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"I'm thinking about homeschooling my 6-year old son, who currently attends 1st grade in Montgomery County, except I don't know anyone who homeschools. I want to teach my son but I don't really want to set up a classroom in my kitchen. What does homeschooling actually look like?"

~ "Tonya",   Maryland Mom

Homeschooling comes in many forms today, such as:

  • School-in-a-box, where you buy a pre-set curriculum that comes already planned out with books and tests and lesson plans
  • Eclectic parent-constructed curriculum, where you research textbooks and curriculum and put together your own lesson plans
  • Unit studies, where you have a theme, like football, the ocean, or the Civil War, and all your subjects connect back to your theme
  • Unschooling, where a child's interests lead what you explore and learn about in life, but formal textbooks aren't generally used for teaching
  • Co-ops, where families meet formally on certain days to share the teaching responsibilities for certain subjects
  • Support groups, where families meet informally for certain subjects or activities, like a science fair
The common factor to all these forms of homeschooling is that your kids are not enrolled in any public or private school. In Maryland, you, the parent, decides what you teach your kids and how you teach them. You just have to show that you are providing "regular and thorough instruction" in your basic subjects.

There are many books at the library nowadays to read up on homeschooling. They'll talk about socialization and picking curriculum. But, the one topic they don't always talk about is lifestyle choice.

If you are thinking about homeschooling you need to consider if it will fit your lifestyle. Homeschool will change how you and your family live.

Organization: We're not talking about keeping a tidy house (we'll get to that in a minute.) The important question is: Can you follow through on projects? Do you have the organizational skills to help keep you kids on track so they finish the schoolwork you had them start at the beginning of the week.

Financial: Even if you are already a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling is an added expense to the family budget. You can minimize what you spend by taking advantage of the library and the many free community activities sponsored by museums. Still, for those struggling to make ends meet already, homeschooling will cause you to cinch that belt one more notch.

Socialization: - No, we're not talking about friends and playtime for the kids. We're talking about mom's socialization. You'll probably find yourself hanging out with a lot of other homeschool moms while you wait for your kids to finish up in a co-op or gym class, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are people who nurture something within you. It's easy to get lost in your new homeschool mom identity, but make sure you plan the time to nurture the woman you were before you had kids - including an occasional date night with your other half.

Household chores: Face it, you're not Superwoman and there's only so many hours in a day. When you decide to homeschool, you've just added at least 25 work hours to your week, where your time and attention will be focused on your kids and their education. Chances are, something will have to be given up. Will it be your time at the gym or the time you take to dust and vacuum the living room?

Some families opt for school-at-home because it helps them contain their kids' education in a way that minimizes how it effects the rest of family life. Other families are able to maintain a much looser approach to learning but still keep a clean house and orderly life because the kids have regular chores and expectations.

Ultimately, what homeschooling looks like in your house will have more to do with you, your willingness to reprioritize your life, and the tolerance you and your husband share for things like stacks of books, dustbunnies, and late dinners.

One last thought to share: Whatever you choose for your homeschooling approach for your 6-year old today will very likely change by the time he hits 11 or 12. That's one of the great things about homeschooling. If you don't like the way it looks today, you can always change it tomorrow.

Sandra Maseda has homeschooled for the past 18 years and has two children in college and a third still at home. She has used many different curricular options with her children. She works with Hand In Hand, answering questions and sharing her homeschool wisdom with a new generation of moms.

Do you have a homeschool question that you've been wanting to ask? Let us know and we'll answer it here.

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March 30, 2020


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