So You Think You Can Homeschool

When people find out I homeschool I get two distinct reactions, and they usually come from the same people.

  • Wow, that’s great!
  • Even so,  I could never do that.

The reasons I get are varied, but I rarely hear the old standby: “what about socialization?”

Parents can be their children’s teachers. I’m the perfect example.

  • I have little to no patience (I’m working on it), but I put one foot in front of the other each day and I have just enough patience each day. 
  • I do not have a teaching degree, but there’s so much help out there that if I’m not strong in a subject I can get help (and at the elementary level that Reagan is at this hasn’t been a problem).  
  • We’re not rich, but I find bargains for curriculum and other ways to get things for free.
  • I have to have “me” time everyday, and I still manage to have that, even with spending so much time with my children.

I’m writing this post, not to chastise those who truly don’t feel they can homeschool. I’m writing this post to encourage those who are thinking about it or may be on the fence. You can do it!

So, here is my Friday 13 for this week:

FRIDAY 13: 13 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN THINKING ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING

  1. Keep an open mind. Weigh the benefits of homeschooling with the risks that may be involved. I could write on and on about the benefits. If you’re thinking about homeschooling then I’m sure you’ve considered those. Seriously take a look though at the “risks”. Can your family subsist on one income? (That answer can be yes). Will you be dedicated to teaching your child in the best way for him/her (and that’s easy to figure out)? Can you be flexible enough to give yourself a break (don’t be hard on yourself)?
  2. Pray about it. Seriously. Ask God what His will is for your family. If you get the idea that He’s for it, then by all means, go for it!
  3. Research your options. There are so many different ways to homeschool. From the stricter Classical method (to which we try to adhere) to unschooling. There are video courses, online courses, mixing curriculum, making up your own curriculum, 9 month schooling, year round schooling. So many different options. You’re not locked into anything. And if you try something and it doesn’t work for your family you can change directions.
  4. Know state rules. The Home School Legal Defense Association is a great place to start. HSLDA lists state regulations so you know what you’re required to do as a parent (and what you’re not obligated to do).  
  5. Ask for help. Ask other parents who are currently homeschooling. Pick their brains about any and every question you have. We love these chat sessions. If you decide to take the plunge seek encouragement. The first few months or first year can (will) be tough. Seek out that encouragement. And don’t be hard on yourself.
  6. Curriculum Fairs. Go to them. Ask other homeschoolers if they know of any coming to town. Do a little google research and you’re certain to find a couple. Curriculum fairs are the best way to get a good look at tons of curriculum at once. It’s a lot easier to decide if a program will work for your family if you can flip through the books. Often you get curriculum discounts if you buy at the fair.
  7. Buy curriculum early. Many companies offer discounts for buying early. Alpha Omega has a 20% off sale in early spring. MUCH cheaper than waiting until later in the summer. If you’ve missed these sales don’t forget to search websites like ebay, half.com and amazon for curriculum deals. There are tons of curriculum sites on the web as well.
  8. Sign up. There are plenty of homeschooling organizations you can join. HSLDA, state and local organizations, website groups (CafeMom has some great ones to join), there are lots of organizations that are geared towards helping you be a successful homeschooler.
  9. Co-ops. Seek out and join co-ops or get together with other homeschooling families. If you have trouble teaching a certain subject (calculus? chemistry?) there’s bound to be someone in your area who is competent. Co-ops are great for pooling resources and also a good source of “socialization”. In some subjects, like drama, there is strength in numbers. Online co-ops can be a great help as well. Homeschool Buyers Co-op gets their members deals on curriculum by buying in bulk.  
  10. Prepare your child. If you make the decision to homeschool make sure you talk to your children extensively about what is going to happen. Let them know what you expect of them as a child and what they can expect of you as a teacher. Let them know that this is a big experiment and there are likely to be changes along the way. By all means, be excited (both you and your spouse). The enthusiasm will catch.
  11. Prepare others for your decision. Other people will be affected by your decision to homeschool. Family and friends may not understand your decision at first. Boundaries may need to be set as to when people can call on you by phone or visitation. Be prepared to answer questions positively. You’ve done your research, you know the benefits!
  12. Set up your homeschool space. Or not. Many families have one room that they have designated their “school room”. That doesn’t work for us. We’ll “do school” in the dining room for a month or so and then switch to the living room. We’ve done school in the kitchen and in the bedroom when it suited us. Be flexible. Work with your house, your family’s needs, etc. And it doesn’t take a lot of money to get a room set up. All you need, really, is the curriculum. A white board is the next thing I’d suggest. A table would be good if you don’t want your child doing school on the floor. See? That’s easy!
  13. Internet help. Never forget that you have the world at your fingertips. Do research online. Find curriculum online. Find help online. Find immediate answers to your children’s questions online. How did people homeschool before the internet? Use it!

Intrigued? Do you have questions about homeschooling? Ask me! I’ll be happy to answer them.

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13 thoughts on “So You Think You Can Homeschool

  1. Great informative post! I want to homeschool my daughter and am currently researching to learn our options. She is just one so we have a while to work things out, but some people say they start loosely homeschooling their kids around age of two since they already read books and have opportunities for educational play. I just did a long post yesterday on why I want to homeschool. I’m excited about being so involved in her education!

  2. Great post! I would also suggest not to think of homeschooling like public/private schooling. Homeschooling when done like other schooling can be overwhelming. Relax and you will find what works best for you and your family. It may not look like someone else’s way of homeschooling but it doesn’t make it wrong :). You will find what fits you and your family.

  3. Jenny: I responded to you on your post. Just let me know if you have questions!

    Jody: So very true. I still struggle with trying not to make our school mirror what I grew up with.

    Quincy: Look around at church or try to find an online group around your area (Yahoo Groups should have one). Most people who homeschool seem to have more than two kids (just my observation). Many people have done the balancing act so it can be done! One curriculum that we use is Tapestry of Grace. http://www.tapestryofgrace.com. It’s very easy to plan that around kids of different ages. There’s lots of online suggestions about juggling as well. It might be worth it to try something during the summer.

  4. I do have one question (so far) for you and really anyone with kids old enough to have an opinion.

    What do your kids say about their homeschool experience? Have you ever had a child ask to go to group school instead? If so, would you consider honoring that request? As a public school kid all my life, I can’t imagine why a child would want to give up homeschooling for that, but then again, the grass is always greener. I wanted to be homeschooled but my mom was busy teaching other people’s kids!

  5. I only have one old enough to be schooled right now. When her friends started going to preschool and kindergarten she said she wanted to go to “outside school” (what we call school outside the home).

    I don’t think I would ever honor that request to go public school (unless finances forced us). I’m really adamant about the dangers of public school (and I haven’t really gone into those on this blog, but I think you did a good job on yours). As much as we want to think our kids can make decisions for themselves at a young age, they really don’t have the knowledge to make life altering decisions.

    There are days when my daughter hates homeschool (I’m hating it on those same days). But for the most part she really enjoys it.

  6. Great post! I’ve contemplated homeschooling several times since we moved out here and I’ve been staying at home. At this point, with a new baby on the way, I just don’t see it as being extremely feasible for us. I always worried about the socialization aspect of it… for US…. but I think I’ve told you about that before. Thanks for the great ideas though! It’s still something we’re considering down the road.

  7. I would love to Home School my future children. I envy those who are able. At this point, between the student loans and some other debt, there is no way we could afford to lose my income…

    On 2nd though – if my family could just get with the Dave Ramsey plan, we could probably have all that taken care of in 5 years, just in time to start home schooling 🙂

    And, come to think o f it – my Undergrad is in Sociology and Elementary Education… hrmmm…

  8. I admire your ability to pull that off and fully respect your decision to do so.

    I went all through Catholic school, save one year, and not including kindergarten. (It wasn’t an option when I was that age.) That one year I did go was enough to make me swear I would NEVER send a child to public school. I know that some districts are better than others, and there are good and bad in all schools. I just found it to be cold, impersonal, and run by bells. I went from being in a class of maybe 25 to more like 40 in public school, and from having personal relationships with teachers to teachers who never knew my name.

    And add to that that the world is so much different than it was 30, even 20 years ago. I can understand how you wouldn’t want them to even go out the door!

  9. Great responses! You did a fantastic job of describing the reality of homeschooling. Like you, I find discounted curriculum, often buying used. And I am amazed at how much help there is on the internet.

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