Homeschooling, unschooling, home education, alternative schooling, distance learning…any of this sound scary to you? It shouldn’t, but then again I found all of those terms scary, off-putting, and overwhelming a few years ago so I won’t sit here and judge you. Instead, let me show you why you just might be the kind of family who keeps kids home to learn:
1 /// There are a couple million kids homeschooling right now. When I was growing up, we knew exactly one family who homeschooled so they were automatically “the weird family” with “those weirdo kids” that nobody wanted to play with. I think this was the scariest thing for me when I thought about homeschooling, much more than the workload or the quality of education, because who wants to have kids with no friends? The good news is that the home education trend is growing fast with more people are homeschooling every day and with the huge variety of meetup groups, online networks, and different classes your kids can participate in outside of school, they’re actually likely to end up with a wider social circle than they would have going through the same school program with the same kids for 13 years.
2 /// You don’t have to come up with all the lesson plans and annual curriculums yourself. The idea of suddenly becoming a teacher when you have no education in education is a little daunting, but homeschooling takes many forms and lots of people choose to outsource lesson planning by buying full curriculum sets (and working through them at their own pace) or by choosing a school that allows you to complete the work at home. Check out my post on the different types of homeschooling to see your options.
3 /// It’s not as expensive as you’d think. Most places in the U.S. don’t allow for any kind of state funding for homeschooling BUT most areas have programs either through the public schools or through charter schools that provide materials and lessons shipped to your home at no cost if you want to go that route. Even if you want to put together your own education plan, there are a ton of free resources available online and at the library and local homeschool groups can be a great way to buy used materials at a fraction of the cost. You can also get creative about earning money to support your homeschool. I’ll be posting soon on the (many!) different ways we pay for the materials we use, including craft supplies, books, educational toys, and our home tech.
4 /// You don’t have to stick with it. If you’re disillusioned with a bad teacher or the brick wall your child seems to be bumping into in one particular subject, you can decide to homeschool for a little while without committing forever. Most states make it easy enough to declare that you’re homeschooling (and vice versa) that all you need to do is fill out a form, make an education plan, and keep some records. You might find out that you love the break from classic schooling, but if not you can just pop your kid back in school when you’re ready!
5 /// You don’t have to homeschool all of your kids. Now this is between you and your kids because you might be accused of favoritism if only one gets to stay home, but I know a TON of families who have at least one kid in and one kid out of public school. It does tie the family down to a traditional school setting, but if your child isn’t thriving in homeschool while their sibling is doing 200% better at home than she ever did in the classroom, there’s no reason you can’t split them up and let everyone settle where they feel comfortable (provided you’re comfortable with the education he’s getting away from home).
6 /// You aren’t as dumb as you think you are. If you’re intimidated because you don’t feel like you’ll be able to teach your kids everything they need to know, spoiler alert: no, you won’t be able to teach your kids everything they need to know. Neither will a team of professional teachers. There will always be information that slips through the cracks BUT if you graduated from high school yourself and you’re committed enough to refresh yourself on subjects as you go along, you’ll be just fine helping your kids with their lessons. I would definitely recommend doing some outside reading on learning styles and parenting methods though – that extra time spent together will go a lot more smoothly with some extra info!
7 /// You don’t need to have a mini-school in your house. I love looking at homeschool rooms on Pinterest, but we have five people in what is basically a 2-bedroom-1-bath apartment and we don’t have room for a homeschool room. We have two homeschool shelves, three homeschool baskets, one computer, and big kitchen table where we can sit together and work. As long as you have a place to keep some books, some paper, some pens, and a few craft supplies you should be just fine. Don’t forget to homeschool away from home at places like libraries, museums, parks, and rec centers!
8 /// Homeschoolers are as smart (if not smarter) than kids who go through traditional school. The test results keep rolling in and they show that kids educated at home score an average of 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized achievement tests. They also score higher on SAT and ACT tests (which are usually a big part of college admission) and universities have begun actively recruiting homeschoolers because they perform equally or higher than their peers in the college years.