“We’re thinking about homeschooling.” I’ve heard this sentence more times than I can count this year alone. When I first started homeschooling it wasn’t a political move. It wasn’t because I was fed up with the system ─ although I didn’t trust it entirely. The school district my family lived in lost accreditation, and there was no money for private school.
I didn’t know anyone who homeschooled. I had no teaching degree. I was terrified.
Despite this, no one questioned my ability to impart knowledge onto my eldest, who was 3 years old at the time. What everyone worried about when I talked about the idea of homeschooling was “socialization.”
After just a few months of homeschooling, I learned that socialization isn’t an issue. My kids learned to interact with others when we went to the library and parks, and they had fun in dance and art classes. And hanging out with friends taught them everything they needed to know socially.
Building confidence in my teaching skills took a lot more research and experience, but every day for over 10 years now I have been grateful to be a homeschooling mother. It has truly been the greatest experience for everyone involved. I don’t know where this idea that schools are places where children should be packed off to learn how to be around each other came from, but I now have four homeschooled children and am signed up to teach at my local co-op starting in August, and I wouldn’t change a thing. If you’re considering homeschooling too, you should give it a test run this summer.
It’s understandable that, when facing the prospect of educating children at home with no guidance and no direct oversight, many parents feel under-equipped. But consider the alternatives: public schools spend about $15,000 on each student every year, and despite this they are plagued with chronic absenteeism, plummeting test scores, and even illiterate students. Meanwhile, many homeschooled students are winning spelling bees, have tested higher than average on SAT and ACT tests for years, and are graduating early.
Why? Are their parents magicians who can snap their fingers and turn out a genius?
Homeschooling is actually much easier than parents know. One-on-one or even small-group instruction gives students more time to understand their lessons and have fun learning. They get to ask questions and think everything through without being rushed or slowed down by others. It’s private instruction at its finest because parents are able to sympathize and offer their loving support.
I want to propose a challenge for parents with children just entering school age who are not sure about homeschooling: the Homeschooling Challenge. I’m urging parents to use the next few weeks to test the waters.
Grab a few ALEX craft kits or 4M science kits and have fun with your kids. Check out Starfall.com or Khan Academy and facilitate a few online lessons. If you’re interested in homeschooling but not sure where to start, pick up a workbook or two. I highly recommend School Zone Workbooks. All of these resources are affordable, and some are even free.
Gaining confidence in teaching our children is important for families of all income levels as we face economic uncertainty. I myself am a writer, and pay varies. My work also takes up many hours, so anyone afraid that they don’t have the time to teach must know that homeschoolers are able to teach children faster and with much less funding than public schools and still be successful.
Because of our work schedules, my husband and I do tag-team lessons. He covers the weekdays and I cover the weekends. Together we offer different perspectives and teaching styles that benefit the children.
I know it’s difficult to take that first step, so instead of making it a yes or no issue, take the Homeschooling Challenge. Test it out a little this summer ─ just enough to see if you want to commit.
Anyone who graduated high school can teach the basics. It doesn’t take an expert to teach the ABCs, 123s, or even algebra. Parents just need a good budget, some helpful resources, and confidence. Confidence grows from experience. So gaining a little experience is the best way to start.
Jessica Marie Baumgartner is a reporter for Go 2 Tutors education news, and homeschooling mother of 4. Her book, Homeschooling on a Budget, comes out August 2 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
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