Updated: Sep 14, 2020
With the public school system struggling to figure out how to safely open schools this fall, there are many parents who are just deciding to keep their child at home with them and are considering the homeschooling option. This is the jumping off point if you are one of those parents. Take some time to consider these questions so you know you are cut out to be a home educator and to consider the time commitment and investment it will take.
Why do you want to home school? Motivations are many but not all those motivations are conducive to becoming a home school parent.
Some reasons people decide to home school:
1. The first main reason is because the parent thinks they can do a better job than the school district. They want to keep learning in the home. That’s why it is called homeschooling.
2. Many homeschoolers would like to live out their particular family’s beliefs and philosophy and they feel like sending their child to school doesn’t let them do that. Families from all walks of life – religious, cultural and philosophical positions that are not mainstream are the main reasons people decide to go down this route.
3. Homeschooling parents tend to be really committed to individualized learning. Homeschoolers are generally opposed to the one size fits all model of public education and want to teach their children in a way that is specifically designed for their child.
4. I’ve not (until recently) ever had a parent cite a pandemic as the reason they want to home school.! This is new to 2020 but we have to think about whether we fit into one of the reasons above and not just do this because school is in an uproar because of the pandemic. That’s not to say you couldn’t go ahead and home school while things are in an uproar and when things settle down then return your child to school. Since you are the parent, its your choice (the number one philosophical idea of homeschooling).
Before you jump in, you have to think about this big over-arching question: Do you really want to home school. your child? You see, Homeschooling is a particular pedagogy where the parent/parents assume the role of teacher for the child. I like to think it takes a particular type of parent: one that is committed to their child's learning and likes to spend time with their child. Ask yourself "can I handle being with my children day in and day out all day long?" If you think this might be a problem for you, then rethink your options - because I can guarantee you and your child will be miserable!
Homeschooling is not doing public school online under the supervision of a teacher. This is the type of thing that happened in the spring of 2020. The difference between online schooling and homeschooling is the role of parent as teacher. Are you willing to be committed to educating your child? It takes one parent full time to plan, teach and evaluate a child’s learning. You are doing the job of a teacher and there is no less commitment in time and workload for one child or 30 children. You have to be committed to that so your child’s education is not neglected.
You also take on an extra load of stress because you will have to explain your ideas to skeptical family members, friends who have kids in public school and even the school district (depending on where you live). There was for me an added layer of anxiety, the “oh no am I ruining my children?” question that hung over my head and was especially loud during the spring and at testing time. In other words, you kind of have to be committed to your vision of a home where learning and living are intertwined – because there will be people in your circle who do not agree with your choices.
Once you have decided, yes! I do want to assume the role of my child’s teacher, then consider your time frame. For me, Homeschooling was my job for 10 years of my life and it consumed me every day. I don’t want that to sound scary because for me it was the best ten years of my life! I loved homeschooling and we had a really good time together. You may try it for one year and see how it goes, or just get your family through the pandemic with this option. Or you may decide you love it and take your child all the way through their schooling years. Again, its up to you as the parent.
In Oregon, it is easy to home school. There are only a few “hoops” to jump through. But you still have to jump through them. Here are the basics (taken from ODE’s website):
Home Schooling is an educational option in Oregon. Families who choose to home school children in their care must do the following items, pursuant to Oregon Administrative Rule 581-021-0026:
Notify the local Education Service District (ESD) of intent to home school (ESD Homeschool Websites) within 10 days of withdrawing from public or private school, OR if your child is turning 7 register as a Homeschooler (you don't have to register until then).
Coordinate with Home School Tester(s) to assess student growth at the end of grade levels 3, 5, 8, and 10 (testing begins 18 months after notification). You'll have to find a certified tester in your area.
Submit test results to local ESD when requested
Here are a few more website links to look at as you do your research:
If, after wading through all this legal stuff you still want to become a homeschooler, there is some planning you need to do!