Why Homeschool?
updated May 8, 2016

You may be asking yourself, can I really homeschool? And the answer is:

of course, you can!


Remember, you may not have as much training as a certified school teacher (or you might have more) but you definitely have the two qualities which matter the most: dedication to your child's education and the desire to give him or her the best future possible, and years of knowledge about every aspect of your specific child.

No matter how little confidence you may feel in your own abilities, your child will be guaranteed small class sizes and one-on-one attention when you teach him or her at home.

What you need first is a clear idea of why you want to homeschool. The second step is to choose a method which works for you. Set a budget and gather your supplies. Next, establish a schedule -- always remembering that flexibility is the essence of homeschooling (of all teaching for that matter, but homeschoolers are generally best able to notice and respond to an individual child's needs). Finally, make sure you have a support network. You won't be able to have every question answered before you begin (and you'll never get started if you keep waiting to feel completely 100% confident and prepared for every contingency) -- but you do need to have a place to turn with questions when issues arise.

Then take a deep breath and jump in!


I
Why Does Homeschooling Appeal to You?

  • Do you want to be a larger part of your children's learning experiences?
  • Do you want more involvement in your children's lives?
  • Are you completely happy with the education your children receive in school? Are they encouraged by teachers and fellow students to explore fully all aspects of a topic of interest?
  • Do you object to the stress and unreasonable workload your children appear to have?
  • Are you completely happy with the treatment your children receive from teachers, administrators, and classmates?
  • Do your children thrive in school? Are you happy with the behaviors and beliefs they pick up in school?
  • Do you worry about violence, peer pressure, or sexual harassment at school?
  • Do you or your children ever feel the need to hide your spirituality around any member of the school community?
  • Do you wish your children could incorporate more spirituality, tolerance, and respect for all life into their academics?
  • Do you believe that learning should be encouraged throughout all of life rather than abruptly stoppping at the end of the school day, week, and semester?


II
Choosing a Method

Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was an innovative educator who developed a unique approach to education -- Top 8 Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Books

The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte M. Mason
complete text of Charlotte Mason's six volume book series provided free for public use

Classical Education
Dorothy Sayers well-known essay "The Lost Tools of Learning" is the basis of the new classical Christian education movement -- Top 6 Classical Education Books

Eclectic Homeschooling
An Eclectic Homeschooler is one who looks at the different approaches and methods of homeschooling and takes from each forming his own unique philosophy.

Montessori
According to Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952), learning is a natural, self-directed process which follows certain fundamental laws of nature.

Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia
paper published by ECRP (Early Childhood Research and Practice) with a comparative look at

  • History
  • Child Development Theory and Curriculum
  • Roles of the Teacher
  • Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Traditional / School-at-Home
Traditional Homeschools would be set up public school style with a complete curriculum, traditional grading system and record keeping. The Calvert School program is an example of this approach.

Unit Studies
The Unit Studies Approach integrates all school subjects together into one theme or topic. The Waldorf method utilitizes this effective approach with the Main Lesson block each morning.

Waldorf Unschooling
Unschooling or Natural Learning is a philosophy of child-led learning.

Waldorf Education
Waldorf education is based on the spiritual-scientific research of the Austrian scientist and thinker Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). According to his philosophy, man is a threefold being of spirit, soul and body whose capacities unfold in three developmental stages.

Overview of the Waldorf Method
Getting Started with Waldorf


III
Setting a Budget

One of the most common questions people have when deciding to homeschool is: how much is it going to cost? Of course, this depends on the educational method you choose, the age of your child, where you live, and so on. Our budget for homeschool with my preschool-aged child is $70.00 per week. Some homeschool expenses you should be prepared for include:
  • picture books
  • chapter books
  • parent books - background reading
  • library card, library programs
  • visits and membership fees for the zoo, aquarium, parks, nature centers
  • visits to farms, fees for craft activities and programs
  • dance lessons, fees for sports programs, yoga and Kindermusik classes and so on
  • foreign language or music instruction, the cost of a musical instrument
  • curriculum materials - packages of curriculum, science kits
  • puzzles and games
  • crayons
  • slate & slate pencil
  • watercolor paints, brushes, and paper; an easel
  • handwork supplies such as knitting needles and yarn, felt, wool roving, etc.
  • woodworking tools, wood and so on
  • materials for building and planting a garden, tools, seeds, soil amendments, etc.
  • music and other CDs, tapes, DVDs, videos etc.
  • admission to live performances such as dance performances, music concerts, and the like
  • the cost of vacations to a place related to your field of study
  • admission to or the cost of participating in any other educational experience for your child
Of course, the actual amount you spend will vary, but be mindful of the list above when setting your budget. Like any other expense, you will need to consider each item you purchase in light of whether there is something you already have on hand which will work as well, how often or for how long you'll be able to use an item (such as a book), and what you plan to do with it when you are done (sell, donate, etc. items no longer needed).


IV
Gathering Supplies

Although it is tempting to sit down with a handful of catalogues and order every math manipulative known to man (and history books, and blocks, and science kits, and so on!) first take an inventory of your home. You may be surprised at what you already have. Of course, sometimes you'll need to turn to a vendor; here are a few we recommend.

Buying Supplies for Your Waldorf Homeschool
blog post - The Parenting Passageway

The internet is a wonderful thing, especially when you're on a budget. Here are a lot of helpful links: FREE Materials / Get Started, Get Organized.


V
Establishing a Schedule

We have written a detailed article on this called "How to Homeschool." It is specifically geared for setting up a routine suitable for your preschool aged child, but can be useful to anyone working out a homeschool schedule for the first time.

Find FREE weekly planner pages to keep you organized at TheHomeSchoolMom.com.

Recent blog post about a homeschool schedule for middle schoolers (and I'm juggling an infant too):

  • Hands, Heart, Head

  • VI
    Finding a Support Network

    This is an essential step in the process of preparing to homeschool. By now you may be chomping at the bit to begin... but like any first year teacher, parents are in danger of burning out from over-enthusiasm coupled with a lack of experience. Many families who start homeschooling end up stopping sooner than they'd like, mostly because they feel they are "going it alone" and don't have the guidance and support they need. A support network is absolutely essential to having a successful homeschooling experience. The Internet is a wonderful resource for often-isolated homeschool families. Be sure to join our Yahoo group and participate in our extensive network of over a thousand families around the world; here, you won't be on your own -- you can ask questions, make suggestions, and make friends.

    Some companies which sell curriculum materials do charge extra for support and consultation with a certified teacher -- be sure to ask about this when making your choice.



    Still have questions?
    Feel free to contact me for a consultation at any time!


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