Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bringing them home

From time to time a mom will call and say that they've made the decision to homeschool. But they have questions about how or when's the best time to pull them out of school. If I don't already have an idea of why their pulling their children out of public school, I'll ask for a brief explanation. Most of the time it's because of some "final straw event" that brought them to the decision.

My response is usually to pull them out immediately unless there is a compelling reason to keep them enrolled. If you knew a building had carbon monoxide gas slowly leaking into the rooms would you wait until the children are unconscious before getting them out? No, you'd want to get them out as quickly as possible to blunt any long term effects of the gas. While this is a little dramatic, I think the same mindset is needed here. If you wait and deliberate you might end up talking yourself out of it.

It's a little scary to just pull them out without a complete understanding of what's ahead. But in this case standing still is better than moving in the wrong direction. And even those of us who have homeschooled the whole time don't have a complete understanding of what's ahead. Don't let our confidence fool you. We're confident about our decision but we can get a little anxious at times as well.

Here are some things to consider:
1. Know the requirements in your state for homeschooling. Not all states are the same.

2. Make sure you give both you and your child a time to adjust to the new arrangement. Your child isn't used to thinking of you in the academic role of "teacher". Give your relationship time to develop.

3. Don't make promises about how fun it's going to be. There will be fun days. But they won't all be a picnic in the park. Don't build up unrealistic expectations.

4. Find a supporter to encourage your family. Someone who will be available to remind you of your reasons to homeschool when the difficult days come.

5. Don't rush into a lot of expensive purchases. Start with a few basics things and build from there. As you and your child learn how to learn together the right choices will become more obvious.

6. Set realistic goals. Homeschoolers can be an intimidating bunch. Seeing the success of other homeschool families can cause a great deal of insecurity. Don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other families.

Since I"ve never pulled my children out of school these are things I've learned from friends who have. I'd love to hear from those who have. And the tips that they would recommend.

I have to agree with Shay here on one aspect of the pulling out process. Authority figures can be difficult to confront. Most of us were taught for so many years to respect and not question school officials. To go into an office and tell an "expert" in education what you're plans are can be intimidating. But overcoming that fear is a part of the process for the parent in taking control of the education process. Once accomplished, the hurdles of curriculum choice and home management seem so much easier to deal with.

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