If we had it to do all over again, how would we start homeschooling?
Recently, I was searching for some information on homeschooling websites and came across a lot of beginner information. When reviewing the posts, the first steps were usually to get some homeschool books, join some groups, read up on some websites, and search for the best curriculum. This process, however, is incomplete. We know, because that is how we did it.
My wife had researched homeschooling for years, but did not have a plan when we started. In her defense, she did not plan on homeschooling when we decided to begin. She went to enroll the children in school after a move and was completely turned off by the behavior of the administration. So, one day they were going to school, the next day they were homeschooled.
At this point it is easy to become overwhelmed with the mountain of decisions that need to be made. Before you dive into lesson plans, schedules, and activities, there are three important things to do that will make this process easier:
- Consider your motivations
- Think about the change and what it will mean for your family: including time, financial resources, and relationships
- Set your homeschooling goals
The motivations for homeschooling vary, and while there is no “right” answer, it is important to understand your motivations. For example, consider these questions:
- What does home school mean to you?
- Are you considering homeschooling because your child is struggling at school, is the subject of relentless teasing, and you just simply desire to mercifully free him from that awful fate?
- Or maybe your daughter is getting into trouble because she is advanced and bored in class and the school or teacher will not accommodate her.
- Is your motivation religious, academic, or just a way to escape a bad situation?
- How will homeschooling change our life?
- How will it affect me, my child, and the family?
- Am I prepared for negative feedback from extended family, neighbors, or friends?
- How will my child respond to less structure and more responsibility on her to learn?
- How will my child respond to changing their relationships and making new friends, or not spending as much time with their old friends?
- What time and resources will we have to devote to homeschooling?
- Do you envision school at home with your child sitting quietly, busily working while you prepare a nutritious lunch, thankful your child is no longer being subjected to the horrible things happening at public school?
- Do you dream of unschooling where every day is filled with fun field trips and long discussions with less paperwork and stress.
- What kind of activities can we be involved in and what is the right balance?
- What do I want to teach my children?
And most importantly: Can I accept not knowing everything and learning as I go?
There will always be an aspect of trial and error. We’ve been doing this for four years and are still changing things. But just as a business will not thrive without a vision and a plan, a homeschool also needs clear objectives and direction. It is added work up front, but the peace of mind and apparent accomplishment will be encouraging. Especially on those days when you wonder why you are doing this.