Parents take on a lot of responsibility when they decide to homeschool. Sometimes it can be a difficult, isolating process. Outsourcing is a great way to meet others while helping your child (and yourself).
What is outsourcing? What does it have to do with homeschooling?
Simply put, outsourcing is when you hire a person to provide a service that you had previously done yourself. As it relates to homeschooling, outsourcing usually means hiring someone to teach your child a certain subject (but you could also outsource for someone to do other tasks like help with grading, prepping materials, or even planning lessons).
Why should homeschoolers outsource?
Homeschooling is HARD. It is wonderful, but it is hard. Homeschool parents try to do everything for their child, but everyone has their limits. When you recognize your own limitations and want to do something about it, you have a few choices.
- You can try your best to learn and master the material so that you are able to teach it to your child yourself. If it’s a subject you would like to learn more about, and you have the time and resources to do so, this may be a viable option.
- You can flail through the subject, relying on your child to learn it on their own. This isn’t the option I’d recommend.
- You can outsource. You can find someone who is more capable, more interested in, and more motivated by the subject. This is a great option for both new and veteran homeschoolers.
When should you consider outsourcing?
There are many great reasons for outsourcing as a homeschool parent. You may consider outsourcing when:
- You do not understand the material you are supposed to be teaching and don’t want to confuse your child
- There isn’t enough time to work with the child on the subject area/s (for example, if your parent suddenly becomes ill and you must become a caretaker)
- You do not like the material/subject and you are worried that your opinions will negatively influence your child’s interest in/opinion of the subject
- Your child is resistant to your teaching
- The subject is difficult and your child is struggling
- Your child is gifted in the subject and needs more challenge than you can adequately provide
- Any other reason you can think of is a probably a valid one!
What are the benefits of outsourcing?
Outsourcing has so many benefits for everyone involved. A few of the benefits include:
- Outsourcing preserves the relationship between parent and child. When a stressful situation becomes less stressful, it is easier for the parent and child to have a positive homeschooling experience.
- It’s fun! Kids love anything novel and different. Outsourcing can break up the day or week and give the child something to look forward to.
- It gives the child an opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with someone new. Kids often perform really well for people who aren’t their parents.
- Homeschool parents are given a chance to catch their breath. Outsourcing means the homeschool parent won’t be spread as thin. This can lead to an increase in parental motivation which helps improve the homeschool experience for all parties.
What subjects or areas should be outsourced?
Any subject area can be outsourced. I recommend starting with the one subject that is giving you or your child the most difficulty. This may be reading (decoding or comprehension), writing, math, science, or social studies. Or, perhaps your child shows an interest in an area and it’s one that you don’t have much experience with, such as art, music, cooking, theater, technology (like coding), or a certain sport.
How can I afford to outsource?
It would be nice if all homeschoolers had the funds to connect with world-class experts, but this is not usually the case. There are a few ways to outsource on the cheap.
- Join a co-op. Find other homeschoolers who have strengths in areas that differ from yours. If you are great at teaching writing but loathing setting up and running science experiments, offer to swap teaching duties. Teach a small group of kids once or twice each week and then have your co-op buddy/buddies take their turn/s.
- If you are able to connect to a larger homeschooling group, do so. This may be a group such as Classical Conversations (usually around $14 per week), or a public school that offers enrichment funds or classes. You can use these funds (as allowed by the public school) to pursue excellent outsourcing options.
- Look for high school students who need community service hours. Kids usually love working with other kids, and if you can set up regular tutoring hours, it will benefit both your child and the teen.
- Find a college student who is majoring in the subject you are needing support with. College students typically offer very low-cost tutoring sessions.
- Did you know there are grants for homeschooling? Look into organizations such as the Home School Legal Defense Association for information about how to apply for homeschooling grants.
How long should I outsource?
Outsourcing can be a short or long-term solution. When you begin outsourcing, be sure to talk about it with your kid. Explain why you are outsourcing and make sure your child is on board.
Give the outsourcing process a pre-determined length of time and then evaluate how it’s going. Is your child enjoying the opportunity? Is it helping academically and/or socially? Is the relationship that’s been established a positive one? If it is, keep going! If it’s not, see if you can try another vendor or make another change to make outsourcing work for you. You can also try new/different opportunities each semester or school year. When you find a good rhythm, enjoy, and thank yourself for making a great choice for your child.
It isn’t an easy decision to bring another person into your homeschooling circle. When you feel that you or your child need support, reach out to others and ask for help. It may just make the difference you need to keep going.