The Secret Truth About Why I Homeschool

by | Mar 4, 2013 | Homeschool, Parenting | 21 comments

A pretty standard response to “regular” people finding out that I homeschool is, “Wow, you’re amazing, I could never do that.”

I never know how to respond in person.  So I’m going to do it here instead.  I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.  The REAL reason I homeschool is because I think it’s WAY easier and less time-consuming than what traditional school moms have to do everyday.

Jack heading for school (we made it 10 weeks).

Now that I have been homeschooling for five years, there are many other things I love about it.  But the reason I started homeschooling was not to have a classical curriculum, or less busy-work, or authentic catechism, or more shared experiences as a family.  It was because our parish school seemed to have been organized with the express purpose of being inconvenient to families.

The main issues for me were:
1. Driving, 2. Fundraising, 3. Volunteering

When my son was in kindergarten, not ONE SINGLE student at the school walked or rode a bike to get there.  I think kids should walk to school, but I don’t think they should do it all alone at age 5.  That meant I had to wake little kids up, and try to schedule naps around dropping off and picking up.  It turned my sweet, mellow toddler into a complete monster.

While Catholic schools are often much more affordable than other private school options, the idea of paying that monthly tuition bill for all of our kids (I was expecting number 5 at the time) was daunting.  But even more troubling was the near-constant fundraising.  

There was the monthly fast-food school lunch fundraiser.  “But Mom, all my friends get to have it, and if you don’t buy it you have to eat outside all alone.”  

Left to their own devices they ARE quite entrepreneurial.

There was the selling stuff: magazines, wrapping paper, cookie dough.  It was never ending.  It’s not like you can in good conscience send your kid to the neighbors and relatives every month with another order sheet in hand.  So guess who gets to buy all that junk that your little scholar so desperately needs to sell so that he can win the major awards they trumpeted for him in a school-wide assembly?  Here’s a hint: it’s YOU.

And there’s the parish carnival.  The silent auction (for which you donate and at which you purchase), the food, the games, the crafts, the raffle tickets, they’re all fun, but they all cost money.  The season-pass carnival ride wristband alone costs about what I spend on schoolbooks for a student in a year.

And speaking of the parish carnival, there’s the volunteering.  Our school required 40 hours of volunteering per family per school year.  That’s no small chunk of time.  And in addition to the family volunteering requirements for the school, there are other requirements in each classroom.  In Jack’s kindergarten classroom, each Mom was supposed to come in once a month to help at the reading table.  For 30 minutes.  In the middle of the day.  And no babies allowed.  My mom was having to drive 2 hours to my house to stay with my other kids.

Then when I consider the fact that for the early grades at least, I can probably get a whole homeschool day done in the time it takes to help a traditional school student with their homework after school, homeschool was the clear winner for us. 

There are, of course, many more noble reasons to choose homeschooling.  But, for us, there were a lot of practical reasons as well.  


  1. Chris

    Love it! So so true….
    I've been Hsing for 9 yrs now and was a pub school teacher for 12 years before that. Everything you say here just so confirms the "ease" of the Hsing lifestyle.
    Love your post.

    My kids were never in school; so I can't identify, but just reading about all the hoopla is enough for me! Plus, from a (former) teacher's POV: the amount of disruptions in a typical school day are unreal. I can't even begin to list them between the kids getting pulled out for ESL/remedial rdg and math/the assembly programs/time spent walking to gym/art/music ( where nothing of value gets done anyway and the art / music teachers always wound up getting made at ME b.c I "did" artsy/music-y things with my kids in teh classroom…you know like read a bio of Bach and attempt to paint in his style or something really "nerve-y" of me.Maybe actually LISTEN to his music or something really outside what I was "supposed" to be doing with my class… was all just too much for me….
    So I'm happy to be HSing and I totally know what my kids are "missing"

    Thanks for the great post and have a wonderful day!

  2. Regina

    You're speaking my language here! Our oldest is doing preschool at our parish school right now and it's definite that we can't do it again. The driving to and from (and of course in preschool, the school day is only 2 1/2 hours, so our mornings are one long car trip), finding some way for the baby to nap, the FUNDRAISING (wow, did my parents deal with this number of fundraisers when I went to Catholic school?!), the tuition… Homeschooling is a phenomenal option that provides a rich education without the above. Kudos!


    • Regina

      Haha, good point. Our diocese took over all parish schools many years ago. Now that several local Catholic schools have been closed, the diocese is slowly permitting parishes to have control over their own schools again. I don't know what this means, precisely, in terms of the quality of education that's been offered, but change doesn't seem to be Catholic schooling's best friend, that's for sure.

  3. Erica S.

    I just found your blog this weekend from Conversion Diary, and I am so happy that I did! I have been reading some of your older posts, and I have really enjoyed them.
    Another great post today! 🙂

  4. Nanacamille

    I still have magazines coming to us that we don't read from the short time Jack was at OLL school. I remember starting at our pasish school and my dad having to buy lots of magazine subscriptions that were still coming when he passed away. My parents then put the 3 of us in private Catholic girls and boys without so much selling but much higher tuition.
    I really dislike buying all of that stuff from kids…my own or others. It was bad enough selling GS cookies for 12 years to over achievers who wanted to get the silly little "made in china" stuffed animal for selling 75 or more boxes…one house at a time.

  5. Justine of SewCountryChick

    I couldn't agree with your more Kendra. I hate all the fundraising pressure at my daughter's Parish school and the fact that I have to pay a fine every quarter for not buying enough scrip. But I worry fifth grade is too hard for me to teach as I am terrible at math. I blame it on poor public schools! Your children are beautiful, BTW!

    • Kendra Tierney

      You just have to stay one lesson ahead of the kids! Also, there are some great online resources if you really don't feel like you can teach it. We use have used Saxon, which is just a regular math book, and Life of Fred, which are chapter books that teach math concepts (my kids LOVE these). But I have also heard good things about Teaching Textbooks and Math U See, as programs that don't require you to do all the teaching.


  6. Anonymous

    I completely agree with you! My oldest attended school for first grade. It was terrible trying to get out of the house by 7:30am with 3 children, one a 2 week old. Then having to wake up my toddler from her nap early to pick him up. Plus the one hour of homework each night. I can't imagine the homework, fundraising, parent volunteer hours etc..after homeschooling for 5 years now. I'm not sure I could go back to that. Yet there are days when I'd like to drop them off for just a few hours. LOL I find when talking to friends who have kids in school their lives are super stressed and they always seem to be rushing to finish homework, a project etc.. Great post!

  7. Shauna

    Hi Kendra! I can say that I have done all three schooling options :)I homeschooled for 4 years and then put my oldest in Catholic school. The fundraising drove me nuts too. It was my first experience with Catholic school so I didn't know that this was a common thing these days. I then put my three oldest kids in our neighborhood public school and the kids love it! I am not against homeschooling in the future if God calls us to but for now it works. I love walking to school with the kids and my oldest two begged me to walk home by themselves today so I let them. Our neighbor was walking her kids home at the same time so I was happy to have her out on the street keeping on eye on them. I love that the kids are making friends in the neighborhood and we are able to spread the faith that way. My oldest daughter's best friend is Jewish. On a recent family trip to SD we brought her with us and she went to Mass with us and she said that she really liked it 🙂 Okay I am starting to write a book for a comment so I'll say bye for now…PS. Love your blog!

  8. Monique

    Hi Kendra! You don't hear that reason too often. I just fell into homeschooling my kids, but now I feel the same way as you. It's a lot more time consuming to be involved in the school, homework and the toting them to and from school. Homeschooling has it's own set of challenges but none of those!
    I just discovered your blog. It's wonderful. I nominated you for a homeschooling blog award. You can check it out here.

  9. Kim

    I agree totally with 1. the driving!!! and the stress of getting there on time. I really don't hear that many other moms talking about it though–maybe because they only have 1 kid I don't know??? but yeah getting my bunch awake and ready and on time is rough. But–I think it does teach them in life we have to be punctual and on time and I think it is good to be up early–but it is hard and I do get stressed!!!

    2. the fundraising. I just do maybe 1 fundraiser. I tell my kids catholic school that I can't afford it and they don't say anything, they understand. You can always just say no. They have it at public schools too though–you can't escape it anymore.

    3.The volunteering, I also don't volunteer regularly. On one hand I like that they just say OK you don't have to. But, on the other I would like to be more involved. It is a way to meet other parents and talk and I find myself craving more adult interaction. Through the few volunteer things I have done over the years I have made friends with other parents. Some of it is fun. But I agree that I don't like feeling like I have to do it. Anything that says I can't bring siblings I automatically tell them no I can't. Even if I did chose to homeschool though, I think its important to volunteer in the community and parish and I would teach my kids that they should help out. My oldest 2 volunteer over 40 hours each anyway in various aspects through our parish.

  10. Anonymous

    Kendra, I love your blog and have been all over it today! I love studying about education and my children are now almost grown. We have had them in private, public and homeschool. I have come to my own conclusion that homeschooling is the superior choice in developing your children's talents and skills, and in maintaining an education in Faith and values. If as a homeschooling parent, you don't feel you have an adequate background in something, there is usually someone who can tutor who does have those skills. Homeschooling is best when started young because children adapt to whatever they feel is supposed to be "normal" and it's hard to make a big change down the road. It is actually easier to homeschool the larger your family is. And I really believe its the most natural way to raise children. I used to lead homeschool enrichment programs and those students were amazing in so many ways! I've taught in public schools and private also, and there was a much more competitively depressing atmosphere to learning. At home they love each of you and only want you to succeed to the best of your abilities. Teachers at schools tend to dismiss parents as being not as smart as they are and therefore do not know what is best for your own children! Bethany

  11. Catie

    This cracked me up. When people ask me why I homeschool (and I'm not trying to sound noble), I always say because I HATE driving. Seriously, loading up all the littles just to get a five-year old to a school that is less than two miles away – no thank you. And the parking lot is a death trap. Nothing but wall to wall minivans squeezing past rows of parked cars with tiny humans running every which way in between. I'd have a heart attack by mid-year.

  12. OurLadyofGoodSuccess

    Just reading your blog for a minute. I had to comment on this. I homeschooled for five years. Now my children have been in Catholic private school for 7 years. I have 5 in school. Kindergarten is half day. I also have a 2 year old, 4 year old and infant at home. So we are up at 6:30 am, out of the house by 7:45 am. I drop off Kindergartener at noon, come back and put little ones to nap. Wake them up at 3 pm to pick up big kids. 4 days a week I have 1 or 2 different after school things going on. I also have 2 kids in therapy. There are days I leave the house and come back 5 times, with toddler, preschooler and nursing infant in tow! It's CRAZY! We also have to pack lunches since food is not served at school. When they go to mass before school, I have to pack breakfast too! When it's dark at 7:45 am in the winter and freezing and the baby and toddler have been up sick the night before and you have to get them out into the van from their warm cribs…lots of fun!

  13. The Coopers

    I am searching for school uniforms for our homeschool and came across your post. Would you mind sharing where you bought the dresses your girls are wea ring in the last picture? Thanks in advance!

    • Kendra

      I actually sewed those dresses for the girls that year, but we've had good luck finding uniforms from Lands End and French Toast. French Toast makes a cute empire waist stretchy dress for little girls. Not plaid, but still cute.

  14. The Coopers

    Awww, you did a wonderful job! Thanks so much for your reply. I will check out those !

  15. The Coopers

    Awww, you did a wonderful job! Thanks so much for your reply. I will check out those !


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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