So many things have changed in our world since 2020. One thing is the percentage of homeschooling families. In 2020 alone, the amount of families choosing to homeschool doubled from 5.4% to 11.1%, according to census.gov. Recently, I polled the local homeschool Facebook groups to find out how long people had been homeschooling, why, and what tips they had for moms who wanted to start this journey. With a wide variety of reasons — from safety concerns to political climate to the performance of public schools — many families have chosen to take the plunge and begin schooling from home.
Despite being a public school teacher for seven years, I have made the choice to begin homeschooling my children. Like many of you considering making the switch, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I was nervous about my decision: Would my kids be “normal?” Would people think I was a weirdo? Would I be able to teach them well enough to succeed in the real world? These were all things racing through my mind. As my husband and I worked through this decision last year, I became more confident and prepared.
I want to share what I’ve learned and gathered from experienced homeschooling mamas with anyone who might be starting this journey with me or may be on the fence about their decision.
Work Out Your Why
Before taking the plunge, know that homeschooling is not an easy thing. It’s not something that should be taken lightly. It isn’t something you can just breeze through in the morning and have the rest of the day off. You are responsible for educating your child and preparing them for their future. That isn’t meant to be scary or talk you out of homeschooling, but rather to encourage you to really take the time to make sure you’re entering this lifestyle for the right reasons. Be confident in your decision and know exactly why you’re choosing to homeschool.
Know Your State
Many states have laws and regulations regarding homeschooling. Will your kids need an umbrella school? What kind of testing is required for your children? How will you show proof of educating your kids properly? Are there any hourly requirements? These are all things you have to find out before beginning to homeschool. All of these things can be found out at hslda.org
Another thing that I have found to be extremely important is looking up your state’s education standards. While we are choosing to homeschool now, I don’t know what the future holds for my family. In the event that my kids will go to public school, I want them to be at or above grade level. For that reason, before beginning to look at curriculums, I printed out my state’s education standards and put them in my planning binder. This just allows me to stay on track and make sure that my kids are learning what the state is requiring public school students to learn. This is definitely not a requirement. And this does not dictate HOW my kids learn, but it’s important for me that my kids stay on track with their peers.
Find New Friends
No, I’m not saying that you can’t be friends with moms that send their kids to public or private school. However, one thing that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful in starting this journey is finding like minded moms who are more experienced than me. Chattanooga and the surrounding areas have tons of homeschooling Facebook groups. Find one in your area. Ask questions. Attend meetups. Learn from other women in the area.
Another thing that is important for me is that my kids get lots of opportunities to socialize. If this is a concern for you, look in your area for co-ops. These are excellent opportunities to socialize with other homeschooling families, allowing your kids to make new friends and get in some learning at the same time!
Curriculum That Fits
Don’t jump into the curriculum without first looking at your kids. What are their needs? How do they learn best? What do they enjoy doing? There are many different homeschooling and learning styles, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. For an easy overview and comparison, click here.
It’s also easy to fall into the trap of social media and feeling like your homeschool has to look a certain way. It’s ok to not use all of the same curriculum. Mix and match to fit your child’s needs. It’s ok to not use the most known names on the market. It’s ok if everything isn’t handmade and there isn’t a craft every day. Remember your why: giving your child the best education. Ask other moms, watch YouTube videos, and research before you follow trends and buy a curriculum that doesn’t work. Also keep in mind that children change. If a curriculum seemed great but as the year progresses, it seems like it’s not working, don’t be afraid to change things up! Part of education is monitoring and following the child. Don’t get bogged down by checking a box or trying to finish every book — do what’s best for your child and everything will work out.
You’ve Got This!
No matter what your reason, experience, or situation, know that you are capable. As long as you are keeping your child’s best interest in mind, you will do great! Homeschooling doesn’t have to be a big, scary, impossible decision. It doesn’t have to fit the misconceptions or the stereotypes we’ve grown up with. Your experience is what you make it.