Making One of The Hardest Decisions: Leaving the Classroom to Homeschool My Kids

I Decided to Leave Teaching to Homeschool My Kids in 2020

I decided to leave teaching to homeschool my kids this year. So I gave up my classroom in exchange for a small wooden table and one large wipe-off board in a corner of our living room. I will be homeschooling my kids this year—I won’t be returning to my middle school classroom. To be honest—it’s a bittersweet feeling. I am very aware of what I’m giving up; trust me, I’ve been told numerous times from those whose choice is different from mine. 

What I gave up leaving teaching:

I’m giving up a lot of financial stability; a one-income household with two kids is hard to come by these days. I’m giving up job security; there’s no guarantee that when/if I return to teaching, there will even be a spot for me. I’m giving up benefits; I’m fortunate to even have the option to leave as someone whose spouse can carry insurance, but I’m still giving up a growing retirement fund and pausing my years in the state’s system.

That’s just the logistical part, really. I’m giving up a part of my identity. I’m a teacher—it’s what I am and it feels weird to not be decorating a classroom right now. It tears me up that I assured my seventh graders I’d “see them next year” in 8th grade English and now they’ll go back to see someone else greeting them in my doorway. Teaching is not a job. It’s a second home and it’s a way of life. I knew it would be difficult to pack up a classroom, but I never expected that the lump in my throat would turn into tears as I left. I never knew how devastated I’d feel to think I’m leaving my school during a year when I feel like they’ve already lost so much.

But I have another job. And as much as I will miss certain parts of teaching, I’ll still be doing it at home. These students call me “mom”. Don’t get me wrong; mothers who teach at school are also always teaching at home—I’ve done it for so long. This year, though, it’s my full-time gig and I’m just now wrapping my head around it. There’s a sort of peace you have, though, when you finally make a decision like this. I mean, we haven’t even started our school year, but the decision-making process can be so very excruciating. 

Why I decided to leave teaching:

I should tell you that we always talked about homeschooling in a “maybe one day” type of way, but 2020 presented itself with a ferocity that made that idea an instant reality. There were so many factors that went into our decision. We worried that we’d be able to be there for our children if and when school closures happened, and then we worried if schools should even be opening in the first place. There were concerns about how a school with masks all day and zero recess could affect our third grader who struggles to sit still, or how it would affect our first-year preschooler. We, fortunately, had a situation conducive to keeping our kids home this year if we wanted, so we thought—why not?! Even in a school we love and trust, it just felt like so much uncertainty that we ultimately chose to briefly step away from.

This new road isn’t worry-free, no doubt. How much will our kids be able to socialize? How will this change affect them? No one choice is a clean slate, but that’s okay, because all we can do is take it day-by-day. I was worried it would feel like we were “living in fear” or “giving up”, but instead, it just simply feels like the best option for us. 

If there’s one thing I’m glad I’ve done—it’s making this decision for my family and not anyone else.

There’s no “right” choice this school year, but I’m at peace with mine.

I will miss my students, and that way of life, more than I can tell you—but I don’t regret stepping back for this season. Here’s to every single teacher-parent being at peace with their decisions in 2020 because it’s just plain hard. For us, here’s to new beginnings – and here’s to homeschool.


Making One of The Hardest Decisions: Leaving the Classroom to Homeschool My Kids

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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