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If you’ve ever considered homeschooling your kids as a better option for your family, it was likely because you noticed something lacking in your child’s public or private school experience. The decision to homeschool – for those coming to it from a brick-and-mortar school perspective – often comes as the result of a challenge your child is facing. If this is you, and you wonder if you should homeschool your kids, the answer is multi-faceted.
If you feel as though homeschooling is a better option than what you and your child are currently experiencing, then yes, homeschooling is likely the right decision. The question then becomes: do you and your children have the right mindset about what homeschooling is and what it takes to make it work?
Here we address the question of whether or not you should homeschool your kids, and also discuss several reasons why you might want to become a homeschooling family.
photo courtesy iStock.com/fizkes
Should You Homeschool Your Kids?
Your ideas about what education is and how learning happens can help determine whether or not homeschooling is the right decision for your family. The following can offer a starting point to help you decide if you should homeschool your kids or whether you are better off trying to make brick-and-mortar school work.
You Believe That Learning Happens Everywhere
Homeschooling families have a positive mindset around education. They recognize that learning happens all the time. Humans are always learning, at every stage of life. Homeschooling doesn’t always look the way we’ve pictured it in our minds in the past – seated around a kitchen table with students diligently poring over textbooks. While some families have a dedicated homeschool room, homeschooling can sometimes appear messy. It can take place in any and every room in the house, often outdoors in nature, and sometimes even in the car on the way to a doctor’s appointment. If you’re able to recognize that learning doesn’t have to fit into a neat little box, you’re well on your way to homeschool success.
You are Flexible and Willing to Chase Rabbit Trails
Homeschooling parents enjoy diving deep into a subject if their child shows an interest. Homeschooling is not just reading from a book, answering questions at the end of a chapter, and scoring well on a test, rinse and repeat. True learning occurs when a person is so immersed in the material that they are able to make connections to their everyday lives. If you’re not afraid of chasing rabbit trails when your child shows interest, or you are willing to back off a concept your child is struggling with and come back to it later, then should you homeschool your kids? Yes, by all means! Flexibility is a key trait of a successful homeschooling parent.
You Have Time and Energy to Spare
Traditional homeschooling, which includes a curriculum that you as the parent-teacher monitor, is vastly different from a virtual online school. It is also quite different from programs like Time4Learning and ABCMouse, which some homeschooling families use to supplement their learning.
If you’re unprepared for the time and work that goes into traditional homeschooling, it could put a strain on your relationship with your child. It takes time to settle into the ‘parent as teacher’ role for both you and your child. Becoming comfortable with this new dynamic is not always easy at first.
You Truly Enjoy Being Around Your Kids
Homeschooling, as a general rule, is time-consuming. It can also be draining for parents who are used to the public school experience. You’ll find yourself surrounded by and with your kids a lot more than usual. Are you prepared to be around your child, day in and day out? We all love our children; it’s just important to consider that you need to make an effort to implement breaks from being ‘on’ all the time.
If this worries you, rest assured, parents have been making this work for years. According to a study by the National Home Education Research Institute – the premier homeschooling research authority – between 4 and 5 million families in the United States were homeschooling in 2019. Families figure out a way to make it work. Finding time to recharge as a homeschooling parent is important. Providing opportunities for your child to get out and interact with other parents as teachers and chances to socialize with other children are also important to the well-being of your family.
You Recognize That There is a Financial Component to Homeschooling
Homeschooling can be done frugally but it can also be more expensive than public school. If you choose to use curriculum – and some families, like those who unschool, may not use a standard curriculum – understand that it can get expensive. Finding a curriculum that works for your family tends not to be a one-and-done situation. It often takes some time before you’re able to find exactly the right fit. Because remember: each child learns differently. The beauty of homeschooling is that if you have multiple children, you can tailor their learning to their own individual styles. But that can also be a detriment; books and supplies can add up.
There is another financial component to homeschooling that many families fail to consider when first starting out. Not only are you paying for supplies like curriculum, but often, to make the learning engaging and fun for your children, purchasing supplies for hands-on activities and experiments comes into play. Additionally, museum memberships and co-op classes within your community factor into the cost of homeschooling.
Of course, as mentioned, how you spend money in your homeschool is completely up to you. There are plenty of curriculum options that are indeed free, and chances are you can find several free or inexpensive activities in your community. The library is always a great resource and many museums offer complimentary admission days throughout the year. You can homeschool inexpensively, but often – especially when first starting out – there are costs to consider.
You’re Willing to Make a Commitment to Homeschooling
Some families give up after just one year of homeschooling. They’ll pass it off as a fail for their family when in actuality, they may have given up too quickly. Expectations may have been too high. The child may not have adjusted to the new dynamic. Perhaps the parent was not in the proper mindset to make it successful. Committing to homeschool for at least two years provides some buffer room to allow you to figure things out along the way.
The first year rarely goes according to plan. Truth be told, often families are still changing things up 5 and 10 years into their homeschooling venture. Kids’ needs tend to change over the years. What isn’t working now may be just what they need in two years. Homeschooling requires a bit of trial and error. Knowing and understanding that there will be ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and good and bad, is key.
Reasons You Should You Homeschool Your Kids
So you’ve determined that you do, indeed, have the proper mindset to begin homeschooling. You understand that it may take more than a year to figure out if this is for you. You recognize that there are hidden costs associated with homeschooling. Finally, both you and your children have the bandwidth necessary to jump in and begin learning alongside one another. With those key factors out of the way, here are some of the reasons you should homeschool your kids:
- Homeschooling affords your child the rest and healthy mindset they need to thrive.
- Homeschooling can strengthen your relationship with your child and increase family bonds.
- You get to be your child’s main influence shaping their values, character, and world view.
- Your child can develop and learn at their own individual pace.
- Children have the time and space to pursue activities that are meaningful to them.
- Homeschooling frees up your reliance on a public school calendar; you can visit Disney in the slow season!
These, of course, are just a small sample of the myriad benefits of homeschooling your kids. The choice is a very individual one. In fact, the right choice may be different even for children from the same household.
While you should give it some time before dismissing it as something that doesn’t work for your family, there’s no rule book that says you must commit to it indefinitely.
You are free to move back to a virtual online or brick-and-mortar school public or private school any time you’re ready. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can do it your way. You can proceed in whichever way works best for your family and if something needs to change, you can do so at your discretion.
If you are ready to jump into homeschooling, you’ll want to read how to get started with homeschooling so you can get things started off on a positive note.
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