So you are thinking about homeschooling? If you are anything like I was when I began this journey 8 years ago, you are probably overwhelmed and maybe a little anxious at just the thought of homeschooling. I promise you we have all been there. Even knowing that this was the right decision for our family didn’t stop that panic attack that occurred on our official first day of school. Maybe you are where I was, maybe not. Either way, before you make such a big decision, here are five honest questions to ask yourself before you consider homeschooling.
1. What is your motivation to homeschool?
Do you have a child that is struggling with school? Maybe your child is especially gifted in a specific area and you know that by keeping him/her at home you will be able to help him in ways that a traditional school setting won’t. Perhaps you are keeping them home because you want to instill your religious values upon your children. Maybe it’s a safety issue because your school system isn’t up to your standards. Could it be that you just felt a strong conviction towards this choice? Whatever your motivation is, know it. You will be asked a hundred times why you are homeschooling. It will be the reason you go back to every time you start to doubt yourself.
2. Is your spouse on board?
This one might be the hardest question of them all, but it’s the most important in my opinion. Sure, you can homeschool without the support of your husband or wife, but it’s going to be hard. Really hard. I can not tell you the number of friends and acquaintances I have that struggle with their spouse not being supportive. The two of you are a team and it’s a decision that needs to be made together. If you go at it alone, then on those hard days when you most need the support of your spouse, you might just hear “maybe we should put them in school” and I promise you, those words will not be a comfort to you.
3. What is Your Current Relationship with Your Children?
While I don’t think this question is a deal breaker, it might even be one of your motivations to homeschool, I do think it needs some consideration. If you haven’t already picked up on it, homeschooling isn’t always easy. It’s only made harder when you and your children do not get along. Homeschooling might be just what you and your son or daughter need to restore a relationship, but if you are not going into it with that as your main motivation then adding academics to the mix is only going to exacerbate the situation.
4. Can you afford it?
Most people think homeschooling is cheaper than sending your children off to school. Most people would be wrong. With homeschooling, you are responsible for your own books, teacher’s manuals, materials, copies, supplies, testing, field trips etc. Don’t let that scare you though. You can absolutely homeschool for cheap, but you are going to have to be resourceful. I know plenty of people who use free online curriculums, or buy their curriculum second-hand. Before you jump into homeschooling you need to weigh all the costs up front. It is not just the books you need to consider. If you are working outside of the home, can you afford not to? I know several families who got started with homeschooling only to find out that the mom now needs to return to work to help support the family. Plan ahead for those costs so that you know what to expect.
5. Are you in it for the long haul?
This may not seem like it’s a relevant question to get you started, but if you don’t know how long you plan to homeschool then there are some things I believe you need to consider. Start with the curriculum you choose. If you foresee yourself doing this for the duration of your child’s school career then you have some flexibility. While not all curriculums are created equal, most good curriculums will cover all the basics by the time your student graduates. But, if your intent is to school for a little while, maybe just the elementary grades, or maybe just to get your student through a hard time then you probably need to choose a more traditional curriculum that mirrors many public school goals. You may also consider testing your student at the end of each school year.
I have known two friends who didn’t take this approach and tried putting their children back in school only to find out that their child didn’t test on grade level and they ended up having to place them a year behind their peers. This wasn’t because they didn’t work at home, it was simply because their curriculum took a different approach to learning and or because the material covered was different from the public school’s scope and sequence.
If you have considered each of these points and decided that yes, homeschooling is what is best for your family, then take a deep breath. You got this! There are communities of people all over the world who are in this with you. Need a little extra help? Read my getting started post here.