Homeschooling sounds great in theory: Personalized education for your kids, tons of one-on-one time with your little ones, and days full of of field trips, playdates, music lessons, and reading together. But will it work for your family? We’ve pulled together ten of the most common concerns new homeschoolers face — from teaching subjects you know nothing about to living on one income — for you to consider before taking the homeschool plunge.
1. Your Qualifications: Do you have a teaching degree? No? No problem! You don’t need one, and yet many parents hesitate to homeschool because of this very reason. If you can read and write, then you are educationally qualified to homeschool your children.
If I asked you right now to make an apple pie, you would most likely ask me for the recipe. You would read it, follow the directions, look up words you didn’t understand, and in the end, you would have a delicious pie. Well, the same applies for homeschooling. You may not know how to teach algebra, but you can get a book, read it, look up things you don’t understand, ask for help, hire a tutor, work until your child fully grasps the concepts. It’s as easy as pie.
2. Setting up your homeschool is easy and doesn’t have to take over the whole house (although it might, if you let it). All you need is a little bit of space: a table to work at, places to store their books/projects, and plenty of wall space to display their projects. Assign each of your children a color, and get them stackable bins in that shade for each of their subjects and interests. These can be stored in the garage or basement. Take them out one at a time and put them away as soon as they are finished.
3. Do both parents agree that homeschooling is best for their children and their family? This is a must! If your spouse is not supportive, you will find yourself (and possibly your marriage) floundering for help. (If you can’t get past this one, you might have to reconsider homeschooling.) If your feelings alone don’t sway him, be sensitive to his hesitations — but also encourage him to talk with other parents who homeschool and introduce him to books and websites that may answer some of his questions.
4. How do your children feel about being homeschooled? Although this should not be a make-or-break issue — since kids change their mind every five minutes and aren’t old enough to make this kind of a decision when they’re starting kindergarten — you do want to bring them into the process. Be sure that you take their concerns and questions seriously. After all, they will have to answer questions from their peers, other parents, and community members. Don’t leave them out!
5. You will still have the same 24 hours as the rest of the world, except you will find that the day quickly becomes consumed with home and homeschool activities. From craft projects to science experiments, not to mention laundry and dinner, the time will just fly. Consider your personality and then choose what’s best for you–following a strict schedule or going with the flow.
6. Homeschooling does not have to be expensive. Become a fixture at your library, borrow books and museum passes, take advantage of free online resources, and use a little creativity to keep costs down. This cheaper approach tends to work best with parents who consider themselves to be “unschoolers” or eclectic homeschoolers; For parents wishing to follow a more guided curriculum-based course of study, you can purchase programs used or borrow from other parents with older homeschooled children.
7. Although some parents find time to work from home or during nights and weekends, many find that they are unable to work and successfully homeschool — and the financial strain of living on one income may be more than they bargained for. If time allows, do a test-run year. Put away all the money the stay-at-home spouse would make for one year, and evaluate at the end of the year. If you are considering quitting you job and starting to homeschool now, then look at your budget and see what cuts you will need to make.
8. Being with your kids everyday is lots of fun, but it doesn’t allow for a whole lot of alone time. Before you begin homeschooling you need to assemble your very own support team (think: spouse, parents, siblings, neighbors, friends). Ask if they would be willing to help with the kids so you can have time to yourself.
9. If you live on a farm where you nearest neighbor is more than fifty miles away, then you may have to worry a bit about socialization. But for the rest of us, who have close encounters with the human kind on a daily basis, socialization is really not an issue. Your children will get plenty of time to play and interact with kids and adults of all ages and in a variety of settings: the park, stores, play-dates, and after-school activities. In fact, many people note how well-socialized homeschooled children are. They often feel more comfortable interacting with a variety of people because they are around so many different people during their daily interactions.
10. Why are you doing this? Do some personal evaluation about your own motivations and write them down, so that on the days when you feel like giving up, you can remind yourself of the reasons you chose to homeschool in the first place.
Written by Alexandra Martinez and published by TLC ~ May 15, 2015.
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