Home-school Happenings: Making it work for all families
By: Nicole McKeon
June 21, 2012
Excuse me while I jump up on my soapbox for a minute or two.
You do not — I repeat, do not — need to spend a lot of money to home educate your children. And, this is coming from someone who earns a living selling books and home-school curricula.
It seems we have a bit of a disconnect in our community related to what is required to home-school a child. Please believe me when I tell you that home-schooling does not require a box curriculum, expensive books or expensive cooperative education. While these may work for some folks, and may be what some home educating parents feel are necessary for excellence, they do not in any way, shape or form define home-schooling.
Many times, when parents begin considering the option of home education, they speak with friends who are homeschooling their children. These friends may have great ideas and recommendations, and can be a terrific support system. But I would like to let you in on a little secret that most successful home-schooling parents learn after they’ve got a few years of home education under their belts — every home-schooling family is different. Every kid who is home-schooled is different. What works for one family, or one kid, is not always the answer for the next family or kid.
In addition, support doesn’t have to cost money. We have some excellent options for group activities in our area that cost absolutely nothing or have very minimal cost involved. And, you always have the option of starting your own group, which I highly recommend.
It’s been my experience that participating in large group activities can be exhausting. I have found that smaller groups with like-minded parenting styles and similar goals are often more satisfying and less taxing on the average home-schooling mom or dad.
That doesn’t mean that there is not value in large co-ops. For example, the Asheville Homeschool Cooperative does a magnificent job of creating a valuable learning environment that is reasonably priced and well-run. (I am sure there are other groups that I could mention, but this is just one example.)
I also caution you to take into account where your home-schooling advice is coming from. Do you have an unschooler bent? If so, taking advice from a highly structured, school-at-home home-schooler may leave you feeling confused and panicked.
For our family, the beauty of home-schooling has been our ability to transform it from year to year to what we need it to be. By this I mean, the whole point for us is for it not to look exactly like what we were getting in a traditional school setting. And, as we put more years under our belt, we are more and more confident in the path we have chosen. Giving ourselves the liberty to choose to use real “living” books and to not make every day look the same has been a gift for our whole family.
I get distressed when I receive emails from moms who say they know their child would benefit from home-schooling, but their family can’t afford it. You do not need to purchase Sonlight Curriculum or A Beka or Oak Meadow to successfully home-school. These are lovely resources, and may be just right for some families, but you can do just as well by using a library card and an Internet connection. In fact, you don’t even need the Internet — you could get by with just a library card, which is free, as long as you manage to get your books back on time.
If you have the gut feeling that your kid would be happier at home, you’re probably right. And, you can make it happen. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Choose your support system carefully, research your choices, ask lots of questions to a variety of home-schoolers, get online and join support groups. I recommend trying some local and some not local groups that may spark your interest. And then, do it.
It was a scary decision for our family, but it has turned out to be the best decision my husband and I ever made. We love our time together as a home-schooling family, and while it is not easy, it is definitely a decision I am certain we will never regret.