Is home schooling right for you and your child?

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This week’s column addresses some of the key factors a parent will need to consider when deciding if home schooling is the right choice for their family. Parents who have successfully home schooled appear to be in agreement that home schooling requires a tremendous amount of time and energy. Additionally, there is a financial component to home schooling that may dramatically impact the lifestyle of every member of the household.

Nevertheless, despite these challenges the popularity of home schooling continues to grow and the success stories are increasing. To assist you in determining whether home schooling is workable for your family, Education Matters shares advice from a parent who has years of successful experience and a young doctoral candidate who was home schooled exclusively.

Making the decision to home school requires careful examination of a number of factors. To make a better informed decision it can be helpful for parents to ask themselves tough, soul-searching questions, advises Beverly Hernandez, a veteran home schooler who taught her own children from preschool through high school.

Question to consider include:

•Are both parents in agreement? “It is important that both parents agree to try home-schooling,” says “It is very difficult to home school if one parent is against it. If your spouse is against it at this time, try doing more research and talking to more people.”

•Are you prepared to devote a significant amount of your time to be your child’s teacher? Hernandez says parents should be aware “Home schooling tends to take up a lot of time in your day. It is more than just sitting down with books for a couple of hours. There are experiments and projects to be done, lessons to prepare, papers to grade, field trips, park days, music lessons, and the list goes on.”

•Does your family, have the financial resources to live on one or a reduced income? “Home schooling can be accomplished very inexpensively; however, it usually requires that the teaching parent not work outside of the home. Some sacrifices will need to be made if the family is used to two incomes” Hernandez says.

•Will you be intimidated by the teaching? “If you can read and write, you should be able to teach your children. The curriculum and teacher materials will help through the planning and teaching.” Hernandez recommends that, “you get help from others if you get stuck or hire tutors for the difficult subjects like chemistry, calculus, biology or algebra.”

•Is your child willing? “A willing student is always helpful, says Hernandez. “Ultimately, the decision is the parents to make, but if your child is dead against it, you might have a hard time of it.”

•Is household organization a priority? If you are “a stickler for a spotless house, you might be in for a surprise. Not only does housework need to be let go at times, but home schooling creates messes and clutter in itself.”

If after answering these questions you are leaning towards home schooling, but can’t quite make up our mind, Hernandez advises parents, “It isn’t a lifetime commitment— most families take it one year at a time.” As with most important, life-changing decisions there comes a point after careful examination when you have to move forward on faith and a sincere commitment to make it work.

Rachel Coleman is a remarkable young woman by any measure. Upon completion of high school she was accepted to Ball State University with a full tuition scholarship, graduated with highest honors in three years, and then earned a master’s degree. Currently she is Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, where she will soon complete her doctorate. What makes Rachel’s academic journey even more noteworthy is she was home schooled from kindergarten straight through to high school.

“As each of my siblings has graduated in turn, he or she has likewise headed off to university on scholarship,” says Rachel. “How did my parents achieve these results? In the eight years since I graduated from high school, I’ve had time to think about the home school education I received and what parts of it were most successful. Based on this reflection, I’ve pinpointed the ten things I think were most critical to my parents’ successful home schooling.”

It is easy to find parents willing to speak on their home schooling know-how and experiences. However, a thoughtful recollection by a former home-schooled student is rare. Next week, Rachel discusses some of the ways her parents made home schooling work for her and her siblings.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes about educational matters because “only the educated are free.”