The idea of homeschooling can seem overwhelming and fraught with hurdles, particularly when you feel that you absolutely must have something that you don’t possess. However, I’ve found that there is very little that you really have to have in order to begin homeschooling. The rest are either things that would be nice to have or outright non-essentials.
Ten things that I consider to fall into the category of homeschooling non-essentials include:
1. A teaching degree. I don’t have a teaching degree but I know and have spoken with many professional-teachers-turned-homeschooling-mom. Most of them said their degree helped them with classroom management and planning techniques, but didn’t help them at all as a homeschooling mom. A few said that some of the tools and tricks they learned while earning their degree did help them in their homeschools. None of them said that they felt they could not homeschool without their degree.
2. A huge budget. The actual cost of homeschooling can vary from family to family, but you really can make it work on a shoestring budget. There are lots of free and inexpensive resources online. With internet access and a library card most families can make homeschooling work with a small budget.
3. Super-human patience. Really, if super-human patience were an essential to homeschool, I wouldn’t be doing it and neither would most of the moms I know. One thing that I’ve found during my years of homeschooling is that the more my kids and I are around each other, the better we learn to relate to one another. That means that things that might have tested my patience in the past don’t bother me as much. Don’t think you can’t homeschool because you don’t have enough patience. You may just surprise yourself.
4. Support of extended family. It is nice to have the support of extended family, but it’s not necessary to have it. You have to do what is best for your child and your immediate family. And you may just discover, as I did, that your family who once disapproved of homeschooling may be your biggest cheerleaders once they see the positive impact on your children.
5. Specific curriculum. There is no such thing as the perfect curriculum. Curricula is a tool; it is not part of a magical homeschool formula that produces guaranteed results. Do your research. Choose the best fit for your family and go from there, knowing that you may have to make changes along the way.
6. Strong organizational skills. I sometimes envy those super-organized homeschool moms. While I’m sure I’m more organized than some, I am certain I’m less organized than others. Being organized is not a prerequisite for homeschooling.
7. A schoolroom. It can be nice to have a dedicated space for doing school, but a schoolroom is not a necessity. We started out homeschooling in our basement schoolroom, but soon moved to the kitchen table. I actually prefer schooling in our main living areas because doing so allows home and school to mesh seamlessly – though sometimes it would be nice to have a place to leave school stuff spread out. Nice, but not necessary.
8. Desks. I’ve had them. They were the cute little wooden school desks that old homeschool moms like me remember from our public school days. My kids, who were very young at the time, loved them…for about two weeks. Then, they sat in the corner of the schoolroom (or maybe we were in the dining room by then) collecting dust and taking up space. Dining room tables and chairs, couches, beds, and even floors work just as well.
9. A 12-year plan. I came across on old blog post on my site recently in which I had school plans for all three kids mapped out all the way through high school. I think my youngest was 4 years old at the time. Can you say overkill? Sure, it’s good to have plans, but having your child’s entire educational career mapped out right out of the gate is definitely a homeschooling non-essential
10. The latest and greatest gadgets. Just like a dedicated schoolroom and a huge budget, the latest and greatest gadgets can be fun to have, but you can successfully homeschool without them. You don’t even need the shiny new homeschool curriculum that you were eyeing the the curriculum fair. All you really need to homeschool successfully is a passion for learning and a willingness to share that with your children.
What is something you thought you just had to have when you began homeschooling that you have come to discover is really a homeschooling non-essential?
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