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Some families know from the time their children are infants that they want to homeschool. Others make that decision after they find that a traditional school setting isn’t working for their family. It can be a difficult decision with a lot to consider.
My husband and I thought that we would send our children to public school. We had a plan. I would stay at home until our youngest started kindergarten. Then I would return to work teaching elementary school. I enjoyed teaching and was looking forward to returning to the classroom.
That plan was turned upside down after giving our local elementary school a chance. My daughter was not being stimulated or getting a decent education and meetings with her teacher and offers of classroom help did nothing to change that.
My husband and I had a lot to consider. After many late night conversations and a frustrating teacher conference we pulled our first grade daughter out of school. It was not a decision that we reached lightly. It was pretty much all we talked about for a few weeks. We discussed the pros and cons of homeschooling in depth.
Homeschooling Pros and Cons
Should you homeschool?
Ability to tailor curriculum choices to your student
Different curriculums work for different learning styles. Public schools are locked into curriculum choices. Sure, great teachers work hard to add activities to try to meet all students needs, but the core curriculums and learning objectives are decided on a state or county level. This is an amazing time to homeschool because we have so many curriculums available to us. No matter your student’s learning type or ability level, you will be able to find a great curriculum that works well for your child.
If it turns out that your chosen curriculum was not the right fit for your student, you have the freedom and flexibility to change curriculums. You are not locked into a curriculum. 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy is a great place to start to find a curriculum that fits your child.
Homeschoolers have the best field trips
I attended a public school for my entire education and I remember only going on one field trip a year. Some years we didn’t even do that.
Homeschoolers don’t necessarily have the same budgetary and time constraints as public schools, so we have more options. There are so many opportunities for learning in our community. Kids not only get the benefit of experiencing things first hand, but they can also learn directly from experts.
Learning about astronomy? Go check out a planetarium show, meet up with a group of space enthuisists to space watch with telescopes, or check out a museum exhibit to touch a piece of moon rock.
Plenty of family time
Homeschool families spend a lot of time together. Siblings learn alongside each other and parents are involved in all of the lessons. My children do not get along 100% of the time, but I have heard from friends that my children get along better than many siblings. I’m hoping that all of the together time now will mean that my kids will still be close as adults.
I love getting to hang out with them all day too. My husband is currently working from home, so we are all here, all the time. It is pretty awesome and I will cherish these memories forever.
Design your own school calendar
Homeschool families have the flexibility to design their own school calendar. Take breaks whenever it works best for your family. This means that you can go on vacation when public schools are in session, take off all of December, cancel school on birthdays, or work through a weekend in order to play during the week.
This looks different for every family. Honestly, it looks slightly different every year for my family. Some years we are finished with school at the beginning of May. Other years we take a month off to move across the country. Usually we take a vacation in either November or December, but this year we are taking a vacation in July because we don’t know what my husband’s work schedule will look like in the fall. We just roll with it and adjust as necessary.
Homeschooling is time consuming
One of my main concerns before starting to homeschool was the time commitment. I was worried about the amount of time actually required to plan and teach as well as the loss of ‘me’ time. I worried that I would be pulling time away from my toddler.
Preparing and teaching lessons does take time. Only you will know if it is something that you can fit into your schedule.
There are ways to minimize the time commitment, though. You can use curriculums that require minimal prep time, lesson plan strategically, or cut time from somewhere else.
When my husband and I were discussing our hopes and concerns for homeschooling, we agreed that I would get out of the house, without children, at least once a week. Sometimes that meant going to book club, working out, or even just walking through Target. I just needed an hour or so without a small child attached to my hip. That is enough ‘me’ time to make me feel sane.
It is a huge responsibility
No denying this one. Homeschooling IS a huge responsibility. You are solely responsible for your child’s education and there is no one else to take the blame if things turn sour. It is a scary thought.
The good news is that there are plenty of people that want you to be successful and are happy to help. The homeschool community is generally a friendly bunch, so try asking for help in local mom Facebook groups or homeschool meetups.
It can be expensive
Homeschooling actually does not have to be super expensive. The cost of homeschooling varies widely depending on curriculum choices, co-op fees, and extracurricular costs. Buying curriculum second hand is a great way to save money.
We have found that the biggest cost associated with homeschooling is the missed income from my not returning to work. There isn’t really much we can do about that, but it makes us feel better when we factor that against what we would be spending in private school tuition if I returned to public school teaching.
Only you can decide if you can make room in your household budget for homeschooling supplies.
Ultimately, only you can decide if homeschooling is right for your family. Homeschooling has been an amazing experience for my family but that doesn’t mean that it is right for everyone. Just know that it is okay to take it one year at a time. If you decide to homeschool now, you can always change your mind later. It is all about whatever works best for your family . . . which might change over time.
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