Is Homeschooling Right for You

Watching your children grow and get closer to school age can be tough. Before you know it, Susie is five and ready for kindergarten. For many families, deciding where to send a child to school does not even enter the equation. They automatically send them to the local public school. But for many others, public school is not an option. There can be many reasons for this; parents may not like the level of academics in the local school, violence could be an ongoing problem, classroom size may have grown extensively or they may want an education that includes religious instruction in their particular faith. It is at this point that other educational options come into play. Parents can choose to send their children to a private school or they can decide to homeschool. If you are one of the many parents interested in homeschooling your kids, there are several things you should consider when making your decision.

Are You Willing to Commit?
Time commitment is the most important aspect of homeschooling. Homeschooling takes dedication and commitment. You are going to be responsible for your child's education. You will decide what curriculum to use, how relaxed or structured your day will be, when and where you will teach and what type of homeschooling suits your family. You have to enjoy spending time with your children. You don't have to be a teacher and you don't have to run your homeschool like a traditional classroom, but you do have to be willing to commit your time and energy.

What Are Your State's Requirements?
Your next consideration is finding out what your state requires for homeschoolers. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, have extremely stringent homeschooling laws. Others, such as Oklahoma, are much more relaxed and require parents to do very little. Do your research in this area; it is of the utmost importance that you thoroughly understand your state's laws. You need to know because, in all honesty, your local school board may not. They may tell you to meet certain requirements that your state law does not. You won't know this unless you are completely aware of your state's particular requirements.

What Are Your Goals for Your Child?
What do you want for your child? What are your educational goals? Setting these goals may not necessarily influence whether you homeschool or not, but it can keep you on the right track if you do decide to homeschool. If your child dreams of being a major-league sports player and you want him in a strong athletic program throughout his school year, homeschooling may not work for you. This may be a deciding factor later as well. You may decide to homeschool through the elementary years and use a public or private school for high school. Many cities now have strong homeschool support groups that offer everything from art classes to sports. These teams often compete in the private-school arena.

Other Obstacles
If you are considering homeschooling, there are several arguments you may hear from others that will influence your decision. One might be your own level of education. Many are convinced that you need a college degree to homeschool your children. This is simply not true, although you do need to be able to read and write proficiently. Homeschool parents grow and learn along with their children. There are many options available for intensive classes, such as chemistry, that you may not be comfortable teaching. Community colleges, tutors and even other homeschooling parents are excellent resources when you need help. Don't let a lack of education deter you from homeschooling. If you feel very inadequate to the task, consider taking some refresher classes in the basics, either online or at your community college.

Can You Afford to Homeschool?
Another consideration that often arises is whether you can afford to homeschool. Traditional textbook programs and homeschool umbrella programs can be costly. But there are ways of stretching your homeschooling budget and making it affordable. You can purchase used schoolbooks. There are e-mail lists, Web sites and bookstores devoted to selling used homeschool materials. You can use books from your local library. In the very early grades, you can use workbooks from local retail stores or printables found online, or you can create your own. There are always options that will make homeschooling affordable.

Homeschooling Is not for Everyone
Choosing to homeschool is a major decision; you will want to make sure it is the right decision for you and your child. Consider the pros and cons and your willingness to commit. Look at various curriculums and then make a decision. Homeschooling is a rewarding way of educating your child, but is not necessarily the right choice for everyone.

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