it’s a serious case – a break-the-pencils, I-quit sort of case – we will probably need to dig a little deeper.

You know I’ve said you have to have a homeschool vision and you need solid principles, but these February days are where the rubber meets the roads and we find out whether or not we have any traction left. You know what gives us traction? Sound principles. Solid goals. Real purpose.

The work is ours; the results are not. Homeschool encouragement for moms who want to quit homeschooling or who are just having some bad days.

Why are you homeschooling?

If you are homeschooling for scholarships, college entrance, or good test scores, then you have no reason not to quit when the foggy days seem endless. If that’s what you are hoping for, then those goals can be achieved by a public school education and you can have your mornings and afternoons and sanity back.

If you are homeschooling for relationship with your children, there is nothing comparable to homeschooling. And those pull-your-hair-out days are all part of forming, building, strengthening, and holding onto those relationships. You’re all learning to live together, to love together, to keep going even when one person or everybody messes up.

If you are homeschooling so your kids can get good jobs then why not give up when the going gets tough? Your kids are likely to reach that goal just as readily from a public school education paired with a good home life.

If you are homeschooling so your children grow up with a functional, vibrant biblical worldview, one that not only takes the Bible seriously but is also deeply familiar with it, then you will have to homeschool (or live in a town with an exceptional school and have the cash to pay for it). Biblical knowledge and understanding takes time, conversation, leisure; it isn’t something that can be added like a cherry on top. Everything else must be pared back and simplified, made to orbit around this one central aim, or it will not be had; something else will be the center.

Homeschooling for relationships means that the lows as well as the highs are all building toward our aim. Homeschooling for virtue means that we must all put our heads down and stick to our course – learning perseverance, repentance, and fortitude is part of becoming virtuous. Homeschooling for God’s glory means that we must be willing to humbly offer our poor, weak efforts and trust that God is the One making something of them, of us, of our children.

In other words, if you are homeschooling for economic or performance reasons, then a series of bad days can be a sign of failure, that you are not reaching your desired ends: good grades, peaceful home, an impressive transcript.

If the checkmarks are the point, and the checkmarks aren’t checked, then it is time to give up and try something else.

But if you are homeschooling because of a deeper purpose, your hope is not set on your daily performance. Homeschooling from meaningful principles means that while those bad days feel like failing, they are all part of the path, leading you toward your aim.

You can’t have virtue without trial; you can’t have relationship without loyalty through good and bad; you can’t have God’s glory without giving up your own. It feels miserable in the moment, but the bad days are offerings of humility, something we give up to God and ask Him to do something with it, even though they’re terrible, rotten, no good. And He does.

The work is ours, the results are not.

We teach. We plan. We cry. We cajole. We repeat. We instruct. We ask for forgiveness.

They learn. We learn. They fuss. We call our fussing “being realistic.”

This life lived together is a furnace where all our imperfections flare up and make a display. The fact that we see our failings and faults and they are made obvious is not the problem – it is the grace. The sin is there whether we see it or not. These bad days that bring it to the forefront allow us to deal with it. That is our work: Repentance. All education is repentance.

The work is ours; the results are not. Homeschool encouragement for moms who want to quit homeschooling or who are just having some bad days.

We don’t have to grip the reins tight and assume the outcome is all on us. If we have been given the task of educating our children, we will be given the grace to do so. It might not feel like it, but it is true nonetheless. If we obey God – not by homeschooling, but by being loving, joyful, kind, peace-making, gentle, forgiving, and self-controlled – then we also relinquish control and allow God to do whatever He sees fit with our work. He decides.

Our work begins with ourselves. God’s will is our sanctification. For some of us, this path includes homeschooling. For our children, this path includes math and memory work and reading and maybe even Latin.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

Good days and bad all shape us, all train us – us and our children. Hold tight to your higher purpose. Hold tight to your children. Hold tight to your God.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Do not give up.

“Organize
I'd love to send you the first audio lesson from Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done for free.

32 Responses

  1. Trisha
    |

    I’m quite sure this is your best post ever. <3

    • Virginia Lee
      |

      I one hundred percent agree! This just got put with my Homeschooling the Freeborn from Cindy. (and considering that I reread that post at least 3 times a year, that’s high praise indeed.) Thank you for speaking grace and truth in a no nonsense way! This is what every homeschool mama needs to hear. God’s blessings on you, Mystie.

      • Mystie Winckler
        |

        Oh, thank you, both of you!

        Being filed alongside Homeschooling the Freeborn is a huge honor!

  2. Kortney
    |

    I used to say that I wanted a job where my sin wasn’t on display all the time. Re-framing that issue–as grace instead of a problem–is huge.

    I know it as grace, but that’s not the story I’ve been telling myself.

    • Mystie Winckler
      |

      Yes, it’s true that homeschooling shows us clearly where we need to repent!

      One of my favorite sayings is from Rachel Jankovic: Having sin isn’t the question, it’s how we deal with it that matters.

  3. SarahD
    |

    Thank you, Mystie! This is just the medicine I need…grace.

  4. Candy
    |

    Thank you so much for this post! I really needed to read it. I am not just suffering from Febuary burnout, but from 2 years worth of burnout. In a nutshell, the last 2 years have brought job changes, serious financial hardship, 4 moves (including one across the country to an area where we knew no one) and a brand new baby. We recently bought a home again and I feel like things are beginning to normalize and fall into place, praise God. But our homeschooling has seriously suffered over the last 2 years and so has the attitude of several members of this family…myself included. I’ve been homeschooling for 7 years, yet at this point I feel like I don’t even know what I’m doing and each day is a struggle trying to regain some sort of daily routine and “catch up” on all that has been missed. The household is so chaotic. I do feel like throwing in the towel and enrolling them in public school next year, although I do not feel good about it. Reading your post was encouraging and thought provoking for me. Thank you so much

    • Mystie Winckler
      |

      That’s a lot of big changes all at once! But it’s a lot of change for the kids as well and I’m sure they’re better off having had the stability of home and family through all of it.

      Check out this post by Pam on choosing the best things to focus on: http://edsnapshots.com/homeschool-success – I love her post!

  5. Chelli
    |

    This is a perfect post, Mystie! The best one ever I believe!

  6. Michelle Caskey
    |

    Yes! This is so true. First, that February and March tend to make all of us homeschool moms feel weary… And second, that we need to have a greater purpose than just academic achievement or there isn’t any reason for us to persevere through the hard days/months/years.

    Thanks so much for sharing this insight! Love it!

    • Mystie Winckler
      |

      Yes! It’s so easy to get caught up in the academics, box-checking, and test-scoring, but those aren’t the heart of the matter – they fall after when the underlying priorities are in place.

  7. Flora
    |

    God bless you for putting out such richness. This was spot on. I glean so much from you and our homeschooling life reflects that. Thank you so much and keep on keeping on!

  8. Kim Wenzel
    |

    I would love to sign up for weekly updates! Thanks for the encouragement to keep on following Christ in our homeschooling!

  9. Janette
    |

    My friend sent this blog my way…I am a first timer of HomeSchooling, and this makes me feel better…

  10. Rita
    |

    Oh my! If this post wasn’t for me, I don’t know what one would be? Such a wonderful reminder. Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

  11. Kristi
    |

    Spot on, Mystie. I agree with those who said this may have been your best article yet, although I glean much from your every offering. Grace and repentance and the reasons for homeschooling – what better ideas to ponder in February? We’ve taken a slower week this week because I’ve felt scattered and behind. The mental ‘rest’ has been helpful though not used as wisely as I could have. Your words came in good time for me to re-group, re-think, re-pent, and persevere. Thank you, Mystie! God bless you and your family ~

  12. WAHMBrenda
    |

    Thank you for such great words of encouragement.

  13. KarenC
    |

    I loved reading this this morning. Every year brings new trials for me, and this year has been particularly difficult, for many reasons. But it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in feeling this. And thank you for reminding me of my WHY. Thank you for reminding me that home schooling isn’t about the test scores and the grades and the college admissions. Thank you for reminding me of the bigger picture. My home schooling venture started with God calling me to do this (whether I fully realized that or not) to form bonds with my children, to have them form bonds between each other, and to bring them closer to Him. Those are my true goals. As long as I can evaluate my day like that, through a good, strong prayer life, everything is going to be OK. This post was written at the perfect time! Thank you so much!!

  14. Cynthia
    |

    Mystie,
    I have read a number of great “homeschool burnout” posts during my five years of homeschooling–this is, by far, the best one! Thank you for the wisdom, clarity and encouragement!!

  15. Amanda Evans
    |

    Bravo! Well written, Mystie. I needed to hear this.

    • Mystie Winckler
      |

      Thanks, Amanda! I wrote it because I needed to hear it, too. :)

  16. april edens
    |

    Well said! Printing a copy for my fridge!

  17. Homeschool Links
    |

    […] explains Why You Want to Give Up Homeschooling. Spot […]

  18. Angela
    |

    This is such a great post! What an inspiring reminder for the why behind all the hard work we homeschool moms do every day. The rewards are worth it!

  19. Karina
    |

    This really encouraged me. As a “task oriented” person, or “box-checker” it really drives me nuts when things aren’t getting done according to the books. Which is the perfect recipe for disaster in a homeschool environment. Even though relationships with my children, and their relationships with the Lord has always been my underlying reasons to homeschool, I still get caught up in the schedule and the tasks. I’m guessing because those things are much more easy to measure than how warm or cold our relationships with each other might be. Thank you for this great reminder. We just need to breath and enjoy one another for this season of our lives which is going to zoom by.

  20. Amy
    |

    Beautiful post, Mystie! I visited a local Classical Christian school yesterday, mostly out of curiosity, but also because I have those days where it just seems like it would be better for all of us if the kids went to school. It was a great school, but honestly it reminded me of all the great benefits of homeschooling and why I think the way we do it is best for my family. I think your post is spot on!

  21. Baiba
    |

    This came right in time!
    I’m the 1st year homeschooling moma, and this February is so bad… I feel like I’ve failed. Nice to hear it’s common for many moms. This evening I gave all my warries, all my grieve to God, and He gave me an answer, and I feel so good now. Besides I’ve found few posts intentionally that talk exactly about problems I need to solve!!! God is almighty!
    Thank you for your post!

  22. cheyenne
    |

    Great Post, Wish to have read something like this in year 3 of our homeschooling, which was the year we were struggling back and forth about burnout. And come to think it was mid year, Dec,Jan,Feb ish We are in year 6 now, and things are steady. Mostly we aim not to sweat the small stuff , and look at the big picture instead of micromanaging the daily details of what wasnt done.

    A++++

  23. […] Why You Want to Give Up Homeschooling :: Simply Convivial […]