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Thinking of Homeschooling? First, Do This

If you've never homeschooled before, you may be wondering how it's different from school at home--is there really that much difference?

In a word, Yes. While I would strongly encourage you to implement all of the strategies in my recent posts (start here), there are a few things that you should think through very seriously before deciding to homeschool.

First, you are the teacher. This doesn't mean facilitating the teacher's lesson plans, it means planning the lessons, and deciding how best to convey them to your child. As the teacher, you'll be setting the objectives, choosing the curriculum and materials, keeping track of progress, and, depending on what's being studied and the age of the student, being physically present much more than you would in the school-at-home scenario.

A major advantage of homeschooling is the flexibility to go at the pace of the student. This is great if you have a learner who is highly motivated and tends to move through material quickly, or if you have a learner who struggles a bit, and might need more time to process concepts than others.

It can be a serious challenge, however, when you have a child who dawdles, resists, or outright refuses to follow your instructions, because guess what? You are also the disciplinarian. If you can't get your child to do the work, the work does not get done.

Add to this responsibility the fact that you may have other children--younger or older, homeschooling or schooling online--for whom you are also responsible, as well as continuing to keep things running smoothly in your home. This will be something to carefully examine with your spouse: Will he be working from home? Will you share responsibility in these areas, and if so, how will that look? Will you share teaching responsibilities? Clarify these things before deciding to move forward.

I promise I'm not trying to scare you out of doing it, but you need to be realistic and honest with yourself. Countless families homeschool every year, and absolutely LOVE it! I was a homeschool mom for ten years, and I loved it! But there is a lot to consider.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Why am I considering homeschooling? Possible answers:

    • I don't have to pay tuition/The kids are all home anyway, I might as well teach them myself/I'm worried about COVID, and don't want them at school.

    • My older child is having video school and I want to keep my preschooler busy.

    • I'm absolutely thrilled at the prospect of teaching my child!

    • I loved playing school as a child, and can't wait to make a bulletin board!

    • This is a great opportunity for me to instill values/Christian teaching in my kids--the school doesn't offer this.

    • My husband wants me to--it's his idea.

A few months in, when the "new" wears off, you'll need to remind yourself of why you're doing this--some of these reasons will serve you better than others.

Homeschooling will affect other aspects of life as well:

  • Am I ok with things in the house maybe not being as neat and tidy as before?

  • Am I confident in leading my children? And are they attentive/obedient to me?

  • How will my infant/toddler fit in?

  • Is my husband on board with this? How will this affect our relationship?

  • Do I have paid employment I am also responsible for?

  • Am I willing to carry the responsibility for my child's education?

Be as honest with yourself as you can. Carefully evaluate your motives, your family situation, and your own strengths and weaknesses; talk to friends who have done it successfully, look up some homeschool websites and see what is available as far as curriculum is concerned. Be sure you understand the requirements of your state.

Once you've considered this option as realistically as you can, decide, yes or no. If your answer is no, let it go. There is no shame in admitting it's not for you! Focus on the education you've chosen and give it your best. Enjoy the advantages of the option you've chosen.

If your answer is yes, you want to homeschool, commit to it and don't look back. Join a support group, find the curriculum that you believe is best suited to your needs, and start planning. If possible, find a mentor--someone who's already been through this journey and is willing to coach you along. This kind of support is crucial to your success and mental health.

And . . . follow the tips in my next post!

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