Even though September seems a long ways away, this is the time of year when academic decisions for next school year are often made. Are you considering homeschooling next year? Perhaps it is an idea you have been considering for a long time, or maybe you recently met someone who homeschools and you want to know more. How do you know if homeschooling is right for you?
Why Decide to Homeschool?
People decide to homeschool for many different reasons. According to a study put out by the National Center for Education Statistics , “the reason for homeschooling that was most frequently cited as being applicable was concern about the environment of other schools including safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure. Eighty-five percent of homeschooled students were being homeschooled, in part, because of their parents’ concern about the environment of other schools. The next two reasons for homeschooling most frequently cited as applicable were to provide religious or moral instruction (72 percent) and dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (68 percent).”
Think about the reasons you are considering homeschooling.
When Should The Decision to Homeschool Be Made?
Some people make the decision to homeschool when their child is still safely in the womb. Others make the decision when their child is three years old and expected to attend preschool. They decide they can teach them themselves and then, when faced with the decision of attending school for kindergarten, simply decide to keep going. Others decide at some point in their child’s academic career that traditional school is simply not the best option and pull the child out of school.
There is no one right or wrong time to homeschool. It can be done from birth through high school, or for part of one year. Each year the decision can be reevaluated depending on life and family circumstances.
How Can I Possibly Spend 30 Hours a Week Teaching Each Child?
Homeschooling is like having a private tutor. Much of the time spent in school is not spent on direct instruction, but rather waiting for others or doing “filler” work. Homeschooling is much more efficient. It will not take you thirty hours a week to cover the material. It will take far less. Also, children of different grades can often be taught much of the same material. Homeschooling provides a great deal of flexibility.
What About Socialization?
This always seems to be the question well-meaning people ask most. Family and friends and even random strangers will ask: “How will your children learn to get along with different people if they don’t go to school?” There are many articles and books on this topic, including Home-Schooling: Socialization not a problem  from the Washington Times.
Children who are homeschooled have many opportunities to interact with people of all ages, thereby helping them be more comfortable talking to adults, not just their peers. They are also able to develop friendships and take part in activities with other children. Homeschooled children take part in many of the same extra-curricular activities other children do, such as sports, dance classes, scouting programs, and Church programs. In addition, there are many homeschool groups that meet on a regular basis.
How Can I Possibly Teach Algebra?
This can also be considered, the “How can I teach high school?” question. Many parents feel that they can adequately teach the basics of reading and writing and math, but things like algebra and high school biology or chemistry inspire fear in many. The good news is that there are many on-line classes high school students can take. Older teens can also often enroll in basic classes at a community college. Finding a tutor can also help the process. If parents want to homeschool for high school, there are many ways to accomplish that goal.
What Will I Have to Report to my City?
Each state has its own rules regarding homeschooling. Within states, different cities may interpret those rules differently. Talking with other homeschoolers in your area can help clarify what you need to do. The Home School Legal Defense Association  can also be a very good resource if you have specific questions about what is required in your state.
Where Do I Learn More?
Your local library may have books on homeschooling or information on a homeschool group in your area. There are also several magazines and websites dedicated to the subject. If you have a specific question, you may want to do an internet search for that particular topic. Any situation you are facing has no doubt been contended with by someone else. As a general rule, homeschoolers are happy to share information and advice.
If you are considering homeschooling, I would recommend that you pray to make the right decision for your family. It can be scary to step off the well-traveled road of traditional schooling to embrace something new, but if it is the right choice for your family, it can be a beautiful way to live.
(© 2011 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur)