Written by Misha Thompson of The Offense of Joy
Last month I wrote part one of this article–you are welcome to click here to read it.
The decision of whether or not you should homeschool ultimately comes down to one single factor: knowing your child(ren.)
I had a special treat on Mother’s Day and as I was enjoying my time alone, another mother I know walked in. She has homeschooled four boys and we got to chatting.
“Misha,” she said, “it really does come down to knowing your children. I worried and stressed so much about keeping them up to grade level and making sure I taught them all they needed to know.
But really, what I wish I would’ve done more, is just sitting down and reading for hours. Enjoying their company. It goes so fast.”
I meet so many parents who know their opinions and their literature and their plans and their goals – but really influencing our kids is about knowing our kids. Listening to them, their needs and their hearts helps us assess if we are able and willing to be the ones to give that to them.
Photo by Misha Thompson
When I set out to see if this was the right path for my kids we tried homeschooling for one initial week. In those five days I saw the kids I know re-emerge. They were back to their inquisitive, fun-loving, excited about learning selves. I wasn’t willing to lose that.
Or better said, I was willing to do what I needed to do, for them not to lose it! We went through this book as a family and did all the “tests” in it together. As much as I study my kids, I was still caught off guard by the things I learned about my children.
Here are some more tips that have helped me in this process:
1. Know What Is Going On In Your Community.
There are a slew of resources in many communities. Call your local schools, check your phone book, Google your area, ask at play groups, check your library – there are so many community-based, grass-roots organizations that are formed for the primary purpose of being a support to you.
We are a part of a parent partnership program in our community that works through our local school district and provides support, accountability and reimbursement of some of our tax dollars for school supplies. There are many programs like that around the nation that are an incalculable support.
2. Know Some Helpful Coaches.
I say this all the time, but you simply cannot homeschool alone. I am always looking to find experienced homeschoolers and I invite them out for tea or to go for a walk–then I ask them for help, perspective, input and wisdom. I am a big believer in mentors. People who know more than I do and are happy to help me learn are worth gold.
I have one former homeschooler I email, a few who blog that I know I can ask questions of, and a couple in my town I know would help me in a panic.
Look for experienced parents and keep them on speed-dial!
Photo by Misha Thompson
3. Know Some Good Books.
I probably ordered and subsequently read well over 30 – 40 books on homeschooling, learning styles, educationally philosophies, and methods. There are only a very few that I have found indispensable.
But the ones that are have to do with the philosophies we have found most helpful to our individual kids. I think that knowing your child(ren)’s learning style is imperative. Knowing your own is, too. This book is near unto the Bible for me in raising my own kids due to their personalities.
Once you know your priorities, style and goals choosing relevant books as guides and resources will be much easier (and less expensive!)
4. Know What You Need To Enjoy The Process And That It’s Okay To Take Your Time.
All in all in the U.S. we have a plethora of resources. With a little initiative, finding support and input will never be your struggle in this country. (I started with a class at our local community college on homeschooling and almost didn’t follow through just because of the sheer volume of resources out there. I felt so overwhelmed to research them all!)
Confidence in knowing that you are doing exactly what you want to for your family is a process. And it’s worth looking at these questions and taking the time to think it all through, so that you can handpick the resources that are best for you.
I would say a big tip for us has been not committing to anything long-term. We take it one year at a time, evaluating every new school year what is best for each of our kids. That helped me not feel overwhelmed. That helps keep it about them.
Also key was not being afraid to try different methods out and seeing what fit with our kids. (I have experimented with over five distinct philosophies this first year - and as much as I know them, I would never have guessed what my kids ended up gravitating towards the most.)
With a little research into the process of homeschooling, combined with the depths of knowledge you already have about your children, you’ll be able to discover whether homeschooling is the best choice for your family.
How did you know homeschooling was for you? Or how did you know it wasn’t? We’d love to hear about your process in this big decision.