There is so much doubt and so many questions that hold families back from a transition to homeschool. I believe it comes down to fear of the unknown and all those “what if’s” that run through parents’ minds.
Many parents considering a homeschool education struggle with whether or not they can provide what their child needs and worry about societal ideals, often untrue, associated with homeschooling. Finally, those ideals about homeschool are changing and it’s becoming much more mainstream.
As our world and way of work changes with industrial and technological advances, our thoughts about different schooling models are changing too. You may find yourself at the intersection of considering a different educational option to best meet the needs of your child(ren).
This article goes through five common doubts or “what if’s” of parents considering homeschool. The intention is to consider whether or not it’s truly a roadblock or if you can indeed overcome these reasons you may be telling yourself that you are not able to homeschool.
I cannot homeschool because I’m not a certified teacher.
Most states do not require special certification to homeschool your children. You would need to check with your state homeschool laws about certification requirements before considering the switch to homeschool. In my research about certification here, only 11 states required a parent to have a high school diploma, GED or to take a parent qualification course. If you live in a state that requires special documentation and do not meet their criteria, most offer an alternative way such as permission from a school official.
I think most certified teachers would agree that they get the majority of their knowledge and skills from on the job training. The teacher preparation courses that they took about methodology, psychology, and classroom management do not always adequately prepare for what really takes place with a classroom full of students. It does not prepare them for “all the other” that wasn’t addressed in a college course.
As parents, you have daily on the job training that started from the minute your child was born! In the role of a parent who also teaches his or her child(ren) you get to experience how their personalities can complement the way they learn and vice versa.
Homeschool offers a way to provide your child with an education that’s personalized in a way that’s just not physically possible in a traditional classroom of 25 or more students. It focuses on the learning, not the teaching. You are a guide and support system for providing the tools and pathway to learning and your child(ren) will lead the way.
I cannot homeschool because my extended family or friends will not understand or approve.
When you decide to homeschool, the people whose opinions and input matter most are those who live under the same roof where schooling will take place. That’s usually your spouse, your children, and perhaps a close family member or friend who spends a great deal of time with you and your children. Everyone on your close “homeschool team” needs to be either on board or willing to give it a try.
Home education is becoming more and more mainstream. People who were not educated that way and have never considered another way tend to have a lot of questions from lack of understanding. They may have opinions that homeschool kids will miss out on opportunities, kids won’t have a real high school graduate diploma, homeschool kids will not get to play on sports teams, and other common questions about homeschoolers. They just don’t know because, in many cases, it’s never been a consideration.
Letting go of an opportunity that you feel strongly about because of someone else’s negative opinion is a path to resentment and regret.
Most of the time, these people express their opinion but don’t really have much of a role in your homeschool. Once they see that your kids are healthy, happy learners at home, it usually becomes a non-issue.
In fact, a lot of times their opinions change and they become an advocate for home education.
I cannot homeschool because my kids will get on my nerves.
Yes. Yes they will.
Anyone who tells you that every homeschool day is perfect have maybe been homeschooling for 5 days. Any classroom teacher who tells you that every day is perfect has maybe been teaching for 2 days. Every day is not perfect! Your kids will get on your nerves! We get on their nerves too, it’s mutual.
Now that it’s established their will be frustration and ups and downs, is it worth it?
For some families, whether they make the transition to homeschool from public school or homeschool from the start, they will absolutely tell you that homeschooling is/was a great decision for their family and the positive far outweighed the negative.
There are others who will tell you they gave it a good try but for different reasons, it did not work out. If the parent as teacher and child(ren) were not thriving for any reason, it’s okay to pivot. There are traditional brick and mortar schools, private schools, hybrid schools and online schools that may be a better fit.
Can too much of your kids be too much?
The bulk of homeschooling will take place between ages 6-16. After age 16, kids are finishing up final high school credits or deciding if they want to pursue career pathways of interest, community college or universities. They have pretty much become independent learners with some support and guidance as they make those transitions.
You will be giving a lot of your time and patience through these school years. It could mean putting your own ambitions on hold OR balancing both… achieving your goals while managing a home education program.
It will be a lot of time with your kids and some days will seem longer than others. But then there’s a point where you start to see them as young adults and the time can’t slow down enough.
When they are ready to take next steps, you’ve been there all along the way and I believe you will have no regrets whatsoever if home education was a part of that journey.
I cannot homeschool because I will mess up my children’s education.
To anyone who has this belief, I would ask how would you mess up their education? Maybe some responses would be:
I don’t know the material.
Then you could learn the material along side your child and you may feel more comfortable using scripted teacher’s guides. If this is an area where you do not feel confident, you could budget for an all in one pre-packaged curriculum that meets that need.
I can’t teach high school content.
For specific content areas in the upper grades, you could find options that come with certified teacher support in areas where you feel your child may benefit from a class with online teacher support. There are online tutors, Youtube and support from local co-op parents who may offer to exchange lesson help in areas of expertise.
You may also reach out to find other homeschool students in your area or online who excelled in that area and are willing to help other students for a cost that’s less than a certified tutor.
They won’t be prepared for work or college.
Students need life skills and soft skills to navigate their way through adulthood. Life skills like budgeting and basic repairs. Soft skills like attention to body language and dealing with difficult situations. These things are not directly taught in a traditional classroom setting. These are qualities and skills that will help your child succeed no matter what path they may choose after their schooling years.
If you put for the effort to find ways to tap into your child’s curiosity, they will learn. You started teaching from the day they were born. You will know how they learn academic material after a few lessons. Then you will be able to set up a learning experience that speaks to their passions and strengths for a high level of engagement.
Personal example here. Minecraft is allowed for 30-45 minutes in our daily routine. This is where I become the student and try to learn about creator mode, survival mode and things called mods and creepers. There are books, guides and activities that allow our child to explore this passion outside of the actual game that promote skills and valuable learning opportunities. When you find these windows of opportunity for high interest and instruction (and you will!) you can watch your child truly become inspired to learn and excel.
I absolutely love what this former homeschooler turned millionaire has to say about his success as it relates to being homeschooled!
I cannot homeschool because it seems too complicated.
Once you start researching more about various aspects of homeschooling, it can seemingly become too complicated. There’s a lot of curriculum choices. There’s consideration of teaching more than one student at different grade levels, and possibly an infant or toddler in the home at the same time. There’s a lot of different advice based on what worked for another family.
Homeschooling is complicated only if you allow it to become that way. You can take your time and ease into it. There’s no pressure to teach something in a certain way or time frame. You can adjust the pace and figure out what works best along the way. Your homeschool path does not have to look or feel like another homeschool family’s path. Give yourself permission to pivot! Give yourself permission to make it fun!
Most often, homeschooling becomes over complicated when expectations are unrealistic. If you spend hours of research on a curriculum only to find out that your child doesn’t learn best by what you chose, it can be very discouraging. Instead, you could try out samples on the websites and take some time in the beginning to try out different types of curriculum to get an idea of what will work best before making a purchase.
If you are a single parent or have family dynamics that make homeschooling seem impossible, it may take more planning and having someone like a parent or other family member/friend who is willing to help you. The beauty of homeschool is that you can make it work for your family dynamics as there is no right or wrong way.
Homeschooling does require some time, effort and patience, which is true of all parenting- with or without doing school at home too. But it also allows for a unique relationship of team effort when it comes to their learning potential. You get to experience many more “firsts” in addition to the typical milestones like learning to walk, losing a tooth and riding a bike. You get to see them learn, grow and achieve many more “firsts” in their educational journey.
What if your children have been in public school and they want to return? They may… they may not. If y’all have committed to at least a year and it turns out not to be a fit for your family, at least you will know!
Homeschooling may or may not be the right fit for your family. But if you really want to give it a try, make sure you’re not letting limiting beliefs hold you back. You may find that it’s a great fit for your family and have no regrets. The only regret you may have is that you didn’t try it sooner!