First of all, some reassurance and then a caveat. The reassurance: as a former homeschooler, I can tell you that we turn out okay. I’m fully socialized. Yes, I often wore my pajamas while I completed my schoolwork each day, but I still went to college. The caveat: homeschooling is a great option for many families, but it’s not for every family.
If you are one of the many parents considering homeschooling in the fall, know that the road to home education doesn’t have to be fraught with anxieties and frustration. Even as familiar with homeschooling as we are, my husband and I had a lot of questions as we processed what homeschooling would look like for our family. That’s normal. It’s a big decision and a big undertaking, one that requires both some self-examination and some research. But it can also be the best decision you could make for your family.
Here are some suggestions for getting started on your own homeschooling journey:
Know your “why”.
Why are you choosing to homeschool? For many, homeschooling allows for more individualized education, one made to suit a student’s particular learning needs. This allows for gaps in learning, accelerated learners, and everything in between. For some, it’s a matter of practicality. Not everyone lives in a good school district. Not everyone can afford private school. For others, the decision to homeschool is grounded in a desire to be fully involved in helping your child(ren) learn. It can also be a combination of many factors. Just know why you’re choosing to homeschool.
Do your homework.
What are your state’s legal requirements for homeschooling? Check into co-ops and other local homeschooling resources. Be warned that your initial forays into curriculum and homeschooling methods may feel like you’re trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose; it can be more than overwhelming because there are a LOT of resources out there. But take heart and be encouraged: yes, there are a lot of resources, but that means there are a lot of options that are going to help you be a great home educator. As a starting point, consider your child: how does he or she learn best?
Find your people.
Reach out to your homeschooling friends. Ask them questions (we love to answer them!). If you’re interested in a particular homeschooling method or curriculum, find other home educators who are using those methods, that curriculum. Look for relevant groups on Facebook. The internet is your oyster when it comes to finding those who will inform and encourage you every step of the way.
Make homeschooling work for you.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that home education must look a certain way or be done in a specific manner. That’s the beauty of homeschooling: it can be tailored to meet the needs of each specific family and student. A parent with a first grader and a preschooler is going to approach homeschooling differently than a parent with a ninth-grader. Know what you and your children need and build everything else around that. Also, homeschooling doesn’t mean being stuck at home all day with your kids (unless that’s what you want!). For many of us, a typical day is punctuated by trips to the library, outings to a museum, and music lessons. We participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. Homeschoolers go places, see people, and do things.
Give yourself some grace (and some credit).
At the end of the day, most of us feel inadequate when it comes to homeschooling. Me, teach?! you may think. I don’t know how to teach! And while you may not have an education degree, you do know your child; you know what they need to learn. And what you don’t know, you can learn yourself.