Are you thinking about homeschooling because of the violence in your local schools? Or the drugs? Or the bullying?
Because you have a child who struggles in school?
Do your kiddos need more challenging academics?
Or, do you want daily moral and religious instruction that public schools no longer provide? You know, like Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
If so, you are not alone.
The National Center for Education Statistics says that parents of approximately 2,000,000 American students are choosing to teach their children at home. (See nces.ed.gov)
But homeschooling can seem so daunting. Can you really teach your kiddos at home?
Questions flood your mind.
I remember those questions.
Here are answers to 11 common questions, answered by me and some other experienced homeschool moms who’ve already been where you are.
1. What if you don’t have an education degree?
I worried about this before I began homeschooling. Would I be able to teach my son what he needed to know?
I asked around. I attended a large, homeschool convention in a major city. Read a lot. Prayed even more.
Know what I found out? You can be an effective home educator even without a degree in education.
I know a mom who has a background as a stockbroker. Another is a chemist. Still another is a Certified Public Accountant. I even know one who is a martial arts instructor.
Would a degree in education help you homeschool? Sure. But, you can also use whatever you know.
Can you imagine learning science from your mom who is a chemist?
Or math from your mom who is a CPA?
You have strengths. Use them.
What about your weaknesses?
You have two choices:
A. Study hard. You can master the school subjects you feel least qualified to teach. You will have to put forth some effort, though. Be okay with that.
For example, I had to spend extra time with the teacher edition of the algebra 1 curriculum I used with our son. I passed algebra 1 in high school and in college, but I am not a math person (don’t really enjoy it). Mastering algebra 1 so I could help my son learn it challenged me. I had to push myself to understand and explain solving equations and inequalities, exponents and radicals, quadratic equations, and more.
Yes, on several occasions I had to say Philippians 4:13 out loud: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Know what? I had a tremendous sense of accomplishment when my son successfully completed that class.
B. Get someone else. If you choose to homeschool, you do not have to teach every subject to each of your kiddos. You have options.
Take time to research the many choices available to your family. If you have access to the internet, your children can take online classes.
You can also ask homeschool families in your area about local homeschool co-ops. Some co-ops meet two days per week, then assign work for the students to do at home the other days.
The best plan? Pray over what to do and how to do it, then go with what you believe God tells you to do.
2. What about all the, um, togetherness?
Some days it’s a plus. Other days? Not so much.
But that’s the case with every part of your life. Marriage. Your job. Friends. Extended family. Having a yard. That adorable dog you just had to have. Everything has pros and cons. Being together with your children every day is no different.
As a homeschool mom, being with your children is a blessing.
You get to be the one who sees the moment when your little finally ties his shoes all by himself.
Your heart will fill with pride when you listen to your child read out loud to you because you taught him how to read.
You can rejoice with your kiddo when she realizes she understands how to work a hard math problem.
But, you will need a break from your kids. Doesn’t mean you don’t love them. Just means you would enjoy some time to yourself for a walk, a workout, a bath, a visit with a friend, some time in God’s Word, a women’s retreat, etc.
So, address this need before you begin homeschooling. Schedule some time for you. Be creative. Time for you can look like:
- An early morning quiet time with God.
- A weekly women’s Bible study online or in person.
- Workouts at a gym that offers exercise classes for kids, too.
- Church activities for your kids, such as Wednesday night programs.
- A class (or several) outside of your home for your kiddos so you can visit with other homeschool moms or read a book you want to read.
- A weekly date night with your husband.
- Time to go for a walk by yourself. Or with a friend.
- A girls’ night out with other moms.
- An hour every evening after the kids are asleep to unwind.
Put dates on your family’s calendar–and give yourself permission to keep them.
Remember, even Jesus had to get away: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35.
3. How much will it cost?
Great question. Answer? Depends on what you choose.
Will you buy new curriculum or used? Teach all classes at home or pay to take classes somewhere? What can you afford?
If you buy new curriculum, expect to spend $600ish for an entire year’s worth of student books and teacher books per grade.
You can definitely keep costs down if you borrow curriculum from another homeschool family, which I have done. (Free is my favorite price.)
Buying used curriculum from other homeschool families also lowers expenses. Don’t be afraid to ask homeschool moms with children older than yours what they do with their school books when they finish with them. Be willing to offer to buy the used books.
Is there a homeschool group in your area? Many homeschool groups have used curriculum sales in the late spring/early summer, when a school year has just finished. Shopping such a sale can not only be fun but also score your family just the right books at deeply discounted prices.
What if you decide to send your kiddos to a homeschool co-op program for classes 2-3 days per week, then you work at home with them on their work the other days? Prices vary, depending on what co-op you choose and how many classes you select. Some co-ops cost as little as a few hundred dollars per school year for some classes to several thousand dollars. Ask friends and family members for information about the best co-ops in your area.
Other options include online courses, such as The Keystone School (keystoneschoolonline.com), Bob Jones (bjupresshomeschool.com/content/home), Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) or public school programs like K-12. Costs vary.
4. What curriculum do you use?
After weighing the options, I felt God leading me to buy my son’s curriculum from a company that has been around for a while, a company with a proven track record of educating children well.
Before each school year began, I would order a set of curriculum from ABeka. Everything would arrive in one box, ready to go. All scope and sequence already figured out for me. Directions clearly written for me in each teacher book. Colorful workbooks for my son. Made teaching my son at home much easier with all the subjects laid out for us.
If you are interested in Abeka, check out the website: https://www.abeka.com/
After teaching at a private school for several years, my friend and retired homeschool mom, Lendy McLeroy, felt comfortable choosing homeschool curriculum for her sons from several different publishers. She spent time online, checking out what was available.
Each summer, she attended a major homeschool fair so she could hold books in her hands, flipping through, making sure she bought what her boys needed for the upcoming school year. She knew she would use each book twice–once for her older son, then again for her younger one.
If you participate in a nearby homeschool program like Classical Conversations (classicalconversations.com), the curriculum is already chosen for you. Ditto if you enroll your children in an online academy, such as Keystone.
With all the choices available to homeschooling families today, you can find something that will work well for each child for each school year.
5. Should I expect my husband to share the teaching?
For most of the homeschooling families I know, mom is the main teacher. Some dads will teach a subject or two, usually something the dads know well. But most dads do not teach any school subjects.
My friend, Becky Robinson, now a retired homeschool mom, says that bothered her for a while when she first started homeschooling her three kids.
“My husband wasn’t real involved in the homeschool process,” she says. “Whenever I would hear another woman talk about her husband teaching something, I used to get really jealous that my husband didn’t teach math or do these things that I heard other husbands were doing.”
Looking back on homeschooling, Becky realizes that her husband was always very supportive and believed in what she was doing.
He knew some days were more challenging for Becky than others.
“When I had a day I would tell him that you need to take this kid or we are going to be down one, he was always glad to help,” Becky says.
Likewise, my husband did not teach any classes but was very encouraging to me. Our agreement was that he earned the money for our family and I taught school. And that worked for us.
You and your husband have to figure out and agree on what will work best for your family.
6. How do you work your family’s schedule?
Any way you want. No. Seriously.
Are you a morning person and so are your children? Why not start school at 8 a.m. every morning?
My son and I are morning people so that’s what we did. By early to mid-afternoon, we were through every day. We could run errands, play sports, go for a walk, get together with friends, take a music lesson, etc.
I know other homeschool families who are night owls so their school day begins later and ends later.
The beauty of homeschooling is that you pick your family’s schedule: when you start and end each day AND when you start and end each school year.
7. Do you have to have a schoolroom in your home?
No. I actually know very few families that have homeschooled in a dedicated home schoolroom.
Most people I know–including my family–use the whole house and yard and nearby parks and their cars and, well, everywhere to do school. Why? Because, as homeschoolers, you can.
8. Can you do fun projects with the kiddos?
When you homeschool, you can take time to see if that post you spotted on Pinterest would actually work. Seriously. You can.
Like, will seeds really sprout and grow in used eggshells that have been washed and filled with potting soil? (Spoiler alert: YES!)
One spring, my son and I collected tadpoles from a pond, placed them in a small aquarium in his bathroom, and tracked the progress day by day as the tadpoles sprouted legs and grew into frogs. Smelled weird. But we were fascinated at God’s handiwork. (Just in case you were wondering, we did release the frogs into the pond. Happy ending for all.)
9. Can you use what you have?
You don’t have to buy entire catalogs of manipulatives, art supplies, and teaching supplies. Be creative. Think outside the box. You know, the box that arrives by your front door but costs you more money.
Look around your house and yard at what your family has, such as puzzles, books, crayons, paper, kitchen supplies, and more.
I taught our son basic math using pieces of gravel from a nearby gravel driveway. He grasped the idea that three pieces of gravel plus three more pieces of gravel equaled six pieces of gravel. Worked as well as any box of purchased math manipulatives–and we didn’t have to spend any more money.
10. How do you know if God is calling you to teach your kiddos at home?
Well, you are reading this blog post, right? So, you probably have some interest in homeschooling.
But, how do you know God’s will for your children’s education?
Pray. Pray some more. Ask God to show you how He wants you to educate your children this year. Public school? Private school? Homeschool?
Keep praying daily until God makes His answer clear. He will answer you.
What if you feel God is calling you to homeschool but you don’t feel equipped? Don’t worry. God doesn’t call the equipped to do His will. He equips the called.
Don’t believe it? Just take a look at the backgrounds of the men Jesus called to be His disciples. Fishermen. A tax collector. And God used them to change the world.
11. Is homeschooling really a lifestyle?
Yes. A lifestyle like no other. And that’s good.
A. There’s no rushing out the door early in the morning to get everyone where they need to be.
B. Your children can start the school day in their pajamas.
C. You don’t have to wait until a parent-teacher conference to find out how your child is doing in school. You’ll know every day.
D. You can give your kids a 15-minute break any time you notice restlessness or glazed eyes. Let them go throw a ball. Or climb a tree. Maybe ride a bike. Eat a snack. Then come back to the schoolwork. You’ll be amazed at how much better your kiddos perform in school with breaks geared to them.
E. If your child struggles with a particular subject, you can slow down the pace of school. You can work with your kiddo until he/she understands.
F. You can accelerate the pace when you have a child who already grasps the material you are teaching.
G. Your family can take trips any time of the year. (Think: Disney World in October.)
H. You can study something, then go to a related aquarium, zoo, historic site, park or museum. I took my son and a friend to see real Egyptian mummies at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta after learning about ancient Egypt in our world history curriculum. So much better than just reading about mummies and seeing a picture in a book!
I. You can stop what you are doing to work on a character issue with a kiddo. You know, telling the truth, treating others with respect, etc.
Can you tell that I highly recomment the homeschool lifestyle?
Well, I do. Because it works well for families. For parents. For kiddos.
Deciding to pull your kiddos out of a traditional school to educate them at home is a BIG decision. I get that.
But you are living in a time when homeschooling is commonplace. Resources abound.
At the click of a button, you can order curriculum, free printables, books to read or join a homeschool group in your area.
You might even find experienced–or retired–homeschool moms in your church who could meet with you to help you come up with a workable homeschool plan just for you.
A word of caution, though. For everything you say yes to, you will have to say no to something else. You can’t do everything all at the same time–in spite of what the culture says.
The Proverbs 31 woman, for example, probably did all that she’s credited with doing over the course of her lifetime:
Considering a field and buying it.
Clothing her household in scarlet.
How about her children rising up and calling her blessed? Yeah. That definitely took years. I seriously doubt her children were calling her blessed when they were in timeout or having to do their homework.
Some biblical scholars have even suggested that the Proverbs 31 woman is a compilation of the best of several women.
Either way, you can take some pressure off yourself. If you go ahead and homeschool, give yourself permission to take some other stuff off your plate for a while. For a season.
When she began homeschooling her three children, Becky Robinson says that she had to learn to say no to some things.
Will you chair this fundraiser? Not this time.
Can you be the team mom? No. Not this season.
Would you be in charge of the women’s ministry at church? Not this year.
“I’m sorry, but I have this job to do,” Becky would say. And that’s how she treated homeschooling: as her full-time job.
Now, as a retired homeschool mom with all three of her children living and working successfully as adults, Becky has more time to volunteer and serve.
Life does, after all, come in seasons.
Want to know more about life coming in seasons? Check out my post: https://strongforhertasks.com/2019/05/22/9-ways-knowing-life-comes-in-seasons-can-help-you/