This was a question I would put into google before we were homeschooling….and as the enrolment papers for my little boy sit in the kitchen it’s something I have to come back to. How do you convince someone (aka your other half or a concerned family member) about homeschooling. For most people it’s pretty out there, it’s unconventional and most people put their children into school because….well that’s what you do. That’s how most of us grew up and that’s what the norm is. And so for me I had a big job to convince someone that yes we can do this and we should do it.
Deciding to homeschool is a very big decision and probably one that your family and friends aren’t doing. Perhaps you’re the only person you know in real life who homeschools or wants to homeschool. And perhaps the only thing holding you back is someone who doesn’t agree with it. What’s my advice?
Be clear about the reasons you want to homeschool. There are lots of reasons and a wide variety of people who homeschool so make sure you know why YOU want to homeschool and what kind of style you would like to follow. Some people use distance education where school work is submitted and marked and there are dates for projects and assignments. Others use a workbook approach or follow a set curriculum or create their own curriculum using a mixture of books and then you have unschoolers who really don’t do school at home but something very different that follows their children’s interests and talents. Oh and the great thing about homeschooling is that it’s flexible so you can change how you do things if it’s not working out as expected.
Join local homeschool groups, there are plenty of preschoolers and mums with babies so join a local group or two and start going to activities. I feel a bit spoilt for choice living in a big city because there are lots of groups and I’ve found a great smaller group near me that meets each week (we even went out for a mums dinner!) and I have my Catholic homeschooling mums too who all have big families like ours and I’m also part of a special needs homeschool group that I haven’t met yet but find great support from them online. So start making those connections so that it doesn’t feel like a big leap into the unknown.
Watch Ken Robinson’s Ted Talks. He’s so funny and knowledgable and the videos are very convincing. Because another way to approach the homeschooling vs regular school debate is to take a different angle and look at what is wrong with a lot of schools at the moment. You can find his most popular talks here, here and here. Why are schools failing some children? Why is more and more money being spent on testing in an effort to raise standards? Why is there so much pressure and work in the earlier years of primary school? Why isn’t there funding for inclusive education? What values are being taught in school and do they meet our family values? And what about creativity and letting children follow their natural interests. BTW I’m not anti school and have 2 children who love school and are in school but I don’t believe it’s for everyone and I think it’s very different from when I went to school.
Start your homeschool room, buy resources (you can find some great ones in the Australian homeschool buy/sell/swap page on FB) and at book sales etc. I think this booklist is the best and why not start with educational games, toys, art and craft supplies. Show that you are committed and this is what you want to do.
Don’t nag. Ha ha I’m a nagger but anyway giving it time and space might be the strategy that works for you.
Collect great articles, stories by homeschooling families and so on. Because we’re Catholic I found a lot of Catholic /Christian homeschool websites and businesses and I was able to find stories of families who are homeschooling and looking at the success stories, the struggles and how they do it helped me (and someone else) see that large families can and do homeschool.
Give it a trial period, if you are committed to homeschooling and providing a great environment at home with the right resources and dedication then you don’t have anything to lose if you give it a trial period. For some families there is an urgency to removing a child from school and so your hand can sometimes be forced before you’ve fully understood the registration requirements in your state and got everything sorted but if it means a happier child and home life then it’s worth it. And they can always go back to school. One of my twins really wanted to go back to school and play footy at lunchtime with other boys. He got a spot at the local school and loves it, he isn’t doing as much work as he did at home or as challenging but he’s happy and wishes saturday was a school day! And we’re all fine with it.
Do the sums. If you’re married to a numbers person then look at the financial side – the current cost of education vs homeschooling. You can homeschool on a very tight budget thanks to online resources and 2nd hand books and materials. Take out the cost of school fees, uniform and transport from your budget. We do more excursions than they did at school and it only costs me about $60-$100 a term for excursions for the homeschoolers and we have so much fun. For us we have put our money into good books, a curriculum from the US and now tutoring twice a week but it’s still much better for our finances than having children in school.
Jobs of the future. My husband and I are both accountants and he’s seen first hand through his own work that jobs have been moved offshore and done by graduates who are much cheaper. Employees lost their jobs and had to train up overseas staff to do their job (all in effort to cut costs). We’ve lost count of how many restructures he’s been through but that’s life in the corporate world these days. So perhaps looking to the future and that we don’t know what jobs will look like for our children might be another avenue to think about. What do your children want to do when they grow up? What jobs will be available in the future? Do you need to sit in a classroom for 13 years to have a job in the future? There are lots of pathways to university and further study without needing to attend school and sit the HSC (or year 12 equivalent).
Do it for the benefit of the family The greatest benefit of homeschooling is a stronger family. Bigger kids help the younger kids, everyone learns together, bonds are strengthened and you get to learn together. You can take days out and instead of saying goodbye to your children you get to be with them. Instead of being stuck in a classroom being told what to do they get to have a say and go outside when they want to or make a cake when they’ve finished their work or find a great art or craft project to do. And it’s not like school holidays where you might hear ‘I’m bored already’. We have a structured morning where our bookwork has to get done and we do our creative things in the afternoon. And when we get stuck on something we can spend more time on it until we’ve got it, then we can move on. The class won’t move on while we still don’t understand a concept because we are doing things at our own pace and adjusted to where we are at.
That’s not an exhaustive list and I could add a few more but it gives you something to think about if you’re having to make this big decision right now or in the future!