We just started our tenth year of homeschooling at my house. These days I’m teaching five kids in five different grades. Sure, there are nutty days, but 99 percent of the time it just works for us.
If the thought of homeschooling makes you cringe, definitely don’t undertake it; it’s not for everyone and some kids thrive in a regular school setting. If you’ve been toying with the idea and are wondering if it’s for you, read on for some things to consider while you explore this thing called homeschooling that’s gaining popularity every year.
Socialization. It’s not all about the education, parents. Get ready to be Activities Director for your child because making friends and knowing how to deal with issues that may arise with those friends and other people are a big part of life and something kids need to learn.
Co-ops are a great place to start since there is learning and socializing, just like in a brick and mortar school setting, only the parents are the teachers and are more hands-on. Think about if you can comfortable fit other things into your schedule, like some sort of Girl Scout or Boy Scout program (there are a ton of offshoot programs these days), sports, general park days, having homeschooled kids over to play, holiday parties with the homeschool group, etc.
Finances. Homeschooling is a full-time job in itself and takes a lot of planning, organization and time. Some parents make it work on one income while some have to juggle work scheduled to get the homeschooling done while handling bills. I personally have to work about 20 hours per week online in the mornings while the kids sleep so we can make ends meet around my homeschooling household.
Homeschooling also is not free, although you can do it on the cheap. Consider some common expenses: curriculum (or you can do it yourself but you’ll still need some books and maybe even some online learning site subscriptions), supplies and equipment (I spend a fortune on tape!), field trips, activities (gymnastics, sports, etc.), homeschool group fees, transportation.
Flexibility. Your day might not always go as you plan, so expect the unexpected. You may be all set to teach a math lesson but your child is dying to try out a science experiment he heard about. Then there are those days when the furnace breaks and you have to pack up the books and the kids and head to the library or a friend’s house to stay warm while attempting to get some schoolwork done.
Maybe your kid learns best while you read stories to her while she’s pacing in front of you or practicing her gymnastics moves. There are times when my husband is traveling for weeks on end and structured homeschooling takes a backseat while we do more things like go to the zoo, explore trails, pick up trash by a creek, play Monopoly and watch Horrible Histories on Netflix. Wait a minute, that’s all learning, too!
A general why. List 10 reasons why you want to homeschool. If most of them have to do with your own negative school experience, you may not be diving in for the right reasons. Really examine the pros and cons of how this would fit into your life and your schedule. If you are divorced, is your former partner supportive or not? If you are a single parent, do you have the support you need to homeschool?
Naysayers. Be ready to handle those who are against homeschooling. How? Do your homework! Read every book on homeschooling you can get your hands on so you are informed. Hang around with and keep in touch with some homeschoolers, especially those who have homeschooled their kids through high school. They are either going to be your inspiration or scare you out of homeschooling!
By now you should have a better idea of whether or not this venture is for your family. There are certainly pros and cons of regular school and of homeschooling (then we have unschooling, virtual school and more decisions to make!). It’s up to you to figure out what works best for everyone involved. Good luck, and have fun!