Who Is Joan
Online Parent Ezine
Help 4 Parents
Help 4 Teens
Games 4 All
Stories to Read
Tribute to Bill
Like This Site?
Let your friends know. Click here.
Where Do I Start? The Million Dollar Home School Question
by Bette Holleman
So, the public school system in your area isn't all that it could be.
Maybe your kids haven't even started school yet, or you are somewhere in
between. Home education is looking pretty good. Then the question arises:
where do I start? Actually, there are several questions you need to address
before you yank the little tykes out of school, or buy out the local
bookstore. For anyone pondering the home education alternative, I invite
you to read on. First off, you MUST ask yourself:
If you can work all these questions through, please check back with
me next month to find resources, and a few more questions, about home
education. Feel free to contact me with you questions or comments regarding
- Am I a self-starter?
If you cannot be accountable and take the initiative to work
consistently, you will struggle from day one. Yes, your life will go on,
and there may be days when you can't do it all. There are many avenues of
home education open to you, but you must maintain at least a loose
structure to get results.
- What is my motivation to home school?
If you have kids in school already, would you do things better for
them at home? Do you feel a spiritual prompting to teach your kids? Or are
you disillusioned with the school system and want to break the mold? Do you
have a special needs child? These are all things you'll need to think
about, as they will affect how and what you'll want to include in your
curriculum. Don't consider home education out of spite or as a punishment,
get past your anger and prioritize your goals.
- Can I make this long-term commitment?
Please don't enter into the decision to home school lightly. Take all
your social and financial responsibilities into consideration. Research
home education thoroughly. Read books, ask questions, and talk to people
who home school to find out what it's like on a daily basis. I have seen
some families enter with the attitude of 'let's try it for a year and see
if we like it'. They ALL quit within the first year. This is unfair to
everyone involved, especially the kids. If you don't know whether or not
you'll like home education, you haven't done enough research and spoken
with enough home schoolers. This is an important decision that will affect
the future of your children. Treat it that way.
- Does my spouse support this decision?
Notice I didn't say extended family, the neighbors, or your best
friend's brother-in-law's second cousin by marriage. Everyone has an
opinion on this subject, not all of them positive or well informed. But
unless someone is helping you raise your children in the home or is
supporting you financially, they should not be a part of the decision
making process for your family, in my opinion. The only other person you
should listen to is your spouse. Carefully consider any objections to this
idea. Some of them may be valid. Without the full support of your spouse,
you will find yourself very frustrated, indeed.
I once knew a mother who would home school her kids every other year,
because her husband did not support her decision to home school. He would
convince her to put the kids back in school for a year and she would take
them out again the next year. Understandably, this put strain on their
marriage, and the kids were miserable.
- Research and contact with established home educators
This is essential to allaying any uncertainties your spouse may have. If your spouse still
disagrees with you about home education, it would be wise to let the
subject go, rather than have it turn into a battle of wills. There may have
a change of heart, later on.
- If you are a single parent how will you schedule work and school time
There are many single parents who home school, but how? That's one
you'll need to work out according to your situation. The successful single
parents I've met had some sort of support system, and you'll want those
among your family and friends to support, or at least respect, your
decision to home school.
- What are the home school laws and requirements in my state and county?
Home education is legal, in some form, in all fifty states. Go to the
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) site, http://www.hslda.org,
and look up your state to find out what will be expected of you. You need
to be able to recite this in your sleep. Learn it, know it, live it.
Many altercations that take place between school officials and home
educators arise from ignorance of the law by one or both parties. While
meeting with the board at my local public school regarding speech classes
for my five-year-old, one of the members grilled me with questions about my
schooling procedures, curriculum, and daily schedule. After I'd answered
her questions, she halfheartedly admitted that she had no knowledge of the
state or local requirements for home educators. I've also had a bookkeeper
at the Office of Education tell me that I was breaking the law by home
schooling, along with all the other families I was involved with. She then
sent me erroneous information that was being used as a scare tactic by the
school district for any would-be home schoolers. I forwarded the
information to the HSLDA, and they sent them an order to cease and desist.
So do your homework, because this is definitely an area where knowledge is
Until next time,
Bette Holleman is a WAH mother of five children, and a home educator for
the past nine years. She has been married to her best friend, John, for 15
years. In addition to her roles as zookeeper, slave driver and crisis
queen, she runs a financial referral service at