Special thanks to Aja McClahanan from Principles of Increase for writing this guest post to help you consider whether or not homeschooling is right for your family.
We homeschool our two girls. We’ve gone back and forth between traditional and homeschool over the years for different reasons. In this season of our lives, we are back at it.
Home-schooling is not easy and in some ways can be less stressful and more flexible than a traditional school environment. If you think you that your life and schedule might be calling out for this unique educational option, here are a few things to consider before making the jump:
Do you have time to commit to working with your kids? If no one is available from 8-5 and you plan schooling at night, be prepared for challenges. I’ve heard of some families having this schedule, but I’d think you’d have to be fairly disciplined to do this.
I would say plan to commit at least 1/2 hour of schooling per child according to their age in years. So our 5 year old takes about 2.5 hours to complete her work (sometimes less) and the 9 year old about 4 hours. The days are more abbreviated than traditional school, but you still have to make time for planning and checking work.
2. Family Dynamics
What’s your temperance like? Are you generally a patient and nurturing person? If you are not, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t homeschool, but know that these character traits will be tested during the school day! I will admit that I need some help in this area.
Also, your children’s ages and personality play a part in the equation. If your kids are strong willed, but independent once they get going you may have to use your creativity to get the most out of them. If they are whiny and need a lot of supervision, some adjustments to the school day and related discipline practices will be needed. Don’t let the different personality types throw you off, just learn the best way to deal with them and structure the school day accordingly. It may take some trial and error, but can be done.
There are so many choices in this category. Some people opt for a more rigid (and sometime more rigorous) curriculum pre-arranged by another service. The private sector K12 company has now made it into many public school systems and offers an alternative to the traditional school day. This online education service is offered at no charge for children within participating school districts. I am glad to see such alternatives offered, but keep in mind that many online programs have a strict schedule, require a lot of “seat time” and place as many as 200 students per teacher.
You can also create your own curriculum, which is what we do. Since I also run a business from home and our children are involved in many activities, this option suited us best. If we didn’t have as much going, the online services would be a strong consideration for us. There is also a space in between rigid and flexible curriculums. You could always choose an online service and supplement it with additional materials and vice versa. The beauty of homeschool is that you call the shots according to your family’s needs and personality.
4. State Laws
Each state is different laws regarding guidelines for home-schooling. We live in Illinois, an incredibly easy state to homeschool in, but you should check with your state’s particular laws. A great place to start would be the Home School Legal Defense Association or HSLDA. They can give you guidance on legal issues and if you become a member, help with any legal concerns or conflicts that arise due to your home-schooling efforts. This is a noble effort, but some people can get in a tizzy when they see school-age kids out at the grocery store in the middle of a school day. So it’s best to have legal protection and advice handy when you need it.
This is definitely the road less traveled, folks. Such a serious decision should be researched thoroughly and made as a family. This is not a perfect solution, but rather the best for our family (and maybe yours) considering our situation. It can be a wonderfully exhilarating, exciting, frustrating and annoying experience all in one. That said, I can say our good days have truly outweighed our bad days and that is what keeps us on this journey.
Aja “A.J.” McClanahan is a mom, wife and business owner who writes about family, finance, faith and entrepreneurship at www.principlesofincrease.com. She is passionate about helping others get out of debt and find creative ways to experience financial freedom.