Homeschooling 101: Should You, And How Do You Get Started?

According to the California Homeschool Network, “Homeschooling, or family-based education, has been the primary mode of education for most of recorded history.” Formal education laws weren’t passed until 1918, and the movement for returning to home-based education took off in the 1960s.

Stigmatized and criticized by some who enroll their kids in mainstream education, homeschooling has been controversial since its inception. For millions of parents, however, homeschooling is the only educational path on which they would allow their children to walk. According to reports, homeschool enrollment is growing seven times faster than public school enrollment.

Follow this guide to see if homeschooling is right for you.

Know Yourself

Jessica Fisher, homeschool practitioner and advocate who runs the website Life as a Mom, says that it comes down to a few basic, but difficult questions. Do you enjoy spending time with your kids? Are you capable of being a good teacher? Do you like to read and learn? You’re going to get criticism from others – can you handle it? These are complicated questions that require real introspection, but they must be answered before you commit.

The Benefits

Simple Home School does a great job of summing up the various things so many parents of homeschooled kids list as primary benefits of home education.

  • A customized curriculum is developed specifically for your child, as opposed to a generic syllabus that follows a teacher’s schedule.
  • There is a teacher-to-student ratio unattainable even in the finest schools.
  • There is no rushing through subjects, and you may take your time to increase the depth of learning.
  • There is, of course, freedom and flexibility in scheduling.
  • You are almost certain to build strong bonds with your kids.
  • Health concerns are often cited as a benefit as well. If children have extenuating health issues, being at home can create healing and peaceful care for children who need it.
  • Perhaps most importantly, it allows parents the freedom to decide when or if to introduce sensitive subject matter or topics such as bullying, sex education, and religion.

Potential Disadvantages

As outlined in Homeschooling Ideas, there are potential pitfalls that you must consider, as well. First, the responsibility of your child’s education lands squarely on your shoulders. Your child will not just learn the curriculum, but your morals and behavior. There is considerable stress involved with worrying about your performance since your child’s entire education is based on it.

Also, some children can feel isolated, not to mention it does require you to spend an enormous amount of time with your children.

Additionally, the reality is, many people – including your friends and family – will look at your choice with suspicion or ridicule. They may challenge you as a parent or even attack your online reputation.

Last, but certainly not least, it is very difficult to be a teacher and a parent at the same time.

Join a Community

One of the best things you can do before you decide is join a community such as Homeschool Central. It is imperative that you have discussions and get opinions from logical people on both sides of the issue. Talk to advocates, as well as people who used to homeschool but then stopped and sent their children to traditional school. Your child’s education is too important to cherry-pick facts and opinions that back up your own personal opinion about homeschooling.

Homeschooling is not for everyone. But for the parents who swear by it, the movement has strengthened not only their children’s education, but their family’s bond and structure. It is an important, dramatic step to take – one that will alter the life and path of your family and child forever. Get informed, be honest about your own capabilities and shortcomings, and make sure you put your family first.

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Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about education, online learning financial aid, and homeschooling for companies such as Education.Yahoo.net.