At some point in our lives, every homeschool parent has been faced with a monumental decision: Do we really think homeschooling is a good idea for our child? If that’s you right now, keep reading; you’re in the right place!
The decision to homeschool has quite a few variables to it. Is it likely to work well for my child? Am I going to be a good enough teacher? How will my spouse feel about this decision? Can we afford to do it? Does it change our income? What are the legal aspects of homeschooling? Can my child still get into college? What will we be giving up? What will we be getting that makes it all worthwhile? Whew! It’s a mind-boggling decision when we try to figure everything out before we begin! Some questions can be answered easily, and others are significantly harder to “know” with absolute certainty.
Some criteria, for me, are absolutely necessary for homeschooling. I have to feel called to do it; as a Christian, I feel like I cannot do it without God. (If that’s not you, please don’t let that stop you from reading the rest of this post; I am not going to beat you over the head with my Bible until you accept my beliefs!) I also feel like I need my husband’s support; if he’s not with me on this, he’ll either accidentally or intentionally undermine my efforts. My child being agreeable is preferred, but trusting your child to help decide his or her future is your call. Some children and teens can objectively decide, and others cannot envision doing anything differently than the majority of their friends.
The fact that you are pondering this decision is actually a good indication of your dedication to making it work. Parents who care this passionately are determined to assist their children in any setting, and homeschooling requires commitment! If you frequently change your mind or you have trouble sticking with decisions when things get tough, there may be a better solution for your situation than homeschooling your child. You really do have to decide it will work before it can work, and, just like any job on the planet, there will be days you don’t like your job. Your child needs to know you’re going to do whatever it takes to make you both succeed, though, and feeling iffy just doesn’t give them stability. I know you can do it, but you need to decide up front that you know it too!
As for the legality of homeschooling, I suggest you consult HSLDA.org to find out your state’s requirements. I don’t even want to attempt to tell you the legalities for places I’ve never lived, and we’ve lived in the same place for my children’s entire lives. They’re experts, and they have many useful resources for the homeschool wannabes or newbies.
When looking ahead to college and other future endeavors, I can tell you my homeschooled son had no problem getting into a major university with a full scholarship, and I’ve not heard of any college that discriminates against homeschoolers in years… provided you have kept proper records, provide professional looking transcripts, and meet the class requirements and test scores listed for that college. No matter what college or trade school they attend, beginning high school with the end in mind is ideal. You really don’t want to discover that two years of foreign language was required at the beginning of the Senior year or that pre-calculus was a pre-requisite… or anything else that wreaks havoc on your sanity. Good SAT or ACT scores will also matter, and it may take more tries than you’d like to get accepted or get the full scholarship, so it’s just a matter of planning ahead and allowing time for bumps in the road.
Money. part 1: About costs… There are high and low price options for curriculum out there. The more money you spend on carefully designed curriculum, the less time you need to invest in planning. I look for affordable curriculum that meets our needs, but I’ve seen really good free options that have tempted me to use. In reality, I’m a little too good at procrastinating to choose ones that take a lot of time, and I hate waiting for just the right book to be in at the library or running to the store for a forgotten supply. I want everything to be right where it should be when Monday morning rolls around, with no surprises to frustrate my day. On the other hand, I don’t want a curriculum that takes me out of it, so I don’t need all the bells and whistles. I choose what I think will best suit our child and our personalities, and it tends to be towards the middle of the price ranges usually. Our costs are significantly less than private school tuition and books, but a bit higher than all the supplies and fees we’d face in public schools.
Money, part 2: What about working? My husband and I planned on me staying home with our preschoolers, but giving up a second income when they could be in “free” schools was a tough decision. I sometimes tutor or take part-time jobs to fill in a bit, but we definitely could do more with two full-time incomes. That was our decision. I have friends who simply work different hours that their spouse, tag-teaming so that someone’s always home. Some of them share teaching as well, and others don’t. If you don’t have the help of a spouse, you may have a friend that has the same hope to homeschool, and you may take turns watching each other’s kids and teaching so that you can both homeschool and hold part-time positions that call for working different hours. If you want to homeschool badly enough, you can often come up with a creative solution.