We did what you’re doing, or thinking about doing. Our eldest two went to public school in our little town, and it was just fine, we didn’t have any problems, but I missed them. Also, it was a hassle packing up the baby and toddler to commute the school kids from two different school locations, and…there was homework. Homework was the final straw for me, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Our 3rd grader, who was gone from 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., wasn’t free to spend the evening playing with his siblings while I made dinner, or free to be a little wiggly boy — he had to do homework. Which really meant, we had to do homework, as I needed to make sure it was done properly.
I thought homeschooling might be “too hard” or “take too much time” (excuses you’ve likely thought of, too) but in reality, public school was hard and took too much time, so in blind faith, we took our kiddos out of public school and entered the unfamiliar world of homeschooling. We thought homeschooling would be hard and scary. It turned out to be the best decision we ever made. Those two youngsters are now productive college-age members of society, with many university credits (on the way to degrees) attached to their names. They have run businesses, worked full-time jobs, lead in volunteering, and more. You’d like them. I’m telling you this because I want you to know it can work out.
A HOMESCHOOL IS NOT A MINIATURE SCHOOL
At first, you’re going to have the struggle everyone does when coming out of a structured school system. Your mind thinks of “school” in terms of “semesters,” “grades,” “caught up,” “and “school breaks.”
Your homeschool is not a tiny school! It is much more than academics. At first, you’ll worry they’ll get “behind” or not be “caught up,” but academics are only One Thing that Someone Thought Up. These things are not life-preparation and they are not individuality and they’re not something to be caught up or behind in.
There is so much to learn beyond academics! You’re going to be able to teach leadership, manners, ethics, morals, following their passions, goal-making, money management, and so much more. Yes, academics are important in our society, but they are quickly learned in a homeschool setting – we don’t need to spend an hour every weekday on math when we are teaching and learning one-on-one. We can do lessons in much less time than a school can! So we can learn many other subjects.
“School” does not have to be done within certain hours, between certain holidays, or at a certain desk. We had a room set aside for homeschooling at one point (formerly a “dining room”), but the kitchen table was used more often than anywhere else. Many of our best homeschooling days were spent outdoors – a child is always welcome to read in the tree fort, in the yard, or even in the canoe.
One more thing: it’s okay to take it semester by semester. No need to think beyond that.
Here’s our family’s homeschooling crew, learning in different positions and places.
THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PULLING YOUR CHILD OUT OF SCHOOL
- the kids may not be cooperative right away. Give everyone an adjustment period.
- you’re one-on-one, so you won’t need to spend 7-8 hours on academics! Most of us teach 2-4 hours and the rest of the “school day” is spent on “something productive or learning that is preferably not on a screen.” My crew was creative at thinking of ways for it to be ON a screen sometimes like one learned to code and created his own Minecraft plugin that he later sold, but mostly – be off-screen during “school hours.” As a result, our crew (boys and girls!) can do anything from investing in stocks to felling a tree to baking bread to changing car oil.
- you will feel overwhelmed sometimes but if you believe in God, then believe in God and tell Him that you need a little help here. He’ll help. Also – remember your ‘why.’ Why are you homeschooling? Remember why you are, and you’ll push through bad days for the long-term goal
- you don’t need to test or grade because you already know if they know the material. You ask questions and teach until they know it. If they don’t know it, you’re going to keep on until they do, right? I make transcripts at the end of high school. They’re based on what public schools here require and they have been accepted into several universities.
- school hours can be early, but they can also be in the evening (teens love this)
- school days can be over Summer when it’s hot and off all Winter when it’s mild (that’s what we do). You can travel on days when others are in school – because that can be a learning day for y’all, but also, because you’re free to make your own schedule
- don’t get stuck in a curriculum that is rigid or in a tight schedule that doesn’t allow them to know their own interests. Let them spend a couple of hours every day pursuing something of their choice. We’ve had our crew dive into space science, dolphins, spoon carving, car maintenance, anatomy art, violin, and much more. Whatever they want to learn can be learned these days through the library, the internet, or “finding the masters” (locals who know things).
You can do this! I promise!