Making the decision to homeschool is a difficult one for most people. Sure, there are some parents who know from the get-go that homeschooling is their path, but the “unlikely” homeschooler is becoming more common. Here’s what it takes (and doesn’t take) to be a good homeschooler.
It Doesn’t Take – Experience
Sure having a background in education comes in handy, but it is by no means a necessity. You will quickly gain experience through the homeschooling process. Some of the best homeschoolers had completely different careers before they started teaching their own children.
It Doesn’t Take – Money
Some homeschoolers spend thousands of dollars purchasing curriculum online. This is by no means a necessity. Between charter homeschools offering free curriculum, free materials online (Teachers Pay Teachers, Teachers Notebook), the local library, and free or very inexpensive apps, homeschooling can be a frugal undertaking. Using the world as your classroom turns everyday life experience into learning opportunities. Check out The Frugal Homeschooling Mom’s Blog for some great ideas!
It Doesn’t Take – Being a Subject-Area Expert
Are your inabilities in one subject area holding you back from homeschooling? They shouldn’t! There are many things you can do when you feel less-than-qualified in a specific subject. You can outsource the subject area to your spouse, friend, or tutor. You can take classes yourself to improve your own skills. You can work through the material as you go along. You can take advantage of free training software, such as khanacademy.org.
It Doesn’t Take – Knowing Other Homeschoolers
Sure it’s great to connect with other homeschoolers. They can give you advice and keep you motivated. But you can homeschool on your own. You can find systems that work for you and seek out help when it is needed. Some states are very homeschool-friendly, but some are not. Do not second guess yourself and your decision to homeschool. Know that you are not alone, and if you feel isolated, remember to jump online and connect with other homeschoolers. Find a local MeetUp for homeschoolers, join a local co-op, or start your own!
It Does Take – Time
Homeschooling is not something you can squeeze in on the weekends or do in an hour per day. It requires a serious time commitment. Even if your kids aren’t spending the same amount of time working as they would be in a traditional school, you will be spending time preparing lessons, assessing your child’s work, gathering materials, and planning field trips. Homeschooling is a full-time job. Make sure you have the time to devote to it.
It Does Take – A Willingness to Learn
Even if you are very well educated, homeschooling requires a willingness to learn and being able to admit that you don’t know everything. Maybe you know a lot about math because you were an engineer in your former career and used it every day. This is different than knowing how to teach math. You need to be willing to learn, both about content, as well as about the art of teaching. Your willingness to learn will be one of the most important things your child will learn from you.
It Does Take – Resourcefulness
People who homeschool must learn how to be resourceful. There is no perfect curriculum or program that will teach your child everything they need to learn. As a homeschool parent, you must be willing to seek out supplemental materials, guidance, and opportunities in your community. Think about whether or not you’d be able to homeschool without a set curriculum and instead just a list of what your student should learn by the end of the year. Could you be resourceful enough to find or create your own program? Resourcefulness can be learned, and probably one of the most important skills you can obtain as you take your journey through life as a homeschooler.
It Does Take – Belief in What You Are Doing
Homeschooling is becoming more and more common, but you will still face many people who will criticize your decision to homeschool. Recognize your reasons for homeschooling (make sure you have some good ones!) and stick by them.
Great homeschoolers come from all walks of life. They look and homeschool differently from each other. You don’t need money, connections, or expertise to homeschool. You do need to believe in what you are doing, have the time, seek out resources to help you along the way, and be willing to learn. We welcome your comments and experiences in the box below.