The Choice to Homeschool: 3 Things to Think About Before You Commit
3 Things to Think About If You're Considering Homeschooling
So you're thinking of homeschooling. Maybe your child is struggling in the traditional school system. Maybe your own philosophies don't align with your school board. Maybe you just feel that you are the best educator for your child! Whatever your reason for wanting to homeschool, there are some important things to consider before you begin!
We really want to homeschool our kids! But as we started out this year, homeschooling our son for kindergarten, things did not go as we had hoped and we actually registered him for school 2 months into the school year. I'm hoping that this list will help others avoid the issues that we had. Don't let this put you off homeschooling - it really can be wonderful! By considering the three points below you will be starting off with a stronger foundation for a successful schooling experience!
1. Is It Best for Your Child?
Ok, ok, I'm sure you've already thought this one through, but it really is the essential question when deciding to homeschool. While there are many awesome pros to homeschooling, there are certain things that happen in a traditional classroom that you will give up, or have to work hard to replicate. This includes the social interaction with 30+ peers on a daily basis, sports, clubs, field trips, special presentations, and simply the resources available to a teacher and a school. One that we considered was the structure and rules of a classroom, as well as the chance for our son to have to listen to, and learn from, an adult who isn't mum or dad! The structure and rules are one of the reasons we didn't want to send our son to school, but we also recognize that with his personality he needs that slightly more rigid environment that was difficult to achieve at home.
Make a list of the reasons why your child likes or does well in school, and mirror that list with ideas of how you can find a homeschooling way to replicate (or improve!) those things.
2. Are You Prepared to Put In the Time Necessary to Be Successful?
I'm married to a teacher. He puts in hours and hours of work outside of school to provide the best education he can for his students. (Check out his youtube channel here!). As a homeschooling parent, your child's learning and development are in your hands. You certainly don't need to know everything, and you don't need to be a teacher to be successful. What you do need to do is make decisions about curriculum, projects, and how you are going to make sure that your child is progressing how they should in every area.
Another homeschooling mum shared with me that she can spend up to 20 hours per week, outside of the time spent with her children, simply preparing lessons and educating herself so that she can educate them. Even when you follow a pre-made curriculum, home educating multiple children over different grades and with different interests can add to the workload.
Figure out how much time you can really give to homeschooling, and see if there is a program, curriculum, or even homeschooling philosophy that will work well for you, and your children.
Our local library has many learning activities: for free!
3. Can You Afford It?
Most homeschoolers will tell you, rightly, that the regular school schedule from Monday to Friday from 9-3 is just not necessary. And that's true: to complete curriculum and learning requirements you really don't need to be doing school all day every day. However, you still have the question of what your children are going to do with the rest of the day. Often, for homeschool families, this includes a mixture of free time and meetups, group classes, and extracurricular activities such as swimming, music lessons, dance, and others. The homeschooling parent also needs to take regular time to prepare lessons. If your children are still young this will not leave much time for work. Childcare can be difficult to find for school-aged children, and expensive. If you have been working, can you afford to leave work to homeschool? On top of that, can you afford to put your child in out-of-the-home activities to fulfill social, learning and physical education needs? Our personal answer to this is that we will make whatever sacrifices necessary in order to homeschool our children, but it is a serious question that every family should consider.
Research what funding and programs are available in your area. In Alberta, for example, you can receive over $800 in yearly funding based on your program. A lot of local businesses offer daytime classes for homeschoolers, and parents often organize "clubs" such as reading groups and sports activities which are usually free. Also consider splitting the schooling with a spouse, partner, or even another homeschooling family. This can free up time for part-time work or other pursuits.
In the End . . . You Can Do It!
There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to be a successful homeschooler! If you have struggled with any of the questions above then it is time to sit down and work out some strategies to go forward. Our downfall was not answering fully whether homeschooling was what our son needed, and not being able to afford the extra programs that could have compensated for the lack of classroom time. Of course, there are other questions and issues that will need to be addressed, but if you are committed to homeschooling then the work you put into it will be rewarded with a great educational experience for both you and your child!
The 3 Questions to Consider Before Home Schooling
Is it best for you child?
There are many pros to homeschooling, but there are also some things that happen in a traditional classroom that you will be giving up, or will have a difficult time replicating.
Make a list of the positives of traditional school, and mirror that with alternatives that you can do while homeschooling.
Are you prepared to put in the time necessary to be successful?
Providing a full education can be time consuming.
Look for a curriculum or homeschool program that will work with your family's schedule.
Can you afford it?
Homeschooling often means leaving work, as well as the cost of extra programs and classes.
Funding may be available in your area to cover curriculum, activities, and even supplies. Consider co-homeschooling with a spouse or partner, or another local family.
© 2018 Emily Kozak