I’ve had a few friends ask me about homeschooling recently so I thought I’d write a little about it.
For starters, I’ll tell you some little details about our family. I home school three kids: a fourth grader, a third grader and a first grader. Two boys and a girl. We started homeschooling last year, so my boys have some public school experience, also. There were a lot of reasons we finally decided to take the plunge and every family I’ve met has had different reasons. The main thing you need to figure out is whether or not it’s right for your family. I’m not someone who thinks every single child on God’s green earth should be schooled by their parents. But I also don’t believe public school is the best fit for every child.
Anyway, I’m not here to talk education reform or politics. I’m just gonna tell you about us.
First off, if home school sounds intriguing to you, find some families you trust (or ask friends if they know any homeschoolers you could talk to) and get the scoop. Find out things like laws in your state (homeschooling is legal in all 50 states), resources available to homeschoolers in your area and any co-ops that you might be interested in.
Research different methods of homeschooling. I have friends who basically do regular school at their homes and I have friends who are way more laid back, leaning towards unschooling. Again, this is all going to depend on what will fit best in your family. If you’re unsure where to start, try Googling these terms: Classical Homeschool, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Project Based Learning, Unit Studies. Our family started with the “regular school at home” approach and we’ve gotten more laid back as we’ve gone along and learned what works best for each child. Another thing I found helpful was checking out books from the library about what kids in grades x,y,z “should” know.
Figure out your budget. I know, the dreaded B word. You can spend anywhere from close to nothing to thousands of dollars on home school. Fully pre-planned curriculum is going to be more expensive than piecing it together yourself. We’ve landed on a pretty good mix of Sonlight for history, Apologia Science, RightStart Mathematics, Veritas Press for reading, and JacKris Publishing for writing, spelling and grammar, and lots of books thrown in there. Our home school budget is going to change a lot when we move though (see below) so some of these things may change next year.
Get on Pinterest, because OH MY GOSH. This comes in handy after you’ve figured out how much you can spend on curriculum and supplies. There are exactly 88 million different ideas on Pinterest for education. Free, almost free, totally nowhere close to free. But mostly free. I just found a bunch of Minecraft and Frozen math worksheets that were free. And my kids took them to bed that night. I never pictured my self saying the words, “Stop doing your math and go to sleep!”
One of the reasons we started homeschooling when we did was because we are living in Alaska. When I was first considering homeschooling, a friend told me, “If you want to try it, try it while you’re in Alaska.” Here’s why: Alaska is the only state in the country that gives money to homeschoolers for supplies and curriculum. We have to enroll the kids in a “charter school” and follow their rules, which include taking all the standardized tests required of public schoolers and turning in an individual learning plan for each child and work samples every quarter for each child. In return, we get a pretty great amount of money to fund our school. Needless to say, there are a lot of homeschoolers in Alaska.
Next, and this is the big one, jump in. If you’ve gotten through the decision process and still want to do this, the best thing to do is just start. It’s kinda scary and a little intimidating, but it’s also a lot of fun.
I’m so glad we decided to do this. Contrary to what some people have told me, I don’t get tired of my kids. Sure, there are times when I’d enjoy reading my own books or writing more or going to lunch with a friend. But I’ll have time for that when they’re older and I don’t want to miss out on these years. The look on my daughter’s face when she FINALLY understood how to mentally add 9’s to any number, the feeling of accomplishment my middle son has when he works through something he has a hard time with, watching my oldest devour books and fly through math lessons. Those are all amazing things. And, sure, I could’ve witnessed all those things if they had gone to public school. But, right now, I get to see it every day.
If you have any other questions, I’ll answer them as best I can. Good luck on your journey!