So, You’re Thinking of Homeschooling…
I have recently come across a couple of people who are considering homeschooling.
I think homeschooling is awesome and am always looking for converts, so let’s talk about a few of the things that might be holding someone back from taking the leap.
It might get preachy up in here, so brace yourselves.
Fear #1) You are not smart enough or educated enough to successfully teach your child.
The most important quality you need to educate your child is determination. That’s it.
Studies show the average homeschooled child outperforms the average traditionally schooled child, regardless of the level of formal education attained by the parent. So yes – you CAN facilitate your child’s education, even if you have not finished college, gone to college, or even finished high school. Facilitate being the operative word here. You don’t have to do it all, all alone, with no help. Homeschooling doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are tutors and websites and homeschool co-ops and chat sites and other homeschoolers and in general more resources than you can shake a stick at. You can do it.
Fear #2) Homeschooling will be the nightmare of incomprehensible homework and tear-filled evenings, except it will last all day, too.
This is a biggie. This is The One.
What will you do if homeschooling is one, big, all-day-long fight? Homework sucks the joy out of your evenings and takes over family time, can you really risk it ruining your whole relationship with your kids?
Homeschooling is not the same as doing homework. I repeat: homeschooling is not the same as doing homework.
For one thing, you can work with your kids during the day, when they are fresh and rested, instead of after dinner when any sane human is tired and wants to relax, not write a 3 page paper or review flashcards for an hour, for Pete’s sake. You can take breaks and have recess whenever you want. You work at your child’s pace, not at the speed dictated by the latest standardized test requirements.
Secondly, you are in charge. That’s right. No longer will you have to plod through busy work you know is pointless. No longer will you have to try to decipher some new math curriculum that you didn’t choose and think is stupid and confusing. No longer will you have to pay Sylvan or Kumon because the teacher could only spend 2 weeks on long division and that wasn’t enough for your child. YOU can choose what to learn, when to learn, and how to learn. You can listen to your kids and observe your kids and tailor their education specifically to them. Sure, it’s daunting, especially at first. But you can do it.
No more meetings at school with teachers who just don’t seem to understand that 4 hours of homework a night isn’t working for you.
You get your evenings back. Evenings can be for family or friends or sports or playing or reading or cuddling with Daddy or having a job or listening to music or helping with dinner or (gasp!) doing nothing…
You get your mornings back too, for that matter. No more screeching at people to hurry up because they are late; no more scrambling for lunch money or science reports or permission slips at 7 am. No more driving to school in your bathrobe and wondering if anyone will see you. No more throwing a pop-tart at your kids as they slam out of the house and run to the bus. No more forty-pound backpacks. Mornings can be calmer, with kids who get enough sleep and eat a leisurely breakfast.
Oh, and also? Bossing your kid around in Math is no different than bossing him around in any other way. So don’t worry about that whole “how can I be both parent and teacher?” thing either.
Fear #3) Your kid will grow up to be a backwards weirdo with no social skills and no friends.
The weird, unsocialized homeschooler stereotype has been thoroughly debunked, over and over and over again; but if you’re worried about it, see this or this or this or this or any of the other millions of articles that come up if you google a combination of homeschool and socialization.
If you’re worried they won’t have a social life, well, that’s something you can prioritize as you see fit. There are people out there to socialize with, you just have to find them. Sure, it’s more work than sending them off to a building stuffed full of potential friends; but parenting is pretty much a series of things that are a lot of work, so that’s nothing new.
Fear #4) Homeschooling is for rich people.
HAH, I say. Hah-HAH, even.
I am not a particularly frugal homeschooler, nor am I a rich person. I take cost into consideration, but it’s not THE deciding factor when I am researching curriculum. Sure, it’s nice the grammar program I chose is only $16 a year, but that’s not why I bought it. If Sonlight worked best for my kids, I’d use it, even though it is many hundreds of dollars a year.
However. Even in my non-coupon-clipping homeschool ways, I don’t spend that much on school. Way less than $500 a year on the essentials, probably, and most of it I can use again with Little, so homeschooling her costs practically nothing. I do spend a lot at Amazon, but you don’t have to. You can homeschool for free, if you put your mind to it.
You know what I don’t buy? I don’t buy school clothes. I don’t buy gym clothes. I don’t buy gym shoes. I don’t chase all over town every August spending hundreds of dollars on the exact right kind of crayon and notebook and kleenex and fancy-label jeans because otherwise my kids will be looked at pityingly on the first day of school. I don’t buy backpacks or lunchboxes. I don’t buy Teacher Christmas gifts or Teacher Appreciation gifts or End of School Teacher gifts. I don’t buy school lunches or fund-raising tins of popcorn or donate money so the band can go to the Rose Bowl. Every year I read back-to-school blog posts about all the stuff parents have to buy to get ready and am surprised at how much a free education costs.
Fear #5: I can’t take my kids out of school because they want or need to access public school for sports or special needs programs.
From what I’ve observed of my friends with sporty kids, school sports are only a small portion of the sports programs they participate in. Practically every town in the country has city-sponsored youth sports. And if your child is into golf or ice skating or gymnastics or hockey or swimming or whatever else you can think of, you can probably find non-school versions to participate in.
However, twenty-two states require public schools to allow homeschoolers access to classes or sports. See here for specifics.
Similarly, many states allow children with special needs to access those programs, regardless of where they are schooled. HSLDA has more information on this subject, as does Homeschool Legal Advantage (here are some FAQs). The homeschooling organizations in your specific state will have a lot more information about both of these issues.
So. Feel better? What else would hold you back from taking the plunge?