At this very moment, hundreds of parents like you – probably thousands – sit on fences all across the United States thinking about homeschooling. Considering the state of education, highlighted by mass school closures, teacher firings and evidence of escalated school violence, this comes as no surprise. Add in traditional springtime standardized testing, looming science fair deadlines, and exorbitant end-of-year expenses, and it’s easy to see how parents entertain the notion of going it alone.
Unless you have truly lived the homeschooling life for a period of time, it’s can be hard enough to understand what it is, let alone how it could really work for your family. For some, it’s as scary a thought as jumping off a cliff, and no less reckless and irresponsible than doing so without a bungee. For others, it’s as foreign as a new language or as intimidating as a college-level statistics course. Despite these fears and misunderstandings, many homeschooling leaders I have talked to are reporting a larger-than-average number of inquiries about homeschooling recently. Judging by the number of new families who have contacted me already this year, there appears to be many families considering home education right now.
So, what does it really mean to home educate? Where does one get the curriculum? Can parents still keep working? What happens to the kids, socially and psychologically, once they are pulled from school? Do homeschool grads get into good colleges? What will family, friends and neighbors say about all of this? Prospective families have many questions, and these are just a few that I have plucked from the top-ten.
Are you wondering about homeschooling, too?
You should know from the start that homeschooling has been completely legal in all 50 states for many years Further, lots and lots of people are doing it. Although estimates vary (because homeschooling is a little bit hard to measure), most reports put the number at anywhere from 2-4 million homeschoolers nationwide. While there are different categories of schooling that fall under the general definition of homeschooling, please understand that millions of people right now are schooling their children from home. Can so many people be wrong?
The next important thing to understand is that it really works. Because homeschooling isn’t new anymore, many large, respected, national research studies have been conducted at this point. All conclude that homeschoolers are academically superior to their same-age peers in all areas, most notably mathematics but in other subjects, too. These studies take into account all of the variables that the nay-sayers would have you believe are responsible for these successes, such as family income, parent’s educational background and student gender, and still homeschoolers come out on top. Backed by this research, today’s families are homeschooling with great confidence.
Admittedly, starting to read and learn about homeschooling can be intimidating and the volume of information available to sift through daunting at best. With so many available resources, not to mention all of the well-meaning homeschooling moms and dads cheering for you (or overwhelming you), you may wonder if you really have what it takes and can measure up to those before you.
Yes, you can do it. And you can probably do it well. But, if it makes you feel any better, most new homeschoolers felt the same way at first, too.
If you happen to be sitting on the fence, it is probably because you already understand that homeschooling is not a whim. It is not an impulse decision. And it is not a trend this year that you’ll be embarrassed to admit the next. Homeschooling is a commitment, and a very serious one at that. That doesn’t make it hard and it doesn’t mean it’s irreversible. It doesn’t mean you need to be a genius, or even college educated, to do it. It just means, like other life decisions, it requires some research and forethought before becoming involved. And, like other life decisions, once you’ve made the choice, you commit to giving it an honest try.
Consider this about homeschooling. There has perhaps never been another issue, method, philosophy or basic point-of-view able to unite such a large number of families as homeschooling. Because of its singular emphasis and the common thread woven across the nation from homeschooling family to homeschooling family, homeschooling is able to ignore, side-step or circumvent every major barrier you can imagine. It happens everywhere and anywhere, regardless of religious, political or cultural experience and despite income, parental IQ and geography. Instilling a lifelong love of learning and providing a childhood full of academically-rich experiences is of such importance to so many families that it crosses insurmountable obstacles to accomplish.
For some families, homeschooling is simply put on their hearts for reasons they do not even really understand.
If homeschooling is in your heart, or has been tugging at your thoughts this year, maybe it’s time to get off the fence and do something about it.
Is this YOUR year to homeschool?