Q. It really scares me to think about my children going back to school with other kids, teachers, and staff. I’m thinking about homeschooling them, but I have no idea what is involved or if I have what it takes to successfully do so. What advice do you have for me?
A. Thank you for asking this question, which is on the minds of many parents in our area during this time of uncertainty. No one seems to know if the public schools will open in the fall, nor if they will be safe. It is good to take the time now to figure out if homeschooling really works for you and your family.
If homeschooling is an option for you, here are some suggestions:
- Talk with your children to find out if they are positive or negative about homeschooling. If they are negative, and you still want to do it, maybe you can approach it on a trial basis for a three-month period. You might be able to negotiate acceptance by giving them something they want to learn outside of school like music lessons or some other type of extra-curricular lessons.
- Consider how much your children need or don’t need social interaction with other children. Some kids thrive in quiet play by themselves while others thrive best when working with other kids. And kids lacking in social skills advance socially when schooled with others.
- Talk to other parents or caregivers who’ve homeschooled or are homeschooling. Find out what they like about it as well as what they dislike. Ask if these other folks teach everything themselves or contract with others to teach subjects they are not strong in. Do they share teaching resources with other homeschooling people? What printed materials, books, and media do other people use that they like?
- Read online about homeschooling or read a book on the subject. One such book is “Home School Bravely”. Another book is “Homeschooling” by Rhonda Barfield which discusses 12 stories of 21 different families that homeschool.
- Look into the different types of approaches/philosophies to homeschooling to find the approach that works best for your family.
- Consider your children’s learning styles and if you are committed to learning how to work with these styles. Some kids learn by seeing something, while others need to
- What schedule will you keep for schooling? If you can only teach in the evening or only in the morning, is this a time when your children are ready to pay attention and learn?
- Review the requirements for homeschooling in the state of Texas. The rules as I understand them only require that the “curriculum must be bona fide” and must include reading, spelling, grammar, math, and good citizenship.
- Think about what records you will keep on homeschooling such as attendance, lesson plans, test scores if giving tests, and perhaps, other records as well.
During this time, give yourself and your kids a lot of leeway to make mistakes and to have days where online learning or homeschooling doesn’t work. Allow for a learning curve — you may find that you love homeschooling your kids and decide to do it full-time in the future.
Betty Richardson, PhD, RN, CS, LPC, LMFT, is an Austin-based psychotherapist.