Surely by now you know at least one family who homeschools. Perhaps you’ve wondered if this choice might be a good fit for you and your family. As a homeschooler for the past seven years and a professional educator for fifteen years before that, here are a few things to consider.
1. How happy are you with your child’s school?
Many different elements make up your child’s school experience. The mix of children in his or her classroom, the homeroom teacher, special area teachers, curriculum, and the school principal all combine to create a positive educational experience, or not. A change in even one element can make a big difference in the total experience for an individual child. When forming an opinion of the public school, be as informed and active as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2. Has your child expressed an interest in homeschooling or expressed concerns about his or her public school experience?
No parent ever knows everything that goes on in their child’s classroom, the school bus, or on the playground. That’s not an accusation. It’s a fact. If your child expresses feelings of fear or an inordinate amount of stress, it’s time to begin asking questions, visiting the classroom, and evaluating if a change needs to be made. On the other hand, if your child is eager to attend school each day, expresses affection for his or her teacher and fellow students, and is maintaining an excitement for learning, it’s probably a great fit!
3. Is there a specific area of concern?
Do you have reason to believe your child may not be physically safe at school? What concerns have other parents expressed about the school or school employees? Is your child’s education suffering for one reason or another? Trust your eyes, your ears and your child. If there are serious issues, you will have to weigh them against the option of homeschooling or switching to another school.
4. Is your spouse on board?
Trying to homeschool with only one parent in favor of the idea is like two people rowing a boat with each headed in the opposite direction. Talking with other homeschool parents and learning more about homeschooling can be reassuring to a parent concerned about things like socialization and academic achievement. Remember, homeschooling isn’t necessarily a forever decision. Many families commit to trying it for one year and then evaluating whether or not to continue.
5. Do your circumstances allow for homeschooling?
Taking on the responsibility of educating your children is a big job. What obstacles might you have to overcome so you will have the time, energy and materials to be successful? Most homeschool families make do with just one income since Mom usually becomes the primary educator. Would this be feasible for your family and your budget?
Here are a few more tips.
- Make this decision with both your head and your heart.
- If you decide to homeschool, give yourselves at least a month to ease into it.
- Scour the internet for loads of free curriculum and materials. It’s possible to homeschool without incurring any cost whatsoever.
- The library is your new best friend! Learn about and utilize their many services.
- Find other homeschoolers in your area. You’ll need to interact with other parents who are in the trenches right alongside you.
- Don’t expect too much during your first few months. You’re moving from a highly programmed and regulated public school setting to something far more relaxed.
- Don’t give up too soon!