Too often homeschoolers overemphasise that anyone can homeschool, which is true, however in our enthusiasm we underplay the work involved in homeschooling, and I think this sets new homeschoolers up with unrealistic expectations, that could lead them to put their children back in school.
Yes homeschooling can be wonderful but there is a lot of effort and work that goes into achieving those rewards. In fact, life would be a whole lot easier, but less amazing, if the kids were at school.
What should new homeschoolers be aware of, before pulling the kids out of school?
– You’ll be with your children a LOT. This is a great thing, however it takes time for all involved to get used to the new situation, particularly if you are used to being apart for large chunks of time each day. A challenging start, with pot holes along the way, is highly probable. Only time together will improve your relationship with each other.
– You’ll have to spend a LOT of time reading and researching. Enriched homeschooling, generally, doesn’t come gift wrapped in an easy to use box. It’s more complex than that. Sure there are ‘boxed curriculums’ you can purchase from the U.S. But what if it doesn’t suit your children, your state legislation, your budget, your teaching style, or what happens if you don’t like the curriculum. And does it do more than just ‘tick the boxes’. As a homeschooler, you have to be prepared to research different curriculum and put together something that works for your family. It’s the role you are taking on when you start homeschooling.
– You’ll spend a good chunk of your day teaching. Realistically, two hours isn’t enough, if your children are beyond K-2. Spending your day teaching can be difficult when you are used to spending your time differently. As a homeschooler, your priorities have to change and it can be a stretch at first. It takes a while to shuffle things around in your life, eliminate some things, and find the workable balance for your family.
– You’ll be spending a bit of money on resources. Probably no where near as much as if your children were in private schools, but over the year the costs can add up, what with textbooks, curriculums, books to read, art resources, printer ink, classes, online subscriptions and whatever else comes along in the year. Yes, I know homeschoolers always say that you can spend as little or as much on education as you choose. But to be totally honest, homeschooling is much easier and usually more enjoyable, with a little bit of money to play with.
– You need to put time and effort into socialising. For most homeschoolers, who’ve been doing it a while, they need to do the opposite, which is why we often write blog posts about not worrying about socialisation. Our week fills up fast with offers to ‘catch up and play’ and we have to turn people away to make sure some school work happens too. But new homeschoolers do have to work at providing regular social opportunities for their children or they”ll quickly begin to feel isolated. It takes time to build a social group for yourself and your children, and, in order for it to occur, you have to regularly get out into the homeschooling community.
– You will need to stretch and do things that school mums don’t have to. We walk an unpaved path that few people choose to walk. It’s not easy. Things that are simple for school mums, are not so for us. For example, in schools the dentist bus turns up each year and schools mums don’t have to give it much thought. But homeschool mums have to find out if they are entitled to school dental services (they are, by the way), the process they have to work through to get an appointment, make time to get to the appointment, sometimes deal with anti-homeschooling types in the system or opt to pay for their own dentist. There are lots of these kinds of examples. Really, they are no big deal, once you’re used to dealing with bureaucracy, but at first it can be quite a minefield to work through. New homeschoolers need to be prepared to live life as a minority.
Now don’t get me wrong, homeschooling is not a heavy yoke to bear. There is no other form of education that I would even consider. But I approached this challenge knowing that I would have to be prepared to work hard to get the results that I desired.
I’ve shared this post because I believe we have to be careful about how rosy and simple we make homeschooling appear to prospective homeschoolers. I meet a lot of new homeschoolers and I’m finding, more and more, that they are coming to homeschooling with a skewed view of what we do, and, as a result, seem less prepared for the task ahead. Homeschooling, isn’t a magic pill answer that can be simply popped. Choosing this path takes more work and effort than choosing the school path. We take education fully into our own hands and, with that decision, comes a huge responsibility and an ongoing workload.
Yes, I do love homeschooling and I do encourage other parents to homeschool. It’s something I’m very passionate about. However, we have to remember that we aren’t just ‘playing school’. Homeschooling is a huge decision and is in no way an ‘easy’ thing to do. Having said that, homeschooling IS a possible path for those realistically prepared to make it work, and I encourage people to consider this amazing educational task.
Remember, nothing of worth is ever easy. 🙂