If you're a parent, few things are more important than the education of your children. Private school? Religious school? Public school? Boarding school? Unschooling? Deschooling? The options are many, and the factors can be complicated.
One option you may be considering for your kids is homeschool. Maybe you're one of many who are now considering a transition to homeschool but aren't quite sure it's worth it. Or maybe you're ready to take the plunge but don't quite know how to transition into homeschooling? If so, this article will help you think through the pros and cons of homeschool and how to transition into homeschooling after traditional school.
Why Homeschooling Is A Great Option (For Some)
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone, especially parents with school-age children. One effect of this has been the rise of homeschooling. In just one year, from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, the number of homeschoolers jumped 56% to 5 million in the United States.
But why might this be a desirable option, even after the pandemic subsides?
1. The Freedom
If you've ever been a public or even private school teacher, you know you only have so much freedom to select and use a curriculum. Of course, you're also confined to a 7 hour school day with specific hours, specific days, and specific vacations.
Homeschooling usually allows for more freedom in all these areas. There are now dozens of homeschool curricula to choose from. You can experiment with one, and if it doesn't work, you can move on to something else. Do you want to supplement your study with a field trip? You can take Tuesday to visit that Civil War battleground or science museum to enhance what you're learning in history and science class.
2. Individualized Education
Unless the teacher is a superstar, your child is likely to get lost in a public school classroom of 30 kids. Your child has specific needs, but are they being met in a traditional setting?
Even if you have 8 kids, you have the power to meet the specific needs of each of your children more easily with homeschool.
- If your 6-year-old is already doing multiplication, why not push her beyond, rather than doing what a conventional 1st grader would do?
- Or maybe one of your kids loves tactile learning while another favors auditory learning.
This is what unschooling, deschooling, and homeschooling can provide: meeting the needs of your kids in a way traditional classroom teachers probably can not.
Why Homeschool May Not Be Best For You And Your Child
While homeschooling is a wonderful option for many, it's not for everyone. What might give you pause?
1. Social Benefits of Traditional School
Your 3rd grader might be thriving in a traditional setting because of the friends he's made. He's developed a sense of belonging to a group, and pulling him out could be tough for him.
More than that, learning to socialize with a diverse group of people is an important skill to develop. This is easier to do in a traditional school setting and would be tough to replicate in homeschool.
2. Not Every Parent Is A Teacher
This one's very personal, but you can probably gauge whether spending days and weeks and years with your kids as a teacher is right for you. You don't need a Ph.D. in education, but it's helpful to have some knowledge of different pedagogical methods.
And maybe most importantly, do you have the personality to parent and teach your kids. Homeschooling means you're likely spending 24/7 with your kids. Is that right for you?
How To Transition Into Homeschooling After Traditional School
OK, now that you've weighed the pros and cons, you're ready to take the big step toward unschooling, deschooling, and homeschooling your kids. But how do you do it? Here are a few steps for how to transition into homeschooling.
1. Have A Conversation With Your Kids
Before you get into the nitty-gritty, don't just assume your kids will be on board. You're the parents, and you know what's best for them, even if they might resist at first. But have a conversation with them. Ask questions like:
- Do you feel challenged in your school right now?
- Would you feel sad if we pulled you out and started homeschooling?
- Would you miss your friends or sports teams?
Having an open and honest conversation with your kids (especially if they're older) is essential to a successful homeschool experience.
2. Study Your State's Homeschool Laws
Every state has different homeschool laws. Some are more restrictive than others. You'll likely need to learn how to withdraw your child from your public school (if that's where they are), which usually involves filling out paperwork.
Then you'll need to set up your homeschool. That often involves following the state statute if you want to set up your own school. Or it may allow you to attach your operation to a private school in the state. In Washington state, for example, if you do it on your own, you'll need to be certified as a teacher, complete state assessments, and operate for at least 180 days out of the year.
3. Choose A Curriculum That Works For You
Curriculum freedom is likely one of the reasons you chose to homeschool in the first place. Unschooling and deschooling will take some time, but once you get there, there are plenty of options. Here are a few options of many:
- Montessori: heavy emphasis on hands-on learning
- Classical: relies on rote memorization and the study of classical sources like Homer and Shakespeare
- Charlotte Mason: stresses the need to educate the whole person, not just the mind
We sat down with Latonya Moore, Homeschool Podcaster “Joy in the Ordinary” and Outschool Community Team Member -
“Our family returned to homeschool after a year in public school. We've been on our second half of the journey for nearly a decade, and we appreciate the opportunity to grow and learn together. Children are as much a part of this journey as adults, so if you're considering homeschooling be sure to have a conversation with your kids about what you hope your family gains from this experience. We all have different reasons for choosing a new path towards education. It works best when everyone involved is onboard.”
Let Outschool Be Your Source For How To Transition Into Homeschooling
As you can see, homeschooling is not to be taken lightly. Don't go it alone. Check out Outschool's many classes to help you determine how to transition into homeschooling after traditional school.