Should I Homeschool My Child?

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

Which is better? Homeschool or public school? Will I ruin my child if decide to homeschool?



Decisions, decisions! From the time a woman finds out she is pregnant, it is seemingly one life-altering decision after another!


  • Is it safe to get a flu shot while pregnant?

  • Should I do a Down Syndrome test?

  • Should I get a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound picture of my baby?

  • Which hospital has the best birthing center?

  • Should I breastfeed or bottle feed?

  • If it's a boy, should I circumcise or not?

  • Who can visit, touch or hold the newborn?

  • Should I stay home to raise my child or go back to work?

  • Who do I trust to care for my baby if I have to work?

  • Should I vaccinate my child or not? (See vaccine schedule)


Ugh! It's tough enough to raise children in this world and yet parents are faced with an ever growing number of challenges. Come 2020, along with an unexpected pandemic and suddenly parents are reevaluating the educational needs of their children, whether they want to or not.


Is it safe to send kids back to school during COVID-19?

The truth is, nobody knows for sure. Parents, teachers and school districts are confused. In some states, where schools opened as usual, they've had to shut right back down due to a rise in corona virus cases.


Other schools are planning on reopening soon with safety protocols in place, it remains to be seen if and how successful they will be.


Only time will tell...

Do I feel safe sending my kids back to school or...GULP... should I homeschool?


Photo: "the scream"by Terry Freedman, Flickr.



Thanks to the pandemic, many parents who have never considered homeschooling are now scrambling to figure out if it's the right decision for them. And those who were already debating it, are now scrambling to figure out how to go about it.


In some countries, it is illegal to homeschool but Americans have the right to teach their children at home (hopefully that'll never change-though the fear of losing that right is always there). Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states but certain states are stricter than others. Make sure to check homeschool regulations in your area.



Which Is Better, Home School or Public School?


This is an unfair question. Proponents of both types of schooling are sure to have strong opinions as to which is better, so the answer depends on who you ask. (My son and I prefer homeschooling 📚)


It's like asking which is better, vanilla or chocolate ice cream? Both flavors can be delicious if prepared with the right ingredients.


Or it's like asking 10 people where to get the best pizza in town only to receive 10 different answers.


Pizza and ice cream choices are highly subjective but the end goal is the same. Delicious food!



Nobody should judge another family's decision.



A family will likely determine if they should homeschool by their circumstances, personal preferences and attitude towards education. Anyone can be successful at it with a little planning and a lot of patience. (Sounds like parenting anyway right?)


The end goal is the same for public or home instruction; to raise happy, educated, well-rounded children.

Whether you homeschool or not, YOU are still responsible for your child's education.

Real school starts at home.


Does the idea of homeschooling give you the heebie-jeebies? 😱


Think of this, who taught your child how to walk? How to say mommy, daddy and speak in full sentences? How to count? How to eat veggies? Who potty trained them or taught them to ride a bike? Or to say please and thank you? Did your child hear the ABC's over and over before kindergarten or did they learn it the first time at school?


The truth is...you've been homeschooling your children for YEARS before sending them to 'real' school but you may not have thought about it that way. And you certainly never questioned whether or not you were qualified or if you were ruining your child.


And in reality, your children learned how to do all those things ON THEIR OWN with simply YOUR GUIDANCE.


You did not force them to crawl, walk or talk. When they were developmentally ready, they let you know. All you as a parent had to do was be there to guide, encourage and kiss them when they failed or succeeded. Learning doesn't require much more than that.


This is why when someone asks me; "How long have you been homsechooling?'


I say, "from birth."


Even in the womb babies are listening and learning from their parents.

Why I Choose to Homeschool

My son, who will be 8 in September, spent a year and a half in a Montessori School (for Kindergarten and half of second grade). Otherwise from birth, he has been enrolled in 'mommy's school' also known as: Lifetime Learners Academy. Sounds professional, right? 😆 Well, we are far from it. In fact, we are still quite new to the homeschooling journey and are learning together as we go along. That's the fun part. I consider myself a lifetime learner too.


If you were to google the reasons people homeschool, you would come up with a variety of answers.


Here are my personal reasons:

  • To be close to my son and develop a strong family bond.

  • To have a measure of control in what he learns, how he learns and when he learns.

  • I want to cultivate his imagination and critical thinking skills.

  • I want him to learn important life skills that are not taught in school.

  • I want to choose if (or when) he gets a vaccine.

  • I wish to protect my child from influences I don't believe he is ready for.

  • I want to protect my child from bullies, school shootings and sexual predators.

  • I weave in spiritual education throughout his learning journey.

  • My son is a kinesthetic learner, very energetic, not ideal for a classroom setting.

  • I want my son to become a life long learner and stay curious.


The #1 goal (and reward) of homeschooling is developing a close bond with your child.

I used to be VERY against homeschooling. I thought, like everyone else did, it was weird and limiting. Then one day I found out, I was wrong!


I was at a friend's house for dinner and his business partner was there. He spoke about his sons who were homeschooled. I expressed my displeasure and concerns about it and I'm glad I did! He set me straight. His sons were accomplishing things before graduating high school that I was only dreaming about at 30 years old! They had made the best use of their time. They graduated early and had become Microsoft Certified Engineers before they were 16 years old!!! I was familiar with that certification, as I too worked in the computer field, it is a series of rigorous exams and only the best pass.


From then on, I was hooked on homeschooling because I now saw the possibilities.


As time went on, I met more and more families who homeschooled and I was able to get helpful information and fine tune my own philosophy on education.


My top educational goals for my son are:

  1. Not only knowing how to read but loving it. (Thank you Calvin and Hobbes!)

  2. Having a strong foundation in math.

  3. Learning to write and have good penmanship skills.

  4. Staying curious and becoming a self-learner.

  5. Learning essential life, emotional and people skills.

That's it! Really! Notice, I didn't go into individual subjects. It doesn't mean we don't learn other subjects but my philosophy on education goes deeper than just acquiring facts.


Think about it...anything can be learned at any time in life, as long as you can read and have a curious mind.


As an adult, have you stopped educating yourself? I hope not!


But What If I Ruin My Child?


The only sure way to ruin your child is by NOT giving them love, affection, guidance, boundaries and a stable home environment. Children don't need more than that, well food too 😋.


I admit there are times I have that freak-out moment that I'm ruining my child for life, but then I realize that whatever I fail to teach him academically, he can always pick up later.


However, learning to be content, grateful, kind and generous are priceless skills that need to be taught as early as possible.


There are many ways to ruin a child, homeschooling is NOT one of them.

This major concern I keep hearing in the media that children are going to be left behind and suffer consequences for missing parts of school...is somewhat laughable.


As I mentioned, information can be learned at any time. The real concern behind such statements is the fear of not passing tests, such as state and regents exams.


How many of you had to pass an exam to get a job? There are a few but the vast majority of jobs do not require a test. So why are public schools built around the premise that we must pass exams to feel successful in life? Just how preparatory are exams for real life?


Exams serve a purpose, but they should not be confused with real education.


In states like NY, where regulations are tougher...it can be a bit more intimidating to homeschool. We have to report to the school district throughout the year and then test the children every other year from third grade until eighth and then every year in high school.


** We live in NY and are thriving as unschoolers. **


The Secret to Successful Homeschooling


"Creativity is as important in education as literacy." Sir Ken Robinson

If you have decided to homeschool, there are a variety of ways to go about it.


Some families buy curriculums already made and others, like myself, design their own. Some choose to school-at-home, in effect replicating the school environment, and others are 'unschoolers' and break out of the traditional mold of learning.



The following 15 tips can help you become a successful homeschooler:


  1. Know your reasons for homeschooling.

  2. Define your philosophy on education. What life skills do they need to learn?

  3. Set reasonable goals.

  4. Join a homeschool forum or community. If you can't find one, create one.

  5. Read books and blogs or watch videos about homeschooling.

  6. Pick a learning style that fits your family. (Some need structure others need freedom)

  7. Take time to observe your child without interfering with their play. What do you notice about their learning style? What subjects do they enjoy learning about?

  8. Take advantage of your local library and museums.

  9. Spend time volunteering and helping others.

  10. Spend time outdoors, exploring, let them get dirty. Let kids be kids!

  11. Take advantage of field trips (With COVID safety in mind)

  12. Organize play-dates with other children (if it can be done safely)

  13. Set the example! Be a learner, stay curious and read books in front of your children.

  14. Set the example! Be the person you want your child to be.

  15. Teach them how to do chores and give them responsibilities at home.

  16. Last but not least, cultivate kindness and patience. It is possible to stay calm!


"Children must be taught how to think, not what to think." Margaret Mead

Write out your own personal home education plan, the more detailed the better. You can edit and update your plan as you go along and learn. No one has to see it (the plan sent to the school district should be basic and general, if your state requires one). Don't give them any more than than the law requires. In fact, the less the better.

Every child is an artist,” said Picasso, “the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Don't forget to include life-skills in your plan. You can teach these skills daily, primarily by example. No matter how genius your child is, if they aren't likable or don't know how to get along well with others, they'll never be happy or be able to hold down a job!



Life Skills

Emotional intelligence

Gratitude

Contentment

Kindness towards others and themselves

Perseverance

Household chores (cooking, laundry, cleaning the house and car)

Outdoor chores (mowing lawn, cleaning dog poop, shoveling snow, raking)

Self control

Patience

Learning how to live in the present

How to make friends and be a good friend


I'm sure there's more, but you get the idea.


Here are some resources on homeschooling:


Websites


Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) They have both free and paid resources.


Famous People Who Were Homeschooled (14 US presidents were homeschooled!)


Videos


School should take place in the real world (17 min) || TED Talk on pitfalls of typical education.


My 5 Biggest Regrets after 15 Years of Homeschooling (8 min) || "You are the expert on your child."


Why I Homeschool My Kids (5 min) || Mayim Bialik (because who didn't LOVE Blossom 😀)


5 Reasons Why Homeschooling Is Better Than Public Schooling (9 min) || These guys are adorable and funny.



Books


Deschooling Gently "The goal of homeschooling should include enjoying time with your children."


The Underground History of American Education (This book is expensive now, borrow it from a library if you can) or here is an alternative version.




Action items...


  • Enjoy your children, play with them, learn with them. They are young for a short period of time!


  • Consider the real value of education, not just what we are conditioned to believe about education.


  • Do your research and connect with other homeschooling families in your area.



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