So You Think You Want to Homeschool Part 2: Our Personal Decision-Making Process

Homeschooling isn’t the perfect fit for everyone, and your goal is to make the best decision for you and yours, so don’t feel pressured into being the “perfect” parent who can do it all.  Just evaluate the cost and benefit like you do any important decision, and take it one year at a time when you need to!

I can only tell you what I have observed in our 14 years of homeschooling, but the truth of the matter is it’s different for every child and every family.  In our area, there are about 200 families that choose home education, and every single family I’ve met is unique.  Some homeschool happily, start-to-finish, with all their children.  Some choose only certain kids or certain grades to teach at home.  We’ve homeschooled one child 5K-12th, another 3K-9th (so far), and our youngest has been entirely home with me from birth and will start 5K this fall.

In our household, we talk every year about each of our children and assess what we think is best for each one for the coming school year. Each spring, I begin thinking about what we’ve accomplished and where we’ve fallen short of my hopes and expectations. I try to identify what caused successes and shortcomings to determine if any of those things would prevent success or need addressed in the next year. Each summer, I spend time adjusting our short and long-term goals so I can plan the fall. So far, we haven’t encountered a year that we truly thought someone else could do better with teaching our child everything, but there are years that we “farm out” a subject or a few subjects to another tutor to broaden our children’s experiences or meet their individual needs.

This year, my teen will take four classes outside our home once a week, and she’ll have assignments to do on the other days.  If she needs my help, I’m here and ready, but I’m not in charge of planning it all, and it creates a different level of accountability for her to have to confess to a non-parent if she falls behind or needs help.  (Those are life skills that she needs!)  Because I excelled at nearly everything academically, I could easily teach any class that doesn’t require a group experience, but choir and theatre aren’t solo activities, so at least two of her classes need other students.  This year, that will leave 2-3 classes that are entirely my responsibility to oversee, and I’m very comfortable with that number.  It’s really nice to share responsibility for her education instead of feeling like everything’s all on me, and I love teaching teens, so I want in on at least some of the fun!

My youngest, who will “officially” begin kindergarten this fall, will have clubs and fun activities where he interacts with others, but he really will learn best one-on-one with me.  He’ll experience a classroom setting in Sunday school, children’s choir at church, and a special science club with a few other families, and he’ll begin Cub Scouts (in the new Lion Cub level for Kindergarteners) and probably play on a soccer team.  I may even teach an early childhood art class and invite a few homeschool friends over to do projects together. (We have before, and it was quite popular!) We’ll spend a lot of time with “real” books, exploring whatever part of our world currently interests him, and the “3 R’s” will actually be sit-down lessons planned carefully to teach him basic reading, writing, and math skills. A lot of his day, however, will be meaningful play or fun projects to reinforce what he’s learning.

That leads perfectly into my next homeschool topic… Stay tuned for homeschool planning!

-Tina Kaye

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