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I think in the last year, the whole world has seriously looked into the question of whether or not homeschooling is right for them. Many decided to jump feet in for health fears and many decided to jump in because they had no choice. This has left a large group, frustrated and at odds with whether or not to continue. Over the last year, I have spoken to so many moms, who have felt dejected because they simply didn’t know what they were getting into. The fact is, deciding to home school is not simply waking up and saying I want to do this. It is a serious family decision and all family members need to be on board. When deciding to home school these are the beginning questions you should ask yourself.
Do I like spending all my time with my kids?
This is probably the biggest hurdle some mothers cross when deciding to homeschool. Gone are the days of lunch dates, afternoon breaks, workouts at the gym. Your kids will always be with you. Let me repeat that, your kids will always be with you. Most homeschool families love this. This is the exact reason they begin their journey into homeschooling. A homeschool mom loves hanging out with her kids and dreads sending them away for 8 hours a day to a school. She craves the family around the table and desires to cook, shop and explore the world together. It creates an amazing family unit. It is also exhausting and for many moms the number one reason they feel overwhelmed. It is very important to reflect on your personality before beginning. Are you introverted? If so, you need to discuss with your spouse a plan for you to recharge frequently. Are you an extrovert? Then you need to find groups that your kids can tag along too but you get energy from. Joining the Y, Co ops, Church groups, nature groups, library, etc. It doesn’t matter just make sure you are leaving the house and getting energy from others around you. Whatever your personality is, you can be successful homeschooling as long as you remember your needs matter too.
Can I afford it?
There are many angles to answering this question. 1. Our world is largely built on a two person income. Homeschooling in many situations requires one person’s full attention and time and becomes a full time career that doesn’t come with a paycheck. Yes, there are options for two working people but don’t think for a moment that it’s not hard. 2. Curriculums can be cheap, free, low cost or hyper expensive. When you choose homeschool, how you choose to homeschool will be important. If you want to follow a classical or montessori approach, it can easily become very expensive in materials. Going forward with your eyes open and having honest conversations on what this means is important. Are you willing to give up family vacations, are you okay stepping out of career for the next 10-20 years? What will retirement look like for you and your spouse if you do this. How much is the cost of the curriculum you want to follow, what other lifestyles changes might you choose to explore?
Many homeschoolers, lifestyle fits around homeschooling. There is road schooling, where you travel via RV around the country and learn. There is world schooling, which is simply traveling the world and learning. There is cyber schooling, which is being tied to a computer and a curriculum and other teachers. And there are millions of options in between. Before you commit, research your educational options, pick your educational philosophy and plan out the costs, from loss of income, loss of pension (401k contributions), cost of supplies and change in lifestyle.
Do I want to be fully responsible for my children’s education?
This may seem like a basic statement, but I can’t tell you how often I talk to other homeschool moms, and they express the burden of being solely responsible for the full education of a child. This is a huge undertaking! When your kid doesn’t know the answer to 2-2, there is no one else to call up and complain too. You are it and you teach it all. You teach manners, religion, dress code, virtues, timilness, focus, grocery shopping, budgeting, cooking, animal care,reading, writing, math, science, social studies and everything else! Every day, every moment becomes a teaching moment and you’re always on.
Why am I homeschooling?
This is so important. One day, your kids will wake up and want to get on that super cool yellow bus. Just like other kids will dream about sleeping in and learning at the kitchen table. Either way, when your kid comes to you and says, I want to go to school…will you let them? Why did you decide to keep them home, is it bigger than how they are feeling on a particular day? Is it bigger than how you feel on a particular day! Some days, you won’t want to be both mom/dad and teacher…is your why strong enough to push through the hard? Is it strong enough to explain why we won’t be riding the fancy yellow bus and it isn’t as cool as it looks. Over the years, your why may change and that’s okay. There may be years you don’t have a why and those are the years to send them to school. But when you have a strong why, it can carry you through all the hard.
Can I offer better
This was the ultimate deciding factor for me and my family. As my son entered preschool, I toured 17 different options located in my area. Yes, I did a lot of tours. But at the end of each tour I was left disappointed. I sat in preschools that were located in basements with no natural light. Why send my child to a grey dingy room for 4 hours when he could be in a light filled space at home. I visited a preschool, where each day the center you had to play at was assigned to you. Where was the following of interests and creativity? I went to a beautiful school where there were 20 kids per one teacher, and no one got any attention. Why, put my son in a school where everyone was too overworked to focus on him and his needs? My list went on, no Bible curriculum? No actual curriculum period, too strict, too loose, too cluttered, too basic. It finally hit me that I knew exactly what he needed and I was built to provide that. Not because I am a master educator, or because we have unlimited funds (we don’t), but because he is mine. I know him, I know his heart, I know what he needs, why he thinks the way he does, what makes his heart sing. I know the encouragement he needs, the space he needs, the play he needs to be successful. I know when to push him and when to back off. I know this because I am his mother, and I love him more than anyone else ever will. So yes, I could offer better. I would offer better and if for some reason I couldn’t one year or for multiple years, then I can find the option that does.
In conclusion, there are many things to think about when deciding if homeschooling is the right decision for you. Choosing to or not to home school does not make you a better mom or parent. What makes you the best parent, is choosing what is best for you family. Over the last year, we have all been thrown some curve balls. As such, we have made rapid decisions that aren’t always thought out. Taking time to think through all your options will bring you peace in whatever decision you make!