There is no question about it, homeschooling is definitely not for everyone. Sometimes it seems like there is a big push to homeschool in the stay-at-home-mom Christian community. Maybe you’ve tried homeschooling this year and it’s been rough and you’re not sure you should continue. Maybe you are considering starting but still on the fence about it.
Remember, no matter what anyone else says, or what it seems like others are thinking–there is no right or wrong, one-size-fits-all, answer to this decision. You simply need to figure out what is best for your family. Below are some things to consider when trying to decide if homeschooling is the right fit for your family.
Start with prayer
If you are a follower of Jesus, like me, we need to pray for wisdom and direction before making decisions. God knows us intimately. He knows all that we (and our kids) struggle with. He will lead and guide us down the right path.
Pray and seek Him. Then wait for His answer. If no clear answer comes right away, continue moving forward on the path to discover what is best. He may answer your prayer by using circumstances that come up while you are trying to determine the best option for your family.
Discuss with your spouse
It goes without saying, we need to be in agreement with our spouse before moving forward with something that will affect the whole family. If your spouse has questions or doubts, discuss them with him. Search for answers together. If he is not on board at all, trust him and know that it is not the right time for your family to homeschool. And that’s ok.
Do your research
Do you know anyone who has homeschooled for awhile? Give them a call or get together with them and ask questions to find out more. They will be one of the best resources to understand all that homeschooling entails.
Do some online research. There are several websites with valuable information about homeschooling. Search for homeschool forums, and read what other parents have to say on there. Join a Homeschool Facebook group as a way to get more information directly from homeschooling parents.
Recognize that homeschooling is HARD
See the picture above? That is what we tend to think about when we dream about starting to homeschool. Sunny days where everyone is laughing and getting along. Kids just begging to learn.
Reality is, there will be ups and downs and a whole lotta work and time involved. Push out those images of pj filled days, field trips galore, and only warm, fuzzy feelings. Yes, there will be some of those times, but it will also be a complete lifestyle change.
It involves day after day after day of teaching your children. It can be tiring. There will be days everyone is grumpy. Days you push through even though no one wants to. It’s the same reality as public school and private school–there are good and bad days.
Realize that your relationship with your kids will change
And not always in a good way. Once, after a difficult morning with my daughter, I made the comment that I had never seen her treat her other teachers the way she was treating me (Sunday School, CO-OP Classes, or Coaches). She said something that stuck with me. She told me that I was also her mom and if she couldn’t let down her guard with me then with whom else could she? I realized that I am her mom and teacher, and those things don’t really separate.
On the flip side, being with your children all day, every day and experiencing learning with them is incredible! You are able to build a deeper relationship with them that would be difficult if they were gone at school all day each day.
Know that there will be days when you question your decision, and may even want to quit
Some days will be very, very hard. Or very, very long. Your kids (students) will fight you every step of the way, the curriculum you are using will cause tears and not work out as great as you thought it would. Or maybe the balancing of housework, homeschool, and younger siblings will be completely overwhelming. You may question your sanity on the day you made the decision to homeschool.
This is completely normal. (Ask any parent who has homeschooled for awhile.) It is vitally important to have friends in the homeschooling community who can listen, encourage, and support you.
Understand that it will be like adding a full-time job to all you do now
Since you are already a stay-at-home-mom, you already wear many hats. Adding homeschooling to the mix will be like adding a full-time job without taking away any of your current responsibilities.
There will be correcting papers, researching (or creating) curriculum, tweaking a pre-made curriculum, planning out your year, hunting down books, searching for supplemental material, science experiments, crafts, coming up with field trip ideas, tracking and logging the hours you spend homeschooling, participation in a local homeschool co-op, and the list goes on. And let’s not forget the actually teaching part!
Likely you will find some of the “work” enjoyable that you have to do to homeschool; other parts you will just grit your teeth and do anyway. But, you definitely want to keep in mind that the work load you will add to yourself will be considerable, so make sure that you are up for it. (Again, having support within the homeschooling community is vital. As well, as support from your husband.)
Know that many people won’t understand–no matter what you choose
This may include anyone from close family and friends, to people at the grocery store or doctor’s office. There is no way you can please, or get the approval of, everyone. No one else knows all of the factors that went into you deciding to homeschool (or not to homeschool); no one else knows what is best for your family.
So make your decision, and move forward with confidence.
Accept the season of life you are in
Maybe you have the desire to homeschool but, for whatever reason, it isn’t best fit right now. Or maybe you are homeschooling now, but you aren’t sure you should continue. There is no rule that “once homeschooling, always homeschooling” or vice versa.
Seasons of life will change and that is ok. The education journey of your family may change with seasons of life. You and your entire family will function much better if you stick with the best fit for your family at the current moment.
Now, obviously, I can’t make this decision for you. I can (and would be happy to) listen and pray if you care to share about your situation with me. Ultimately, it’s your family’s choice if you should homeschool or not. If you carefully consider each of the steps above, I have no doubt you will be able to decide on the best fit for your family.
Are there any steps you would add?