Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda!
Deciding to homeschool is a very personal and specific decision. There are variables that make this not a one-size-fits all question. And, a lot of the time, it may come down to just because you can, should you?
You wouldn’t be here without the thought crossing your mind so I’m going to pose some questions that you should consider before making the leap into Homeschool Land. I guarantee you few of us could just decide to do it and not end up drowning in guilt, insecurity, and an endless parade of options.
- Are you frustrated with the school your child currently attends?
- Is this decision a “knee-jerk” reaction to an incident? Would taking a few days to reflect on it or speak to the appropriate teachers and/or administration help you work out the issue?
- Would you like more control over your child[ren]’s education?
- Do you want to allow your child more time to be a kid?
- Do you want them to learn values from your home as opposed to state curriculum?
- Do you feel like the school is not servicing your child’s needs appropriately (e.g. not following ARD directions or letting your gifted child coast because they’re done with everything and find worksheets boring.)
- Do you want to expose your children to subjects that public school doesn’t teach, such as Latin, cursive, Turkish Underwater Basket Weaving?
- Do you want your child to have the opportunity to learn in a more hands-on environment?
- Are you prepared to pay for, travel to see, and/or arrange these experiences?
- Do you want to be the one who gets to see the moment your child “gets it”?
- Have you researched what it takes to start legally homeschooling?
- Have you discussed it with your child’s other parent? And, are you both in agreement? Is your child at least interested?
- Do you have a child[ren] that you feel would benefit from a non-traditional instructional setting?
- Do you want to be with your children all day? Do you enjoy being with them (no one is looking answer honestly!)?
- Do you understand this may mean forgoing your career or taking a pay cut if you have to reduce the time your work?
- Do you understand that homeschooling is equivalent to at least a part-time job? Even if you unschool you are still directing your child and helping them get the resources they are interested in, taking them to classes, etc.
- Are you prepared to learn and read a lot as you research everything (from how children learn, how to teach to XYZ, who is Charlotte Mason how is she different from Maria Montessori, what’s the difference between a toad and a frog, what does snake poop look like? EVERYTHING.)
- How are you going to handle teaching subjects that you are weak in?
- Does your family have the resources or are they prepared to do what it takes to give your child the education and opportunities you want them to have?
- Can you afford curriculum? There are no write offs here. There are free and low-cost options available but they may not be what you want and you may have to spend a lot of time piecing it together exactly what you want if you can’t afford to buy it.
- If full-time homeschooling does not work but you don’t want them back in regular school can you afford supplemental tutors or part-time programs?
- Do you want the flexibility to travel whenever you want?
- Do you want more family time?
- Do you want your children to be able to sleep as much as they need to?
- Are you worried about your child’s socialization? (That’s a trick question, Homeschoolers hate the topic of socialization because, particularly since we are based in a large city, we have more opportunities to “socialize” our children than kids in traditional 9-3pm schools)
- Do you want your children to be able to play with each other and other children of various ages?
- Can you handle the emotional responsibility of being the primary educator? You’re the one (usually) that the weight tends to fall on and with it, from time to time, comes feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and worry. You can tell yourself not to compare your child to that nine-year old who is doing Trig or the Supermom who looks like she taught her children Latin, worked out, took a shower, put on makeup, AND got dinner ready, but sometimes you do. It can be a heavy weight.
- Can you handle making your child cry over math? Obviously, this is not the goal but it happens more than you think it will.
- Can you handle crying over math? Frustration levels can run high in subjects that are not easily grasped by the student or they find boring.
- Do you have a lot of friends who are doing it? This is not something to go into over peer-pressure. A few bad days at school are not a good reason to homeschool. It may look like it’s all park days and field trips but it’s not.
- Where will you find support?
- Are you prepared to deal with less-than supportive people (some of them might be people you love dearly, some might be random people in the grocery line being nosy about why your kids aren’t in school)?
I know it’s a lengthy list but consider it akin to those questions you were posed if you did pre-marriage counseling because for some of you it is going to be an 18+ year relationship.