I polled a group of homeschool moms to find out what their greatest fears were when they first started. I wasn’t too surprised by their answers because I had them at one time, too. Fear is a natural human emotion. It protects us from physical and psychological pain, yet it can also be paralyzing. It’s good to research homeschooling and weigh the benefits against the risks before jumping in, but I’m hoping that by addressing your fears, I can help you move past them into homeschooling with joy and confidence.
You’re Not Good Enough
That’s what the enemy wants you to believe, but just think about that for a minute. Who loves your children more than you? Who knows your children better than you?
You aren’t a certified teacher? Research by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) shows that homeschooled children consistently outperform students in both public and private schools. The education level of the parents makes an almost indiscernible difference, even if they’re a certified teacher.
If you know how to read, you can teach your children. There are curricula that provide everything you need, some even provide scripts. You don’t have to know everything. Nobody does!
Did you know how to parent before you had children? Probably not. Most of us learn on the job. Whether you realize it, or not, you’ve been homeschooling since they were born. While they were with you, they learned to sit up, walk, and talk. You didn’t have to teach them all of that, just encourage them a little. It’s the same way with homeschooling. God has instilled in them the desire to explore their environment and learn. You just need to provide some resources and assistance.
The only prerequisite for teaching your children is your love for them…Check! ✅
Homeschooling doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are a lot of free resources on the internet, and there are other ways of cutting corners such as buying second-hand from other homeschoolers, and shopping garage sales and thrift stores. Curriculum that allows you to teach multiple students at once helps with both financial and time management.
According to Dr. Ray of NHERI, public schools spend an average of $16,000 per student. Homeschool families are estimated to spend an average of about $600 per child, and many families spend far less than that. Again, homeschoolers test higher than public schooled students. It isn’t the amount of money that is spent that makes a school successful, it’s the quality of time.
Time management is always an issue. It’s true that you will have to learn to prioritize your responsibilities and be flexible, but you can do that, too. As your children grow up there will always be classes and activities that have to be worked around. It’s an important life skill for your kids to learn, too.
Homeschooling is highly customizable. Your schedule is up to you and can be set up to accommodate parents’ work schedules, travel, and preferences. If you’re imagining sitting with your children 8-3, Monday through Friday, you don’t have to mimic the public school schedule. In fact, because the teacher/student ratio is so small, it doesn’t take near as much time on the teacher’s part. Additionally, as students get older, they become more independent and responsible for their own school work.
“I can’t be with my kids all day.” Yes, I’ve actually heard that a lot. What a sad statement! I’m not going to tell you that homeschooling will always be easy, because it won’t. What I will tell you, though, is that homeschooling changes the family dynamics. If discipline is a problem, it will be the first thing you will need to work on, and is among the advice I offer in “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling.” If you don’t have obedience, then that is your first order of business. Children know when you don’t want to be with them. In fact, some of that negative behavior is due to a need for attention. Always being shuttled off to school and extra-curricular activities won’t do anything to help their behavior. What will help, is being around adults more and peers less, having boundaries that are firmly set, and consequences that are consistently enforced. One of the best gifts you can give your children is time with you, and caring enough about their future to mold them into people that others will enjoy being around.
Criticism/Lack of support
I would venture to say that most homeschool parents are faced with criticism and a lack of support. You and your spouse need to present a united front when it comes to family and friends that are less than supportive. The homeschooling father is the first line of defense and it’s his job to firmly let others know that this is the decision that the two of you have made and that’s that.
NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute) has done a lot of research on homeschoolers and the results are all very encouraging. Showing this research to doubters may reassure them, but then again it may not. It’s up to you to be diligent in your homeschooling, and with time they will see that it works. I have a blog post that I wrote especially for grandparents who may be anxious about homeschooling.
If you feel that God has called you to homeschool and that your commitment is to Him, that will give you the strength to keep going when the going gets tough. Invite Him to work through you to prepare your children for adulthood and the purpose He has planned for them.
With time, you’ll find that there are many individuals and groups out there to support you in your homeschooling journey.
Kids Missing Out
You are absolutely right! Your kids are going to miss out on things! Things like peer pressure to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex; bullying, indoctrination, and sleep deprivation.
I want to reassure you, though, that homeschoolers have many opportunities for socialization. Homeschool support groups offer things such as proms, sports associations, band, choir, and graduation ceremonies. Additionally, homeschoolers take advantage of programs through churches and civic associations. There are opportunities in every community, you just have to seek them out. If you live rurally, you may need to drive to a larger city once a week or so, but it’s worth it. Finally, if there is something you want for your child, you can always organize it yourself. Kids need not miss out on anything just because they’re homeschooled. You can read more in “The “S” Word ~ What About Socialization?”
“Keeping Up” and “Doing It Right”
This is something else that you don’t need to worry about. In homeschooling, you are free to work at your child’s speed. They may be at a different grade level in each subject. Are they having trouble mastering a concept? Slow down and spend as much time as they need. Are they bored? Challenge them by picking up the pace. Every education has gaps, but with homeschooling, you get to choose where those gaps are.
There’s no one “right” way. Every homeschool family is different, and even within one family each child may use different resources. Again, you tailor your homeschool to suit your family’s needs. Have you heard of the fable, “The Animal School?” It will inspire you to seek out and accommodate your child’s endowed abilities. You can read about it in, “7 Lessons I Learned from the Animal School and How They Shaped Our Homeschool.”
Some states require testing, so my advice is not to worry about it too much. Use the test results to get a better idea of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as to rate their progress. But at the same time, take the results with a grain of salt. They don’t measure things that are truly important such as character traits and life skills. Go over some basic things with your children to prepare them, such as filling in the bubble, erasing completely if they change their answer, making sure they are on the right line/number, etc. Otherwise, just go on with your curriculum and don’t worry about what will be on the test.
College and Military
You may worry about your child being able to get into college or the military. Colleges are increasingly seeking out homeschool graduates. Homeschoolers are doing very well! Just read my most popular post, “Homeschool Graduates in College ~ From the Professors’ Perspective.”
HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) offers their members assistance in things like planning for high school, preparing transcripts, and help if you have any problems.
Graduation is still a celebrated accomplishment with homeschoolers. Your child may be able to take part in a group ceremony, or you can plan your own one-of-a-kind celebration. Beautiful announcements and diplomas can be ordered online with your homeschool’s information on them. In “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling,” I suggest that you choose a name and motto, because they can be put on the diploma and will mean something to the graduate.
At one time, homeschoolers had to obtain a GED in order to get into the military, but thanks to the efforts of HSLDA, that has been changed and homeschool graduates are treated the same as other high school graduates.
I know first-hand that getting started can be overwhelming, that’s why I wrote “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling.” It will guide you through important decisions to help you get started and set for success. I’ve also included tips and advice to give you a jump-start towards feeling relaxed and confident. It’s free, so check it out!
I hope that I have helped to address some of your homeschooling fears. If you choose that route for your family, I believe that it will be a blessing to you and in the end you will have treasured memories and strong family bonds as a result.