Homeschooling: Working through some common concerns…

Today marks the one year anniversary of the largest massacre of children in our country’s history. The Sandy Hook shooting left 27 people dead, including 18 children, most of them kindergarteners.

I remember the day it happened last year. My Facebook feed was full of prayers for the victims’ families, hugs for children, and talk of homeschooling- both thanks that they do and wishes that they were. It was a terribly sad time for everyone, and a time of holding our children extra-close.

 

Just a few days ago I was asked why I chose to homeschool.  I responded that I really enjoyed my children’s company and liked being able to tailor their education to fit each of them individually.  But as I remember all the emotions surrounding that fateful day a year ago, I can also say that I am so thankful that I am here to protect my children – not only from the very improbably catastrophe, but also from the much-more-common issues of bullies, unkind teachers, and ungodly influences.

I frequently hear various reasons why a family chooses not to homeschool.  Sometimes this decision is made with much prayer and communication between everyone involved. But more often than not,  it seems the decision has a lot of fear behind it. And it breaks my heart when parents feel like they have to make this decision out of fear!  So today, I want to address some of the most common fear-based reasons I hear for choosing not to homeschool.  I hope I can be an encouragement to those of you who may feel a pull towards homeschooling but are struggling with some of these fears.

1.) I would go crazy without a break sometimes.  Or,  I have to work to get out of the house.

This is a hard one! I wish I could tell you that you won’t go crazy, that the need to get away will fade, but honestly, this is something that all homeschooling moms struggle with. But it’s far from hopeless! In fact, this need for an adult social life has created some amazing support groups from which many moms build deep, lasting relationships. Just like every other phase of life, you will learn what you need to finish at your best and will need to learn to prioritize your life to make that happen. For me, this has included involvement in a support group and/or Bible study, moms nights out, and focused alone time to process my days.

2.) My kids need more socialization that homeschooling allows for.

Not so! Most cities have at least one homeschooling group with opportunities for field trips, playdates, and activity days. Many larger cities have co-ops, where your kids can take classes on various subjects or participate in sports leagues with other kids their age. Also, many school districts even allow kids to enroll part-time, giving them access to choir, foreign language, and more, especially in middle and high school.  In addition to this is the age-blended socialization aspect.  Only in public school are children surrounded all day by people in their own age bracket.  This doesn’t prepare them for real life, but the age-blended socialization of homeschooling does.

3.) I’m afraid my kids won’t know how to stand up for and/or share their faith if they aren’t exposed to non-Christian kids at school.

This one makes me especially sad. As parents, we have been assigned by the Lord to protect and guide our children through life. What better way to raise children who are firm in what they believe than by having their primary education source being your living room couch! And just because you keep your kids at home for their education doesn’t mean they can’t have ample opportunity to share their faith. It just means that you as the parent will have to help provide those opportunities! Invite the neighbors over. Join Little League or some other community program. Serve at a soup kitchen together. And most importantly? Model the kind of faith you want your children to someday develop.

4.) We can’t afford to homeschool.

There are times that this is a legitimate issue. However, much of the time this is just another hurdle to overcome. What are you prioritizing, financially? Is it cable & a gym membership? An expensive vehicle? Rent in a certain neighborhood? Frequently eating out? Yes, going without an income that I could bring in means we have to watch our expenses very carefully. We don’t have many of the extras that many families enjoy. I cook most of our meals. We don’t take fancy vacations. But we’re choosing to invest that money into our children’s future instead.

And actual expenses of homeschooling? They can be as much or as little as you can afford. Many states now offer home education programs through the local school district that are free. You can find endless free resources online. The library is amazing. And you can choose certain subjects that are more important for you to be able to individualize and spend your resources there. For example, for history and science, we use curriculum in which we purchase the “spine” and depend on the library for most of the rest.  My annual school budget is around $500.

5.) I’m not organized enough to homeschool. Or, I don’t think I can make the time with my little ones running around!

Don’t worry- you’ll find your groove eventually! I struggle with organization and time management too, and I’m constantly adjusting to meet our changing needs. Another advantage to homeschooling is that because you are teaching your children one-on-one, you can fit an entire day’s worth of education into only a couple of hours, leaving the rest of the day for what children should be doing – playing! Remember, just take it one day at a time, one week at a time, one year at a time. You don’t have to commit to homeschooling for 18 years! Every day, every year you give your children at home is a gift.

 

Anyway, I need to get back to my little crew now. As I’m reminiscing about the loss our country experienced last year, I’m feeling the need to hold them extra close today. I hope this post has been a blessing to you and has settled some fears that may be lurking in your mind. Many blessings on you today and always!

– Judy

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