So you are thinking of starting to homeschool in 2021. Congratulations! I am so excited for you! How wonderful! But how do you make the decision to homeschool?
Note before we start:
If you have ever had rude comments instead of congratulations directed at you during a pregnancy, just know that deciding to homeschool is another major trigger for the general public to put their foot in their mouth. If this blog post was the first time anyone said anything positive to you in reaction to your decision to homeschool, that’s what I’m here for. So lets do that again!
You’ve got this, mama.
You can do this.
Now on to the decision-making process.
Making the Decision to Homeschool
For whatever reason, making the decision to homeschool was actually more difficult than making the decision to have children. You guys know I do an immense amount of research for these posts, right? So I decided to be scientific about it and ask you all in my Instagram stories. Head on over to my instagram if you want to add your input!
When it comes to making decisions, particularly big, life-changing decisions that affect not only you, but also every single member of your household, many people struggle with anxiety.
But why is the decision to homeschool such a big decision?
I think some of the most common reasons that homeschooling seems like such a huge decision are:
- Homeschooling feels rebellious. I am naturally a bit of a rebel, but this can be a huge factor for rule-follower types of people. More on being a rebel here.
- Homeschooling feels like a huge responsibility. Our children are precious to us! We sure as heck don’t want to mess them up and the education system feels so safe and normal.
- Homeschooling is the unknown. What do you do all day? How will they socialize? Will I be a good enough teacher?
We’ll chat more about these later. For now, lets make the decision.
When to Make the Decision to Homeschool
There is simply no wrong time to make the decision to homeschool or to start homeschooling. If you don’t even have kids yet, but you are already feeling called to home education, that is fantastic. If it is the middle of the school year and something is going on at school that makes you think you should bring your child home, that is a perfect time as well.
Spring and summer are common times for mothers to begin to consider what the following school year will look like, and since this is 2021, the outlook is very uncertain for many families.
How to Make the Decision to Homeschool
Now I am going to take you through a little step-by-step of your decision-making process. I encourage you to get a pen and notebook to jot things down in as you work through this.
I got these decision-making steps from a great little video by Fr Mike Schmitz called 4 Helpful Rules for Discernment and I added a little homeschool mom insight as well.
- Is it good? The first way we begin to make a decision is that we look at our choices and make sure we are choosing something good. I don’t think you would be reading this if you didn’t believe that homeschooling is a good thing.
- Is it possible? The next step families need to take in the decision to homeschool is figuring out whether or not it is possible for you. Usually one parent needs to stay home for this education option to work, but some families figure out other ways or add a side gig. I highly recommend sitting down and working out a budget if you haven’t already done that, taking into account homeschool expenses.
- Is it wise? The next step in your efforts to figure out whether or not this is going to be a good choice for your family is considering whether or not it is a wise choice for you. Would this put undue strain on your family?
- Is it something I want? This is a really important step and one we can’t ignore. Are you thinking about homeschooling because your actually want to homeschool? When you think about homeschooling, do you feel at peace, positive, and optimistic? If you made a pros and cons list, would you have more pros, or more cons? What advice would you tell a friend if they were trying to make this decision?
- Other Considerations: Am I ready to take responsibility for my children’s education? Is my relationship with my spouse in a good place? If I were old and on my deathbed, looking back on my life, do I think I would regret homeschooling, or regret not homeschooling?
Facing Homeschool Fears
The decision to homeschool comes with many What Ifs. If these haven’t hit you yet, just wait until November or the dreaded month (in homeschooling circles) of February! Here is my method of facing the What Ifs of the decision to homeschool.
I would encourage you to reflect upon where those dears you have are coming from. I like how Emily P. Freeman reflects on this topic on her podcast The Next Right Thing, episode 68.
Some of the What Ifs that may be hitting you:
- What if I fail?
- Or what if I hate it?
- And what if my kids hate it?
- What if I die and my kids have to go to public school and it turns out they didn’t learn anything and then they are really behind and then their lives are ruined forever? (No, just me?)
Write down all your “What Ifs” on a journal page.
What is the worst that could happen?
There is no such thing as an educational emergency.Julie Bogart
I’ve seen this quote attributed to others as well, but I first heard it from Julie Bogart of Brave Writer. I highly recommend her book, The Brave Learner, for an all-round good homeschooling inspiration read.
Repeat after Julie: There is simply no such thing as an educational emergency.
It’s time to head back to your journal page where you jotted down the “What Ifs.”
I would like you to picture for me what you assume to be the worst “What If” scenario of your decision to homeschool. Is it one of those listed above? Or maybe there is something very specific to your family situation that plagues you. Now say it out loud. I want you to say it out loud at least to yourself, but its even better if its to a friend you can trust. The reason I want you to say it aloud is that a lot of the time, it feels way bigger if you keep it in. Saying it aloud brings it into the light.
Once you have admitted your greatest fear either to yourself or your spouse or trusted friend, you can work through the fear.
Here are some things to contemplate as you work through the fear.
- Is this fear based in reality? Is it even possible? Or is it really too far-fetched to be a problem?
- What is the worst that can happen? If it became a reality, what is the worst fallout I can think of? Does that seem bad enough to stop me?
- How can I change my internal monologue to reflect a positive mindset? How can I shift my thinking to speak truth into this scenario? Write these down somewhere you can see them regularly to remind yourself.
For example, your fear is that you will not be able to teach your child math. You say this aloud to your spouse. In step 1 you recognize that its totally possible that you will struggle in this area because its been a long time since you did any BEDMAS. Then, in step 2 you realize that the worst-case scenario probably isn’t that bad, because if you really struggle with teaching math you will look at tutoring or online curriculum options. By step 3 you decide to reframe this as “What if I learn math alongside my child” and maybe add an affirmation of “I am equipped with the resources I need to teach my child.”
But will I be a good enough teacher?
Excuse me, but you have been teaching your child since before your child was born or the moment you met them. Your walking soothed them. Your voice taught them language. You are a natural teacher by virtue of your motherhood and no diploma can teach that.
If you are facing serious doubts about whether or not you will be a good enough teacher, I highly recommend this article from Jamie at Simple Homeschool, “Are You a Good Enough Teacher?”. She says it all so well.
Now that your major fears have been identified and hopefully addressed, go back to your original discernment checklist. You should have a good idea at this point whether or not homeschooling is a good choice for your family.
In future installments I want to address How to Pick Curriculum (or Not), How to Socialize, and Homeschooling in Extenuating Circumstances.
Next week I will be back here with my next installment of How To Homeschool! Be sure to follow me so you can stay in the loop!