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Questions for Parents: Is Homeschooling Right for Me?

April 18, 2012
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There are many resources on the Internet that can help parents with homeschooling. Curriculums, sample problems, lesson plans – all can be easily located by the expert googler. However fewer resources exist for those parents still trying to decide whether homeschooling is right for them. Coming to the decision to homeschool your child is complex and personal, so I thought it would be helpful to share some of my own experience.

Growing up, my sister and I had the pleasure of two loving parents that were both public school teachers. With over 75 years of teaching experience between the two of them, they instilled in us the value that “an education is what you put into it.” My sister and I graduated from a small public school and went on to top universities. But, as we begin families of our own, we find ourselves questioning how we want to educate our own children. The following are some of the questions we are posing within our own families, in hopes that it might help you in your own decisions.

Can the public school system still deliver the environment that supported our growth? This is the largest question weighing on our minds as parents. We prospered and enjoyed our public school education, but we have also observed the degradation in the system over the past two decades. Increased classroom size, constant budget cuts, standards driving curriculum; these are just some of the factors weighing into our consideration.

What makes us more qualified than teachers? This is a healthy question to ask yourself, to avoid getting too caught up in the thought that “I can do it better.” It is much easier to target public schools and be critical of teachers than to replace their role. Being a parent does not immediately make you an effective teacher, although you are well prepared. As a homeschooler, you will need to build an environment that supports your child’s learning style. It is not just what you teach, but how you teach it as well. An advantage over public schools is that, while a teacher has to administer the curriculum dictated by the school, as a homeschooler you can build a curriculum more specific to your child.

Can we afford it? A basic question, but still important to consider the opportunity cost of time. Homeschooling is a big commitment that often rules out additional jobs (part-time or otherwise) for the primary homeschooler. Furthermore, supplies and learning resources will also cost money.

What value set do we want to instill in our child? This is a very personal question that will be different for everyone. Many people chose homeschooling for religious or cultural reasons. If there is a specific value set that public or private schooling cannot provide, homeschooling is an opportunity to directly nurture your child’s development.

Are they up for it? The initial decision to homeschool will likely happen before your child can fully appreciate the situation. Homeschooling your child can help to bring you together, but it can also stress your relationship. It is good to take the decisions year-by-year, especially as your child gets older and can become more involved in their own education decisions.

Are we up for it? Homeschooling requires incredible commitment, discipline, patience, and self-motivation. Although these are pre-requisites for parenting, homeschooling will only extend and stress these responsibilities further. Homeschooling is not the easy option, but it could very well be the most worthwhile one.

I consider myself blessed to have had the best of both worlds: a great public school system and two supportive parents that motivated and supported my education. I hope to provide the same opportunity for my own children, and therefore seriously considering homeschooling as a viable option. In either case, the one constant is that an education is what you put into it, whether my child is in a classroom, or at the dining room table.  There is success in each case, and it is up to each family to weigh the sacrifices and benefits to decide what is best for them.