If you want to try to relax with another glass of wine while you read, go right ahead. This can be stressful but I hope that by the end of this your mind will be more at ease.
I thought it would be this easy thing I can jump right into. Well, it is, kind of. Before jumping in always do your research. Start by looking up the homeschooling laws in your state because they vary widely. Then, join a few local homeschool groups, either on Facebook or Yahoo Groups. Ask those group members questions. They will be able to tell you more about how your particular state laws impact each type of homeschooling which will aide you in deciding which method you want to start with. I also encourage you to deschool yourself. This is the process of letting go of everything you think education should look like and open yourself up to learning about the various methods. Also, take time to watch your kids. What types of learners do you have? Visual, auditory, read-write, or kinesthetic? I’m sure your kids will do well with a variety of these methods but one is usually predominant and each of your kids may be different. You don’t want to get stuck making your auditory kid write spelling words over and over. I promise, that’s not fun. Knowing how your kids learn best will make homeschooling much less stressful for both parents and children.
Is it expensive? It sure can be! There are boxed curriculum that can run a few thousand per year per kid. Now, these come with everything you need except some library books. They even come with lesson plans so there is minimal effort from the parent in organizing things. On the flip side, it can be free! A library card is all you need. You can head over to Pinterest for a plethora of science experiments and crafts that you can do with household items that you probably already have. If you have Netflix there are so many documentaries out there. Then, of course, you have everyday things like going to the grocery store; that’s all kinds of math right there. I also advise getting a couple family memberships to places like a zoo, nature center and museum and these typically are only around $100 each per family per year. So, the cost is what you make it. You can spend nothing or thousands or anywhere in between.
What if the way I choose fails? It probably will at some point so just be prepared for that. Nothing is perfect. Maybe you try a box curriculum and you realize that your child is more of an auditory learner so a lot of the curriculum seems to be wasted. There are plenty of places to sell gently used curriculum so sell it and move on. What if you try Montessori but you decide you need more structure? That’s ok! Anytime you feel like the method you chose is just not working then take a week off. Sit down and really try to figure out why it’s not working. Is it something you can tweak a bit and keep moving forward or does your method need to be changed? In my years of homeschooling we’ve done school-at-home, eclectic homeschooling, parts of Montessori and unschooling.
What if my child hates it? This is going to take some good communication and a watchful eye. I feel like children should be trusted and respected so if they are really hating something about the method or the curriculum then it’s time to sit down and figure out how to change it. Let your kids have a voice too.
What if I hate it? You will. At some point, you will. Homeschooling isn’t just some easy thing that we can glide right through. Homeschooling means you are with your kids 24/7. That’s wonderful for so many reasons but it can also be challenging. When you have younger kids you will literally not get to pee by yourself ever. As your kids get older and start going through hormonal changes you will be there to deal with the craziness all the time. Their education falls squarely on your shoulders and that can put a lot of pressure on a parent. Nope, I won’t sugar coat it. It’s hard. However, you also get to be there to see all of their successes. You get to know their friends in a much more intimate way. You get to see their true life. It’s a pretty cool feeling.
How’s that glass of wine? Did you finish it? I know this is a lot to take in. Take some time to do some more research. Talk to your partner and to your kids. Homeschooling should be a family discussion. Don’t feel rushed to decide right this very second.
I hope that I have given you some good information to start with. Leave questions or thoughts for me in the comments. Check out Part 3 where I talk about co ops. I look forward to hearing from you!