We are in our fourth year of homeschooling. Some families homeschool for a short period of time and others the entire school career. Each family chooses it for their own reasons. Common reasons include control over educational content, student learning styles, environment, finances, social or religious reasons, flexibility for students pursuing careers in music, athletics, acting, etc. or perhaps a combination of these.
People are surprised when I tell them that my son begged me to homeschool him for two years before I agreed. We finally took the plunge in his 8th grade year, and he is now a high school junior and loves it. If I knew then what I know now, we would have started sooner. I was terrified when I began to seriously consider it; it seemed like I had 1,000 questions. But guess what…they were all answered through reaching out to other homeschool families and easy to find on-line resources and books.
What comforted me most was to learn that there is not only one way to homeschool. Although that probably would have given me more peace of mind. Ironically, it actually ends up looking a little different for us each year, but that is the beauty of homeschool. We initially started with a distance learning school for the first two years because I needed the comfort of a structured program and teachers for each subject. Once we got involved in homeschool sports, we met more local families and the moms were a huge source of information. Meeting other families allowed me to build relationships and learn countless ways of doing it independently and with more confidence.
Customization is the true gift of homeschooling. Parents are able to design educational processes and environments around each child’s own learning style, goals, interests, talents, needs and the family’s values and lifestyle. The secondary bonus is the blessing of time that families get to spend getting to really know their children while also creating incredible memories together that a family otherwise would have never known.
Are there challenges, learning curves and days I wonder am I overlooking something? Yes! Is it fixable? Of course. Is our family–life and our son’s education, social and spiritual life enriched? Absolutely! In the end, is it worth it? Without a doubt!!
If you have any doubt about the outcomes and achievement levels of homeschool students, attend a homeschool high school graduation ceremony. I went to my first one last year by CHEF of Baton Rouge. I cried at least ten times…and these were not even my own children! It is a very special life experience, and we are so blessed it has become part of our family journey.
Once you become a homeschool mom, the word gets out, and inquiring friends and friends of friends will inevitably contact you…. just as I did when exploring. Here are the answers to my most frequently asked questions…
- There are a thousands ways to do it, and I have yet to meet two families that do it exactly the same. Umbrella and distance learning programs, homeschool co-ops, packaged grade level curriculum, selecting individual materials for each subject, mom making up the content and even something called unschooling.
- Homeschooled children have as much opportunity for socialization as regular school children…. perhaps more!! Homeschool co-ops, sports, clubs, organizations, church, traditional community programs, neighborhood friends, family and keeping their old friends, of course, means that your children will likely be more socialized than you ever planned. Homeschool parents become more “socialized” too because it takes groups of parents coming together to make all of these activities happen…so get ready for new friends yourself.
- You do not have to figure it out on your own. There are homeschooling associations, conventions, seminars and curriculum fairs to train and equip parents.
- Your best resources will be other homeschooling families & groups, so get connected and get some homeschool friends for yourself too.
- The State does not provide nor pick and choose your curriculum for you. You have complete control.
- You cannot get an IEP or special education services through the State/Parish since you are not enrolled in a local school. You can implement your own accommodations and you get to make sure they are followed! Bonus!
- Your children get a real diploma. You simply print one or order one from a service when they have completed the required work for high school graduation.
- Your child can go to college. In fact, many colleges actively seek out homeschool grads. Check the colleges admissions page for any requirements specific to homeschool grads and make sure to incorporate those subjects.
- Your child can get TOPS. Homeschool students are required to have a higher score, but so what! They do it everyday. Do not stress over it. See the TOPS section in the resource list.
- There are ways to still work and homeschool if you love your job or need to work. Fulltime, part-time, from home, weekends, evenings, etc. There are many options to make it work.
- You do not have to be a teacher or even have been a good student yourself to homeschool.
- A parent does not have to be “the teacher.” You can get together with other families and teach classes together or use a tutor or on-line school with teachers assigned.
- You do not have to have an extra room or classroom set up in your house. A simple desk, sofa, kitchen table, patio, hammock, bed, library, coffee shop, picnic blanket are all great places to do school work. Did I tell you how much we love homeschool?!
- You get to make your own schedule and take days off and vacation whenever you want! Family vacations on off seasons when everyone else is in school is not only cheaper but way less crowded and way more fun! You have to do it, just because you can…at least one time!
There are so many questions. It can be overwhelming but it’s natural. I hope sharing some of this has helped ease some anxiety.
You will find tangible resource under my new Homeschool section of this blog including the nuts & bolts of homeschooling in Louisiana. Thankfully, Louisiana is considered a homeschool-friendly state by most standards.
There is a heavy slant towards high school resources since we started in 8th grade. You will also find links to homeschool curriculum for all ages, homeschool associations, curriculum, conventions, educator resources, clubs, sports, Facebook groups, etc. that have been useful to our family and others.
You will find a great list of high school & college/career prep resources as well as links for special considerations such as learning disabilities, drivers license and selective service since these are the stages we have reached. If you find the list helpful, check back often as I will continue to adding more resources.
If you have questions, free to post questions below. I’ll answer as best as I can from our experience. Also, if you are a homeschooling family, share some of your favorite resources with us.
XOXO, Hope Maria