Have you ever thought, “I WANT TO HOMESCHOOL BUT…”
As a homeschool mum and blogger, it is something I hear all the time. A lot of mamas think about homeschooling their children but not everyone manages to make it a reality. If you’ve been wanting to give it a go, don’t let these common hurdles stop you. You CAN teach your children at home!
This post is part of the COMMON HOMESCHOOL CHALLENGES series. We all need a little help and support from time to time. The posts in this series have you covered! This week we will look at six common issues that hold people back from homeschooling, and how to move past these homeschool barriers.
I Want To Homeschool But My Husband Doesn't Agree...I Want To Homeschool My Child But I Need To Work…
This is probably the most common issue raised by wannabe homeschool mamas in Facebook groups and online forums. And it can be a tough issue to overcome, particularly when our emotions get the better of us.
I know because I was ready to homeschool a full six months before my husband agreed.
If you are already arguing over this, my advice is to drop it for a while. Unless there is a major issue where you believe your child will be unsafe continuing to go to school, perhaps due to bullying, anxiety or major health issues, it is okay to let go of trying to convince your significant other for a while.
Now, I am by no means saying that your partner’s opinion on education choices is more important than yours. You both have a right and a responsibility to ensure you are making wise choices for your child. But if you are arguing over the decision, you are creating a situation where there is a winner and a loser. This is a surefire way to create resentments.
Instead, step back for a while. This could be a few days, a few weeks or even a few months. Wait until you are both feeling calm and broach the topic again. Explain to your partner why you believe homeschooling is a better choice for your children, raise any concerns you have with mainstream schooling options, and ask what their concerns are.
Give your partner a chance to explain why they believe mainstream schooling is preferable in their opinion. Really listen when they tell you why they are reluctant to become a homeschool family.
Often the concerns centre around family finances and your partner feeling pressured to be the sole breadwinner while you stay home with the children. Be honest about where you are at financially and figure out if you can afford to be a one income family or if you will need to work part time to make your homeschool dream a reality. More on this in a minute.
Listen to your significant other’s concerns and address those but make sure your partner feels heard and not dismissed.
Likewise, it is important that you feel heard too. If the conversation always degenerates into an argument, try writing a letter or email to your spouse, covering all of the points mentioned already and giving solutions to possible issues.
Remember, you can always agree to try homeschooling for 6 months or a year and then re-evaluate once you have both had a chance to see the reality of home education for your family.
Sometimes talking to other homeschool parents can help your spouse to get a good idea of how things work.
Usually the parent who is wanting to homeschool has spent a lot of time researching and hanging out in online homeschool groups whilst the other partner is relying on preconceived ideas. Talking to outsiders can help.
Books like this one by John Holt can be helpful if your partner would prefer reading a teacher’s thoughts on homeschooling.
If you can’t come to an agreement to homeschool, here are some ideas for creating a balanced education for your child when you have chosen mainstream education.
Points To Remember:
- both parent’s opinions are valid and important
- step back for a while if the conversation about home education continually results in an argument with your spouse
- make sure you give your partner a chance to voice their concerns and feel heard
- if having a conversation has become too difficult or confronting, try communicating in written form to make sure you can get all of your points across to the other person
- all decisions regarding your child’s education should be joint decisions without one person feeling bullied into agreement with the other parent
- if you as a couple decide against home education, look at ways you can better support your child at home
I Want To Homeschool But My Extended Family Are Against Home Education...
Coming in a close second to reluctant partners, is negative reactions from extended family.
I’ll be blunt.
These are your children, yours and your partner’s. Your extended family do not get a say in how you choose to raise your children. They had their chance with their own kids.
But if you are like me, even if you have decided you want to homeschool regardless of your family’s opinion, you probably want to keep the relationship pleasant. So maybe hold off on putting it so bluntly to them (unless you really want to go there…).
When we first decided to homeschool we were lucky enough not to encounter any hostility, but we did have a few concerned enquiries.
I found answering questions openly and honestly, sharing as much information as I could, and trying to include family in our homeschool lives all helped to allay any fears. Now we are fortunate enough to be able to say that our extended family is very supportive.
There are always going to be one or two comments from family, particularly any family members who come from the teaching profession, but try to remember that their concern comes from a place of love. Respond with kindness and then keep doing what you know is best for your children.
It can be hard for family to accept when you choose to do something different. Sometimes they can feel like we are rejecting them or saying we don’t think they did a good job parenting. Other times it may feel like we are condemning their beliefs or belittling their profession. A little grace goes a long way towards healing these differences.
Ultimately it comes down to being confident enough in your choices that you can continue to homeschool despite their misgivings.
Points To Remember:
- address concerns calmly, pleasantly and confidently
- reassure parents or grandparents that you choosing a different path doesn’t mean you think they did anything wrong when they made their parenting choices
- include family, whether by sharing your days on Facebook or having them actively involved in your activities, to help them see the benefits of homeschooling and help them feel heard and wanted
- above all else, stick to your guns. You know your children and their needs best.
I Want To Homeschool But I Don't Think I'm Qualified...
Outside of opposition from partners and family members, lack of confidence in our ability to teach our children is the biggest barrier to homeschooling for most mamas.
The truth is, you don’t need any kind of teaching qualification or experience to be able to effectively homeschool your children. Actually, some teacher turned homeschool mamas will actually say that their teaching experience made the transition harder. They had a lot to unlearn!
That’s because teaching your own children is very different to teaching a classroom full of kids. The dynamics are completely different, and so are the goals and the methods we use to get where we are going.
It can really help to look at homeschooling your children as an extension of parenting. And you are already awesome at that!
You’ve helped your child learn to walk and talk, to dress themselves and kick a ball. You’ve helped them learn their colours, to count to ten and spell their name. You can teach them to read and write, to add and to multiply, and to explore and understand the world around them.
Don’t focus on how much there is to teach them in 12 years, and how much of that you don’t know. Focus instead on creating meaningful goals for the year ahead and take that step first.
Remember that you don’t need to know everything, you just need to know how to find out. Likewise, you don’t need to teach your children everything on your state’s curriculum, you just need to teach them how to learn, and give them the appropriate tools.
Having an idea of what they would learn in school each year can be reassuring to some homeschool parents and be used to help you create your academic goals for the year. If you think this is you, read this post and this one for some guidance.
Adopting a homeschool philosophy to guide you, setting goals each year and finding a community of homeschool parents to become part of can all help you feel more confident in your ability to teach your children.
Points To Remember:
- you know your children better than anyone, which puts you in the perfect position to be the teacher they need
- you have already been teaching your child their whole life. Homeschooling is just an extension of that
- having a homeschool philosophy can help guide you
- create goals each year to keep you on track
- take it one year at a time
- find a community for support and encouragement
I Want To Homeschool But I'm Not A Patient Person...
Patience is definitely not one of my virtues. And most homeschool mamas I know would say the same. But don’t let that stop you!
I can honestly say that homeschooling has helped me become more patient. So there’s that. It also doesn’t take as much patience as you are probably thinking it does.
As you get into a groove, you will start to structure your homeschool days in a way that creates a sense of flow. Finding balance and flow helps you avoid those times where that extra dose of patience is necessary.
Spending so much time with your children will help you to get to know them better, making it easier for you to meet their needs, to address situations before they spiral out of control, to take breaks when you can see your child needs them instead of pushing through.
And knowing when to take a break, to step back, to change track…these things are key. Having this knowledge and being able to act on it changes everything.
I also find that because I am less rushed, I am less stressed, and this means that I am less likely to find myself losing my patience than I was when my son was in public school.
Don’t let a perceived character failing hold you back from creating a better life for you and your children.
Points To Remember:
- you are probably more patient than you realise
- at the very least, you are probably just as patient as the average homeschool parent
- the slower pace of life that homeschool brings can help your patience grow
- spending so much time with your children helps you understand them better so you can anticipate their needs and moods
- homeschooling gives you the freedom to take breaks when you or your child need them
I Want To Homeschool But S/He Wants To Go To School...
Okay, please know that I am saying this with kindness, but when I hear this what I really want to say is,
YOU are the parent.
It is your job to make the big decisions for your child.
Yes, it is important to include them in decisions that affect them, especially as they get older, but ultimately the responsibility for making the big decisions lies with you.
If you truly believe that homeschooling is what is best, make the decision, and then work to make the transition as easy as possible for your child. I tried to let my son make the choice between remaining in public school and coming home when he was in first grade. He went back and forth for weeks before he said something that has really stuck with me.
“Mum, the decision is too big. I need you to make it for me”.
That right there is a fundamental truth that I have needed to remind myself many times over the years. Respecting your child as a person, taking their thoughts and feelings into account, is so very important, but we need to let our children be children and make the big life decisions for them while they are too young to truly understand the consequences.
Points To Remember:
- children are not mini adults. They need us to make choices for them
- making a choice for your child doesn’t mean disrespecting their personhood
- work to make transitions as easy as possible for your child
- explain the reasons for your decisions to them in an age appropriate manner
- shift more decision making to them as they mature
- remember this doesn’t have to be a permanent choice. You can always choose mainstream school later if your child is truly unhappy homeschooling
I Want To Homeschool But I Don't Think I Can Afford It...
This one is a biggie. And it’s a major reason partner’s say no when we first bring up the idea of home education.
There are two things you need to take into account here; how much money do you need to earn as a family to be able to balance your budget, and how much does homeschooling really cost.
Firstly, sit down with your partner and go over your budget. Is there income enough to cover your expenses while you stay home? If it’s not, you may need to look at ways you can cover the shortfall.
Some ideas you can try include:
- cutting expenses to be able to live on one income
- starting a side business at home to bring in some extra money
- consider working part-time during the times your partner is home to care for the children
- consider if you could balance working full time while homeschooling your children
If you know you will need to work, you need to get yourself over to Practical, by Default . Jen specialises in helping parents balance work and home education. I can’t recommend her and her blog highly enough. Dianna from Kennedy Adventures has some great tips for how she makes it work too.
If the concern is less about how much money is coming in, and more about how much will be going out on homeschool resources, you can stop worrying right now.
Homeschool is only as expensive as you make it!
Yes, you can go crazy buying all the fabulous resources you see on social media, fork out hundreds per grade level for all-in-one curricula, and spend way too much money on books. But you don’t have to!
Here are 10 easy ways you can save money on homeschool resources. My top tips are to DIY your curriculum and utilise your local library network. By doing this I actually come out ahead each year!
Remember, by choosing not to send your children to your local school you are saving on childcare, uniforms, school lunches, school fees, expensive and excessive booklists and over priced excursions.
Points To Remember:
- combining homeschool and work is an option that many homeschool parents choose
- if you can’t increase your income, look at reducing your expenses
- homeschooling can be cheaper than sending your children to school and/or childcare
- there are lots of ways to save on your homeschool budget that can help relieve the financial burden of education on your family
Is there anything left holding you back?