What to Consider When Deciding to Homeschool -- Or Not
You’re considering homeschooling – wonderful! This can be a very rewarding and educational experience for both children and parents. There is also the potential for complete academic disaster if you enter into the decision too lightly, or if the conditions just aren’t right to make it a success. It’s a huge responsibility, and homeschooling is a long-term commitment.
If you’ve considered just taking your kids out of public school for a year to give homeschooling a trial run, think again. Without truly committing to the long-term success of your child’s homeschool education, most likely all you’ll accomplish is setting your kid back when you give up and send them back to someone else to teach. Consider what this responsibility will really involve, and answer these fundamental questions for yourself and your family before you make your decision.
Why do you want to homeschool?
There are literally thousands of reasons that you might decide to homeschool. One of the most popular reasons for making the decision to homeschool is that it’s an opportunity to give your children a different, possibly better, education than might be available through the local public schools without the expense of high-quality private schools. Other parents may make the decision based on religious considerations, wanting to be a little more influential in how their children are raised and the manner of their exposure to different ideas. Still others may feel that the public school system is outdated, or that common core just isn't effective for their children, and want an alternative.
Essentially, it really comes down to one thing – will homeschooling meet yours and your child’s objectives for his or her education? Consider what you’d like to accomplish and what’s lacking in outside providers, and decide if homeschooling is the answer in your unique situation. If you think it might be, then make sure to do extensive research from a number of different sources about the realities of homeschooling. It's not the social deprivation and whiling away hours locked in the house that so many people claim, but it's also not the one and only answer for everyone's education.
Sir Ken Robinson on how children learn and the origins of public school. Well worth watching when you're deciding to homeschool or not
Can you afford to homeschool?
Homeschooling expenses range from equipment and books, to reduced hours that one or both parents can put into their career while they’re schooling their children. There are a number of programs available through federal and state governments to help alleviate the cost barrier in acquiring a curriculum. One drawback of government-sponsored resources is that these will conform to what the government deems necessary for children to learn, and will also give them more control over exactly what is taught when. On the plus side, these programs make it easy to track your child's progress and make sure that you're hitting all of the necessary points of instruction. You can also cut costs by buying materials secondhand through Amazon Marketplace, local homeschool groups, or other such resources.
While some states offer incentives for homeschoolers, other states strive to outlaw homeschooling entirely. Know the laws in your area, as these may also have a bearing on the overall financial burden of homeschooling, and in whether or not you’ll even be able to manage the homeschooling issues in your current location.
Everyone is different, and not everyone can homeschool. Just because you have a busy life and limited finances, though, doesn't mean you should choose to not ho
Think you're too busy, and think deciding to homeschool just won't work? Here are some tips to make it work with your individual life if homeschooling is really what you want to do.
Homeschooling with balance? It can happen
More resources on deciding to homeschool without forsaking the rest of life. Learn how to give your kids a well-rounded education, but also a well-rounded life experience.
How much time will you be able to invest in homeschooling your kids?
The beginning of this hub mentions the commitment to homeschooling, and it includes a number of different facets. Not least of these commitments includes a hefty time investment. You may decide to conduct formal classes, which will take a scheduled amount of time on certain days, but don’t forget that everything else that factors into school also relies on you. This includes helping your children with their homework assignments, arranging field trips, finding opportunities for hands-on experience, and arranging for extracurricular activities or group lessons with other homeschoolers. Long story short, if you’re dedicated to the concept of giving your children the best possible education and see it as a top priority in your lives, then most likely you will be an outstanding homeschool parent.
While homeschooling can take a lot of time, so does public schooling when it's done right. The public schools are meant to be an addition to your child's education, not the whole thing. Even if your kids go outside the home for classes, you'll still need to find the time to help with homework, one-on-one tutoring, expanding the subjects with life lessons, and so on.
Unfortunately, many prospective homeschool parents fall into the trap of thinking that homeschooling will afford them the luxury of relaxing at home while their kids studiously pore over their lessons. If this is you, think again. School has so many aspects aside from books and cramming knowledge. Public schools have built-in socialization opportunities, but as a homeschooler it’s completely on you to seek out those opportunities for your children. The tired old stereotype of the shy, socially awkward homeschooled child could be your kid if you overlook this crucial element. On the other hand, with just a little forethought, your child can be exposed to a much wider range of social encounters and types of interaction than is possible within the structured, age-specific framework of a formal school.
What does your support system look like?
While outside support isn’t absolutely necessary for you to homeschool, it makes life a lot easier for you as the homeschooling parent. Especially if this is your first close encounter with homeschooling, having experienced individuals whose knowledge you can tap into is utterly priceless. Friends and family who are supportive of your decision to homeschool, whether or not they have practical advice they can give, can also be a boon on those dark days when the responsibility just seems too great. In addition, professionals of all types are an excellent resource for homeschoolers, especially if they’re willing to offer their expertise in lessons or mentorship arrangements. Other homeschoolers allow you to expand your lesson plan with joint classes or field trips, and additional expertise that can go into teaching all of the kids involved.
Are you willing to “feel your way” as you go?
You won’t know everything right off the bat. If you expect that you will, homeschooling will probably be a very frustrating and potentially overwhelming experience for you. If you don’t have your goals perfectly outlined, don’t know your whole curriculum, and don’t have a clear picture of the future until graduation – relax, and don’t worry about it. This is perfectly normal, and there are a lot of plans that will be set and re-set on a regular basis if you wish to foster a relevant, dynamic learning environment for your kids. Lesson plans change as interests, levels of understanding, and education goals change over time.
Just remember that the single most important goal of homeschooling – or any education, for that matter – is to instill a love of learning in your kids. All other considerations are secondary. With the love of learning in place, you may be amazed at how much your children will take into their own hands to further their own education along the lines that will be the most beneficial for them.
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