With so many families joining the world of homeschooling, I thought I would revisit this post that I wrote several years ago. If you’re feeling the pressure to create a homeschooling environment that looks or feels a certain way, I hope this post breaths a little sigh of relief into your heart.
Our Homeschool Journey
Our homeschool journey has taken dips and curves. As a second generation homeschooler (meaning, I was homeschooled and now homeschool my kids), I started off with a good understanding of how homeschooling works. I didn’t need to overcome any fears, because I had been homeschooled myself and I loved it. My independent and creative side thrived in the homeschooling environment. I took classes at the community college during high school and graduated with my first year of college classes done.
My husband on the other hand, went to public school. We decided pretty early on that we would prayerfully consider our options each year and choose what was best for each child. Last year, we had 3 kids at home and 2 at public middle school. We prayerfully decided that was the best place for them at the time. This year, we will have 4 kids at home and 1 that is enrolled in a charter school (but will be starting off doing virtual school at home).
We have thoroughly enjoyed our years of homeschooling and time spent with our kids. It may not be the best option for everyone, but it was for us. If you are starting off this school year feeling uncertain or fearful, I’d love to share a few thoughts with you today! Here are the things you do not need to homeschool.
1. An “Official” School Room
I have seen so many super cute pictures on Pinterest of school rooms people have set up in their homes. I have to admit, it makes me a little jealous. We have a decent size home, but our rooms are all tied up at the moment being… well, other kinds of rooms!
There is a spot that will make a great office or school room one day, but for the time being, it is a play room! Instead, I have “school” hiding all over my house. I have a nice looking dry erase board in my kitchen, a basket of supplies on the kitchen counter, bookcases tucked behind furniture and many other little clues that learning takes place here, scattered throughout my home.
Growing up, we did school at the dining room table, on the couch, in our rooms, and on the swing set. Sure, if you’ve got the space and want to create a more structured area for school to take place, then go for it! On the other hand, don’t feel pressured to make your home resemble a public school classroom. Do whatever works for you!
2. A Teaching Degree
Before I continue, I would like to state that I mean no disrespect to teachers. My grandmother was a teacher, I have two sister-in-laws that are teachers, aunts and several close friends that are teachers. When I talk about confidently teaching my own kids and providing them with a good education, I am talking about something very different than overseeing a classroom of 30 students.
Teachers go through extensive training and accreditation to skillfully manage a classroom and oversee the education of many students at varying skill levels and learning styles. Not only that, but they must be up to date on all the latest testing regulations, academic goals mandated by the state and other legal requirements, not to mention what it takes to deal with crazy parents and difficult children.
I am talking about working one-on-one, through a structured curriculum, with my own children, who I know better than anyone. There are so many resources at your disposal. So many internet based helps and support groups. On top of that, every math book comes with a teachers guide and answer key :)
3. Involvement in A Million Different Extra Curricular Activities
One of the perks of homeschooling is the flexibility in our schedule! We choose exactly what we want to spend our time on and where. There is no running to and from school, no added hours of homework, no pressure to join an after school activity, no fundraisers to host, and no waiting in lines. Families today are stretched way too thin, see each other way too little, and are way too involved in unnecessary time fillers.
We are very much involved in our church and activities with friends and family. We have a membership to the rec center, local museums and zoos. We do frequent family outings, explore new places, travel and go on homeschool style field trips with friends. We’re also involved in a culturally diverse homeschool co-op that offers core classes and specials once a week.
Our kids have been involved in community skating lessons, ballet, basketball clinics and soccer camp, but never more than one at a time. The best is when we find multi-aged activities that allow several of our kids to do something at the same time. We also look for sport teams that put more emphasis on fun and recreation versus high pressure and high commitment.
Socialization has never been a problem for us! Our kids go with us and live life with us to the fullest. This includes lots of time together as a family and lots of breathing room. Choose your time fillers wisely.
4. Money, Money, Money
The large advantage we have today (over homeschoolers of the past) is the internet! Do your research, find out what you want to do, what curriculum you want to use. Then, check ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, etc. Hit up used book sales and don’t forget about the library! There are so many resources at our disposal now-a-days.
I bought all my base curriculum for Natalie’s first grade year, including math, history and science for around $200. That was buying everything new. I could have spent time looking for used, but I ran out of time. Moral of the story; start early. Though I hardly think $200 for a private school quality education is unreasonable!
The majority of what I spent this year for my daughter, will be reusable in a couple years for my son. A deluxe package through Sonlight Curriculum will cost you more like $800, but their packages are able to span several grade levels and may be used for multiple kids.
Again, in my opinion, even that is not an unreasonable amount in light of all you are getting and most importantly, what you are giving your kids! There is no need to send your kids with lunch money, no pressure to buy expensive back to school clothes, no extra gas money running your kids to and from school – you may be surprised by the areas you will end up spending less.
5. The Approval and Blessing of Everyone Around You
I’ve come to grips with the fact that homeschooling will never be the popular option. I find myself quite often, on guard with family members, friends, and perfect strangers that find the need to express their opinions, preconceived ideas or worst case scenarios of homeschooling. This has forced me to be very prepared and ready with answers.
I don’t doubt my kids would get a good education in the public school system. I also don’t doubt my own ability to give them a good education. Most importantly, however, is that I can personally give them a much better moral and biblical foundation to build their lives on than anyone else.
I feel called to give my children the best spiritual foundation I can give them, and I feel convicted that homeschooling is the best choice I can currently make. I need the support of my husband and peace that comes from following God’s lead in the life of our family, and that is it.