1. Can I afford it?
The initial costs for books and equipment are minimal. The library is the most important resource, and it's free. If you choose to purchase a curriculum, costs start at around $300. During your child's teen years, the cost of curricula varies depending on what you do. Count on spending a few hundred dollars to approximately $1,000 for the school year. Purchase used materials, and cut that figure in half.
The greatest cost of homeschooling is the loss of income of the stay-at-home parent. But the good news is that in today's digital age, parents are finding creative ways to juggle homeschooling responsibilities and a career. At our homeschooling groups, parents commonly negotiate on their cell phones while their kids partake in the day's activities.
That's not to say there's no sacrifice at all. Homeschooling requires changing to a home-centered lifestyle. The family must "shift gears" and decide what their priorities are, both financial and educational. If you decide to homeschool, it's truly amazing what options and resources you'll find to maintain your newfound freedom!
2. Where do I find other homeschoolers?
Currently, almost 2 million children in the U.S. are homeschooled. That number is expected to grow at approximately 10 to 15 percent per year. Families are now homeschooling in every state around the country.
The best place to locate other homeschoolers is through a local support group. There are groups for just about every religion, lifestyle, and/or disability. Sometimes these groups aren't exactly what you were looking for, but if you attend one of their homeschooling activities (perhaps a trip to a park or a museum) you'll meet like-minded individuals. It's not uncommon for several support groups or organizations to participate in an activity.
Simply asking other parents if they know any families who homeschool is surprisingly effective. Nowadays, most people with kids know someone who knows someone who homeschools, and suddenly, a connection is made.
3. What do I need to know about curriculum?
A curriculum is simply an outline of topics a teacher wants to cover during the school year. There's nothing complicated or mysterious about it. Many families don't follow a curriculum. You can create your own homeschool curriculum, purchase an established curriculum, or use no curriculum at all.
4. Who can help me make the decision to homeschool?
Most families take their kids out of school because a child is unhappy and/or not doing well. But this is a decision only you and your family can make. While there are some trade-offs, such as making financial sacrifices, there's also your child's educational freedom.
The most important question you have to answer – as silly as it seems – is, Whether you like being with your children. We know you love your kids, but you have to honestly ask yourself: Would you like being with them every day, all day long? Have a few honest conversations with yourself about this.
Before you decide to homeschool, you also need to address the following questions:
- Is your partner in agreement with your education standards?
- Have you read enough to understand what homeschooling is and why you're doing it?
- What are your expectations – both of yourself and of your child – for the upcoming year?
The whole family needs to talk about these issues together.
5. How do I talk to my kids about taking them out of school?
It depends on your child's age.
For younger kids: If the school routine is all your child has ever known, sudden changes in lifestyle may be scary. Carefully research every aspect of homeschooling first, then talk about it with your child and explore your options together slowly.
For older kids: Read The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn. This amazing book speaks to the soul of teens. Its suggestions help teenagers find their way to a real-life education. This book will change your perspective (maybe even your life!) and your teenager's, too. Read it together.
When other children find out that my 11-year-old is homeschooled, there's typically a resounding, "You're so lucky!" It seems most kids would gladly change places with her.