Trying to decide between public school or homeschooling can be scary. Here are six reasons why there's less to worry about than you think -- especially when your child is young.
1. You've already got all the skills you need to get started.
I've known parents who chose to send their child to school for a couple years to get "the basics" out of the way before taking on the challenge of homeschooling. But I believe that jumping into homeschooling when your child is young is the least stressful way to do it.
Far from learning a whole new way of relating to your child, you can continue to provide the kind of enriching activities you are probably doing already -- making art, playing outside, helping with cooking or the laundry, looking at books, viewing educational videos or apps, visiting interesting places.
At some point you'll see signs that it's time to start guiding your child towards reading and writing and doing math on paper (whether you use a textbook or not) or on a screen. And step by step, you'll build the confidence in your ability to help your child learn at home.
2. Homeschooling doesn't really take more of your time than putting your child in school.
I've had many people tell me they could never homeschool because it would take too much time out of their day. But think about it -- how often have you heard parents of schoolkids complain about the amount of homework their kids have each night, often starting in kindergarten or first grade? From my own experience and talking to other homeschoolers, I know it's possible to keep your kids at grade level or above without devoting any more time to homeschool "desk work" than they would normally spend just on homework.
When you add in driving your kids back and forth to school, volunteering in the classroom, attending parent association or school board meetings, going to parent-teacher conferences, and all the other things conscientious parents do when their children attend a traditional school, you may actually save time by homeschooling. Of course, the hours spent homeschooling may not coincide with the regular school day. But then, a flexible schedule is one of homeschooling's advantages.
3. Your special-needs child can still get the appropriate services outside of school.
Depending on the state, in most cases children with special needs can still receive some level of services even if they are homeschooled. You may have to drive to the school to access them, but learning at home doesn't mean foregoing the extra help your child needs.
On the other hand, for many kids, homeschooling can be enough all by itself to avoid the need for some services. At home, parents can set up an environment that makes its easier for kids to learn. And at home you can give your child extra time and other accommodations more readily than in most classrooms.
4. You won't have to cut your child (and yourself) off from society.
Homeschooling doesn't mean being isolated. Forget the warnings about the lack of socialization. Most homeschooling families are more likely to complain about spending too little time at home than too much.
Finding a local homeschool group that meets regularly isn't hard. But if you there isn't one to your liking nearby, it's easy to organize your own play group, field trip, Outdoor Games Day, or other get-together.
5. You don't have to teach it all yourself.
Even in your child's early years, there may be subjects that you would rather not teach yourself. Whether it's dance, swimming, pottery, robotics, or foreign language, afterschool and other enrichment opportunities can be found in practically every community.
That's not even counting the classes and workshops offered specifically for homeschoolers. Finding teachers and other resources to help you homeschool may take a little time, but it's definitely do-able.
6. You can always change your mind.
It may seem like every decision you make for your children (or they make for themselves) will determine the rest of their lives. The truth is, very little that you do right now will cut off any possibilities for your kids down the road.
Remember, if you or your child decide that homeschooling isn't for you, pretty much all the other options you had before you started will still be open to you. Public schools are required by law to provide an appropriate education for all children, no matter where they were educated before. And many students have made a smooth transition to traditional school.
So if you think that homeschooling may be a good fit for your family, don't be afraid to give it a try. You have nothing to lose -- and even a short stint homeschooling can be a positive experience that stays with a parent and child for a lifetime!