Many families consider homeschooling a calling, something that they are obliged to do because of religious or moral reasons. Others choose homeschooling out of purely practical reasons -- maybe they live abroad or the public schools cannot serve their children's special needs. Regardless of your reasons, if you homeschool, you will encounter challenges. Being clear about your reasons to homeschool will offer resolve when times get tough.
Should I Homeschool?
If you are considering homeschooling your children, there are some factors you should evaluate. If you have these qualities, homeschooling will be easier for you.
Do I Have What it Takes to Homeschool?
Deciding to Homeschool
Although homeschooling is hard work for everyone, homeschooling seems easier for some families than it is for others. I believe that is because there are some key qualities in a mom or in her circumstances that smooth the homeschooling path. Just because you lack many of these factors is not clear evidence that you should not homeschool. It simply means that homeschooling may be more of a challenge for you. However, you can work to overcome those challenges as long as you are aware of them upfront.
So please don't read this list as a litmus test to answer the question, "Should I homeschool?" It is designed to guide you to make a realistic decision and to evaluate the trouble spots that may arise should you chose to homeschool.
Learning at Home
Reading Books at Home
Quality #1: A Love of Learning
Mom sets the pace for the homeschool, and her love of learning will spill over to the children. If mom has a natural love of learning and a healthy sense of curiosity, homeschooling is going to be easier than if she does not.
When mom loves learning, the whole world opens up as a possible lesson plan. Field trips are fascinating and provide material for plenty of tangents to explore. Outside work and kitchen chores all present learning opportunities.
Combined with this love of learning in general is a love of books and reading. A huge proportion of our education is gained through reading, so it is obvious that a love of books is an asset to a homeschool atmosphere. If you resent spending money on books and curriculum, homeschooling will be a financial burden. If, on the other hand, you cherish books, you will be excited about buying new curriculum and finding second hand books to supplement your home library.
If you hate books, history, science, reading, and exerting mental brain power, homeschooling is going to be truly difficult.
Quality #2: Organizational Skills
Homeschooling takes a certain amount of planning and record keeping. (Depending on your state's laws, this can be minimal or extensive. Be sure to research the laws in your area.) Although some moms successfully take a "fly by the seat of my pants" approach, most homeschool mothers carefully choose curriculum after doing indepth research. They write out weekly lesson plans and keep records of their children's achievement and progress. They are methodical about keeping a "mom notebook" and setting goals.
Do you have the ability and desire to stay organized with your homeschooling? If you do, homeschooling will be a bit easier.
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Quality #3: Support
This is not so much a quality of the homeschool mom but of her circumstances. Having a support network will make homeschooling much easier.
Support from Your Husband
Your husband's support is very critical to your endeavors to homeschool. In fact, it is probably not a good idea to attempt homeschooling if your spouse is dead set against it.
Many women have husbands who are not totally against homeschooling but certainly have reservations; they are not fully convinced. This is a difficult situation for Mom. When she has a tough homeschool day, she is reluctant to share her troubles with hubby who will likely suggest public schools as a solution. This means Mom has to shoulder all the pressures of homeschool alone, fearful of confiding her doubts and failures to her critical spouse.
Before starting to homeschool, do all in your power to garner the full support of your husband.
Support from Your Family
If extended family disapproves of your choice to homeschool, it can be an added strain on the homeschool mom's shoulders. However, if that family is distant (either emotionally or physically), the strain is lessened considerably.
Basically you need to evaluate how important your family's approval is. When they have not agreed with past decisions, how did you take it?
Support from Local Homeschoolers
Investigate the homeschooling network in your local area. Is there a homeschool group of like-minded moms? Even if your family and husband are not supportive, having a base of other homeschooling moms can go a long way towards keeping you motivated to homeschool.
Find a homeschool co-op to share the burden of teaching. Inquire about a homeschool mentor to keep you accountable and encouraged.
Quality #4: Access to Teaching Resources
If you are going to homeschool, you are going to need materials of some kind. Whether you take a textbook approach or delight directed approach, you will need curriculum or learning materials. Most homeschools are filled with learning tools:
- building sets
- craft supplies
- math manipulatives
- educational DVDs
- high speed Internet connection
- Do you have money to spend on homeschool curriculum?
- Are you willing to search for used book bargains?
- Does your area have thrift stores where games and books can be purchased cheaply?
- Are there grandparents who will give some of these things as gifts?
- Are there opportunities for field trips and extra-curricular activites?
- Do you have a good library system?
- Are there friends you can borrow from or barter with?