Are you wondering if homeschooling would be a good option for your kids? This is the time of year when everyone seems to be thinking about school choices for next year!
This spring, we are finishing up our 6th year of homeschooling. Next year, I will have a 6th grader, which is hard to believe. There are so many benefits to homeschooling, and although we have some difficult days for sure, we’re committed to continuing – well, for the next year at least! I do want to say that as much as we like educating our kids at home, we do not believe that the Bible commands homeschooling. Instead, it’s a decision that each family must make.
Should you homeschool your kids? I don’t know! But here are some things that might be helpful to think through as you ponder the school issue.
Things to consider:
- Is my husband on board with homeschooling? From a Biblical standpoint, it’s important to let our husbands be the leader in our homes. We need to respect their leadership. Beyond that, though, it’s just plain miserable to try to make homeschooling work if Dad is not behind it. I am so thankful to have a husband who helps grade papers, works with the boys on schoolwork in the evenings if need be, and helps with laundry and cleaning because he knows I can’t do it all. I definitely couldn’t do it without him!
- Am I truly committed to teaching my children at home? Or is is possible that I’m just feeling pressured because others are doing it? Homeschooling is a big commitment, and it’s definitely not something to enter into lightly. Homeschooling involves time, energy, space in your home, and money. If homeschooling is what God is leading you towards, there are ways to work around all kinds of time, money, and space constraints! But if your heart is not truly in it, it will be hard to overcome the challenges. Sometimes it’s difficult to sort out whether or not to you want to homeschool. Every now and then, something happens that confirms our decision to homeschool and makes the hard days worth it. If you’re feeling unsure, you can always proceed with your best decision, and then see how you feel about it as you go forward. One year, my oldest son was given a partial scholarship at the private school where I was teaching music at the time. We were so excited and enrolled him right away! But when it came down to buying the uniforms, I just couldn’t do it! I realized that even though homeschooling was challenging, I was not ready to give up on it. There were too many things I enjoyed about experiencing the “little years” at home.
- Am I hoping to shelter my children from poor influences? I really believe that homeschooling should not be an attempt to escape from the world. But at the same time, my husband and I believe that young children are often not ready to “be a light” in their community. It’s asking a lot for a 5 or 7 year old to stand up for what is right and to not be influenced by the attitudes and behavior around him. I overheard some sickening things at our neighborhood playground the other day that would have been impossible for my boys to “un-hear” if they had heard them. As parents, we want to be careful with the lives God has entrusted us with. I think that homeschooling is not so much a means of sheltering but more an opportunity to build God’s word into the lives of our children so that they will be ready to operate in the world in which they live.
Common concerns that don’t need to be deal breakers for homeschooling:
- Do I have enough patience to homeschool? The answer to this is no. No, you don’t. And I don’t either! But by God’s grace, I am growing in patience (and the ability to handle multiple needs at once) and my children are growing in their ability to wait and share. Perfection in mothering is certainly not a prerequisite to homeschooling. Also keep in mind – no classroom teachers are perfect either! And they have 15-20 or more students to deal with. The key to homeschooling is being willing to work through the challenges. You’ll find your groove and get better the longer you do it!
- What if I don’t have an education background? It is not necessary to have an education degree to homeschool your children, unless you live in a state that requires this. I have an education degree, but I certainly don’t remember everything that I was taught in school. I’m often learning along with my kids, and that’s okay!
- I’m afraid that we’ll have too many interruptions. Over the past 6 years, we’ve had interruptions that range from mild (doctor’s appointments, errands, etc.) to severe (selling our house and moving, a baby with severe infant reflux and feeding difficulties), and yet my 5th grader tested on grade level and above on a standardized achievement test. We compensate for the interruptions by doing some school work throughout the summer, and some of the loss is naturally compensated for by the fact that it doesn’t take as long to cover the material when you’re working one-on-one.
- I’m worried about socialization. My oldest son is a VERY social kind of guy. However, I don’t think that homeschooling harms him at all! He plays with neighborhood kids, goes to children’s choir and Awana at church, and has participated in various sports. I think that homeschoolers are often better at social skills because they learn to get along with and appreciate a wide range of age groups and not just their same-age peers.
Some benefits that we love about homeschooling:
- Time with my children. I really enjoy being with my kids and learning with them. I can’t imagine how much I would miss if they were gone all day, followed by a hurried evening of homework and getting ready for the next day!
- The freedom to teach from a Christian worldview. I love being able to study all subjects and especially history and science from a Christian point of view! We absolutely love our science curriculum (Apologia – Young Explorers series). Right now, we’re also reading a book on church history. I love that we have the time to do this.
- The opportunity to pursue interests and to develop a real love for learning. Yes, we have our interruptions, but we also don’t have to stop when the clock says to stop! If we’re enjoying a project, we can keep going. We can go more in depth with a topic that we want to study. All of this fosters a good attention span and a love for learning. I feel like I am able to help my kids learn how to learn.
- The flexibility to choose our own schedule. I love the fact that we can take days off when the weather is beautiful. We did school on days when the public schools were closed for snow and ice (what else would we have done?) and now we can take some days off in the spring. Also, I don’t have to worry about whether half-sick kids should be going to school or not. And they can sleep in if they need to. Basically, we have some much-needed margin in our lives.
- Having the time to volunteer or take field trips that we want to take. I enjoy having the flexibility to go help plant flowers at our church, visit the aquarium, or spend the day at the nature center. I think it’s good for the boys to be able to spend time serving and working with their hands rather than sitting in a classroom all day.
If you’ve made the decision to homeschool, you might find these resources helpful:
- My kids have not ever been to school, so we have not had the experience of starting school and then making the decision to homeschool. For some thoughts on leaving the public schools, check out this post from Creekside Learning.
- For more practical help on how homeschooling works on a day-to-day basis, check out this post on planning a homeschool daily routine when you’re homeschooling multiple children. Also, this post is loaded with practical ideas – 100 Tips and Tricks for Homeschooling Moms.
- Getting Started with Preschool at Home – Recommended resources and tips on what to cover.