homeschool mom and son, accountability

Cultivating Accountability in Your Homeschool

The Power of Accountability: Navigating Homeschool Challenges Without Blame!

The fundamental reason many of us choose to homeschool our children is that we believe parents have the ultimate responsibility for their children’s education. Whether you want to customize academics, provide individualized attention for special needs, or include religious instruction, homeschooling is all about parent initiative. It is grounded in the belief that those closest to a child (i.e., his or her parents) are best equipped to make educational decisions on the child’s behalf. It is about reasserting educational authority that modern society has largely ceded to the state.

Don’t be Schoolish

It is good to remind ourselves of this because sometimes our attitude towards homeschooling can become a little “schoolish.” This can be especially true when we are dealing with third-party co-ops, tutors, or curriculum providers. While bringing in outside help is a great way to lighten your workload or expand academic opportunities, we must remain accountable for our child’s progress. It does not absolve parents from staying engaged as the fundamental pilots of their children’s educational journey.

Being “schoolish” about homeschooling can be defined as an attitude in which the parent has functionally abdicated any direct role in their child’s education. That is, the parent no longer follows what their child is working on, pays attention to progress, or takes any initiative in what the child will study. This is entirely ceded to the third party or—in some cases—to the child themselves.

Here are some examples of what being “schoolish” can look like…

1. Not Monitoring Progress

If you have hired a tutor or enrolled your child in a co-op or online class, are you following his or her progress?

I will sometimes get emails from parents at the end of a semester who express surprise that their child is doing poorly in one of my classes. I will usually ask, “Have you been logging in to look at their grades?” Nine times out of ten, the parent will let me know that they have not checked on their child’s progress throughout the semester. They implicitly assumed that it was my job as the instructor to continually monitor their child’s grade and that I would notify the parent if the grade dipped.

It is important to remember that even if you have contracted outside help, it is still your responsibility to monitor your child’s grades and progress. I recommend setting a regular day and time each week to meet with your child. Mark your planner and make it happen. During this time, review your child’s work for the week, upcoming assignments, and any concerns they may have.

2. Letting Kids Run the Show

Sometimes being schoolish takes the form of letting kids run the show entirely: canceling registered classes because your child complains about them, not following up to ensure your child completes their assignments, avoiding instruction of material because your child thinks it’s complex or doesn’t like it, and so on. While it is essential to consider your child’s feedback about classes—and while there certainly are reasonable causes for canceling or amending your schedule—it is vital that you remain firmly in the driver’s seat.

Children have been complaining about their schoolwork since the beginning of time. Getting feedback from your child and taking a collaborative approach to education is one thing. Letting your child simply dictate is another. Don’t alter your child’s entire educational program just because they complain about the effort or complexity. Instead, encourage them to pursue excellence.

3. Coddling and Blaming

While the trope of the overprotective, coddling homeschool parent is essentially a stereotype, stereotypes often have a bit of truth at their core.

In my two decades of homeschooling, I have occasionally encountered parents for whom nothing is their child’s fault. Their homeschooling challenges become exercises in blame:  blame the tutor for not sufficiently handholding their kid; blame the textbooks for being too obtuse; blame the co-op for not catering to the family’s schedule; blame technical difficulties for why work is not complete; blame social media for their child’s poor work ethic; blame society and the world and even God for stacking the deck so heavily against them.

Obviously, things happen. Some books are dull, some co-ops are unreasonably complex, and some tutors are too aloof. I am speaking more of a pattern of blame, an underlying attitude that someone else is always at fault because one’s sweet, hardworking, innocent child would never do anything wrong. This is coddling, plain and simple.

4. Insisting on Accommodations

Finally, if you participate in a co-op or online program, are you constantly expecting them to change their workflow, alter their schedule, or make accommodations just for your child? Sometimes, simple accommodations can be made for a child with special needs. This may include extra time for a test or the parent reading assignments aloud. However, be careful not to go beyond reasonable requests. Ask how you, as the parent, can assist the tutor or mentor in any accommodations.

I have seen parents sign their child up for online courses or co-ops and then ask the teacher to create and grade extra assignments exclusively for their child. Or they request a customized reading list unique to them to accompany the course. They will also ask teachers to scan textbooks because they don’t want to purchase them. These types of requests, especially in the private sector, are usually beyond reasonable expectations. They would be better handled by the parent, who knows their child best as the primary educator. Third-party co-ops or instructors exist to help you do your job as opposed to replacing you.

Similarly, parents will sometimes demand that the program they participate in alter their policies because their child has a problem. I once participated in a co-op where one family’s child was spending too much time on Google Chats. Rather than disciplining the child’s Internet use, the parents insisted that the co-op institute a student-wide ban on social media. Or parents will not like that a certain event or activity is occurring on a Sunday, and instead of simply opting out, they will try to get the event or activity cancelled—without consideration to the scheduling preferences of other families.

In short, if you constantly expect the world around you to adjust itself to accommodate your family, you are avoiding your own homeschooling responsibilities by making others work around you. If you participate in a co-op or other program, you agree to abide by its practices and standards. If something doesn’t work for you, I would argue that in most cases, it is your job to work around them, not their job to work around you.

Parents Do the Hard Thing!

Parents, homeschooling is about taking responsibility. Suppose you consistently avoid taking responsibility by completely abdicating your role to others, disengaging, coddling, blaming, letting your kids steer the ship, or expecting everyone else to accommodate you. In that case, you need to go back and reconnect with the fundamental premise of homeschooling: Parental Initiative.

If you homeschool, the buck stops with you—not with the tutor, program, curriculum, or anything else—you. This is not to say that there’s never a place for making concerns known or advocating for changes in the programs you participate in. Obviously, this is sometimes required! The takeaway is that we should never forget our role as primary educators, even when we bring in outside help.

If we habitually think and act like our child’s education is somebody else’s job, we undermine the very principles behind our decision to homeschool.


Being accountable for your child’s education is paramount. By actively participating in their educational journey, you can ensure that your child receives the necessary support, guidance, and resources to thrive academically. Your children will learn from your example and be more resilient as they grow into adulthood.

Relying solely on others, such as teachers or tutors, without taking a participatory role can lead to missed opportunities for personalized learning and growth. Additionally, blaming external factors for a child’s academic struggles undermines the importance of parental involvement and can hinder opportunities to address underlying issues. You can empower yourself to make informed decisions and provide the necessary encouragement and assistance to help your kids overcome challenges and achieve their full potential.

If you could use professional help in this area, consider getting a homeschooling accountability mentor or consultant to guide you in crafting a homeschooling plan suitable for your family. You don’t have to go this alone.

If you’d like to continue this discussion, I invite you to join me and other Catholic homeschooling parents at our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group.

Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get updated every month on all the latest Homeschooling Saints podcast episodes and new blog posts

Ready to Get Started?

Homeschooling can seem daunting at first, but take it from us: The joy and freedom you gain from homeschooling far outweighs the challenges.

With flexible online classes, passionate instructors, and a supportive community at your back and cheering you on, there’s no limits to where your homeschooling journey can take your family! 

Sign up today!

Pin It on Pinterest