Others (myself included) come to homeschooling only after first starting out upon the more common path of sending our children to school.
We realize only belatedly that we must take charge of our children’s education if we want them to grow up to love learning.
This is not a decision that is reached without first agonizing over it.
After all, our modern American society is largely convinced that children can only learn within the confines of a school building, taught by new teachers every year, and surrounded by dozens of same-aged peers.
The thought that we could be capable of undertaking our own children’s education can be daunting.
Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I found ourselves wrestling with that very idea.
When we sent our oldest son to kindergarten he was a bright, happy boy who was eager to learn. By the time he reached second grade the very thought of school caused him to feel visibly stressed and sad.
We realized that the public school was failing our child, not because of any learning disability or behavioral problem, but because of the rigid, cookie-cutter approach to teaching employed by certain teachers.
It was killing his creative, inquisitive mind and making him associate learning with boredom and unhappiness.
Clearly something needed to change. After months of research, endless questions, and much prayer, we realized that homeschooling was the right path for our family.
For everyone who is out there now, who knows that public education is not right for their children, but wonders whether they can really homeschool, here are some things to think about first.
1) Questions to Ask Yourself
No matter how certain you feel that homeschooling is in your future, it is best to think through the logistics as much as possible before you begin.
Try to look at the obvious benefits, as well as the necessary sacrifices so that you can make an honest assessment of your situation.
- Are you and your spouse both on board with homeschooling? While it’s true that one parent often bears the brunt of the teaching duties, having a supportive spouse can make all the difference in getting over the inevitable bumps in the road. If your spouse is resistant, show him some of the research that you’ve done. He may be surprised at the sheer volume of support and materials that are available for homeschoolers.
- Can you afford to lose an income? In today’s world, living on one income can be a real challenge. Think ahead of time about ways to budget or downsize your lifestyle, as well as the possibility of fitting in part-time work if necessary.
- How will your child maintain friendships? Does he have friends outside of school? What activities or interests does he have? Do a Google search for homeschooling groups in your area, and see if you can arrange to meet some local homeschoolers. Seeing that they are families not so different from yours can go a long way to setting your mind at ease and will help you to find more social opportunities for both you and your child.
- What will you teach? Research curriculum options. If possible, attend a homeschooling conference and page through the books and talk to the vendors. They’ll be happy to show you how their materials compare to the various educational standards and philosophies.
- How will you teach? Do you help your child with homework already? Do you inspire him to want to learn by reading with him, and visiting museums? If so, you’ve already begun the process of becoming his teacher.
- How committed are you? Will you keep on even when you realize that your child still hates math? Will you persevere through bad days, resistant students, and tough subjects? Are you willing to homeschool all the way through high school?
- Do you know the laws in your state? State laws vary greatly, even as to how to remove your child from school, so definitely research these before you begin.
2) Common Arguments against Homeschooling
If you are the first in your circle of family and friends to embrace homeschooling, you should expect negative feedback—probably a lot of it. Some common arguments that you’re likely to hear are:
But what about socialization? Just a bit of research into homeschooling will reveal that there are an abundance of opportunities for children to form friendships outside of the classroom.
But you’re not a teacher! Why would you need to be? Teaching schools train teachers to control a crowd. You will be teaching your own children, not a classroom full. What’s more, there are many curriculums, programs, and teaching resources made just for homeschoolers.
Will they be able to go to college? Homeschoolers are gladly accepted into prestigious colleges and universities. It is generally recommended that you check with the colleges your child is likely to apply to for specific guidelines.
3) Reaching the Decision to Homeschool
Deciding to homeschool, and to educate your children differently than you were educated yourself, can be intimidating. You might doubt that you are up to the task, which is admittedly a difficult one.
Just think for a moment though about when you were a brand new parent, suddenly alone with your first baby.
Did you feel scared and question whether you could handle things then? I sure did!
Odds are that your baby not only survived, but thrived, and you learned and grew as a parent as needed.
The same is true of beginning to homeschool. At first you will feel uncertain, and you may stumble your way through.
Before long you will gain confidence as a teacher and realize that you just have to be willing to do your best each day.
What better example could you offer your children than that?