I have joked with more than one friend that I won’t try to change your religion, but it’s definitely possible that I’ll try to evangelize you into homeschooling.
It’s true! Although I am a former public, private, and charter school teacher and have no lack of love for all kinds of education, I really, really love homeschooling. So nothing makes me happier than to have a friend say something like, “I’ve thought about homeschooling, but I’m not sure if I could do it. Do you think I could do it?”
Do I think you could do it? You the not-so-organized parent? You the not-so-educated parent? You the working parent? Yes! Yes!!! A thousand times yes!
Homeschooling isn’t for everybody, and you may not want to homeschool for a variety of reasons: You love your local school, your child is thriving in school and you don’t want to mess with a good thing, having your child’s whole education on your shoulders feels like too much responsibility, or a million other valid reasons. If that’s you, don’t let anybody tell you that you should homeschool (or that, if you really loved your kids you would homeschool, if you were a real Christian you would homeschool, or that school will somehow ruin/indoctrinate your child). It’s cliche to say that you need to do what works for your family. But you need to do what works for your family. There, I said it.
This post is not for the parent who doesn’t want to homeschool. It’s for the parent who wants to homeschool, but wonders if he/she is qualified or capable. This is for the parent who thinks, “That sounds amazing! Could I do that?”
First, here’s what it doesn’t take to homeschool:
- A degree. I am a nerd. Like, a big-time, card-carrying nerd. I love Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Anne of Green Gables, The Chronicles of Narnia. I can follow link after link and research something I will literally never need to know for hours on end. And enjoy it. I have fan theories. And do you know from whence this lifelong passion for learning came? From my mother. Who doesn’t have a degree. But both of her kids have master’s degrees because of her.
- A “Type A” personality. You don’t have to be the kid who always played “teacher.” You don’t even have to be super organized. That’s what blogs are for.
- Uncommon patience. People tell me all the time, “I would love to homeschool, but I don’t have the patience!” The thing is, it really doesn’t take a huge amount of patience. It would take patience to make your kids “do school” at home, but that’s not how most homeschoolers do it. We learn at home, but we don’t tend to copy the structure of school since we don’t have 25-30 kids. If you focus on connecting with your kids it should feel like you’re all learning as a team, rather than feeling like the parent is constantly forcing the kid to do something the kid doesn’t want to do.
- A 12-year plan. One of the most helpful things my mom ever told me about making choices for my kids’ education was that every year is a new decision. You don’t need a crystal ball that will take you through high school graduation! Just get through this year, or even this week if that’s what you need to think about!
Here’s what you do need to homeschool:
- A passion for learning. Nothing will work if you don’t love to learn!
- A sense of enjoyment, being with your kids. You’re going to be hanging out a lot.
- The ability to research well. This is really key. You need to learn the laws of your state, read state standards, choose curriculum, and even find outings, groups and classes!
- A certain comfort with being outside of the norm. If you feel like you owe people an explanation or defense of your choices, work through that now. Some people don’t get it, some people judge it, some people quiz your kids or ask “How will they get socialized?” Smile and nod.
You can homeschool. You can homeschool. You can homeschool. We’re in this together.