Top 20 important things to consider before homescholing

Homeschooling can be the perfect opportunity for children to learn at their own pace and for families to develop strong bonds with each other. However, it’s a very big commitment, and it’s important to think things through before you make the leap. Consider the following points and ask yourself if homeschooling is really right for your family.

The Laws in Your State

Homeschooling laws vary greatly by state, with some being more “homeschool-friendly” than others. For instance, in Alabama, you have to notify the state that you’re homeschooling just once, then have no other specific requirements to meet. In New York, though, you have to notify the school district once a year, meet certain subject requirements, and have your child pass an annual assessment once he reaches third grade. Some states have rules about the qualification of the parent. ProPublica offers an easy-to-understand breakdown of the laws.

Your Reasons for Homeschooling

Think about why you want to homeschool. People might choose homeschooling because of bullying, because the child is working above or below grade level, for religious reasons, or just because they don’t want their child sitting at a desk all day. Everyone has their own personal reasons, but defining yours can help you stick to the plan.

The Local Homeschooling Community

The local homeschooling community will offer social connections for your child and support for you. Research the options in your area. Ask how active they are and what type of activities they do. Those who live in cities will likely have more options than those who live in rural areas. A strong homeschooling community can provide you with the confidence you need to make the move.

Who Will Be Responsible for the Schooling

Young children will require direct instruction. Older children may only require supervision. Some homeschooling families hire tutors to cover certain subject areas. Think about who’s going to be responsible for your child’s education. It doesn’t have to all fall on one parent. You can divide the work with your spouse.

As of late, there have been great development in homeschooling that allow you a bit more freedoms. If you have an inlaw or au pair available, the power of the internet and well written curriculums make it a bit more possible for them to be the teacher. They simply follow a easy to implement curriculum.

Your Family’s Finances

In most cases, homeschooling requires at least one parent to be home during the day. Can your family survive on one income? Can one parent work from home? Are you able to work alternate shifts? Don’t let limited funds be the reason to not teach from home. Many homeschooling families make it work some way, but it can require some sacrifices. You’ll have to figure out what situations will work best for your family.

Additional School Expenses

There are a lot of free resources available, but you’ll probably have to spend some money on the tools your child needs to learn. Whether it’s text books, math manipulatives, craft supplies, or a dissecting kit, those costs can really start to add up. It’s easy to feel frustrated spending money on the types of things that children in school get for free.

Additional Activity Expenses

Many families thinking about homeschooling don’t realize how much extra you might have to pay for your child to have the same opportunities that she’d have in school. Children in school are often able to participate in sports, act in the school play, or take up a musical instrument at no or little cost to the parent. As a homeschooler, you’ll have to find special instructors for these types of things – and pay a lot of money for your child to participate.

Your Child’s Personality

How does your child learn best? Some children are happy to sit at a desk and do worksheets. Others need to move around. Some children are homebodies while others want to be surrounded by people. Some children are eager, self-directed learners while others would play video games all day long if they could. Some children push back against a parent’s authority while respecting the authority of other adults. This can affect your day-to-day life, and you’ll have to find methods that work for your child.

Your Personality

Surprisingly, your personality can play a big role in homeschooling success. Do you like routines? Will you be able to change your plans if that’s what your child needs? Do you truly enjoy being around your children all the time or do you value quiet time for yourself? While being great for the children, homeschooling can put a lot of stress on the parents. You need to know yourself to make it work for the family.

Your Homeschooling Style

People homeschool in many different ways. Some people follow a “school-at-home” style. They have a set schedule that they follow, similar to a typical classroom schedule. Other people are “unschoolers.” These people believe that children learn through living, and that they’ll pick up important skills once they see the value in these skills. Most people, though, have some balance between the two.

Where Your Child Can Find Friends

Children need friends, and most kids meet their friends in school. If you choose to homeschool, where can your child find her friends? Those living in a neighborhood with a lot of kids might not have problems. Their children can play with the other kids when they get home from school. You can also find friends through homeschooling groups, but you’ll have to look around to find groups that are a good fit for your child.

What Curriculum You’ll Use

Parents have a lot of choices when it comes to curriculum. There are some programs that are completely online. You can also buy an all-in-one program that comes with everything you’ll need for the year. Some people buy a math program from one company and a language arts program from another one. Each of these has different merits. Eclectic Homeschooling has a list of curriculum that matches different homeschooling philosophies. Use it as a starting point for you.

How to Cover All the Basics

One of the best parts of homeschooling is that your child is able to learn at her own pace. However, you still probably want a bit of assurance that she’s “on target,” especially if you live in a state that requires certain subjects or annual assessments. World Book shows you a “Typical Course of Study” for each grade level. You don’t have to follow it to the letter, but it can be a helpful resource. Alternatively, E.D. Hirsch Jr has a series of books about what a child should know at each grade level called “What Your __ Grader Needs to Know.”

Local Learning and Social Opportunities

Naturally, you’ll want social and group learning opportunities for your child. Take some time to check out what’s available. Homeschoolers often put together learning co-ops on their own, but you might find classes at local museums as well. Homeschooler might also arrange meet-up days at local parks or museums. Remember that if you don’t see something that you want, you can always start it on your own as well.

How Far You Can Go

As a parent-teacher, you’ll be responsible for guiding your child and making sure that he covers everything he needs. At the high school level, things may start to get a bit hard for you, especially if you’re not a “math person” or you don’t speak a foreign language. Understand your limitations and recognize that there may come a time when you have to hire a special tutor for your child if you continue to homeschool.

Where You Can Hold “School”

Spend some time on Pinterest, and you’ll soon see that there are homeschoolers out there with dedicated learning rooms that will put your corner of the dining room table to shame. Think about the design of your home and where your child will be able to do her school work. You don’t need a dedicated room, but you might need a dedicated space to store supplies.

What Your Child Might Miss Out On

While there are plenty of great things about homeschooling, it’s important to at least think about some of the things that your child might miss out on. He may not have daily interactions with kids, opportunities to work on group projects, or the chance to play an instrument in a band. He might miss out on some of those classic school events, like homecoming or prom. Most people who choose to homeschool feel that the benefits outweigh these minor details, but there’s a good chance that your child won’t have many of the same experiences that a lot of children have.

What Your Child Can Gain From Homeschooling

On the other hand, you’ll also want to think about what your child can gain from homeschooling. She’ll be able to develop a close relationship with you and understand how much you support her. She’ll be able to spend less time doing “busy work” and more time focusing on the things she really wants to do. Homeschooling opens up opportunities as well.

Whether You’re Willing to Step Up

As a homeschooling parent, you have to become a fierce advocate for your child. In some cases, this might mean stepping out of your comfort zone and becoming a leader. If your child is into science, for instance, you might need to start a science group and be the person who directs the activities. You might need to volunteer to be the Scout leader or the person who organizes the annual ski group. Many of these things require extra planning time on your part as well.

Can Your Child Meet His or Her Goals?

Whether at school or at home, the whole point of an education is to help your child meet his or her goals. In some ways, homeschooling is the perfect solution. It might allow her to spend extra time at the gym working on gymnastics skills for that shot at the Olympics. It might allow him to spend hours practicing guitar, helping him reach his goal of being a professional musician. On the other hand, a child with more traditional goals like being a doctor or going to Harvard might find that they’re not getting the full breadth of knowledge that they need.

Homeschooling your child is an important decision. For many, it’s the best solution to meet their child’s needs, but it’s also a lot of work for the parents. When you’ve carefully thought about what homeschooling means for your family, you’ll soon be able to see whether it’s the right solution for you.


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