Updated: May 4
With everyone getting a taste of schooling their children at home this past year, many parents are asking a question they wouldn’t have even considered a year ago; “Do I continue to school my children at home, even after school returns to in-person classes?”
It’s a fair question. Both public and private schools can be amazing learning environments for your child. Great teachers and administrators can change a child’s life. However, you and your children have experienced a completely different life than before, much of it was stressful, and in some cases just plain scary. But then there were moments….
That deep conversation at two in the afternoon you never would have had,
A cuddle on the couch on your lunch hour
The sudden chance to take the kids sledding because your 3:00 pm appointment canceled
These experiences have you thinking, “I like my kids and after some adjustments, we’ve kind of got this thing down. Can I school my kids at home for good? Should I?”
Twelve years ago, my wife and I started asking those questions. We weren’t overcoming a pandemic, but our lifestyle and circumstances had changed drastically, and it forced a rethinking of priorities. As we worked through the possibility of homeschooling our children several factors came into play that I feel would be helpful for you making your own decisions.
As Simon Sinek famously put it, “It Starts with ‘Why?’” In our twelve years of homeschooling, we’ve met homeschoolers who represented the diverse social, economic, and religious background of America. Each family had a unique set of reasons for opting out of traditional school. As you consider this option for your family here are questions to bring your ‘Why’ to a fine point.
Lifestyle: This past year has exposed everyone to a new way of living and interacting as a family.
Have you come to enjoy the connections with your children while they’ve been at home and want to continue that?
Does the daily schedule of work and school preparation work for your family?
Does the traditional school accommodate your family's desire for travel?
Does your work easily align to a school calendar in a way you can take time off when the kids are off?
Do you relocate often for work, disrupting your child’s progress in school?
Social Issues: For many families, the change in environment has brought real social issues to the forefront.
Do you want to provide diverse opportunities and time in the week for your children to socialize with other children outside of a traditional classroom?
Does your family participate in supporting causes that you want your child to experience as a part of their education, that doesn’t align with traditional schooling?
Are your children subject to bullying, or other factors that make them feel unwelcome at school?
Are their factions politically or otherwise within your school that make it stressful for your child or family to attend there?
Is your school administration supportive of your family and its specific needs?
Are there social expectations at your school beyond the scholastic requirements that you can’t meet or disagree with?
Worldview/Religion: For many families, there is a new focus on passing on values and spiritual truths they believe to their children.
Do the curriculum choices of the school align with the morals and values you wish to have imparted to your children?
Are there specific subjects outside of the common core that you believe your child should be learning to reinforce your beliefs?
Does the school actively teach concepts that violate your conscience as a parent?
Does the school actively teach things that in some way intentionally or unintentionally denigrate your religious beliefs?
Academics: Every child is unique and classroom-style education may not meet the academic goals parents have for their children.
Does your school provide the academic rigor you expect from a school?
If your student is very advanced or very behind in various subjects are there ways to get effective accommodation for them?
Does your school provide options for additional study in areas of interest for your child?
Special Needs: Schools have made great strides in providing help for differently abled students, but in many cases that may not be enough.
Does your school lack support for your child’s specific needs?
Does your child’s special need require more controlled and predictable circumstances to manage effectively?
Is the special needs approach at your school in alignment with your beliefs about what’s best for your child?
At the end of the day, your “why” is core to success as a home educator. Knowing up front exactly why you’ve chosen to homeschool will help you:
Find like-minded supporters in home education
Fortify your arguments to the inevitable naysayers who will challenge your decision
Regularly re-evaluate your choice when conditions change
Inform your children’s choices as adults for their children
Push through the inevitable challenges that come with owning your child’s education
Choosing to homeschool is a major life decision that should not be done lightly. Even if your ‘Why’ is well understood, you still must count the cost of homeschooling. Next Month’s blog post will discuss “What” homeschooling entails.
About the Authors: Allen and Janet Brokken are veteran homeschoolers of 12 years with two children in college and a third in high school. Janet is a co-founder and director of the Wellspring Home School Cooperative and volunteers in multiple home school enrichment organizations. Allen had been the leader of a Cub Scout Pack, award-winning First Robotics Teams, and a Theatre Club. Together they operate Towers of Light Christian Resources LLC that provides resources for home school families from a Christian worldview.