So, You’ve Decided to Homeschool… (You’re seriously going to homeschool?!)
By Sharon Haukohl
That’s how many hits you get if you search, “How to homeschool.”
According to the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschooling is growing by 3% to 8% each year, with an estimated 2.3 million children currently being educated by their parents at home—roughly 60,000 of them in Georgia.
When I first embarked on my family’s on-again, off-again relationship with homeschooling 12 years ago, I found much of what I read absolutely overwhelming and, frankly, somewhat irritating: women who simultaneously baked sourdough bread, knitted fancy fingerless gloves, nursed newborns (sometimes more than one!) and taught their three and four-year-olds to read from McGuffey readers printed in the 1920s, all while blogging incessantly about their achievements.
Who was I to ever think I could approach the unearthly achievements of these high-energy Proverbs 31 women?
The homeschooling paradigm has shifted somewhat in recent years. No longer is homeschooling the exclusive purview of Christian stay-at-home moms, nor does homeschooling conform to some definable pattern.
With the advent of Internet’s veritable cornucopia of individualized online education options coupled with tutorial programs of every shape and size, more and more parents who once found homeschooling unpalatable are taking the plunge.
Work-at-home parents homeschool their children together—with each parent focusing on their own areas of expertise.
In my own family, when Algebra collided with my 8th grader, I quickly learned that long division defined the zenith of my own math teaching abilities and my husband found himself enlisted. This plan worked so well for our family and lessened some of my stress.
On the first day of my personal homeschooling journey in 2006, I carefully organized sharpened pencils and crisp language arts workbooks on my kitchen table. My 6 and 7-year-old boys squirmed in their seats, looking up at me with the dull stare of a dairy cow while my two-year-old daughter flopped around on the crumb-littered floor.
Immediately I was filled with abject angst.
Questions coursed through my head. Will I be organized enough? Will my children ever listen to me? How will my homeschooled children ever get into a decent college? Will they resent me trying to be both a parent and a teacher?
So, the first thing I did (after I enrolled the two-year-old in Mother’s Morning Out) was to locate a mentor…actually several mentors. Finding the support of authentic homeschool veterans was the only way I pressed on through decisions surrounding curricula, tutorials, umbrella programs and the myriad of countless decisions fledgling homeschool parents must make.
Kelly Mercer’s story
Kelly Mercer has mentored many parents during her 18 years of homeschooling—including me. Trained as an educator herself, Kelly felt confident about choosing curriculum and structuring a home classroom for her three children, now ages 11-18.
Kelly has used a variety of tutorials and curricula throughout the years. She encourages those new to homeschool.
“It’s ok to try different things and make changes along the way,” she says. “It’s not about cramming knowledge in, but about learning the skills to succeed in life.”
Kelly credits her faith with seeing her through almost 18 solid years of homeschooling.
“I look back and realize that on the many days I wanted to throw in the towel, I am grateful and thankful that God was faithful!”
Kim Andrew’s story
Kim Andrews’ journey to provide a truly individualized education plan for her two sons, now 14 and 18, has taken her in and out of public and private schools, through online homeschool programs and even a foray with more traditional classical curricula.
Each year Kim has carefully crafted an educational arena individually tailored to her sons’ needs.
A “sometimes” homeschooler like me, Kim encourages parents to be flexible and understanding.
“Give yourself the freedom to do what works best for each child—which could mean not homeschooling all of your children,” she says.
Kim advises parents to remain open-minded. “Take the decision to homeschool year by year—what works one year might not work the next.”
Her final tidbit of advice? “Enjoy every minute because while the days can be long, the years are super-short.”
Kim and Kelly know all too well how quickly childhood flies by—both women have homeschooled seniors this year.
Seniors who will attend college next year with great scholarships!