When it comes to education, I've done a little bit of it all. I was homeschooled, went to public school, tried online public school, graduated from a tiny private school, and attended a large, public university. My family didn't travel all over the country or live an abnormally counter-cultural lifestyle, but my parents knew that going off the beaten path when it comes to a child's education isn't always a bad thing. As uncommon as homeschooling is, the signs you can handle homeschooling aren't always as simple as parents would like. Making the decision to homeschool wasn't an easy one for my parents, and now that I have my own toddlers, I'll soon be faced with the same choices.
For most families, the question of how and where to send their kids to school is simple. You send your kid to preschool at 3 or 4 years old, then they start kindergarten, and don't stop until they're in 12th grade and ready to take on the "real world." Public school is so ingrained into culture that most don't even consider an alternative. Homeschooling, however, brings with it a unique set of benefits that kids who are sent to large, public schools will simply never experience. Your child's education is no small thing and if you're considering homeschooling them, knowing that you're ready (well, as ready as you can be), can help you feel confident that it's the best decision for your family.
1. You Crave Increased Involvement With Your Child's Education
According to Bridgeway Academy's quiz for parents, a desire for intimate involvement with their child's education and a frustration with the current public school system are top reasons that parents decide to homeschool. Parents who homeschool their kids want more than just occasional volunteering opportunities and signed permission slips. They want to know exactly what their child is learning in each class, and more often than not, homeschool is the simplest solution to that concern.
2. You're Ready To Research
Although it often gets the reputation of being the "easy way out" for parents who don't want to deal with school, homeschooling is actually an incredible amount of work. If you're planning to teach your child what their peers would learn in a traditional school setting and more, it takes hours of planning and researching to find the right curriculum and schedule. It absolutely can be done, but it won't always be easy. According to the Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA), choosing a curriculum to use is one of the most important decisions a home-educator can make and, as you might imagine, there are as many curriculums as there are educators.
3. You Want Freedom Of Expression And Spontanaeity When Educating Your Kids
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) makes it pretty clear that public schools are held to strict (and legal) standards when it comes to what they can and can't teach children. Although many of those standards are in the best interest of the children and the school districts, oftentimes they conflict with the way a parent wants their child to learn. Whether you want to homeschool to be able to discuss your religion freely, or you simply want the ability to be flexible and spontaneous, school at home is the perfect way to tailor your child's education to fit your family's beliefs and lifestyle.
4. You're Ready For More Rest
Believe it or not, the rumors about homeschool kids getting to do school in their pajamas are true. As least they were for my family. One of the great things about homeschooling is that rushed mornings of trying to get everyone out the door before 8 a.m. will be a thing of the past. Although a schedule is definitely a good thing for most families, homeschoolers can enjoy relaxed mornings that oftentimes don't look the same everyday.
5. You Know That Stereotypes Aren't Always True
There's no way around the fact that kids who are taught in non-traditional atmospheres are often judged by their peers. Homeschooled kids are generally labeled as sheltered, odd, lazy, or anti-social (and yes, I dealt with all of the labels as a child). Despite whatever stereotypes may exist, homeschooled kids are as different and unique as their public school-going peers. According to the Education Center, homeschooled kids usually enjoy a closer family bond, increased social skills (believe it or not), and an increased sense of safety. For the families who choose to homeschool, those benefits far outweigh the cons.
6. You Know It Won't Be Easy, But It Will Be Worth It
Homeschooling will probably be one of the most difficult things you decide to do. You take on the role of mom and teacher of every subject all at once, and that certainly isn't an easy role to handle. But for many families, homeschooling is a worthwhile adventure that is worth every bit of effort.