Deciding to Homeschool

Deciding to homeschool was actually fairly easy for me; I made that decision a long time ago, before my youngest daughter was born. I was homeschooled as a child, and they were some of the best years of my childhood – I grew up in a community of like minded, yet diverse, people and I thrived. There were definitely some dark times, and one of my brother’s (I have three) might disagree about the “thriving” bit, but all in all, the homeschooling aspect of my childhood was a very positive one for me.

I always wanted to create an environment for my children where they could learn, and I could nurture and encourage their educational goals, all while developing with them the tools that they will need to succeed in life. I wasn’t able to do this for the first few years of the girls’ lives, but now that I am in a relative position to be able to achieve this, we have taken the plunge.

Deciding to homeschool can be hard, but park days like this one make it worth it.

When my daughters and I first moved back to Texas, things were extremely difficult. The girls were enrolled in public school, because I worked full time at a day care. In March of this year, I pulled the girls out of public school, quit my job, and turned to freelancing. I am not here to tell you that I make a lot of money doing this; this is not one of those articles. Truth is, I make very little money, but it’s enough to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. My fiance works for the city transit system, and I work for Door Dash in my spare time. It’s a living.

I removed the girls from public school because of several pretty alarming things that had occurred over the course of the one school year that they were enrolled. First, I found out that my oldest was being bullied simply because she is half-Mexican. Then, she was bullied because she doesn’t speak very well – it takes her a few tries to get thoughts out, and her speech isn’t very organized or concise. Finally, and perhaps most alarmingly, I found out there was a lock-down at the campus, because there was an armed man wandering around the neighborhood – and I was never notified. It wasn’t in the news, and the police were not called. I found this out two weeks after it happened, and talked with other parents who confirmed that the incident did take place. The environment was not a safe or educational one for my children.

After they came home, I administered a few placement exams for them, to see where we should start. How far behind they were was simply shocking. My oldest had been placed in Gifted and Talented while in public school… she shouldn’t have been as far behind as she was.

All of these things combined helped me to move forward with the decision to homeschool, and I can honestly say that I made the absolute best decision for the educational and emotional well-being of my children.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Homeschool

I had pondered a ‘pros and cons of homeschooling’ type of post instead of this one, but I realized those reasons vary wildly for everyone.  I realized that I couldn’t generalize something like that, because everyone has different experiences, and I couldn’t begin to presume why one family chooses to homeschool, or why another doesn’t. The truth is simply that deciding to homeschool is a very personal and sensitive subject, and checking off pros and cons probably won’t help too much in the grand scheme of things. Instead, I’ve come up with a list of questions to consider when deciding to homeschool:

  • Firstly, you should ask yourself why you want to homeschool. Generally, the reason you want to homeschool helps you to determine your method and your style.
  • Even when homeschooling, you have to be financially stable. Do you or your partner make enough money to sustain a one income household? Is it possible for one of you to work from home? Homeschooling isn’t cheap, though there are many ways to do it on a lower income (part of what this blog is about, actually).
  • What do you think your homeschool day will look like? Do you want rigid structure? Do you want to go with unschooling? This is more “free range” and works very well for certain families and certain children. If you’d like more information on unschooling, this blog post has an amazing definition.
  • How do you want your children to socialize? Socialization is important, and as such, tends to be one of the first concerns when you start to consider homeschooling. A lot of families join a homeschool co-op, which is an educational cooperative where like minded parents gather to help foster educational goals for their children. Some families have their children join Scouts, sports, gymnastics and the like, where they can either interact with only homeschooled kids (many classes like dancing and gymnastics offer homeschool classes during the weekday), or they can join evening classes with public schooled kids. Some cities are lucky to have zoos and museums that offer homeschool courses as well. It’s worth looking around in your city to see what there is out there for socialization!
  • Can you handle those with a negative bias? Homeschooling is a fairly polar issue in some areas. Because even if you can get past the homeschooling vs. non-homeschooling folks, you will most undoubtedly come into contact with people who parent/homeschool a different way and who might be critical of how you go about things. In my experience, it’s rare. The homeschool community in Houston is something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so far, and generally folks are open minded and not very critical. There are some folks though who have had a difficult time with naysayers.

There are many other questions to ask yourself before making the leap, however these are the biggest five questions to ask yourself before deciding to homeschool, in my opinion. Once you have the answers, you can form the base of your curriculum and teaching style.

What prompted you to homeschool? If you aren’t already homeschooling, why are you considering it?