Homeschooling is when you decide to pull your child from a public or private school and provide the majority of their education at home. In this article I play devil's advocate. I truly love homeschooling and think it is a viable solution for some families. I currently homeschool my daughter and have supported tons of other parents with making the transition. However, too often parents do not understand how much work it is and end up wasting time and money due to lack of knowledge. So In this article I discuss things you should keep in mind before making the change and ultimately it is to help you to decide if it is something that is right for your family.
Preparation State Regulations
One thing I never recommend is being so frustrated with your child’s school or district that you just stop them from going one day and decide to teach them from home. This is extremely detrimental and could even result in jail time depending on that state's guidelines. Find out your states set procedures for homeschooling and follow them to a Tee.
Typically you will need to register with that state and tell them information about your child so that it is well documented that they are not truant but instead attending a homeschooling program. Additionally, knowing your state's guidelines is important for things like getting your child a highschool diploma when that time comes.
What you are teaching your child is just as important as how you are teaching it. You can use the common core standards to figure out what to teach your child for their age, grade and developmental levels but how you are teaching it is the curriculum component and this is more difficult to navigate.
You can start by finding out what curriculum your home school district has adopted and call the company for samples or a demonstration to see if it would be a good fit. It is also important to know some curriculum companies will not sell to you directly and are only for established schools and certified teachers.
There are literally thousands of curriculum programs available now and it is going to be trial and error until you find one that works. I can tell you as a teacher and person who has created curriculum I haven't found one set curriculum program I swear by. Every year I use about 2 or 3 programs plus I modify and change them as needed and add my own spin on the curriculum. Finding a good program can feel intimidating at first but it is the core of homeschooling and extremely important.
Creating Their Space
Homeschooling is especially difficult if you do not have a set space for your child to learn. Having a room or home office dedicated to their studies is crucial. You can also use part of a garage or even dining area. This space needs to be separate from everything else and create a learning atmosphere for that student. If at all possible do not have their classroom be in their bedroom or even right in the living room where there are televisions, video games and other major distractions.
You want to set this space up to reflect an actual learning environment and it should have all school supplies, furniture and tools needed for your child to thrive.
Setting a Schedule
The foundation of homeschooling is organization. There are some people who take a very “free” approach to homeschooling. This means there is no schedule, no real structure, no times set for specific activities etc. This works more for younger children under preschool but I do not recommend this for children at a grade school level as it could result in them falling behind academically.
The entire point of school is to provide your child with the tools they need to be successful adults. So a set schedule that addresses the subjects their peers are learning such as math, history and even social sciences is super important. Additionally, if you are not organized enough to keep the schedule you create, homeschooling is not the best option for you.
Every schedule will be different but here are some guides
What subjects should they be learning and how often are you teaching them?
When will they eat & how are meals prepared?
What about outside activities exercise and “ recess”?
What social activities are they involved in?
One concern many families have is that their child will not be socially acclimated if they do not attend public schools. This concern is valid. School allows children many opportunities to communicate, solve conflicts, learn social norms and more but it is not the only way your child can build lasting relationships and develop communication skills.
Consider joining an age appropriate homeschool Co-op
Look into local after school programs
Summer programs are a great alternative too
Consider extracurriculars such as sports, debate club, drama etc.
In some situations your home district will allow your child to participate in the extracurricular activities offered even though they are not enrolled in classes
Most parents underestimate the costs of homeschooling. Realize that all of their schooling needs are now your financial responsibility. Everything listed above from joining homeschool co-ops to purchasing curriculum requires money. We do not realize how much schools provide for our children until we start homeschooling.
I have one parent whose groceries have increased by $400.00 per month just by feeding her two children breakfast and lunch at home instead of having them eat these meals at school. If your child was home during the pandemic you may have gotten a clear picture of how expensive this can be.
The last thing I want you to consider is the fact that there is very little time away from your child. School gives everyone a break from each other - should you choose to homeschool that time is drastically reduced. Some families love the additional time together while others are very overwhelmed.
You need to understand your needs before choosing to homeschool your child. If you are going to be over-stimulated, a traditional schooling program may be best for everyone.
If your child's current schooling situation is not working, homeschooling may be a viable option but it is not the only option. Establish your goals for your child's education and see if it aligns with some of the things listed in this article. If you need more support let’s set up a time to chat so that I can help support you through this decision.