You have been thinking on and off about homeschooling for far too long. You WANT to do it! …but you DON’T want to do it.
You dream of the benefits of homeschooling…and worry about it all exploding in your face…sending your child’s education track into a ditch and you to a psych ward.
You meet other homeschooling families and wish you could be a fly on their wall to see how its really done. Could you measure up? Is it true what they say that it doesn’t take that many hours a day? You feel bad doing it, but you try to find a chance to ask one of their kids how they like being homeschooled. Are they miserable? Do they love the freedom? Do they miss seeing other kids? Are they geniuses? Are they behind other kids their age?
I have 100% been you. You are the reason I started this blog. I want to help you make a decision and get your homeschool up and running if that’s what you end up choosing.
As a disclaimer I want to say that my oldest daughter went to preschool, pre-K, and a public school kindergarten before I decided to homeschool. I liked all three years and have often thought of sending a letter to the Kindergarten teacher to thank her for setting Oldest up for success in her 1st-grade year.
Nearly everybody in my family has chosen public school as their choice to educate their children and I wholeheartedly support and respect that choice. I went to public school too and I turned out just fine!
I am not writing this letter to try and change your mind from public school to homeschooling. If you are reading this and feel comfortable with your choice of schooling, then good for you!
But if you are reading this and you are unsure. You are on the fence. You think homeschooling might be best for your family…but it’s so scary that it makes you feel like all the oxygen has been sucked out of the room…then this letter is for you mama. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s face those fears one by one.
Answers to All Your Homeschooling Questions
1. Am I even qualified to teach?
Homeschool laws vary for every state, but the large majority do not require more than a high school diploma/GED in order to homeschool your children. In order to find out what your specific state laws are for homeschooling check out the Home School Legal Defense Association website.
I could not find a copy of my high school diploma anywhere, but my state was fine with accepting my college transcripts. If you don’t know where your diploma is, you can likely contact your high school and they will have it on file.
One more note on teacher qualification: You might consider that there is largely an expectation of public school parents to sit down and do homework with their kids. Much of a child’s success or failure is often attributed to how much time a parent is willing to work with their child outside of school hours…that right there to me is such a sign of qualification to teach! Nobody says, “Oh, you don’t have a teaching certificate. You could never hope to explain these worksheets to your child or help them with their spelling list.” No! You are expected as a parent to be involved and instrumental! People often do not recognize that they are already teaching their child and helping them succeed with something as simple as homework!
2. I don’t know how or what to teach!
This was one of my biggest concerns and I was just starting out with a 1st grader! People go to college to learn how to teach, how am I going to figure this out??
The world of homeschool curriculum that you can buy has exploded in recent years. There are so many resources for you to pick from that it is overwhelming! You will receive teachers manuals that will tell you what to do every day – this is referred to as the “open and go” types of curriculum.
You do not need to write your own curriculum or write out lesson plans. All of this has been done for you by professional educators. You can check out reviews for many different curriculums at this popular website.
I will tell you that I was very skeptical of how this was all going to work out – I started homeschooling in the month of July in order to leave time to register Oldest for “normal school” in case I failed. I was so surprised to find out how simple the curriculum was to follow and how much fun we were having! My daughter adamantly said she never wanted to go back to public school again!
I am pretty far from my kids being at the high school level, so I cannot personally speak to that area. I am around other moms who do homeschool high school at my co-op and I can tell you it is very possible, and I do intend to homeschool through high school myself.
There are many resources that are available these days for high school as homeschooling has become more and more popular. Look into co-ops or teaching services in your area that can cover the subjects you’re not comfortable with. There are also community colleges that will give high school credit AND college credit for completing classes. There are also many online homeschool programs that can do it all.
3. How expensive is this gonna be?
Homeschool can be nearly free to thousands of dollars a year depending on what curriculum you pick and what extracurriculars you value (music lessons, etc.) There are many free resources online for curriculum and there is also a wide variety of price ranges to fit different budgets.
You can find used curriculum on eBay, Thrift Books, Amazon, and local homeschool curriculum swaps. Lightly used books with a few accidental pencil marks can save you a lot of money!
The best advice I can give you is to not assume a curriculum is better because it costs more. I am currently using a $30 math curriculum that is beating the pants of a much more expensive one that didn’t work for us.
4. How long is this gonna take every day?
This is highly variable due to – your child’s work ethic, how old they are, your personality, how many breaks you take, what curriculum you chose, etc.
But, I’m willing to bet it will take much less time than you think it will. When you are providing one on one instruction to a student with a curriculum specifically chosen for them – it is not going to take as long as one person teaching 25 kids of varying abilities.
To give you a frame of reference, our first grader took roughly 2.5 hours a day to complete her work. She is now in 2nd grade and takes roughly 3-3.5 hours a day. That time is a mixture of independent work (reading, worksheets, writing), breaks, and me explaining new concepts.
My middle daughter just turned 5, and I do school with her when she wants to. We have a math curriculum and a reading curriculum for her. Even though we do it sporadically for about 30 minutes at a time – she is doing great with letter identification, letter sounds, sounding out simple words, consistently recognizing known words, and writing all her letters out. She is flying through her math book and continues to show she retains information even though she is not drilled daily.
One more thing I would say about the time investment is that you should consider the amount of time you will be investing helping your children with homework and projects when they get home from public school. I often hear that it can take hours of time especially as the child gets older. My kids continue to be amazed when they see the school buses go by their house. I tell them that even though we’ve been done for hours with school, they are just getting home now and likely have homework to start.
5. We already battle over homework! How am I going to get them to do all their school work at home??
This was a concern of mine too. When Oldest was in kindergarten, I remember her little worksheets, sight word flashcards, and counting to 100 drills being so tedious at the breakfast table every afternoon. I couldn’t imagine doing EVERYTHING myself if even that was a challenge.
Here is the game changer to consider though – when they get home from school, they are exhausted. It is a full-time job (7-8 hours or longer with bus times) they have just worked. And now they come home to another stack of work. Ugh!
With homeschooling, you get them fresh in the morning and the amount of time that they are actually doing work will be substantially less and there is NO homework! I think you will find it is very different than you are imagining.
I also write here about the importance of giving the student something to work towards that motivates them – as opposed to using discipline to get work completed.
6. Are my kids going to be weird?
This is what I think is the biggest fear of most undecided parents – the socialization issue. I consider it to be the biggest myth of all about homeschooling. Most people who site this as a reason to not homeschool are showing that they likely do not know anything about homeschooling and have never met a homeschooled student.
First, going to a conventional school does not mean that you are going to be super suave and develop awesome social skills. As you look back on your public school years you probably remember being really awkward, insecure, and nervous about everything. You probably also remember THAT kid who was super weird. If you don’t remember that kid…it might have been you. Ha!
But how could that be? They were in a conventional school! That is supposed to automatically make you super cool and confident, right?! How could that kid turn out weird?! You get my point? Going to a conventional school does not make you cool and homeschool does not make you weird. And there is data to back it up.
This is an amazing paper out of Stetson University that examines and compares many studies of social skills of homeschool kids. It is a fascinating read, but if you don’t have time – here is my favorite part:
“The results were striking––children attending conventional schools showed more than eight times more problem behaviors than homeschooled children. Shyers described the traditionally schooled children as “aggressive, loud, and competitive” (1992b, p. 6). In contrast, the homeschooled children acted in friendly, positive ways. He noted that they introduced themselves, initiated conversation, cooperated with others, invited uninvolved children to join them in play, took turns, let others know it was alright if they lost a game, and even “exchanged addresses and phone numbers for future contact”
The homeschoolers had better social skills?? This must be one isolated study, right? Nope. There were many other studies in the paper that showed the homeschooler to be equal to or more advanced than their peers in this area.
I don’t know how to explain these results. All I can say is that I have been around A LOT of homeschooled kids in the last 2 years and I am consistently impressed with them in all areas. I am actually so impressed that it motivates me to stay the course with homeschooling my own children.
Homeschool socialization is a myth. Period.
7. How are they going to make friends?
I actually write here that my kids have had more opportunities to spend time with friends and do social activities such as sports, scouts, co-op events, and church groups since we started homeschooling.
If you are worried about the issue of friends, that tells me it won’t be an issue. You will not isolate your kid. You will find the things they are interested in and get them involved in their community.
As a side note, I will also add that my daughter struggled a lot with the mean girl, “frenemy” issues when she was in public school (amazing that it can start so young). She has had none of those problems since joining the homeschool crowd and I am much happier with her friend choices now.
8. What about sports?
This is usually the question that comes right after the socialization question. Kids can usually be involved in sports in their community up until high school and then it does get complicated.
In my area, homeschooling is very popular, so there is actually a homeschooling league for many different sports. There are also traveling leagues available, but they can get amazingly expensive.
In your area, you may find that the local public school will still allow your child to be involved in sports despite not attending school – living in the county may be enough. I had a good friend who told me in her situation that she had to take one class at her local school and she was then able to be involved in the swim team.
None of these options may be available to you. I have to be honest with you. You need to really look at why you are even considering homeschooling. What are the benefits you are looking for with homeschooling? What are you trying to avoid from the conventional school setting? You need to ask yourself some hard questions about how important those things are and if the single issue of sports would completely tip the scales for you. That is a personal issue that only you and your family can work out.
9. Will my kids fall behind academically? How does homeschool stack up against public school?
I can give you a lot of anecdotal evidence to say they will not fall behind. But that will likely not make you feel better. I will give you one personal example then some real data.
My daughter takes a spelling test every week – similar to if she was in public school. When she misspells a word, I don’t say, “Well, I guess you didn’t get that one. Next subject.” No! We go over the test, talk about the word, break it down, rewrite it. Sometime later in the day I will ask her to write it on the board again. Do you think that happens in a public school? Of course not – there is no time to do that with every individual.
What’s my point? As a homeschooling parent, you have the ability to focus in on your child like no teacher could – providing a completely customized education focused on their success. So what does the data say?
The Washington Times published this article and here is what they said:
“…the average home-school test results continue to be 30-plus percentile points higher than their public school counterparts. In my opinion, there are two main factors for these outstanding results: the educational environment where learning takes place, and the individualized, one-on-one instruction. Most home-school students are directly taught by their parents, who love their children enough to make the sacrifice to stay at home to make sure their child is taught in a safe and loving learning environment. Second, one-on-one instruction emphasizes the best interests of the child rather than the best interests of the group. In a sentence, home-schooling is a recipe for academic success”
So that was a lot of information! I hope that at least some of your fears have been calmed and you have been give more information to make a decision for your family about homeschooling. Let me know in the comments if there are any fears I did not address – I would love to hear from you!
As I told you at the beginning of this post – it was written for you! Feel free to check out my blog for more articles about deciding to homeschool and how to get started with homeschooling – it might be more simple than you think!