The decision to send your child to school or to homeschool should be made based on your child’s need and your willingness. You may also find that it helps you to make a decision if you visit schools and visit with homeschooling families. Try several, since both educational situations come in many varieties.
Visit Schools and Homeschools
Many schools hold open house events for parents of pre-school age children. Ask other parents about their children’s schools to learn what options you have locally, and visit every school you can. Start without your child then take him if you find yourself interested in the school.
Visiting several local child-centered schools and a few charter school meetings was a factor in my decision to homeschool my children—not the only factor but an important way to let me visualize my first child in each setting and ask whether this is where she belonged.
Look up local homeschooling support groups as well. Visit the group meetings. If they sponsor activities, they may invite you along. Once you know homeschooling families well enough, ask if you can spend a day with them just to see how their approach to education works.
I started attending a homeschool support group when my children were very small. We all went on fieldtrips and sports days together. I also visited homeschooling families and found it very helpful to see not only how they structured (or unstructured) learning but how they set up their space.
I am very visual, and I needed the variety of views to give me a rich picture of the potential learning environments available to my children.
Read, A Lot
Start at the library and don’t get too attached to reading whole books about education. Pile the books high. Skim each one. If it doesn’t grab you, shut it! Open the next. Only read what interests you because there are plenty more books and strong opinions about education.
Do the same with schooling information websites and personal blogs. Don’t read so much that you are overwhelmed, but follow the threads that intrigue you.
Then stop. Give yourself time just to talk and think so you don’t submerge your own genuine responses in the passions of others. Make sure that one of the people you talk to about choices is your child.
As you start to form an opinion about your child’s education, ask yourself:
- Why am I drawn to this approach?
- What are the pros and cons of this approach?
- What are my child’s thoughts and feelings about education?
- What does my spouse want to do?
- Do we have the resources necessary for this?
- Am I willing and able to do what is required? (This may not just apply to homeschooling, since many schools require parents to participate in the classroom.)
Don’t wait until a few months before it is time to start kindergarten to investigate schooling options. Give yourself as much time and exposure as possible so each member of your family has all of the information needed.
Beginning Homeschool Resources Online
- “Handbooks and Reading Lists,” Jon’s Homeschool Resources.
- A to Z Home’s Cool.