The decision to homeschool is a BIG one and I know a lot of families are considering it about this time of year. There is some allure to finishing out the school year (just about 1-2 months left depending on where you live!) and starting fresh with homeschool the following fall. The good news, if that’s your plan, if that now you have a solid 3-4 months to prepare and plan. Unfortunately that also means you have 3-4 months to second guess yourself. And by the way, that is totally normal. I second guess our decision to homeschool every year.
So here are a few of my main reasons for wanting to homeschool, not necessarily in order of importance.
Student Tailored Learning
When you homeschool you can tailor the learning to your child. Every child learns differently and has different interests. If you know one topic is tough for your child, you can plan extra time or resources to make sure they understand the topic.
One thing that surprises a lot of people is that we don’t do grades. Why not? Because we will work at a topic until it is thoroughly understood. A grade is simply supposed to be a measurement of understanding. We don’t move on until we reach understanding so there is no need for a measurement of how well they understand something. I love this freedom. This means that if we approach something that they are already familiar with, we can just move on. If we find something a little more challenging we can slow down.
But most important, we can follow their interests. We do a LOT of interest led learning. I’ve planned entire units around a spontaneous interest they find. For instance, all 3 boys decided that wanted to learn more about dinosaurs, so we started researching dinosaurs. They really enjoyed it and they learned a lot more than if I had said “Today you will learn about rocks…”
We have done public school and homeschool and I think we have twice as much free time when homeschooling. We are able to get our lessons done in a very reasonable amount of time giving us more time to enjoy each other as a family. We go to the park, play board games, work out, ride bikes (or scooters), go to museums and events. We go for a weekly hike with a hiking group that is so great for the boys! When they were in public school we just didn’t have time for all this stuff.
They also have more free time at home giving them the opportunity to explore things that interest them. They build with LEGO, make up games, etc. All 3 boys got together and spend hours making paths in our backyard representing a little town. Our backyard is all rock so the paths were quite clear. And then when it rained we had a little Vienna in our backyard!
Lack of Testing
I understand the idea behind standardized testing, and despite that I truly dislike it, I don’t have a good alternative to suggest. However, the amount of time allocated to testing and learning to take the test is, in my opinion, just absurd. In addition, our state has a relatively new law that all 3rd graders must pass a standardized test to pass to 4th grade. My kids don’t have any learning disabilities or test anxiety (yet) so I’m sure they would be able to pass with not much extra trouble. But because of the consequences of this test, half the 3rd grade year is learning how to take this one test. That seems like an incredible waste of time, especially at a 3rd grade level.
With homeschooling, we can skip all of the useless test taking. In high school we may have them take some classes on test taking because it is something they will need to know how to do to succeed in college (assuming they go to college). But until then, we’re not going to worry about it.
A Healthy Respect for Adults
I’m not trying to be critical of public schools here, though it may sound like it, but I feel like public schools promote an unhealthy amount of respect for teachers. Actually, it’s not even respect, it’s blind adherence. How many times have you heard of teachers who refuse to be corrected? I saw one picture going around where the teacher was wrong, the student corrected her and then received detention even though he was right! All because the teacher felt it was disrespectful and that in the future, the student should just accept what the teacher says whether it’s true or not. I do realize that this is not the norm, but it does symbolize an bigger problem. Teachers have to maintain control over 30 kids in one class. With that many kids, there had to be an overlying expectation of control. There simply isn’t time for the teacher to explain to each and every child why they have to do something, or how an action might hurt another child. Many times kids are taught to fear teachers and principals.
I don’t really support the fear of your elders notion, nor do I support that all elders must be respected. You earn respect whether you are 4, 40, or 94. I will not respect an elder that is a horrible person and I do not expect my kids to respect someone just because they are older. We tell the boys to treat others how you would want to be treated, no matter their age. Anyone who is disrespectful to you can be ignored. We all choose who we surround ourselves with.
So those are my main reasons for homeschooling. A few other things you might consider:
Am I qualified to teach my kids?
A resounding yes! Studies have shown that homeschool kids perform very well even with parents who “just” have a high school diploma. You do not need a teaching degree or even a college degree to successful teach your children.
However, I will say, you need to be dedicated. Homeschooling is not easy and it takes some time.
My kid doesn’t listen to me – Can I still teach him/her?
I hear this a lot, actually. Parents with defiant kids having trouble homeschooling or think they won’t be able to homeschool their kids. Unless you’re taking an unschooling approach, you do need to have some amount of respect and discipline. But you must have realistic expectations. In school they expect 6 year olds to sit still for hours at a time with only a few breaks throughout the day. For most kids, this is not developmentally appropriate.
My expectations is that when we are “doing school” they are actively engaged. If they get squirmy or too silly, I push them a bit longer, and then we break. We like to start our day with some exercise – a bike ride, scooter ride, run. Just something to get a bit of energy out. We also try to move while doing our lessons as much as possible. The more movement, the better my kids are engaged and learning.
So yes, you can teach your kid that won’t listen, but you also need to set up realistic expectations for both of you.
Isn’t homeschooling expensive?
It can be very expensive. I know of full curricula that costs upwards of $800 per student per year. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many free options that are wonderful, and many low cost options too. We choose our top subjects and spend what we need on them. The we choose our next more important, and so on. We feel that reading and math are the most important topics at this age, and make sure that we have enough of our funds to cover those adequately.
You can homeschool for free. I’ve been putting up some articles highly free and inexpensive ideas. My first was about math and covers some full curriculum as well as practice websites.:
Math Resources that are Free or Nearly Free
More topics will be added in the coming months. Next up is Learning to Read for Free (Or Nearly Free)
What about socialization?
This is probably the number one question homeschoolers get. What about socialization? I have ZERO concerns about socialization. First, public school is not meant for socializing and is not a good place to pick up social mores. Second, homeschoolers have more than ample opportunity to learn to interact with other people. There are all kinds of activities – sports, music, events, classes, etc. There are museums and parks you can go to. Most areas have homeschool groups that you can attend. Neighbors. Friends. Families.
Can my kid go to college?
Most certainly, YES!! More and more colleges and universities are recognizing homeschool diplomas now. As your child gets older I recommend checking with their top choices for schools and finding out their requirements.
I hate math, how can I teach it?
Of course this varies by person, some hate teaching reading. But for the most part, people are nervous about math. The good news is, there are plenty of resources available to help you! I would highly recommend Khan Academy for any topics you’re having trouble with.
If you really hate math though, buying a curriculum is probably the best course of action. Most will spell out exactly what to say and do to teach math. We personally use Singapore Math and they are very clear with what to tell your students.
My husband/wife is against homeschooling. How do I convince them?
Homeschooling works best when all parents are in agreement so I would definitely recommend putting forth effort to convince them that homeschooling is the right choice (assuming it is the right choice for you). Find out exactly what they don’t like about homeschooling and work on correcting any notions they may have that are incorrect. You can always do a trial period to show that it will work!
My family is against homeschooling. What do I do?
Many people are fearful of homeschooling and can be very vocal about it. If homeschooling is right for you but family is giving you a hard time you have a few choices. Tell them that you’ve done the research and made your decision, and they need to respect that. Tell them exactly what you don’t want to hear – like testing the kids. Yes, some well meaning grand-parents or aunts and uncles will try to quiz the kids. Just tell them NO.
If they don’t respect your wish you can either deal with it (not recommended) or take some time away from them. Toxic people do not deserve a spot in your life. And family can be toxic too.
You can also sit them down and discuss the merits of homeschooling. Try to sway them to your side using logic and reason.