< How Do I Decide?

Is Homeschooling a good choice for you and your family? While you won’t know until you try, if you have a strong desire to be closely involved in your child’s education, if you plan to work on it, and if you realize that you may start with one plan and then make numerous adjustments as you go, you can feel confident that your family will find a good way to home educate your children.

Home education is more of a natural process than one might imagine. By the time a child is “school-aged,” education in the home is already taking place. Parents themselves are the ones who tend to give children most of their reading readiness. Parents themselves teach and model to their children their own values, many of teheir interests, and how to learn. Homeschooling means having the opportunity to show our children more of what we know and find to be worth learning, and to give our children the opportunity to learn and grow in the nurturing environment of home.

Are there downsides to homeschooling?

a. Your child may return to school. If a child will eventually attend school, but first will spend more than a few years homeschooling, without any large classroom experience, attending school later on may be a hard adjustment. However, there are many ways to find large group, classroom-type experiences for your children to have along the way. Some examples are 4-H Clubs, homeschooling cooperatives, classes at your house of worship, park district classes, and enrichment classes which are offered at many institutions.

b. Others can be critical. Those who homeschool, and their children, do hear criticism from others. But the more that others, who don’t know about homeschooling, have the opportunity to see it in real life, the more likely it is that their opinion will change over time. If you homeschool you will join the ranks of ambassadors for home education.

c. When a spouse is against homeschooling. If your spouse does not think homeschooling is a good idea, forging ahead anyway will mean starting this adventure with a disadvantage. While it’s possible to homeschool as a single parent (challenging, but possible!), it’s difficult to homeschool if two parents do not agree on the decision. It may be better to take more time to help the other spouse see the positives, than to force the matter.

Making the decision to homeschool after long observation:
Some parents first observe other homeschooling families, read many books about it, and examine various types of curricula before making their decision. At our site you can learn about books to read. You can examine how an organization structure could work in your home. You can read our articles of encouragement. You can get a feel for what homeschooling would be like, for you. But even if you research extensively ahead of time, switching from a non-homeschooling life to a homeschooling lifestyle will be an adjustment, and in all likelihood, a happy adjustment!

Making the decision to homeschool by diving right in:
Some parents, because of a crisis at school, because the idea appeals to them so much, or because it seems so right to them, essentially dive right in to homeschooling. This works too. Why? Because these children are their children! These parents already know them and already know how to relate to them. If you dive in, there will be some stop-starts. You may start with one curriculum and switch mid-year, but education will take place in your home beginning with day one of your homeschool. Feel free to use our site to help you find your way in home-education.

Can you picture the homeschooling life?
Homeschooling can sound daunting because the general public doesn’t have a picture of it in their minds. When we think about school in a building, many pictures come to our minds. When we think about homeschooling, there are no pictures. Those who visit another home-educating family will start to see that the homeschooling lifestyle is family life with more time given to learning.

If you choose to homeschool, you can create your family’s schedule around what works for your family. If your family tends to be up with the birds (perhaps one parent has to leave early for work each day), you can all have breakfast together if you like. The kids can stay in their PJs, and they can even help get breakfast on the table. You can allow your late sleeper to sleep in. And without a hectic rush, your children can start on school. You may all finish with school by lunchtime. If your family is not made up of early birds, you don’t have to start early. Start at the time that’s right for you.

Many families create a firm daily schedule for school and stick to it. Many families follow a more free-flowing daily schedule. Most homeschooling families are somewhere in between. Because learning together is enjoyable, learning tends to spill over into many activities of family  life.

What would homeschool look like in your home?
School at home doesn’t have to mean importing a classroom into your home. Some families do that. They take a room and fill it with desks and a blackboard. Most families don’t do that. Many put up laminated educational posters, and their homes fill with books, resources, art supplies, and learning games. If you homeschool you will likely weed out your home of other things, even extra furniture. Whatever you are comfortable with, that is what your school will look like.

Why Homeschool?

There are many reasons why people choose to homeschool their children instead of sending them to a traditional school setting. Laura Saba and Julie Gattis in the McGraw-Hill Homeschooling Companion define those reasons as…

  • religious convictions (religion should be at the core of the student’s education)

  • social situations (concern for violence, drugs, alcohol, teen sex)

  • family values (spending time together enhances the family structure)

  • educational excellence (the child gets more individual attention)

  • personal education philosophy (belief that a traditional school setting is not the best learning situation for your child)

  • feeling under-served (minority parents may feel their child is not being served well by their local school)

  • having a child with special needs (children with special needs may do better with a one-on-one education)

Other reasons include…

  • pursuit of the arts (abundant time for practicing and performing)
  • ability to learn a more complete set of life skills (children who spend more time at home are likely to absorb home management, personal finance, home maintenance skills, and other skills of their parents, or skills their parents are pursuing).