I’ve been getting a lot of questions about homeschooling recently. People often seem surprised to find out that I homeschool. Perhaps I don’t look like a homeschooler? I certainly look saner than I am I’m sure. I’m well aware that I’ve always been eccentric so I’m not sure why people are so surprised by my choice to homeschool.
I’ve gotten so many questions about child discipline and homeschooling that I’ve had to rearrange my scheduled posts to push them to the front. For those of you who are only interested in the crochet posts, don’t worry they’re still coming.
If after reading this post you decide you want to look further into homeschooling contact your school liaison if you have one. The HSLDA is full of legal information based on your state and laws in the US in general as well as other helpful tidbits. Also look into local homeschooling groups. The leader/s will be able to answer questions and point you in the right directions.
There are two questions that I’m often asked that tie for number one spot:
- Isn’t it hard
- How do you not kill each other
It can be hard especially if you and your child go into it with a negative perception of it or if one or both of you feel as if it’s not ‘real work’. And yes, you will have a hard time at first. Both of you will need a period of adjustment; this can take months if you’re both stubborn, I speak from experience on this one. But it’s not impossible. Firm discipline, for both of you, and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish is key.
With the start of summer in the norther hemisphere, now would be a good time to give it a test run. Pick one or two subjects you want to explore during the summer and pick a few days out of the week. It can be just one day to five, for only an hour a day or for four hours a day. Have clear expectations. Example: you want to study science once a week for two hours.
After that you find tools online or in the library to assist you in that goal. You don’t even need to make a curriculum past that if you don’t desire. Week one could be dinosaurs and week two could be electricity. Learning is important, not how you learn, as long as it works for you. My son is very hands on so we do lots of science experiments. He made a rocket in first grade for a science fair and was very disappointed when I explained I didn’t have the funding or permission to build a real one!
After reassuring people that things do slip into place after a rough start I’m asked everything and anything.
- Isn’t it expensive
- Isn’t it illegal
- Don’t only crazy religious people homeschool
- Don’t you need a lot of tools
- Aren’t lesson plans hard to make
- I’m not a teacher I won’t know where to begin!
- They won’t get any socialization
- I don’t have the space
1. Homeschooling is only as expensive as you make it. Seriously. I know a lot of homeschoolers who spend over 400$ on curriculum and look forward to it every year. However, it can be as free as a library. Your local library is a wealth of knowledge and it’s very rare in my experience to have unhelpful staff. A computer or tablet is a great learning tool, if you have one, but all you really need is paper and a pencil. You can find old texts and supplies online and through local homeschooling swaps.
2. As for legality you need to research your country and state. All fifty states in the US allow homeschooling, however, the requirements are not universal. In Texas you do not need to register your child for homeschooling and require no notice of beginning as long as your child isn’t registered in a school. In Arizona you need to register an intent to homeschool within thirty days then they’re hands off. In Washington I’ve been told multiple things from ‘They wanted me to take a college class to be able to homeschool’ to ‘I was able to without a problem since it was the middle of the year when we moved there’. From what I’ve heard from other homeschoolers Washington and New York have the toughest homeschool laws, but it’s not impossible.
Outside of the US it depends on the country. Germany and Italy have strict anti-homeschooling laws. If you live in a country that doesn’t allow homeschooling and wish to, don’t. Work to change the laws using grass roots methods, petitions, ect. Never start homeschooling where it is illegal. If you feel that strongly about homeschooling your child, work to change the law or move out of the country if possible.
3. While I have met people with strong religious views who homeschool I’ve met no fanatics that homeschool. Well, correction, haven’t since I’ve started homeschooling. My grandmother lived in a neighborhood that was full of religious fanatics when I was growing up. That’s a story for another time involving people not believing in doctors and God living in the gingerbread house down the street.
In general homeschoolers tend to choose homeschooling because of a few reasons though it’s certainly not limited to:
- they were homeschooled
- inadequate schools
- special needs child
- the child is significantly ahead/behind the rest of the class
- wanting to add religion to the curriculum
- feel the schools are too biased/propaganda
4. People tend to think that you need tons of things to homeschool. You need white boards, textbooks, computers, science equipment and even school desks and more. If you want them, then go for it. I don’t have a white board and wonder if it’d fit in my car if I bought one. We do have a computer and it’s very helpful. One of the best math sites I found is Khan Academy. I adore this site. It teaches math from telling time all the way up to calculus and matrices. It rewards kids with points to buy avatars and badges that can be shared on Twitter and Facebook. The site goes beyond math and has videos for other subjects as well. If you have a free moment explore it for yourself if not for your kid.
5. Lesson plans are not necessary. Helpful, yes. Necessary, no. I don’t use a lesson plan because I suck at writing them. If you’d like a lesson plan there are free ones online written by teachers and downloadable for homeschoolers. If you decide to purchase a curriculum they will often come with a lesson plan guide.
6. So, you’re not a teacher? That’s okay. I only have a high school education and I do just fine. To start homeschooling you want to start at the beginning. What are the laws for my area? What resources do they have? What public or school services am I entitled to? Contact a school liaison and local homeschoolers for the best help. Once you know who to talk to they can help you from there. Everyone’s schooling style is different and that’s okay too.
7. A common concern is that the children won’t be socialized. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. Homeschoolers tend to flock together. Which makes sense; you go on field trips together, have meetings together, have co-op together and share the same general interests. Most homeschoolers I know are involved in local charities and outreach programs. When you get all your work done in six hours, or often less, you have a whole world to explore.
8. I don’t have the space is also a common concern. You don’t need student desks or fancy tables or even an entire room dedicated to homeschooling. Nate’s ‘study’ is in our indoor storage room. Yup, you read right. We have a large storage room in the hallway that has outlets, a skylight and a light. We plopped his desk in there and he’s a happy camper. Don’t limit yourself to a dedicated space though. There’s nothing wrong with your child working while sitting on the couch, preferably with the tv off. Our favorite location to homeschool? Starbucks of course!
Learning is more than what you can learn in a classroom. Homeschoolers are possibly one of the most diverse groups of children out there. They have tons of time for extracurricular activities and their parents don’t have to worry about them burning out at an early age trying to juggle eight hours of school with another two or more for sports.
Some of the benefits I’ve noticed the last few years with people who homeschool are:
- better behaved children (It’s hard to misbehave with mom or dad watching you all the time)
- more socially aware and active children (lots of homeschoolers fill their time with community projects; nursing home visits, cleaning parks, ect. This also allows parents to interact with other adults)
- thinner children? (oddly enough I’ve very rarely seen an overweight child who is homeschooled)
- better educated (being able to work at your own pace is a Godsend. Nate’s behind in reading but ahead in math and no one is around to make him feel bad about it or try to sweep the problem under the rug)
- year round or summers off (we take vacations only when my husband does but many people chose to take the summer off)
- better adjusted children (in a family that homeschools parents are often readily accessible and quick to notice issues with their child’s mental and emotional health)
Not sure you want to home school but are disenchanted with pubic and private school? There are ways around that too. K12 is the program we recently started using. My son loves being able to talk to other kids and the teacher using Blackboard Collaborate. I’m sure there are other similar programs out there. Though k12 does break during summer you can keep working if you so choose.
If you chose to homeschool or not the best thing you can do for your child is find the educational style that works for your family. A happy child is a happy learner.