I’ve not always been a homeschooling advocate. In fact, there was a time when I was quite sure I couldn’t do it. It just seemed like “too much.” With record keeping, and teaching, and the day in and day out of planning and making sure my kids learned what they were supposed to learn.
My first taste of homeschooling came as I advocated for my autistic son in his fifth-grade year of school. He was lagging behind, and we’d already been around and around with the school system on “what he needs and what he doesn’t.”
I had what I consider to be the BEST private team working with him, including a psychologist who obviously loved his job, and his wife, who was a Nurse Practitioner in the same office. Add in an absolutely fantastic caseworker who was by my side day or night if I needed her. They are why, today, my son is not who “they” said he would be, but rather, a very well-rounded and high-functioning young man!
I had this team in place at the school meeting in question, and we hammered out the details that Nathan should be homeschooled the last six months of the school year.
The results were better than any of us could have imagined, with Nathan’s grade level rising by a year and a half in just six short months. This solidified the need for a personal aid during the school day, and he did well after that. More than that, though, it solidified my desire to see what else could happen with this “homeschooling.”
My Daughter in School
By the time my daughter was nearing the end of her third-grade year, I was leaning heavily towards homeschooling. She was… okay, who am I kidding, she still is a combination of perfectionist and someone who suffers from crippling lack of self-esteem.
The combination was causing her to be near-failing in this crucial year and after talking – to no avail, I might add – with her teacher, I decided that was it. I was homeschooling her if, for no other reason, than to protect her from an era of teachers who did not appear to be teaching because they loved children, but rather to has a “nest egg” for retirement.
But I digress.
As I usually do with everything I consider putting my hand to, I dove into homeschool research with bulldog tenacity. And what I found was not only appealing, it was stunningly refreshing!
By the time I made the actual decision, I had file cabinets full of information, legal requirements, and all the handy printouts I could find that I thought I might use. And I don’t think I ever stopped learning. Do we ever? I still, to this day, read up on everything I can on homeschooling, even though I’m no longer actively homeschooling my own children.
By the time my daughter reached the end of seventh grade, I was started to buckle under the pressure. First, there was the pressure I put on myself, worrying that I wasn’t “doing it right,” and wondering if I was causing her to miss out on something. Second, there was the pressure from friends and family. Naysayers, we call them, in the homeschooling world.
Long story short, I decided to enroll her in public school for the eighth grade and THAT, my friends, was the worst possible decision I could ever have made. Thus began a year of bullying to the point that my sweet, sassy, super-smart daughter became first nervous, then depressed, and finally suicidal. And now, over six years later, she is still dealing with the residue of that, with crippling social anxiety, depression, and a complete lack of self-esteem.
I spent a long time beating myself up for the ways things went. Why hadn’t I just continued on homeschooling? Why had I given in to the outside pressure from those telling me I was doing my daughter a huge injustice? Why did I think THEY knew my child better than I did?
The questions still go through my mind sometimes, as I still wonder if there was anything I could have done differently. The truth is: THERE IS! But… it’s too late for that. If I could have seen into the future somehow, or if God had given me some kind of a supernatural revelation, then maybe. But as it stands, the past is just that. The past. And I have to let it stay there.
I did, however, immediately pull her back out and finished her high school education in homeschooling. Even though I was really intimidated at the thought of teaching high school level material. Thank God for curriculum options that make it way easier than it would have been if I’d been on my own with the whole thing.
As I was preparing my daughter’s homeschool transcript and diploma, I couldn’t help but think back on the past years. The joys, the victories, the mistakes, the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s. It wasn’t all a proverbial piece of cake. And every homeschooler will tell you the same.
There ARE battles! There ARE days when you’ll want to completely throw the towel in. There ARE days when everything that CAN go wrong WILL. And there are days when everything you had “planned” or “scheduled” will be thrown off because, well, life happens!
The important thing is, again, as every homeschooler with any tenure will tell you, that you always remember your “why.” Think back on why you started, and that can be all the fuel you need to move through another day. Another week. Another month. Because sometimes, that’s the best we can do.
And then, on graduation day, there will be the celebration of knowing that you and your child did it! It IS possible! I tell you, it is!
Here are Some Great Resources
If you are considering homeschooling – no matter what your “reason” – there are many ways to begin. Of course, I tell every possible future homeschooler, your first line of business is to consider the legal requirements in your state as well as your local school district.
Laws regarding homeschooling differ from state to state, and even county to county. If you’re going to homeschool, do this necessary research first. You can take a look at the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) for all the pertinent information.
You can browse around on the HSLDA site for tons of valuable information. It’s one of the best places I’ve found to get legal requirements for military families, as well. So if you are in the military and plan to homeschool, be sure to look here for that information.
Great Homeschool Conventions
Great Homeschool Conventions is a great website for homeschooling information. You’ll find blog posts that cover a wide variety of topics, as well as the online 2020 convention.
Once registered for the online convention, you’ll have access to curriculum vendors, many of which offer special discount codes for convention attendees. Be sure to check these out, especially if you intend to purchase a curriculum or resources anyway.
Homeschooling.mom is another catch-all information site that has tons of information by way of blog posts, but there’s something else that makes this website super special. They host the Homeschool Solutions Show and the Charlotte Mason Show!
These are podcasts that not only share amazing interviews and conversations about relevant topics to all homeschooling families, but also practical ways to implement these topics into your own life and homeschooling day.
While you’re there, you can check the podcast show notes for links to websites, social media accounts, and resources that will help you along the way, whether you’re just getting started or a veteran homeschooler.
Odds & Ends
There are so many resources out there on the internet these days for homeschooling, there’s no possible way I could list them all here. A simple search will yield enough results for you to sift for days and days, so don’t be afraid to be specific in your search.
For instance, if you’re only looking for tips, type “homeschooling tips” into your browser bar, quotes included. You’ll find plenty of information that way. The same is true for searches such as “homeschooling curriculum”, “homeschooling resources”, or “how to homeschool a special needs child”.
I will also say that if you are dealing with a restricted budget, there’s no reason to think you can’t homeschool. A simple search for free homeschool resources or curriculum will bring a great deal of relief in this area, especially if you happen to have access to a printer.
Even if you don’t have your own printer, you can often email files to your local Staples, Office Depot, or printing shop, and they will print those files for you. Trust me when I say, there’s ALWAYS a way!
If you just can’t seem to find what you’re looking for, or you need special direction, you can always reach out to me here through my “Contact Me” page. You’re also welcome to connect with me through any of my social media outlets, listed on my homepage, and contact me there as well.
I want to wrap up by saying, if you want to homeschool, you can. Regardless of how daunting the task looks as a newcomer, the homeschooling community at large is one of the most supportive I’ve ever seen. You are always taken in and can usually find help if you reach out for it, as those who have been homeschooling for years are always willing to help.