Families Who Shouldn’t Homeschool

(PS>  Catherine had a great point below in the comment section; this post can sound negative if you read it the wrong way!  The concerns I have listed at the bottom with three more challenging types of situations does not mean you cannot homeschool!  I mean to encourage you and say you can do this, stop collecting curriculum and START! Do what you need to do to get support, but also do the work that YOU need to do for your family!!

Love to all! Carrie)

Do those of you who homeschool have this conversation all the time?

Stranger:  Where does your child go to school?

Mother:  We homeschool.

Stranger (fascinated and horrified at the same time):  Oh, I could NEVER do that.  I am not patient at all, and my children just don’t listen to me!


Your children never listen to you?

That is going to be really difficult and make for challenges throughout your parenting lifetime.


Yes, homeschooling mothers can be patient, but I doubt if you rounded all of us up and tested us for an extra patience gene that we would be any different than the regular population.

The secret is that we have more opportunities to work on developing our patience.  That’s all.  If I need to develop patience, I can almost guarantee I will be put in more situations and opportunities where I can work to develop that trait.  No one said growth was easy!

Rudolf Steiner once said, “This is what causes one such heartfelt concern today, that people have not the least desire to know something.”  So, if you as a family are open to striving, to learning, to trying, to growing, to persevering, then homeschooling is for you.

You will develop your own will, you will learn so much about yourself, you will develop new abilities.  You will develop your family culture like never before and the ties with your children and the ties between your children will be stronger than ever.  Your children will learn not only academics, but practical life skills and they will assimilate your family’s values at a rapid clip.

However, I do feel there are two categories of families who can homeschool but that might need extra support.

One is the hopelessly disordered and chaotic family.  You have to be able to work out time to plan, and you have to have a plan. Planning will save you every time.  Even veteran UNSCHOOLERS plan to the extent that once they have identified their children’s passions, they bring their child to the library, they strew materials about their home, they plan experiences revolving around the children’s interests.  That takes planning!  I often hear mothers say this time of year that maybe they should just “follow their child’s interests, Waldorf (or Classical or whatever) is just too hard.  We should just unschool.”  If you need a break, take a break, but don’t fool yourself by thinking unschooling is no work.  The veteran Unschoolers I personally know work hard to help their children learn.

For Waldorf homeschooling families, I feel NOW is the time you should be matching a skeleton outline of blocks you are going to teach up with a calendar and start looking at resources for the fall.  You can then order your resources around March, have time to read through it all and plan over the Summer.  You need to do this even with an “open and go” curriculum.

The second category of families I worry about with homeschooling are those parents who are truly afraid to be an authority in their home.  A nice, loving authority, not a mean dictator, but an authority who has an idea what the rules of the house are, and what is acceptable and not acceptable.  I have so many, many posts on this blog about this.  This is so important.

Where is your Family Mission Statement?  What are your values, what are your rules?  What are you doing for inner work?  Are you actually home and working on developing your patience and strengthening your family ties together or are you just running around every day?  To  homeschool, you actually need to be home! What outside activities are your children involved in and do they really need to be involved in them?  I don’t think a child under six and a  half or seven really needs classes.  Children under four and a half or five  don’t need playdates either.  Waldorf Kindergarten used to traditionally start at four and a half years of age.  This still makes sense developmentally!

The third little thing I need to throw in is that I do worry a bit about the mothers homeschooling only daughters.  I think mother-daughter relationships can get really tangled and picky.  I am NOT saying I don’t think mother-only daughters should not homeschool, I am just saying this situation may require some extra planning so the whole thing doesn’t become too intense.  In this case, some outside experiences and play time and the like within a supportive community  may be helpful.

Just a few thoughts!

Many blessings,


24 thoughts on “Families Who Shouldn’t Homeschool

  1. I agree with you Carrie about the disorganized family. However, your post might seem a bit scary and discouraging to some of your readers. As far as planning for the fall goes, it might be ideal, but to be honest, I consider myself very well organized and I only have 3 weeks planned ahead of me. I did not even ordered my second grade curriculum yet… So, to each its own and I hope this post does not make your readers feel like they could never do this and discourage them from homeschooling altogether…

    • Hi Catherine,
      Oh, no, I meant to sound more encouraging than discouraging..I don’t think you need to order anything yet, but get a bit familiar with what’s coming…:)
      This is more for mothers who find it so hard to take charge and START (as oppose to collect curriculum :))
      Many blessings,

  2. Beautifully said Carrie!!! I have been saying this for years too. NOW is the time to start thinking about the upcoming year, even if you are just looking ahead and seeing what is on the horizon, getting familiar, etc. so you can be ready to start planning. I think this is especially important when you have a large family or big changes coming, like the birth of a baby. LOL. We have been in a big planning mode for our impending birth, it won’t just be May that is wonky, but the summer will take extra time too… these are the things you have to plan for when you homeschool.

    I also couldn’t agree with you more about those needing to really think about homeschooling. As a consultant, I can help, but I only match my energy with Mom’s effort so Mom has to be willing to grow, learn, take on challenges and be in charge!

    Well said Carrie!

  3. I agree about being the authority in the home. We are brand-new to homeschooling (seven weeks and counting!) and we have already had our share of just about every kind of day you could imagine! We had a particularly bad day on Thursday and when the kids were finally in bed, I got to thinking about what I could have done differently. Your post about being the “Queen” and “setting the tone” came to mind and I decided the following day to be calm and to assure our children that *I* was the one in charge. It worked! Thank you!!

  4. You know that I feel confident enought to not feel guilty or wrong while reading your post. I totally agree and I know it can be ideal… but, I am only thinking about some other moms that homeschool but struggle with planning and getting organize and still question if they are good enough to be homeschooling their children… I just hope they don’t feel like a failure when they hear this…

  5. Carrie you never mention some aspects about the mothers and just wanted to know if you give it for granted because you talk to people who already made the choice of being a homeschooling mom.
    I totally agree with what you write about the development as a person and as a family but you never talk about other parts of the mom. From the children’s perspective I do believe they can gain a lot from homeschooling so the mom but what if the mom’s path, the mother’s mission in life is somewhere else for example in her job? In my case for instance a part of me feels attracted to continue being a stay at home mom (not a homeschooler in Italy, maybe if I lived in the US and had all tne curricula and the support groups!!) but there’s another part of me who absolutely loves the job I was doing, who finds such a gratification when teaching and consulting to adults! And my case is connected to education but if a mom is a research biologist I can understand how she can be attracted to her profession which is completely different from staying at home. What I mean is that not every woman can find creativity in being at home. Then I absolutely believe that for the ones who these aspects coincide having a family is heaven on earth.
    I know there’s no answer to such a dilemma and every answer is personal. I could not separate myself from my little child or hand her to somebody’s else’s care until she was more than 3, then I could not leave her in Kindergarten in the afternoon as everyone does here in Italy or France, so I put the job on hold. I was drifted to do so but as I see her growing I feel I’ll need again that other part of me. I guess my way is and will be taking the two pieces together when it will be possible. It wasn’t doable for me in the very early years. I can’t do too many things at one time and I think that if my job had been the real mission of my life I wouldn’t have had a baby.
    Excuse me if I went off topic, you probably address to moms who already made a choice.

  6. Well, we aren’t perfect with rhythm, but we aren’t hopelessly disordered, so we’ve got that one. And I’m still trying to find the perfect balance between kindness and firmness, but we are the authorities around here.

    It’s t hat last one that has me wondering. I’m homeschooling my 5yo daughter, and until 6 months ago, she was my only child, and she’ highly sensitive- as am I! Honestly, she’s a mini me. And it makes our relationship very intense sometimes. But currently, no issues with our schooling. But I wonder- is it because now I have another daughter it’s not an issue, or will I still have to deal with this with my second daughter (whose personally meshes better with mine, at least that I can see so far!)? Are you coming at this from any kind of personal experience? And exactly what issues may arise?

  7. I love your posts! I would love for you to expound on the mother daughter relationship in regards to homeschool. I have two daughters and a son, mu son being in the middle. And I am always interested in learning about mother-daughter dynamics.

    • Hi Tanya and Herbwifemama,
      It is not so much the daughter dynamic but SOME only daughter-mother daughter pairs if they are both rather intense personalities. I have had some mothers of OLDER than 12 only daughters who were homeschooling and said that they eventually put their older only daughter in school because the personal battles and fighting as their daughters tried to separate were intense. This does not happen with every only daughter/mother pairing of course! I have had some mothers tell me homeschooling saved their relationship with their daughter.
      There are some posts on raising a daughter on here based on the book of that title, may be of interest to both of you. But neither of you have an ONLY daughter. The mothers I speak to homeschooling an ONLY son don’t seem to run into the intensity the mothers homeschooling an ONLY daughter do.
      Hope that helps,

  8. Another great post Carrie. I took your advice and made a list to mimic a daily rhythm on Friday. (Back story: we had a terrible day on Thursday and the whole week in general was off.) I titled it “Happy Friday” and guess what? It was. It worked like a charm. Thanks for this blog. It is one of only two that I read regularly.

  9. Hi Carrie,
    I am not a homeschooler (yet at least) but I am mother of a 2.5 year old son, and I am interested in homeschooling. I also, as a former full-time and now very part-time teacher (i teach 1 course/semester at a community college), love many aspects of formal, school-based education. I don’t know if I’m cut out, so to speak, to homeschool, though not for the reasons you treat in this post. But, I am curious. I wonder if you might be able to recommend a very introductory-level book or resource about homeschooling for someone like me. I am curious. Also a loyal reader of your blog. Thank you for all the support you offer.

    • Hi Martha, nice to hear from you! You know, I think so much of homeschooling starts with oneself….I always recommend “Kingdom of Childhood” if you are drawn in any way to Waldorf homeschooling…you can find it free on line and in audio version as well.
      Many blessings,
      Carrie 🙂

  10. I just want to put out there, in addition to all the great thoughts already listed, not to feel discouraged if you do have an occupation in addition to your children. I do childcare, which means I can be at home with the children all the time, but I have other babes to worry about and address as well. I know several parents who work part-time, odd hours or together with their partner or others to make this work for their families. It takes creativity, intuition and courage-but if it has crossed your mind you can do, somewhere in your heart you know you can.

  11. This response is really aimed at any other mother-daughter teams out there who are having an “intense” time with homeschooling. I rarely see the scenario mentioned on Waldorf blogs so a paragraph on it was a joy to see. However, on top of the mom and only daughter scenario, I also have the single mom factor. It’s just me and my 4 year old, an extended-breastfeeding, co-sleeping partnership. My family lives overseas and her dad is absent, along with his family. I don’t think it could get any more intense!
    I now recognize and accept that spending time apart and having external help is going to be essential for us to continue on our Waldorf homelife path. I am currently contemplating sending my 4 year old to a public kindergarten which runs for just 3 hours each morning. I previously saw sending her to preschool as giving up Waldorf, but now I see it with the potential of being a helpful dilutor that could quite easily form part of a rhythmical day and still give us plenty of time for Waldorf activities at home.
    I have no doubt that over time how I manage to avoid intensity, as Carrie very accurately puts it, will most likely evolve and change. I am very grateful it was mentioned in this blogpost, though. The intensity issue has been niggling away at me for a while and it was great to see it appear here. Thanks Carrie!

  12. Ive been educating my 2 wonderful children for a little under 3 years at home and online, its been pretty tough but we’ve pulled through and its been a great experience for us all, we are near to the end of the programme and they will have to sit their final online examinations in a couple of months. Ive just started a blog so I can help other people thinking of taking the online schooling route. I will be there to help out with any questions you may have or just for some general chit chat about your experiences. Click my name to visit the blog.

  13. Carrie, back to the mother/daughter dynamic – any thoughts on homeschooling THREE daughters? Am I doomed to overly-intense relationships? 🙂 My daughters currently are 4.5 and 3 (3 year olds being twins). I am new to your blog and must say I am loving it so far. Many thanks!

    • Laura — No, I don’t think so – you have three and therefore the intensity is spread over more than just a one to one dynamic 🙂
      Many blessings,

  14. You may remember me from comments on the rythym posts. I have no rythym! My 6 1/2 yr old daughter is currently in 1st grade at public school. I have had homeschooling in the back of my mind for a while now. But, honestly, I am terrified to take the plunge. I am always hoping for some clarity of what to do. (I confess I have not done enuf praying and meditating about it). When I saw the title of your post, I thought…. is this specifically for ME? I feel like I am an authority in my home, but not always a kind and loving one. We are mildly chaotic and I have two girls, one 61/2, one almost 3. Ha!

    I have ordered curiculum from Oak Meadow and from Melissa Neilson, had it for months, but too scared. Thanks for the post! It gives me more to think about. I also really enjoy the posts on holding onto your kids….

  15. I totally get the encouragement in this post. I have a 4 yr old spirited boy, I an spirited myself, and very content, calm dh and 2 yr old girl. Everytime I’m thinking I’m not doing it right, because the spiritedness of ds & I can make me feel scattered at times, one of your posts on rhythm makes me feel better. We are committed to an unrushed, home-centered family life, without too much outside commitment. When I’m doing nothing else “right”, this thought settles me.

    I keep searching for the perfect open & go curriculum, but I’m getting overwhelmed. Dh wants me to stop reading about them for awhile-lol! When I see your simple guidelines for what 4 yr olds should be doing, I feel like this is okay, and I should settle down & wait. Get to know my son, do some inner work of my own. Then, maybe the winter before he turns 7, finally buckle down & pick something.

    Thanks for always settling my busy mind back down to simple, simple, simple. Many blessings!

    • Discipleshipmothering — Hi! Nice to have you here! Yes,yes, four is very, very little…hold off on your curriculum search except for maybe one good seasonal song/craft kind of book and maybe one book that has stories in it to tell — Suzanne Down’s work is always lovely. You can see a review of the Christopherus Kindergarten book on this blog as well….
      Simple, simple, simple…
      Many blessings,

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