When considering homeschooling, most people will ask, “Can I homeschool?” And, while a valid question, it probably isn’t the one you should be asking. The more appropriate question is, “Should I homeschool?”
The majority of people who consider homeschooling CAN homeschool if they so choose. Most states have a requirement that the teacher must have a high school diploma. That’s it. No teaching credentials. No special training. Just a high school diploma. So, fulfilling your state’s requirements will probably be pretty simple.
And, as the old adage goes, “See it. Do it. Teach it.” If you learned it in school (see it) and presumably used it in life (do it), you should be able to teach it. And, if your kid wants to learn marine biology (yes, that’s my daughter’s request for next year), then there are plenty of online classes and co-ops out there to help you out.
So, can you teach homeschool? Sure, but remember when your momma said, “Can you, but should you?” Well, that’s a totally different question and one that I would suggest is much more important to creating a successful homeschool.
So, what should you consider when deciding to homeschool? What factors could be make-or-break to your family? How will you thrive or despair? Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, so make sure to weigh out your choices carefully before jumping into this lifestyle.
Is everyone on board?
When you decide you want to homeschool, invariably it goes something like this:
Mom is excited and begins to research everything she can about different homeschool methods, curriculum, schedules, planners, and how to rearrange her home to become a mini-schoolhouse. Then she proposes homeschooling to Dad and the kids.
Dad is probably a little wary. Remember, Mom has been doing all the research and has learned all the benefits of homeschooling. Dad thinks about that one weird kid on his street growing up who was homeschooled and fears his family will have to start wearing denim jumpers and raising their own food.
The kids are excited about sleeping in and not having to be in school for 8 hours a day but fear they will miss their friends and become societal outcasts.
The most important part of deciding to homeschool is to make sure it works for everyone.
This means sharing all the benefits of homeschooling with your family AND some of the disadvantages. Because the truth is that until COVID-19, homeschoolers were on the fringe. We were the rebels who were bucking society’s norms and doing things our own way. That doesn’t always sit well with the normal crowd, which can comprise friends and even family members.
As a new homeschooler, I had one child who was a sophomore in high school. He wasn’t on board with homeschooling. He didn’t want to leave his friends and be different. And he made our lives difficult. In hindsight, we should have let him continue to attend school and only homeschooled his sisters. At the time, I knew it was the best thing for him (and it was – we have the ACT scores to prove it), but it wasn’t the best thing for our family relationships. It took years to build back the bond we had before that year.
So, make sure your kids are on board, as well. Everyone doesn’t have to be as enthusiastic as you, but they need to be willing to give it a try.
Can you find (and stick to) a schedule that works for the whole family?
New homeschoolers love to plan a schedule like those you would see in the public school system.
8:00 – Circle Time
8:10 – Pledge
8:15 – Story Time
8:30 – Center Time
9:00 – Morning Snack and Restroom Break
And it goes on from there to 3:00 when school is over, and it’s time to do chores, supper, and then bed.
This schedule works for a few days until someone refuses to put on pants and sit down for circle time until 8:23. Then everyone is behind, and Mom’s stressing and math gets skipped for the day. It all crumbles apart, and now Mom has to figure out how to fit in two lessons of Math tomorrow and keep everyone on the schedule.
The truth is that schedules work great, but they have to be flexible. Why? Because you aren’t in public school. If your student is sick, then you don’t keep going with the day’s assignments and send them a note to catch up at home. You stop school and take a sick day.
If Dad gets an unexpected day off work and wants to take the kids on a quick road trip, then you put the books to the side and go explore as a family.
Schedules need to work with your lifestyle. If you or your kids aren’t morning people, then create your schedule for the afternoon. If you work on certain days or at certain times, then make your schedule around those times.
Creating a schedule around your life is key to keeping you sane while you homeschool. Don’t try to create a schedule that works for others, but not for your family. And, don’t try to create a schedule that works for you, but not other members of your family. If Dad would like to participate, then save some subjects for when he is at home. If dinner time is sacred to your family, then make sure school is finished before you settle down for family-time.
Homeschooling is flexible. You can homeschool whenever you want. So make it work for you.
And once you find that schedule, stick to it. Kids like routines. They function better when they know what to expect. If they know they always do math after morning time, then keep to that schedule. It doesn’t matter if math starts at 10 on one day and 12 on the next as long as the routine remains the same.
Remember, you’ll be together ALL. THE. TIME.
I’m sure you love your family. If you’re considering homeschooling, that’s a given. In fact, you probably wish you could spend more time with your kids. But, homeschooling isn’t just an opportunity to spend time as a family. It is a lifestyle — one that centers around the atmosphere of your home.
How effective your homeschool is will largely be determined by the atmosphere you create in it. That means that you will need to decide, as a family, how your home should function.
If your children have come from a traditional school setting, your home atmosphere might revolve around homework, dinner, chores, and bedtime routines. It was probably on a strict schedule to make sure everything could be completed so the kids could rise early and head to school.
When you homeschool, those routines change, and you will be spending 24 hours a day with your kids. In case you are wondering, that’s a lot of time to fill entertaining — so don’t do it. Now that you are spending all day with your children, they have an opportunity for downtime, something that has been missing from their daily life. Downtime allows your kids to explore and think creatively. Don’t try to fill all the empty time with worksheets and activities. Give them time to be kids, play, and get their hands dirty.
Decide now if your kids will be part of the general maintenance of the house. Will they have chores? Are they responsible for one or more of the pets? How much screen time is allowed? Don’t wait until the situation arises. As a family, decide what type of home atmosphere you want and let everyone help to create it.
But also remember that just as your kids need their own time, so do you as the homeschool parent. Take time for yourself every day and do something just for you. Maybe that’s spending a few extra minutes in the shower, or perhaps it’s running to the gym. It’s okay if it’s hiding in the closet with a jar of Nutella. But, give yourself a few moments of a break. For me, it’s taking my lunch and sitting down with a book for a few minutes. It gives me time to recharge and finish the day.
There are advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling.
Homeschooling has some incredible advantages, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it has some disadvantages as well. We love the freedom that homeschooling brings with it, but it also means that we aren’t always able to participate in everything my kids want. Sometimes, we have to think outside the box or even create what we are missing from a traditional school.
And, though it’s not always calm and peaceful at our home, it is a home filled with love for family and education. We are educating by teaching our children to educate themselves — to be life-long learners, not test-takers. It’s not for everyone, and that’s ok because this world needs many different types of thinkers. Make the choice that’s best for your family, even if that choice changes later on. You’ll be happy you did.
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…