I polled a group of homeschool moms to find out what their greatest fears were when they first started. I wasn’t too surprised by their answers because I had them at one time, too. Fear is a natural human emotion. It protects us from physical and psychological pain, yet it can also be paralyzing. It’s good to research homeschooling and weigh the benefits against the risks before jumping in, but I’m hoping that by addressing your fears, I can help you move past them into homeschooling with joy and confidence.
Some of the Most Common Homeschooling Fears
You’re not good enough. That’s what the enemy wants you to believe, but just think about that for a minute. Who loves your children more than you? Who knows your children better than you?
You aren’t a certified teacher? Research by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) shows that homeschooled children consistently outperform students in both public and private schools. The education level of the parents makes an almost indiscernible difference, even if they’re a certified teacher.
Did you graduate high school? If you have a diploma from a public high school and you don’t feel qualified to teach your own children, what does that tell you? Even if you didn’t get a high school diploma, if you know how to read, you can teach your children. There are curriculums that provide everything you need, some even provide scripts. You don’t have to know everything. Nobody does!
Did you know how to parent before you had children? Probably not. Most of us learn on the job. Whether you realize it, or not, you’ve been homeschooling since they were born. While they were with you they learned to sit up, walk, and talk. You didn’t have to teach them all of that, just encourage them a little. It’s the same way with homeschooling. God has instilled in them the desire to explore their environment and learn. You just need to provide some resources and assistance.
The only prerequisite for teaching your children is your love for them…Check!
Finances: Homeschooling doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are a lot of free resources on the internet, and there are other ways of cutting corners such as shopping garage sales and thrift stores, and buying second-hand. There are Facebook groups for homeschooling cheaply. Curriculum that allows you to teach multiple students at once helps with both finance and time management.
Public schools spend an average of $11,000 per student. Homeschool families are estimated to spend an average of about $900 per child, and many families spend far less than that. Again, homeschoolers test higher than public schooled students. It isn’t the amount of money that is spent that makes a school successful, it’s the quality time.
Time: Time management is always an issue. It’s true that you will have to learn to prioritize your responsibilities and be flexible, but you can do that, too. As your children grow up there will always be different classes and activities that have to be worked around, so it’s a skill that will come in handy. It’s an important life skill for your kids to learn, too.
Homeschooling is highly customizable. Your schedule is up to you and can be set up to accommodate parents’ work schedules, travel, and preferences. If you’re imagining sitting with your children 8-3, Monday through Friday, you don’t have to mimic the public school schedule. In fact, because the teacher/student ratio is so small, it doesn’t take near as much time on the teacher’s part. Additionally, as students get older, they become more independent and responsible for their own school work.
“I can’t be with my kids all day.” Yes, I’ve actually heard that a lot. What a sad statement! I’m not going to tell you that homeschooling will always be easy, because it won’t. What I will tell you, though, is that homeschooling changes the family dynamics. If discipline is a problem, it will be the first thing you will need to work on, and is among the advice I offer in “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling.” If you don’t have obedience, then that is your first order of business. Children know when you don’t want to be with them. In fact, some of that negative behavior is due to a need for attention. Always being shuttled off to school and extra-curricular activities won’t do anything to help their behavior. What will help, is being around adults more and peers less, having boundaries that are firmly set, and consequences that are consistently enforced. One of the best gifts you can give your children is time with you, and caring enough about their future to mold them into people that others will enjoy being around.
Criticism/Lack of support: I would venture to say that most homeschool parents are faced with criticism and a lack of support. You and your spouse need to present a united front when it comes to family and friends that are less than supportive. The homeschooling father is the first line of defense and it’s his job to firmly let others know that this is the decision that the two of you have made and that’s that.
NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute) has done a lot of research on homeschoolers and the results are all very encouraging. Showing this research to doubters may reassure them, but then again it may not. It’s up to you to be diligent in your homeschooling, and with time they will see that it works.
If you feel that God has called you to homeschool, and that your commitment is to Him, that will give you the strength to keep going when the going gets tough. Invite Him to work through you to prepare your children for adulthood and the purpose He has planned for them.
Kids Missing Out: You are absolutely right, your kids are going to miss out on things. Things like peer pressure to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex; bullying, indoctrination, and sleep deprivation.
Seriously, though, homeschoolers have many opportunities for socialization. Homeschool support groups offer things such as proms, sports associations, band, choir, and graduation ceremonies. Additionally, homeschoolers take advantage of programs through churches and civic associations. There are opportunities in every community, you just have to seek them out. If you live rurally, as I do, you may need to drive to a larger city once a week or so, but it’s worth it. Finally, if there is something you want for your child, you can always organize it yourself. Kids need not miss out on anything just because they’re homeschooled.
“Keeping Up” and “Doing It Right: This is something else that you don’t need to worry about. In homeschooling, you are free to work at your children’s pace. They may be at a different grade level in each subject. Are they having trouble mastering a concept? Slow down and spend as much time as they need. Are they bored? Challenge them by picking up the pace. Every education has gaps, but with homeschooling, you get to choose where those gaps are. There’s no one “right” way. Every homeschool family is different, and even within one family, each child may use different resources. Again, you tailor your homeschool to suit your family’s needs.
Some states require testing, so my advice is not to worry about it too much. Use the test results to get a better idea of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as to rate their progress. But at the same time, take the results with a grain of salt. They don’t measure things that are truly important such as character traits and life skills. Standardized tests may be based on Common Core, which you probably are not using, and schools “teach to the test” to prepare their students.
Despite disadvantages, homeschoolers still outperform public schooled students. Go over some basic things with your children to prepare them, such as filling in the bubble, erasing completely if they change their answer, making sure they are on the right line/number, etc. Otherwise, just go on with your curriculum and don’t worry about what will be on the test. Try not to stress because your children will sense it and be affected by it.
College and Military: You may worry about your child being able to get into college or the military. Colleges are increasingly seeking out homeschool graduates. Homeschoolers are doing very well! There’s also help when you need it. HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) offers their members assistance in things like planning for high school, preparing transcripts, and help if you have any problems.
Graduation is still a celebrated accomplishment with homeschoolers. Your child may be able to take part in a group ceremony, or you can plan your own one-of-a-kind celebration. Beautiful announcements and diplomas can be ordered online with your homeschool’s information on them. Choose a name and motto, because they can be put on the diploma and will mean something to the graduate.
At one time, homeschoolers had to obtain a GED in order to get into the military, but thanks to the efforts of HSLDA, that has been changed and homeschool graduates are treated the same as other high school graduates.
Getting Started: I know first-hand that getting started can be overwhelming, that’s why I [Michelle from Midlife Blogger] wrote “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling.” It’s a workbook that you can download immediately, and it will guide you through important decisions to help you get started and set for success. You’ll also find tips and advice to give you a jump-start towards feeling relaxed and confident.
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This was a guest post for Proverbial Homemaker by Michelle Curren. She homeschooled for fourteen years until both of her children graduated high school. She is the author of “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling.” Her son is a small business owner, and her daughter is in college, majoring in Psychology. She lives with her husband on a rural homestead in the Missouri Ozarks with a menagerie of dogs, cats, and poultry. She writes at Mid-Life Blogger where she hopes to encourage the next generation of homeschooling families. Her blog can be found at http://midlifeblogger.com.