The Insider’s Guide to Homeschooling: What You Need to Know Before You Start, Part 3
Welcome to Part 3 of The Insider’s Guide to Homeschooling: What You Need to Know Before You Start. If you’re just joining in, you may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series. All the questions in this series have been compiled from my Facebook followers who shared with me what questions they had when they first began homeschooling.
Am I going to ruin my kid?
I think this is probably most homeschool parents’ biggest fear. I’ve homeschooled for over 12 years. I have graduated one and now have a middle school student and a high school student. I still have not quit second-guessing myself and worrying. I think that’s part and parcel of parenting. You worry that you’ve made the right choices. Every time something goes well, you pat yourself on the back for a job well-done. Every time something goes wrong, you beat yourself up for not making a different choice.
Another downside to homeschooling is that there is the chance you’re going to get blamed by your kids for everything negative that happens to them. The parents always get the blame, even when homeschooling isn’t thrown into the mix. Homeschooling just gives our kids one more thing for which to blame us.
I don’t mean that to sound completely negative – just realistic. I don’t think the vast majority of homeschool parents are ruining their kids. I’ve met lots of adult homeschool graduates who are extremely thankful that their parents chose to homeschool them. There are also entire websites run by homeschool grads who feel that homeschooling was a terrible choice that their parents forced on them.
You have to make the best decision for your family and run with that. It is imperative that parents are intentional about and dedicated to their children’s education. I have always told my kids that we – they and I – have to take their educations seriously because if we’re just checking off boxes, it’s wasting everyone’s time. I did not choose to homeschool them to hamstring them for life.
It’s also very important to take your kids’ wishes into consideration, especially teens. We have to be parents and the decision is ultimately ours, but I would not want to force homeschooling on a teen who wanted to go to a traditional school without a very compelling reason.
The bottom line is: No, I don’t think you’re going to ruin your child by homeschooling him if you are intentional about his education and you keep an open line of communication with your teens.
Additionally, I have often told parents of elementary-aged kids, you’re not going to ruin your kid in a year. You’re probably not going to know if homeschooling is a good fit until you try it.
How will they get into college?
Homeschooled teens get into college the same way any other teen gets into college. They take a college entrance exam, such as the ACT or SAT. Then, they submit their scores, application, and transcripts to the colleges to which they wish to apply. In most states, you can graduate your homeschooled student and issue him a diploma.
Most colleges now have specific instructions available on their websites for homeschooled applicants. Though I have heard from some parents of running into complications with the colleges of their students’ choice, most of those times it turned out to be an unfamiliarity with homeschooling laws on the part of the admissions staff and was easily resolved.
It may also be wise to consider college alternatives. While some students want and need to attend college for their chosen profession, it may not be a necessary step for all high school graduates, homeschooled or otherwise.
What on earth do you mean by “homeschooling methods”?
Homeschooling methods are basically philosophies of education. Your homeschooling style is probably going to be a combination of homeschooling methods, although there are still plenty of purists out there. To get a good overview of each of the methods and how they can affect your style, read Determining Your Homeschool Style. Not every homeschool method is covered, but it does include the most common.
What are the best books about homeschooling?
I recommend reading a wide variety of books about homeschooling when you’re starting out. Even if you think that a particular book doesn’t fit your family’s style or chosen methods, there is usually something to be gleaned.
Most of us don’t fit solidly into a particular method. Taking the best from each homeschooling style and meshing it with your family’s personality is the best way to create the unique homeschool style that is going to fit your family.
There were several books that were instrumental in shaping my views of homeschooling in the early years. Some of them include:
- A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
- Homeschooling the Early Years by Linda Dobson
- The Relaxed Home School by Mary Hood
- The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
- The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
I’m sure there are books that others would label as a must-read that aren’t on my list. If I’ve left off one of your favorites, feel free to leave it in the comments. It may be instrumental in helping a new homeschool parent navigate those early days.
How do you plan a homeschool day?
New-to-homeschooling parents often wonder how to plan or schedule a homeschool day and how much school is enough. As for planning, these three articles will help you figure out the best way to schedule the day for your homeschool family:
- 4 Things You Need to Consider When Planning Homeschool Schedules
- Creating a “mom binder”
- Homeschool Daily Schedules
As far as how much school is enough, it’s important to remember that one-on-one concentrated learning time often allows for less formal learning time than a traditional classroom setting. Plus, once you remove some of the classroom necessities, such as roll call, lining up for lunch or recess, and transitioning an entire class from one subject to the next, you cut out a lot of time wasters.
Notice I did not include bathroom breaks in that list? Homeschool kids can be great at strategically-requested bathroom breaks. It’s kind of like how a kid needs just one more drink of water at bedtime.
Depending on your child, a couple of hours a day may be enough for a young elementary-aged child, while 3-4 hours a day could be plenty for an upper-elementary or middle school students. You might also consider your state’s requirements. The state of Georgia, for example, requires 4.5 hours per day of instruction.
I have always handled the “how much is enough” question in a rather simple fashion. I plan what I feel is a well-rounded, acceptable school day. If the kids work hard and complete everything in less than the required time, they get some extra time off that day. If they fool around and make things take twice as long – well, they just had a ridiculously long school day and that’s on them.
Then, of course, there are the days when it’s clear we need to adjust, one way or the other. Maybe what I planned turns out to be more stressful or time-consuming than I thought or we get off on some amazing rabbit trails. Those are the days when I remember that there is always tomorrow.
I hope this series has helped to answer some of your questions about homeschooling. If you have some questions that weren’t answered, feel free to leave them in the comments. This is the last planned post in the series, but I’ll be happy to add another edition if there are lots of questions that didn’t get answered.
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.
One book that helped me see that I could do this and that gave me insight into many different ways to homeschool was “So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling” by Lisa Welchel. Each chapter is a conversation with a family homeschooling using a different method. It helped me see that our family’s homeschool doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, each family is unique.
Your posts in this series really ARE a blessing. I can remember (7 years ago now) that yours was the first blog I ever read — so much help back in the beginning, and you still provide me with help and encouragement.
Thank you so much, Mary! I’m glad I could encourage you, and now you have encouraged me.