Does it take a special kind of person to homeschool? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 12-26-2011, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm basically on page one of beginning to *think*  about homeschooling my kids (DD 6, DS 2, and a baby due in June). Right now both DD and DS are in a private Waldorf school. We all love the school, but lately I've been wondering if homeschooling might be right for us. 

 

But I'm worried that I'm not the right type of mom to homeschool... do I have the patience? The organization? What skills do I need to be confidant in to make this work? How do you make sure you have some down time too? I just ordered a few HS books from amazon to start reading, but I'd really like to get some input here too!


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#2 of 21 Old 12-26-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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Why not try it for a year and see how you all do?

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#3 of 21 Old 12-26-2011, 03:46 PM
 
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Forget confidence. Forget organizational skills. I think homeschooling requires one trait: love. That's the foundation of homeschooling. From love of your child you nurture your own powers of observation, you see him for who he is and what he needs, you become willing to question societal assumptions, you start to think outside the box, you develop flexibility and creativity and trust and honesty and humility. 

 

Homeschooling is a work in progress, for parents as well as children. You won't know what skills and traits you need in order to homeschool effectively until you jump in and start experimenting. I agree with the OP. Give it a try for a year. Be willing to learn and adapt. You'll do fine!

 

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#4 of 21 Old 12-26-2011, 06:14 PM
 
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There's not much point homeschooling unless you think you can provide something better than school.  So I think one thing you need to be a successful homeschooler is a reasonably clear vision of what you hope to provide that's going to be better for your kids than going to school.  Are there things they'll get to do more than if they were in school?  (Play outside, travel, ski, work in the garden, listen to books read aloud, go to museums, hang out with adults, build things?)  Are you full of ideas about cool things you can do together or ways you can make math or science or writing or whatever fun and interesting?  Are there subjects you know a lot more about than most teachers, and are you eager to share your knowledge?  Do you see problems with school in general or with the particular school your kids would go to, and can you see ways to avoid those problems through homeschooling?

 

I'm not sure whether or not it takes a special kind of person to come up with that kind of vision.  I suppose it might, but the people who can't do it probably don't ever find themselves considering homeschooling.  Besides the vision, some degree of patience is undoubtedly helpful.  I also think it would be hard to homeschool successfully without being reasonably well-educated yourself, unless you were really motivated to learn alongside your kids.  (Actually, I think being motivated to learn along with your kids is pretty important even if you are already reasonably well-educated.  There are always going to be things you find you can't explain unless you're willing to put some effort into understanding them better than you already do.)

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#5 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 10:00 AM
 
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No. If you are already a parent and you believe you are 'special' enough to be a parent, then you are perfectly capabale of homeschooling. Love them, mother them, be with them. There is no greater gift.

 

As for what Daffodil said, I disagree. You automatically can provide something better than school and that is freedom from that kind of restrictive life and most importantly, the gift of time with you and their family members. You don't need a vision, you can live day by day, focusing on learning from life and creating happiness.

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#6 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

There's not much point homeschooling unless you think you can provide something better than school.  So I think one thing you need to be a successful homeschooler is a reasonably clear vision of what you hope to provide that's going to be better for your kids than going to school.  Are there things they'll get to do more than if they were in school?  (Play outside, travel, ski, work in the garden, listen to books read aloud, go to museums, hang out with adults, build things?)  Are you full of ideas about cool things you can do together or ways you can make math or science or writing or whatever fun and interesting?  Are there subjects you know a lot more about than most teachers, and are you eager to share your knowledge?  Do you see problems with school in general or with the particular school your kids would go to, and can you see ways to avoid those problems through homeschooling?

I'm not sure whether or not it takes a special kind of person to come up with that kind of vision.  I suppose it might, but the people who can't do it probably don't ever find themselves considering homeschooling.  Besides the vision, some degree of patience is undoubtedly helpful.  I also think it would be hard to homeschool successfully without being reasonably well-educated yourself, unless you were really motivated to learn alongside your kids.  (Actually, I think being motivated to learn along with your kids is pretty important even if you are already reasonably well-educated.  There are always going to be things you find you can't explain unless you're willing to put some effort into understanding them better than you already do.)

Yes, it takes a special person to provide better than public school. I agree with much of what Daffodil has said.

I've met homeschoolers on both ends of the " how well they are doing" scale. The ones that are on the low achieving end are pretty pitiful. I've met nine year olds that can hardly write a sentence and their moms let them veg out in front of a screen all day. Those kids would be better off in a regular brick and mortar school.
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#7 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 10:48 AM
 
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As for what Daffodil said, I disagree. You automatically can provide something better than school and that is freedom from that kind of restrictive life and most importantly, the gift of time with you and their family members. You don't need a vision, you can live day by day, focusing on learning from life and creating happiness.


But what you're describing IS a vision of what you can provide through homeschooling that's better than school - a life that's less restrictive, with more time spent with family.  You don't necessarily need a more detailed vision than that, if that feels like enough to you.  To me, it makes sense for the vision to include some thoughts about the learning your kids will be doing, but different people's visions about their kids' learning vary widely.  Some people want their kids to be able to decide for themselves what they want to learn.  Some people want to teach their kids the same things they would learn in school, but in a more time-efficient way, or with more personal attention to make sure they're really getting it.  Some people want their kids to learn more than if they were in school, or to be more engaged in their learning.

 

 

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#8 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 11:15 AM
 
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I am sure literally every parent who decides to homeschool has a vision for it in the way you describe - even if nothing more than "they won't get bullied anymore" or "I'd rather spend more time with them than ship them off."

 

I also disagree with the premise that homeschool has to be defended, that you have to offer something better than public school to make the decision to homeschool. I guess it's probably de facto that everyone who homeschool DOES think so, but I don't think it's a good answer for a poster who is feeling unsure about her ability to do so - but clearly wanting to.

 

I like the idea that all you need is love, but I actually think it's even simpler than that. I think it comes down to interest. If you are interested in your child's education, whether you think that education is furthered by schedules and organization or by a radical unschooling philosophy, I think you have what it takes to offer your child an education.

 

I don't believe every single parent can homeschool. I can think of a few off the top of my head that I am grateful have the public school system at their disposal. But for each example I can think of, the common thread is that they are not INTERESTED in their children or their education. It's not because I think they are disorganized or not smart enough or anything like that. But since homeschool is in fact an active choice in this society, I think that every parent who chooses it has what they need to do it (except, I guess I should mention, the rare cases of extreme abuse but obviously that's not the case in this thread).

 

OP, you can do it! You don't have to be super patient! You don't have to be super organized! You don't have to remember pi to the 10th digit! I have none of those qualifications and I feel fine.

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#9 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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We did it for the last half of last year.  We did it because I got a new job and had a lot of extra time at home.  DH and I wanted to spend real time with our kids and we hadn't been able to before and so we took them out of school and we just enjoyed being.  We did school work in the evenings and hung out doing things together.  Of course that was our reason.  We had full intentions of letting them go back but we needed time with them we hadn't gotten before.  We have a stronger relationship now. 

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#10 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 01:52 PM
 
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I have to agree, it doesn't take a special kind of parent, just one that is interested in their child's education. Were in our 6th year of HS'ing and are just now getting to the point I feel like I know what I'm doing and actually LIKE HS'ing. Its been a wild ride, we've done public school, charter K12 school, B&M charter and finally settled on a parent choice charter that were really happy with for my older child. For a long time I HATED HS'ing but I didn't have a choice in the matter and I didn't have the knowledge I needed about my child or the materials I needed to teach her effectively but now? I can't imagine EVER putting my kid in a public B&M school again. I care about her education far to much to leave her at the mercy of the mediocrity of our public schools. As long as you have interest and the willingness to learn you will be fine.


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#11 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 02:14 PM
 
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I also disagree with the premise that homeschool has to be defended, that you have to offer something better than public school to make the decision to homeschool. I guess it's probably de facto that everyone who homeschool DOES think so, but I don't think it's a good answer for a poster who is feeling unsure about her ability to do so - but clearly wanting to.


I guess I wouldn't say you HAVE to offer something better than public school to decide to homeschool.  As good as public school would be good enough.  Maybe even slightly worse than public school would be good enough if there were other advantages to the family.  But for most people, I think sending the kids to school is easier than homeschooling.  So why make extra work for yourself by homeschooling if you don't think it's actually going to be better for your kids? 

 

I didn't see the OP as clearly wanting to homeschool but unsure about her ability.  I saw her as just starting to ask herself whether she did want to or not and wondering whether she's the right kind of person to do it.  If she has a clear idea how she can provide something better than school by homeschooling, she probably is the right kind of person.  If she doesn't, she probably needs to think about it some more before she decides.

 

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#12 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 02:40 PM
 
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I pretty much agree with laohaire.

 

I would also add that it takes a certain type of person to be a good public (or brick and mortar school) parent.

 

I can list if you like.

 

I don't think it is only: can I be a good HSing parent? but on the flip side: can you be a good public school parent?

 

For myself, I will say that some of the beliefs I firmly hold are quite opposed to how schools are run in this area.  I would have ended up angry and not as co-operative as I should have been if my kids were in school in their early years, which is hardly fair to me, the kids or the school.  shrug.gif

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#13 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 03:14 PM
 
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Really, you don't have to make a forever decision. Try it, see how it goes and reassess each other. The other thing I'd consider is that spending the day with older kids is so much different than spending the days with little ones. So, while right now patience, energy, and me time might feel like the top challenges, in time they will be less significant parts of your life as older kids are capable of doing so much more independently.

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#14 of 21 Old 12-27-2011, 07:49 PM
 
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It was helpful to me to know at what age I needed to register my kids as homeschoolers (in our state 8yo).  That took a load of pressure off for me.  

 

The other thing that has made HSing enjoyable so far is that I am a curious person.  I don't take it as a judgment against myself if I don't know something-- I can learn it; *we* can learn it together.  It feels like I am less of the teacher, and more like the senior student in the house.

 

I don't think it takes a "special person" to homeschool.  I do think certain traits can make it seem easier, but as soon as I name one then someone else will chime in and say that it wasn't a roadblock for them.  And someone else might say something that doesn't seem to affect my enjoyment or ability to homeschool.  So, there is no *one* magic formula for everybody.  Nothing "special".  (Kung Fu Panda:  Dad: "The secret ingredient of my Secret Ingredient Soup is.....NOTHING!" Po: "There *is* no secret ingredient!")

 

I like being around my kids, for the most part.  (But then again, they are 7 and 5 and not 1 and 3 anymore!)  As I said before, I am a pretty curious person, and interested in the stuff that my kids are into.  Struggling with the Star Wars universe (LOTR being more my thing) but I do love to read out loud, so I can get into that for my daughter's sake, and at least be interested in her interest (....um... did that make sense?)   

 

Even the most organized, hands-on, school-at-home parent has something even the best public schools don't have: time.  Time to work according to the family's best schedule, especially. Evening table time, anyone?  One hour a day cover all the bases?  Kids getting along with no table time whatsoever, at least for now?  Dad's seasonal work schedule make September/October family vacation time?  Even the parent that insists on math and spelling every day has the luxury to let their kids study Egypt for weeks on end and still get all the academic bases covered by the end of the HSing "year".  

 

OK, now the mamas with 2 kids "at the table", 1 more joining soon and a 1-yo throwing oatmeal into their midst are going to be asking ,"WHAT time?????!!!!!"

 

Like I said, as soon as I say that one thing is for certain.......


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#15 of 21 Old 12-28-2011, 05:19 AM
 
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hmm. I think, yes, you do need to be a special person to homeschool, but in the main, you get the skills you need by doing it, rather than needing to be born with them. I kind of think, yes, you do need to have particular skills to homeschool. I do think, if you have several kids, you will need to be pretty organised, and creative, in order to get everyone's needs met. You also need a fairly thick skin, and, IME, to be fairly good at finding or creating communities which nurture your family. You need to be confident in being an outsider.You have to be resourceful. I've met a lot of homeschoolers and I think they generally do have these skills, to greater or lesser degrees. 

 

However, I don't think you need these skills BEFORE you start. I think you will certainly get them as you homeschool. I don't think traits are things we are necessarily born with, we have tendencies one way or another but anyone can develop into a creative, resourceful, organised person, and homeschooling is the ideal "job" for that. 

 

The one thing I have consistently noticed is that homeschooling parents are disproportionately oldest or only children ;-) .. Not much you can do about that though ;-).

 

ETA the only thing I can think of that might be a bit of a bar would be if you really did not get on with or enjoy your kids.  I do think, certainly, most people would probably find that homeschooling improves their relationship with their kids, but if there were a real underlying issue there, something really major, I'd sort that out first, or at least concurrently with homeschooling. 


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#16 of 21 Old 12-28-2011, 04:46 PM
 
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But what you're describing IS a vision of what you can provide through homeschooling that's better than school - a life that's less restrictive, with more time spent with family.  You don't necessarily need a more detailed vision than that, if that feels like enough to you.  To me, it makes sense for the vision to include some thoughts about the learning your kids will be doing, but different people's visions about their kids' learning vary widely.  Some people want their kids to be able to decide for themselves what they want to learn.  Some people want to teach their kids the same things they would learn in school, but in a more time-efficient way, or with more personal attention to make sure they're really getting it.  Some people want their kids to learn more than if they were in school, or to be more engaged in their learning.

 

 



My point is that you do not need to have this all "figured out" before you jump in. Kids will learn from life no matter what. Schooling and education (learning) are two different things. You will never know how it will work for you until you are in the middle of it. Kids should have at least just as much input into their learning envioronment as you do and they also wont be able to tell you what they want until they are in it. It's not a "vision" it's just living, learning, and adapting along the way.

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#17 of 21 Old 12-28-2011, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

 

 

I like the idea that all you need is love, but I actually think it's even simpler than that. I think it comes down to interest. If you are interested in your child's education, whether you think that education is furthered by schedules and organization or by a radical unschooling philosophy, I think you have what it takes to offer your child an education.

 

I don't believe every single parent can homeschool. I can think of a few off the top of my head that I am grateful have the public school system at their disposal. But for each example I can think of, the common thread is that they are not INTERESTED in their children or their education.

 



Exactly. And since the OP has an obvious concern/interest in her child's education, that is a strong indicator that she is one of those parents that can homeschool.

 

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#18 of 21 Old 12-28-2011, 05:25 PM
 
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I think it definitely takes a certain person to homeschool. It takes one who deeply believes in what they are doing. It takes one who enjoys being with her children much of the time. It takes one who can establish boundaries with the naysayers, who often are even in your own extended family (speaking from experience here). It takes someone who is a do-it-yourself kind of person. 

 

Most of all, it takes someone who is passionate about giving their child not only a great education, but an amazing life. And I think it also takes support from your partner.

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#19 of 21 Old 12-31-2011, 08:51 AM
 
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I think there is what you need, and what would make homeschooling easier.  You *need* to have tacit spousal support.  It *helps* to have a spouse who is fully on board.  You *need* to not be wishing your kid were somewhere else, being someone else's problem for most of the day.  It *helps* to really enjoy being around them most of the time.  

 

There are very few things a parent actually needs, but many, many that would be helpful and make homeschooling enjoyable.


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#20 of 21 Old 12-31-2011, 10:53 AM
 
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I plan on homeschooling, though it is a bit in the future (ds is 2). The thing I know I am not good at is being creative, thinking things through much, so I found a full curriculum to follow so I could be sure to cover everything and not realize half way through the school year, 'omg I forgot about ____!' This really helped me feel more comfortable and less afraid of it.

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#21 of 21 Old 12-31-2011, 09:38 PM
 
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Interesting question and responses.

We unschool but I still like to read in the homeschooling forum.

I feel the most important need is enjoying being around your children.  We all have days where we dream of that big, yellow bus pulling up and shipping them all off!  In general, it is important to enjoy being around them.  Because let's face it, they will be there almost all of the time.

Another is taking an interest in them and what they are interested in.  Like when one of my children "clicks" and understands reading.  That is very exciting for me.  Or when they understand a concept in math (especially when they didn't understand it beforehand) 

I am not overly educated.  I am not overly patient.  I am not a mom who follows schedules or curriculum.  I am not happy all of the time or "on" all of the time.

But I know they are better off home with us.  We love to get dirty.  We love to dig for worms.  We love to walk through the forest.  We have curiosity and follow through.  We laugh.  We cry.  We READ A LOT! 

I find homeschooling has ups and downs just like life.  It is a way of life.

I couldn't imagine sending them to school.  We are so amazingly close.  I love how close of a bond my children share. 

Interest and love are my answers. 

Try it out for a year and see how you do.  I have a feeling you will do just fine. ;)

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