Many families with young children approaching school age have begun wrestling with this question. Or, if you have older children who are struggling in the public school system, maybe homeschooling is an option you have been tossing around. Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity for both the parent and the child, but it may not be for everybody. If you have been considering homeschooling for your family, you might want to ask yourself some of these questions:
Do I have time? Homeschooling takes a great deal of time on the part of the parent, especially in the elementary/jr. high grades. If you are used to having your child out of the house during school hours, that child will now be around much more frequently and require much more of your attention. Plan on at least two or three hours (which could be spread out over the course of the day) of solid teaching/schoolwork time for younger children and four to six hours for older children. Children in preschool, kindergarten or first grade may only need an hour or two of focused school time, however. High school-age children should be able to work primarily on their own, but will still need you for answering questions, grading tests, helping formulate an outline for a paper, etc. You will also need to take into account your state’s homeschooling laws. Some states require extensive record-keeping that will add extra time to your day. If you work part or full time or are involved in numerous clubs or committees, you will need to analyze whether or not you have sufficient time available to devote to quality schooling.
Are you motivated? When we purchased our current house, I thought it was the most beautiful structure on the planet. I couldn’t wait to move in and make it “our home”. I knew I would love it forever. We have lived in that house seven years now and I still love it, but it has certainly lost its “sparkle”. The reality of home-ownership has settled in as we discovered the home’s leaky basement, creaky floors and thin insulation. Homeschooling will be much the same way. It will seem exciting and wonderfully romantic at the beginning as you envision your children gathered around, obediently hanging on your every academic word. But reality will eventually set in – the children will get sick, you will get sick, the kids won’t want to do their assignment, and you will only be on math problem #3 when you realize you are past due to start dinner and the dog has just thrown up on the carpet. Are you motivated enough to stick with it even with life isn’t pretty? Because believe me, you will have some very unlovely days!
Are your children obedient? This may sound like a strange question to ask, but it’s an important one. Do your children listen to you and do what you say? Because, if they don’t, homeschooling will be quite challenging. Think about it, if your children won’t follow simple instructions from you like, “Please pick up your socks”, why would they do those workbook pages you just assigned them. If you struggle getting your children to obey, but are still interested in homeschooling, then consider “obedience training” to be part of their school day. Your homeschool will run much more smoothly if there is order and peace in your home.
Do you enjoy your children? This question may sound funny as well, but you need to ask it of yourself. Do you like to spend large amounts of time with your kids? Because that’s exactly what you will be doing. The children will be there at breakfast time. When they “go to school”, they will be returning to your kitchen table. When they go out for recess, they will be in your backyard. When they take a school break, they will be in your family room. And then they will be back for dinner. And after dinner. And they will continue to hang around until bedtime. And then it starts all over again the next day. They will invariably have questions about their geography homework when you are in the shower. They will want your help with a math problem while you are using the restroom. They will want to read a story with you while you are cooking dinner. They may decide to construct a Rube Goldberg contraption through your living room. Are you okay with this?
In conclusion – homeschooling is a WONDERFUL opportunity for families who are willing to put in the time and commitment required. Homeschooling allows you to witnesses the world unfold for your child as he learns to read and write. Homeschooling allows you to see the light bulb switch on when they finally figure out a difficult math concept. Your family can read aloud Winnie the Pooh or Treasure Island while snuggling under blankets. You are there to help make paper turkeys for Thanksgiving. You get to decide when you go on vacation. You can read the Bible together. Most importantly, homeschooling creates strong bonds between you and your children. With homeschooling, you are forced to coexist. You are required to give and serve and compromise with one another because you have to be together all the time. There is no better arena for learning to deal with difficult people. There is no better scenario for life training.
Still think homeschooling might be for you? Here a few websites (of the hundreds out there) to get you started:
Homeschool Legal Defense Association: www.hslda.org
HSLDA’s “How To” site: http://www.youcanhomeschool.org/starthere/default.asp
Classical Conversations: www.classicalconversations.com