When I first decided to homeschool my son, I had SO many questions, and not a lot of time to consider them. I was what you might call an “accidental homeschooler” – I never planned to homeschool, I never thought I wanted to homeschool, and the idea of homeschooling caught me completely by surprise.
Heck, two weeks before I became a homeschool mom, I can remember telling two of my friends, “I’m sure it’s a great idea and all, but y’all are nuts.” (Yes, I live in the South.)
My son had been in a private school since preschool, and he absolutely loved it. When he found out that they were closed for Christmas break, he practically organized a protest (I kid you not). When he was 6, we moved, and he had to start a new school…one that didn’t work nearly as well.
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When he came home crying his eyes out on the first day of school, begging me to homeschool him, a wild ride began. I had questions, alright…lots of questions.
Things to Consider before Homeschooling
Deciding to homeschool is a big decision, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices and responsibilities. You’ve made a decision to take charge of your children’s education, and you might wonder if you’re qualified to teach them. (In case you’re wondering, the answer is “yes” – promise!)
Even though these questions may be swirling around in your head, please know that you are not alone. Many parents have these same worries and thoughts as they determine that homeschooling may be the best fit for their family. (I sure did!)
Here are some of the questions I found to be really important, as well as some answers, tips, and tricks that I learned over the years.
Homeschooling doesn’t take as much time as teaching in a classroom, but it does have a time commitment factor. Homeschooling doesn’t mean that you have to be your child’s only teacher for every single subject, but it does mean that you are in charge of planning their options and seeing them through.
There are so many options open to homeschoolers today that it can become a little overwhelming at times. Which method should you choose, and which curriculum? Should you use a co op, online classes, or keep everything in-house? Should you go with a literature-based curriculum, organize projects, or stick with textbooks?
The options are almost endless. (Good news though…I have some easy-to-use beginner’s guides to help you out. They’re linked at the bottom of this post!)
By the way…if you’re looking for a planner to help you keep all of this straight, I have one I think you’ll love. And it’s free right now!
As with any choice, there is a financial impact to consider. If your kids are younger, one parent will likely need to stay home to raise and teach them. While this is an amazing thing to do (I’m thankful I did!), it does tend to put a crimp in the family budget.
In addition, you will probably need to purchase some curriculum and school supplies. There are some great free options out there, but be aware that what “free curriculum” is rarely actually free.
What you don’t spend in money, you make up in planning, prep, and teaching time. Much of the reason curriculum costs money is because someone’s already done the research, planning, and prep necessary to give you something that is literally “open and go.”
There are definitely ways to get past this. There are tons of opportunities to get free units, notebooking packs, and other resources (I’ve got several in my shop), and you can find some amazing sales and curriculum bundle specials throughout the year.
You can also find resources in some very unexpected places. I’ve found college textbooks for $2 at my library book sale!
If you need to bring in some extra income, you can also find work from home jobs that may work for your schedule. If you’re a morning person and enjoy teaching, VIPKid might be a choice you’ll want to check out. You may also enjoy looking into options available as a Virtual Assistant, since you can often choose your own hours and specialties. This is what I do – you can see the range of options available at my VA site!
The Socialization Question
One of the big questions that keeps popping up when families consider homeschooling is socialization. If your kids are at home all the time, how will they ever learn to socialize?
The thing is though, this really isn’t something that even needs to be asked anymore. 30 years ago, sure…homeschooling wasn’t even legal in every state back then. If a family homeschooled in a state that didn’t allow it, of course they had to stay inside. They had to hide away.
Today, though, there are so many social opportunities for homeschoolers that it’s impossible to take advantage of all of them. When my son was 9, he actually made me promise that I wouldn’t sign him up for anything more without his approval…he was involved in so many “social opportunities” that we weren’t home long enough to do school. (True story!)
There are some really positive social aspects about homeschooling that you may want to consider. First, your child isn’t likely to be stuck only with kids their age, from their neighborhood or ZIP code, 8 hours a day for most of the year. They’ll get the chance to socialize with actual society – people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests.
In addition, you rarely hear tales of homeschool bullies, cliques, or gangs. These elements still exist, and your kids will still have to learn how to work with people they may not like, but the very nature of homeschooling really cuts down on bullying and cliques. Homeschoolers tend to be a pretty independent bunch, each doing their own thing and accepting that everyone around them does the same.
This has a lot of benefits later on in life!
While the decision to homeschool is ultimately yours, there are a lot of benefits to discussing it with your children. They probably have as many questions as you do!
Your kids may be like mine – begging to homeschool from the start – or they may be hesitant to start. Maybe they’re scared they won’t have friends, or they may not see how “school” can happen without a classroom. They might just have reservations about trying something new.
These are all valid concerns, and keeping an open dialog with your kids from the start can head off a lot of issues. You can even get them involved in picking out what and how they want to learn – here’s how we did it!
What’s Your Why?
What can I say? I saved the best for last.
Knowing your “why” really is key. Homeschooling is basically parenting with academics thrown in. As such, there are days that it’s going to be the biggest blessing, and there are days you’re going to wonder why you took it on in the first place. (Fortunately, there will likely be many more good days than bad!)
Knowing your why, your reason and purpose for homeschooling, will carry you through the times of uncertainty and overwhelm. However, it will also help you navigate all the choices that are open to you. Rather than falling prey to “shiny object syndrome,” you’ll find it much easier to choose the options that are likely to work best for your family.
I hope these questions help! If you have any questions that I haven’t addressed here, please ask in the comments or in my Facebook group. I’m glad you’re here, and I’m here to help!