Homeschooling is a fabulous way to educate your children and create a lifelong love of learning. Homeschoolers have a reputation for being hard-working, curious, passionate, and intelligent, and there is a good reason for this! Learning at home lends itself to kids valuing education and really learning how to learn.
However, homeschooling definitely takes time and effort. While we have chosen to homeschool, I don’t think it’s the only right way! There are plenty of good schools and good teachers. Homeschooling is not the best decision for everyone. So how can you know if homeschooling is the right thing for YOU?
This post is the first in a series on getting started homeschooling.
Part 1: Getting Started Homeschooling – Making the Decision (this post)
If you’re reading this post, you have probably already recognized many potential benefits of homeschooling:
- You can operate on your schedule, not the school’s.
- You can modify expectations for students who are advanced or students who are struggling. (I’m not saying that teachers don’t want to do this! They do! But they’re also up against a lot of constraints.)
- You can allow a student to pursue a skill in depth – an instrument or sport, for example.
- You can improve the quality of life and educational outcome for a student who is in a no-win situation at school because of bullying, poor administration, poor educational quality, or lack of proper supports for a disability.
And then there are these AMAZING benefits of homeschooling!
- No school pick-up lines! (This is almost reason enough right here!)
- No rushing out the door at a crazy-early hour!
- No deciding whether or not to send a mildly sick kid to school!
- No packing lunches!
- No making sure school clothes are clean! (Pajama day it is – yay!)
- No making a young child sit at a desk all day! Movement and activity can be a natural part of the day, especially since homeschooling won’t take as long.
In this post, we’ll explore the various aspects of the decision to homeschool. Along the way, I’ll share the benefits of homeschooling that our family enjoys, and the costs that you should consider.
For reference, my kids are in 12th, 9th, 6th, 3rd, and 1st grade. I cannot BELIEVE that we have a senior this year! Where has the time gone?!
While there are many reasons to homeschool, some are good reasons, and some are… not so good. Let’s look at some of those!
Good Reason to Homeschool: I want to customize my child’s learning to best fit his/her personality, needs, and natural bent.
Some states have more requirements than others. If you’re in the US and just getting started, you can head to https://hslda.org and view the requirements for your state. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “homeschool laws by state” to find out how to withdraw from school, what is required in your state, testing, etc.
In any state, however, you will have more freedom to move at your child’s pace than what would happen in the classroom. The teacher-to-student ratio will be heavily in your child’s favor, even if you don’t think you’re the perfect teacher! And honestly, none of us are perfect. Thankfully, perfection is not necessary – just diligence and the willingness to keep working at it.
Also, homeschooling takes much less time than public school. There are no passing periods, waiting while the teacher answers someone else’s question, etc. Everything just takes longer when there are many students versus a handful of kids at home. With this extra time, kids can read what they want to read. They can learn computer programming, art, or graphic design. They’ll have time to practice an instrument as part of their school day.
In short, you’ll have the flexibility to pursue the interests of your choice. You’ll also have the freedom to slow down if your child isn’t understanding a concept, rather than pushing him along to keep up with the class. You can try another approach, or even an entirely different curriculum.
Bad Reason to Homeschool: I want to be able to just go with the flow, and do whatever we feel like each day. Homeschooling sounds really easy!
While some homeschoolers are successful with “unschooling,” I really don’t recommend a totally lax approach to school. It’s hard to get where you want to go without taking the time to make a plan.
I spend time each year choosing curriculum and deciding what co-op classes and extracurricular activities to participate in. Then each weekend I spend time planning the kids’ weekly assignment sheets for the coming week. My husband and I both work to grade assignments and go over wrong answers (we only grade language and math until high school, when we starting giving grades for every subject). This is hard work, but it’s necessary and time well spent.
The bottom line is that you’ll need to invest time and energy into homeschooling. It’s a big responsibility. But when I look back at all the memories we have created by learning together and the experiences we’ve had, it’s so very worth it!
Mom/son selfie with our matching LEGO shirts. Homeschooling has enabled us to have time to write LEGO books. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world!
Good Reason to Homeschool: I want to have the time to work on my children’s character development, to have good discussions with them, and to teach them to serve others.
One of our biggest reasons for homeschooling is character development.
I love the fact that homeschoolers are often friends with kids of all ages and not just their same-age peers. Poorly socialized homeschoolers are largely a myth. The reality is that most homeschoolers are very good at socializing with kids of all ages and can talk to adults with ease. They are well read and can carry on a good conversation.
In addition, throughout our homeschool day we can work on work ethic and attitude as much as we work on multiplication and reading.
We’ve also had time to volunteer, visit senior citizens in our church, learn woodworking with Grandpa, and so much more.
Bad Reason to Homeschool: I want to protect my child from all outside influences so that they become good adults.
Unfortunately, outside influences are not truly what corrupts our children. I’m writing this from a Christian perspective, so keep that in mind. I believe that we are all born sinners, and that we naturally gravitate toward the wrong things. My job is to teach my children God’s ways, and part of that is protecting them from taking in content or developing habits that could harm their lives. However, just being “good” on the outside is not the goal – instead, it’s salvation in Christ.
Our goal in homeschooling is not to shelter our kids. They’re going to have to live in the real world, and we need to prepare them for it. However, I do think that the public schools are becoming increasingly hard places. Kids are exposed to a LOT these days. It’s a lot to ask a young child to stand up to his or her peers when everyone is looking at something inappropriate on a cell phone. Homeschooling can give you the time to provide a firm foundation for navigating real life with wisdom, not escaping from it.
Now let’s also dispel some common homeschool myths that might hold you back from homeschooling.
Myth: I can’t homeschool unless I’m a patient person and a qualified teacher.
Truth: Homeschool parents often seem very patient, but I can guarantee you that this virtue was hard-won and was not just their natural disposition. Well, some people are naturally more patient than others, but homeschooling will test your patience. And, doing public school homework with your child will test your patience! As will making your kids clean their rooms and eat healthy food and brush their teeth. Homeschooling can make it harder because you are with them ALL THE TIME, but don’t worry! Perfect patience is not a requirement. You’ll get better at juggling things and being patient as you go.
It is not necessary to be a qualified teacher! You simply need to read the material and help your child master it. It is TRUE, however, that someone else might be more knowledgeable in a particular subject area and might be better able to teach your kid. As our kids have gotten older, I have made use of online helps and have hired local tutors. For example, this past year I traded teaching cello lessons in exchange for writing tutoring for my high school son. You can outsource a lot!
Myth: My kids are in three different grade levels. I don’t have time to teach them all!
Truth: You don’t have to “teach” everything your child does. There doesn’t need to be a “30 minute lecture time” for each subject each day. Once your child can read, most homeschool curriculums are set up so that the child can read the lesson and do the work on their own. You’ll likely need to help with math when there is a new concept. But you certainly won’t need to spend most of your day teaching the material to your child.
Also, you can combine different grade levels for certain subjects, especially science and history. This year, I’ll be teaching American history to my 1st, 3rd, and 6th graders all together. I’ll add in extra reading for the 6th grader to do on his own, and I won’t expect the first grader to retain everything.
When we’re doing language arts and math, I often have to go from child to child helping them. Other days they are mostly independent. But I don’t teach a separate math or language lesson for each child.
Bottom Line: Like everything in life, homeschooling has pros and cons. Making a list of these can really help your decision.
Write it all down! List out the pros and cons of homeschooling that would apply in your situation. That sounds simplistic, but it’s really so true. You’ll be adding responsibilities, but you’ll also be making other things easier and better. List out the specifics of your situation and see if the decision becomes more clear!
If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask via email or a comment on this post! I will try my best to answer your questions.