Is Home Schooling for You?

Here are 10 factors that could help you decide

Boy doing homework with his dad
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If you're considering home-schooling your children, you might feel overwhelmed, worried, or unsure. Deciding to home-school is a huge move that requires thoughtful consideration of the pros and cons. It's advisable to consider the following factors:

Time Commitment

Home schooling can take a great deal of time each day, particularly if you'll home-school more than one child. Educating at home is more than just sitting down with schoolbooks for a couple of hours a day. There are experiments and projects to be completed, lessons to be planned and prepared, papers to grade, schedules, field trips, park days, music lessons, and more.

If you're already putting in a couple of hours a night helping with homework, however, adding a couple more might not have a big impact on your daily schedule.

Personal Sacrifice

Home-schooling parents can find it difficult to carve out time to be alone or to spend time with their spouses or friends. Friends and family might not understand home schooling or be opposed to it, which can strain relationships.

It's important to find friends who understand and support your decision to home-school. Getting involved in a home-schooling support group can help you connect with like-minded parents.

Swapping childcare with friends can be helpful to finding time alone. If you have a friend who home-schools children close to yours in age, you might be able to arrange play dates or field trips where one parent takes the kids, giving the other a day to run errands, have time with the spouse, or enjoy a quiet house alone.

Financial Impact

Home schooling can be accomplished very inexpensively, but it usually requires that the teaching parent not work outside the home. Some sacrifices will need to be made if the family is used to two incomes.

It's possible for both parents to work and home-school, but it will likely require adjustments to both schedules and possibly enlisting the help of family or friends.

Socialization

The question most home-schooling families name as the one they hear most often is, "What about socialization?"

While it is, by and large, a myth that home-schooled kids aren't socialized, it is true that home-schooling parents usually need to be more intentional in helping their children find friends and social activities.

One benefit of home schooling is being able to play a more active role in choosing your child's social contacts. Home-schooling co-op classes can be a good place for children to interact with other home-schooled students.

Household Management

Housework and laundry still must be done, but if you're a stickler for a spotless house, you might be in for a surprise. Not only will you need to let go of housework, but home schooling also creates messes and clutter in itself.

Teaching your children the valuable life skills of cleaning house, doing laundry, and preparing meals can and should be part of your home school, but be prepared to lower these expectations.

Parental Agreement

Both parents must agree to try home schooling. It can be extremely stressful if one parent is against home educating. If one spouse is opposed to the idea, do some research and talk to home-schooling families to learn more. 

Many home-schooling families started out with a trial run if one or both parents were unsure. It helps to talk to a previously skeptical home-schooling parent. That parent might have had the same reservations your spouse does and could help him or her overcome those doubts.

Child's Opinion

A willing student is always helpful. Ultimately, the decision is the parents' to make, but if your child doesn't want to be home-schooled, you're not likely to start on a positive note. Talk to your child about his or her concerns to see if they are something you can address rather than simply assessing if they are valid. No matter how silly they might seem to you, your child's concerns are meaningful to him or her.

Long-Term Plan

Homev schooling doesn't have to be a lifetime commitment. Many families take one year at a time, re-evaluating as they go. You don't have to have all 12 years of school figured out to begin. It's OK to try home schooling for a year and then decide about continuing.

Teaching Parent's Reservations

Many would-be home-schooling parents are intimidated by the idea of teaching their children, but if you can read and write, you should be able to teach them. The curriculum and teacher materials will help with the planning and teaching.

You might find that by creating a learning-rich environment and giving your students some control over their own education, their natural curiosity will lead to lots of exploration and self-education. There are plenty of options for teaching difficult subjects other than teaching them yourself.

Why Families Home-School

Finally, it can be very helpful to learn why other families chose home schooling. Can you relate to some of them? Once you discover why home schooling is on the rise, you might find that some of your own worries are put to rest. Despite the busy days, it can be amazing to learn alongside your kids and experience things through their eyes.