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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:

  • 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 successfully?

    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 power.
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 home education.

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 http://FamilyFinances.FinancialCircuit.com

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