As more and more people join the homeschooling bandwagon, it’s normal to wonder if it would work for you. Let’s face it, one reason military families are drawn to homeschooling is the flexibility of continuing school wherever you are and whenever you move. You don’t have to worry about moving in the middle of the school year, testing the kids when you get to your new location, figuring out the right school to attend, and all sorts of other factors. But, before you jump on board, there are a few things need to think about if you’re going to tackle this project successfully.
Know Your Why
This may sound simple, but you really need to think about why you want to homeschool. Some military families choose to homeschool for a short period of time between moves in order to coincide with the start of the public or private school year. Other families decide to homeschool because they’re in an area with poorly rated schools. Many families decide to homeschool because they believe it’s the best educational decision for their children.
Debating whether or not homeschooling is a good idea is beyond the scope of this article, but everyone has a why, and you should know yours before you jump in. Homeschooling is a lot of work, and your why will either give you the endurance to keep going or tell you when it’s time to stop.
Make Sure You and Your Spouse are on the Same Page
You and your spouse should, without a doubt, be 100 percent on the same page when it comes to the motivation, allocation of resources, and decision to homeschool. There will be days when it’s hard — really hard. Your spouse should be able to remind you why you do what you do and encourage you to keep going. If you disagree about whether the kids should be schooled at home or not, you will introduce constant daily tension into your family and marriage.
Talk about the reasons you want to homeschool. Meet other homeschoolers at a co-op or church group and ask them questions. Address the fears that often come before the decision to homeschool (i.e., the kids will turn out weird, they won’t be socialized properly, you can’t possibly teach all the subjects, you don’t have the time etc.). These are completely legitimate fears but are usually based on lack of information about homeschooling as it is today.
Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself and Your Kids
Know that homeschooling is not as easy as many homeschool moms make it look. There can be hours of planning and tracking depending on the curriculum you choose, the age of your child, and state laws where you live. If you decide to take the plunge, know it will take time for everyone to adjust to the new family dynamics and schedule.
It’s not realistic to think you can set your preschooler or elementary schooler down in front of a computer and leave them to it all day and expect them to be a genius. You need to evaluate if you want to make the time and have the energy to actively lead them in their learning. If your child is a little bit older and you’re starting homeschooling for the first time, there were also be an adjustment. This will be a different dynamic between you and your children. They may resist that for a while, so you need to have enough patience for both of you until you all figure out the new routine.
It’s OK to take some time to figure out how your homeschool will work. Also, know that most homeschool families do not spend seven hours sitting at a table doing exercises and reading out of textbooks. Your learning day can be shorter, more spaced out, include out-of-the-house field trips on a regular basis, incorporate technology or books, and any number of variable elements. All of that is OK, but you will need to give yourself the freedom to adjust.
Find Your Tribe
Homeschooling can be very lonely if you’re trying to do it completely on your own. Fortunately, most areas have some sort of homeschool co-op or homeschool Facebook group with information and opportunities to connect with other homeschool families. Many of these are religiously affiliated, but there are some that are secular. Try to find a group that fits best with your family, and ask them some questions. Ask them about their experience. Meet their kids. Ask about local laws (which vary by state and overseas). See if these are people with whom you could connect on a regular basis. Most homeschool families are pretty honest about the pros and cons and are happy to share with inquiring parents.
Ultimately, the decision to homeschool or not is a very personal one. Studies have shown that the one factor that has the most impact on how well kids do in school is parental involvement. So whatever you decide, keep fighting for your kids and reaching to give them the best you possibly can.
Looking for an adventurous homeschooling option? Read up on one Daily Mom Military writer’s transition From Mainstream Classroom to Worldschooling.
Photo Credits: Marisa McDonald Photography | Kristi Stolzenberg