Homeschooling… The very word has the innate power to conjure up any number of stereotypical images in one’s thoughts. While one person might instantly see a table of bookish kids pushing their glasses up higher on the bridges of their noses while hungrily devouring Plato and Aristotle, another person might just as immediately see barefoot, shirtless boys loudly playing stickball in an open field until dark, not a book or pencil in sight. These two images are simultaneously exactly the same and the polar opposite of each other. Both represent the decisions of parents to take the reins away from outside forces and educate their children at home. Both might differ in setting and style but both represent families realizing that they can make one overarching decision and give themselves the freedom to be nonconformists in a multitude of ways.
“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.”
There are diverse reasons why people might shy away from electing to homeschool, but the three most often perceived obstacles stem from fears that can easily be quelled. Don’t be afraid to give your children the leg up to join the ranks of Mozart, Bach, Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Monet, da Vinci, Einstein, Newton, Pascal, Edison, and countless other world-shaking individuals who don’t need introductions other than their familiar last names… (source)
As you turn over the idea of homeschooling in your mind, S’moresUp is a wonderful tool to begin creating structure in your home and in your children’s schedules. The app effortlessly cultivates the self-motivation skills that are incredibly useful in homeschooling. If you are tired of refrigerator charts or tired of being the Human School bell for your kids, forced to nag and remind them when to do homework or chores, give S’moresUp a try. It can be fully customized to include not just chores but a daily routine organized by time and can be utilized with different kinds of rewards for accomplishments. Your creativity is the limit!
“Schools have not necessarily much to do with education… they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school.”
Fear #1 – Socialization Motivation:
The most cited reason not to homeschool is that dreaded and generally misunderstood word “socialization.” Parents are afraid that their homeschooled children won’t get enough of it. Ironically, when I was in school, teachers constantly intoned to us to “Stop socializing!” Generally speaking, public schools tell children to be still and quiet, yet somehow they are supposed to be the only beacons of socialization, robbing our children of the values of friendship if we turn from their monopolized light.
In her book, “But What About Socialization? Answering the Perpetual Home Schooling Question: A Review of the Literature,” Dr. Susan McDowell says about worries of a lack of socialization of homeschoolers, “It’s a non-issue today. All the research shows children are doing well.”
Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), elaborates that “In nearly every community throughout the country, local homeschool support groups have formed in addition to the state-wide homeschool associations. In many areas, these local support groups sponsor weekly and monthly activities for the homeschool students, including physical education classes, special speakers, sports, camping, trips to museums, industries, farms, parks, historic sites, and hundreds of other activities. Regular contests are also held including spelling bees, science fairs, woodworking contests, and geography contests. Homeschoolers in many localities have formed homeschool choirs, bands, sports teams, bowling leagues, educational and activity clubs of every kind, and many types of resource libraries. The state homeschool associations generally sponsor a major conference where homeschool children can attend and the older children perform plays, assemble yearbooks, and participate in graduation ceremonies for eighth and twelfth grades. A review of the state homeschool association and local support group newsletters testify of a great many social activities available. Homeschool families, as a whole, do not raise their children in social isolation.” (source)
Richard G. Medlin of Stetson University notes that “Compared to children attending conventional schools, however, research suggests that they have higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults.” (source and also source)
“One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood.”
So, if you have considered homeschooling but were worried about socialization, hopefully, your fears have now been banished. As John Holt said, “It is the duty of a citizen in a free country not to fit into society, but to make society.”
Fear #2 – What about the money, honey?
Last time we introduced the concept of homeschooling and talked about the #1 most commonly cited fear that parents interested in homeschooling have to face – socialization!
Now for the second most common fear among the Almost Homeschoolers…Money.
You might start to think, “How in the world would I afford to do this?” or “I’ve seen those fancy curriculums – they cost a fortune!” Many homeschooling families decide to live on one paycheck and that can certainly be a challenge. Thankfully, two writers have taken on that challenge for you and made detailed road maps for you to follow. Families I’ve talked to note that when they start paying close attention to their spending habits, they, unexpectedly, are able to save more efficiently too.
Appropriate work clothes, second cars, work commutes, frozen convenience food, take out, babysitters, and daycare…these add up faster than you might realize! I have heard of moms who realized that they were basically working to break even after paying for their children’s daycare. Their lifestyles did not need to alter too much after converting to one income – except for the possible reduction of stress, that is.
If you are curious how this could work for your family, you may want to look into the books (don’t worry- their titles are the most complicated they get) “You Can Afford to Stay Home With Your Kids: A Step-By-Step Guide for Converting Your Family from Two Incomes to One” by Malia McCawley Wyckoff and Mary Snyder and “You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget” by Erin Odom. Also, check out Mint for free budgeting software to help you jump onto the bandwagon.
“We make ourselves rich by making our wants few.”
-Henry David Thoreau
As for the curriculum question, the web has made homeschooling completely for free an easily attainable option! The only problem with that is deciding which of the wonderful options to use! There is a sea of knowledge out there for you to explore for your child… even full curriculums including all major subjects included for free!
Start your journey with these wonderful resources:
S’moresUp is a fun way to motivate your children to pursue learning. It gives them the opportunity to track their progress, so they can be proud of their accumulated accomplishments! Admittedly, as the days add up, it is sometimes hard to remember each day’s lesson — whether we covered each subject we were intending to… Did we do geography twice, algebra three times, and practice music four times this week? Or was that last week? How many history lessons did we cover? Adding on, imagine keeping track of how many assignments each child finished individually, especially if you have more than one student! Luckily, there are some other wonderful apps out there, like Homeschool Panda, that can help with tracking lessons online. If you prefer paper planners, check out this list of free printable homeschool planners from Steamsational.
Now, let’s talk about the third most common fear that parents are faced with as they contemplate homeschooling.
Fear #3 – Bueller…Bueller…The Truancy Dilemma
The third major fear that haunts those considering homeschooling is the fear of the truant officer knocking on the door. It can be daunting to figure out the first step to take and how to properly withdraw your child from public school. Do you just stop taking your child to school? Won’t a truant officer immediately be dispatched to your doorstep, demanding that your child march back to the proper institution and plant themselves silently into their assigned hard plastic seat for the predetermined number of hours?
Un-ruffle your feathers and sit back for a moment. Withdrawing your child from being a public school student and magically turning them into a homeschooled student is not that difficult of a trick. As a Texas resident, I am familiar with Texas laws which are clearly outlined in this aptly titled article, “How to Withdraw Your Child from Public School in Texas” from THSC. If you are reading this from within the borders of another state, don’t fret! The HSLDA has you covered with this beautiful, color-coded map of every state and the appropriate laws that you should know about legal homeschooling in order to avoid that unpleasant knock on your door.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
You can do this!
Einstein quipped, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Curiosity and passion has driven you to get to the end of this article and it can continue to propel you to take charge of your child’s education. You love your child more than anyone else, want your child to succeed more than anyone else, and are by nature uniquely qualified to give them the most magical childhood on the planet – whatever that looks like for your particular child. You know what they need to learn and the way they would love to learn it. Give them the gift and the freedom of homeschooling.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
-William Butler Yeats
Remember, each president on Mount Rushmore was homeschooled growing up… So the next time a disgruntled in-law or a nosey neighbor raises an eyebrow at your newfound freedom and confidence to homeschool, let them know that if it was good enough for Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, then it’s good enough for your children and 2 million others in America!