It's back to school time, and you have decided to homeschool. It may be because of COVID, the school district's curriculum or philosophy, or other family dynamics. But now you are thinking, "Did I make the right decision?"
Before I give you my answer, let me say that I used to be right where you are now. In fact, I delayed homeschooling my oldest son for three years because I was afraid it would be too difficult.
But then -- I just started. Our homeschool journey began on June 17, 2013.
Deciding to homeschool my 16-year-old oldest son Matt happened during his Sophomore year. After two years in an exemplary-rated high school, he wasn't reaching his potential. It appeared as though he was going through the motions. There was no inspiration to learn or encouragement toward a career path. Matt wasn't a jock or in the over-achieving student group. And he was overlooked.
While smart enough to do AP classes, he purposely didn't take them. "Why do more and more homework for a class? I won't learn anything different," he would reply. There weren't extracurriculars that appealed to him. Japanese was a language Matt wanted to learn but instead had to take Spanish.
With only two years left until graduation, removing him from public school was not a simple decision! Regardless, I knew that he had to make more considerable academic strides at home than he achieved in public school.
Because of the decision to homeschool Matt, I kept our 9-year-old son Joshua home too.
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What am I getting myself into?
From a mom who went from "No way!" to "I'm all in!" – here are 6 tips to help you dive into homeschooling:
Ask for guidance from other homeschooling moms. I contacted friends who had been homeschooling for some time for their advice. It was beneficial to sit for coffee and get their opinions, suggestions, and recommendations. Not one friend I talked to regretted her decision. The best comment I heard was from one girlfriend who said: "Of course you can do this! You'll be great!" Sometimes that's all you need.
Once you decide, start. We started in June. Why? It helped get our feet wet by starting with some simple subjects during the summer. Two days a week for a couple of hours was perfect for us. I could observe my sons and determine how they learned (audio, visual, kinesthetic), which helped me choose the best curriculum.
Start simple. It isn't always best to buy curriculum right away. Instead, start with classes that offer free resources online or monthly tuition (if you decide to stop and try something else). My teen began in the summer with two subjects. One was a Music Appreciation class that was free online at the time. English literature was the second. Literature is an easy class to implement with classic books from the library and free study guides.
Look for learning in the everyday. Use everyday activities for teaching. My husband gave our two sons a horticultural mini-lesson as they helped him with landscaping. When we hiked up Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg, Texas, he taught some environmental biology. We incorporated American History by planning stops on a summer vacation road trip.
Find a homeschool group for support. I joined a Facebook group that was essential in our homeschooling years. It was a fantastic way to meet other homeschooling families locally and give kids ways to make friends and connect. We were also able to create mini-classes and organize group activities.
PRAY. If you are a Christ-follower and a homeschooling parent, this is so necessary! Family dynamics will change. You may be doing this alone with no support from your spouse. With God's direction, you will have peace about what you are doing, no matter what may come.
Did I make the right decision?
Today, Matt is 24 years old. He earned a degree in Political Science from a good regional college, making excellent grades. While graduation was a non-event because of COVID, he is determined to achieve his goal of teaching English in Japan once we are through the pandemic.
Was it a struggle? Oh yes. Matt is strong-willed, and there were a lot of compromises. But --homeschooling wasn't about working toward scholarships or acceptance into a premier college. It was to encourage Matt to follow his passions. He was in a better environment for learning to become the person he is meant to be.
Today if asked whether it was worth all the work to homeschool, I will always tell you this: Yes. Today I have cultivated strong, solid relationships and friendships with both of my sons that I don't think would have happened without homeschooling.
Now to answer your question. Did you make the right decision? If the decision was prayerful and thoughtful – then yes. You made the right decision. Will it be easy? Maybe not. Will it be fulfilling? Absolutely.
For my free resources for homeschooling high school, click on the Homeschool Resources link at the top of the blog.
If you homeschool, share one of your best tips in the comments below!