Homeschooling is becoming more and more mainstream. In fact, there were 2.04 million homeschooled students in 2010. Further, this number is growing at the rate of about 8% per year. Chances are quite good that you know someone who homeschools. Perhaps youíve been thinking about homeschooling your own son, but youíre not sure whether or not it is something you can do. After being deeply involved in the homeschool world, teaching, writing, and consulting, for the past three years, I am convinced that there is no parent who cannot homeschool. With a little knowledge and, more importantly, an awareness of the available resources, any parent can provide a home education for her son.
Why homeschooling? For boys especially, the traditional school experience can be more challenging than it needs to be. The school model requires boys to sit still for hours on end, when research consistently shows that most boys learn better when they learn in short bursts with plenty of activity interspersed. Further, many young boys are interested more in science and math than in reading and writing. Since research supports the idea that boys develop fine motor and reading skills more slowly than girls, there is every reason to cater to their interests in order to keep them in love with school. Most important are the many personal and individual reasons a family chooses to homeschool. While they are too numerous to list here, they include religious, social, and academic concerns.
Can you homeschool your son, though? Absolutely! Below are the reasons I hear over and over from moms who are afraid they canít homeschool, along with my responses.
1. I donít have a degree in teaching.
ē You donít need a degree in teaching to homeschool your son! While different states have different reporting requirements (what they need to see from you regarding your homeschooled child), no state requires a parent to be a degreed teacher Ė or to have any degree at all, in fact. If you know anyone who has gotten a degree in teaching, you quickly find out that much of what they learn is classroom management and interpersonal skills related, and not subject matter material. Who better to teach your child than you? Youíve been doing it since he was born!
2. I donít have the patience.
ē Again, remember, weíre talking about teaching your own son, not an entire classroom full of 6 (7,12,16, whatever) year-olds. Teaching your child requires neither more nor less patience than you need for any other aspect of parenting.
3. I donít know enough (history, science, algebra).
ē A huge benefit of the explosion of homeschooling is the concomitant explosion of homeschooling materials and support. You have every option available to you from completely designing your own curriculum (there are books to aid you with this option) to ordering a 3rd (K, 5th, 9th) grade in a box. Everything you need from books to lesson plans will come straight to your door.
4. What about socialization? My son wonít have any friends!
ē Socialization is a two-way street. While youíre mourning your sonís perceived loss of friends, take time to rejoice in the bad words, bad jokes, and bad habits he also wonít be picking up! As to the issue of friends, did your son have friends before he started school? There will always be neighbors, the baseball team, your friendsí children, and your homeschool co-op there for your sonís socialization needs.
5. Wait. Co-op? Whatís that?
ē Many, maybe even the majority, of homeschooled families belong to a homeschool group which gathers together for field trips, play dates, and support and reinforcement. Slightly fewer, but still a great number, belong to a homeschool co-op, a group (size ranges dramatically) which shares the teaching responsibilities for their children. The mom who loves math may teach all the math. The mom who always knows whether a subject or an object pronoun is appropriate may take Language Arts. The mom who is *still* timid about teaching hers or any other child makes a great organizer and nursery volunteer. For parents who feel strongly about their child having a true classroom experience, the co-op is the answer to a prayer.
There are certainly other fears that I hear expressed all the time, but these are the top five. There are many factors which go into making the decision to homeschool, but not knowing whether or not you can do it should not be one of them!
Especially if your son has ADHD, special needs, or a learning disability, homeschooling may be something you want to consider. Being able to structure your sonís day in the way that you know works best for him could be just what you need in order to make his life a little easier.