If you are just getting started homeschooling, it can be hard to know whether or not homeschooling is right for you. So how can you know? Here is some food for thought to help you decide if homeschooling is right for you.
It’s Okay Not to Homeschool
The first thing I want to start this post off by saying is that it is absolutely okay not to homeschool. There are absolutely valid reasons to send your kids to school and you are the only one that can make that decision for your family. It doesn’t matter if other people are telling you it’s the best option for your family – you (and your spouse) are the only one(s) who can really know if it’s the best option for your family. Release yourself from any guilt if you decide that homeschooling is not for you.
What are your reasons for homeschooling?
Sometimes, I see people who are thinking about homeschooling or start homeschooling because of fear. And I know that fear is a powerful short term motivator, but I want to gently suggest that fear is not a great long-term motivator. When you are making a decision out of fear, on the hard days (and there are hard days) it only serves to make you feel trapped and desperate, as you feel like you have no other options.
But maybe you are coming from a place where you started with fear. But don’t end there. Take some time to learn about homeschooling and find reasons that you can identify. Good things you want for your family. Maybe it’s schedule flexibility or the ability for your kids to go deep into their learning. Maybe it’s freedom to include things in your homeschool that might not get covered in school. Whatever your good reasons are, hold onto those. Find the joy in homeschooling – and find the joy in your reasons. That will help you to have a happier homeschool.
Consider the Cost
Homeschooling is not free. While there are tons of free resources out there (I even offer some!) and it’s true, you could use those free resources exclusively and save quite a bit of money, homeschooling still costs you things besides money.
Homeschooling costs you time. You will need to spend time and energy managing your homeschool. This hidden time cost may not be as evident, but it still exists.
Also, consider that if one parent is going to stay home and homeschool the kids, there is a loss of potential income for that parent. It may mean that you live on a tighter overall budget.
Some other costs you may need to consider are things like gas money. You may have to drive farther for social events for your homeschooled children, depending on the area you live in. That gas money can really add up!
People commonly ask how much money homeschooling costs when they’re trying to figure out if they can afford to homeschool and the truth is that it is super variable. Some people spend very little, other people spend a lot. Some people may have one or two kids they need to figure out resources for, some may have 5 or more. A more helpful way to answer this question would be to sit down and look at your budget. What funds do you have to put toward homeschooling? Then look for resources that both fit your budget and your goals and style for your homeschool.
Consider Your Kids
Who are your kids? Take some time and really think about who they are and what they need to thrive. Make a list of the things they need to thrive. Then ask yourself where they will best be able to have those needs met. One of the best parts of homeschooling is the flexibility to see each child as an individual. Don’t lose sight of that when you’re thinking about homeschooling. We can not paint all kids with a one size fits all brush and make broad sweeping statements about the best educational environment for your child. You need to be able to ask yourself hard questions about the best situation for your child.
Consider yourself and your needs
In this section, I’m speaking directly to whichever parent is going to be the primary homeschool parent. While both parents may participate in homeschooling, there is often one parent to whom the bulk of home education falls to. Will homeschooling work for you? Will it be something that really excites you and brings you joy, or will it just fill you with dread? If you keep thinking about homeschooling and you feel a reluctance and a dread, homeschooling may not be the right option for you. It’s hard to teach a kid to love learning when their teacher just doesn’t want to be teaching.
Now that being said, there are a ton of resources out there to outsource your child’s education. There are online options and drop-off co-ops and more, so the teaching doesn’t have to fall to you. But, you will still need to coordinate all of this. Depending on your child’s age, you may also need to stay on top of all their classes, make sure they log in or show up on the right time, and maybe even sit there with them in their classes to help them with it. So, these programs and classes are not necessarily an easier pathway, though they can help in their own ways.
So Why Homeschool?
Homeschooling is such a personal decision. Every single person I’ve ever asked why they homeschool has a different reason. Their answers may sometime be similar, but they’re colored by their own family history and their own children. Homeschooling can be amazing and can bring many wonderful things to your family – if it’s right for you. If you’re making decisions based on someone else’s opinion, it may be the wrong fit for you and it may end up being a miserable time for your family. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your family, so you’re the only one who can tell whether or not homeschooling is right for you.