So, you're thinking about homeschooling? Maybe the idea has intrigued you for a while but you're feeling hesitant because, well let's face it, choosing to homeschool is a huge decision. Maybe you're still looking for reassurance or "signs" that homeschooling is the right choice for your family. Maybe you're overwhelmed by all of the information that seemingly surrounds you about all the best ways to homeschool.
Here's the good news! Many of the thing things that you think you need to start homeschooling don't actually matter that much at all. I recently polled a group of homeschooling parents and loved the responses I received. Check out the list below and be encouraged! You can get started with homeschooling at any time and you don't need these five things to begin.
Yes! You CAN start homeschooling without...
Permission from friends and family: Okay, this is a big one! When you tell people you're going to homeschool, there will be opinions. Often, you will not need or want these opinions. The decision to homeschool is for you and your family to make based on your own life and educational goals, needs, and desires.
People who are not familiar with homeschooling (or maybe have a limited view of what they think homeschooling is), will often make insensitive remarks, ask you 27 irrelevant questions (often ones that are none of their business, ahem), and make you question your choices. Stand firm. You know what works for your family.
A dedicated homeschool room: Now, I admit that I had a homeschool room for years. The house we lived in at the time had a never-used dining room so I turned it into our learning area. And while the kids, who were quite young at the time, would start out at the table, they almost always migrated to the floor, the couch, the kitchen, or outside. Your kids can learn almost anywhere and that is the awesome thing about homeschooling.
You're free to get creative and figure out what works best for your children. Now that my teens are all in high school, they tend to work at their desks in their bedrooms or sometimes in the kitchen.
A "school-at-home" approach: Ask any parent who's been homeschooling for a few years and they will tell you that re-creating "school-at-home" is not only difficult to do but, more importantly, it's not sustainable. Trying to replicate traditional school in your home will (most likely) lead to frustration, burn out, and put a damper of your child's love of learning (not to mention damper your love of homeschooling).
The beauty of home education is that you can cultivate your days to best suit both your family and the season of life you're in right now. Our homeschool looked very different when my children were elementary age. We spent lots of time reading aloud, playing games, being outside, making crafts and projects, etc. Now, they're all in high school and work independently and I am the educational coordinator. I get them to classes, check work, research activities and online classes, and keep them fed.
All the curricula and supplies in the world: If someone would have told me I didn't need ALL OF THE THINGS on our very first day of homeschool 11 years ago, it would have saved me lots of time and money. I had a five-year-old and three-year-old twins and I was READY to be Mrs. Homeschooler of the Year. About two years in, I began to realize that we didn't need to plan out the entire year in August and purchase all the supplies and have all the books and curricula at once.
As one veteran homeschooler told me, all you really need to get started with homeschooling is a library card and a love of learning. Simple right? And with the plethora of resources online, you can probably find what you're looking for and test out some things without breaking the bank. Once you get into a rhythm and you see what works for your family, you can make sound decisions without ending up with piles of things you don't need.
All the patience in the world: I've lost count at the times someone has told me they wouldn't have the patience to homeschool their child. I get it. I do. Honestly, I'm not the most patient person in the world. That said, I was committed to homeschooling so I had to figure out a way to work on my patience. Do you need some patience? Yes, of course. But I'm pretty sure you need patience with most anything that comes with being a parent or caregiver. If you're struggling with wanting to homeschool but don't think you have the patience to, explore this feeling.
Are you worried that you'll need (or want) a break from your child? Are you dealing with health issues that might be draining? If you ask most homeschoolers, they will tell you this is a lifestyle and you get into a groove and you also change things up and you work at it. Don't let your fear of losing your patience hold you back from homeschooling.
BONUS TIP! You do not need a laminator. True story.
If you are a type of person that feels incomplete without a supply list, check out Jeanne's suggested homeschool supplies. (Hint—they aren't what you think.)
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, I hope it shines the light on the reality of starting the homeschool process. As a longtime homeschooling parent, I can honestly say that you'll never have everything right or perfect. Maybe ever. And that's okay. Our families don't need a perfect homeschool. They just need support, snacks, a love of learning, and time.