Most people who make the decision to homeschool are doing so for particular reasons, so they have already gone through that process. Similarly, most people have at least an idea of the kind of curriculum and topics the want their child/ren to study (more on that later).
It’s (Donald Rumsfeld’s) unknown unknowns that will surprise you and prove to be the biggest challenges.
During the first year of our homeschooling adventure, my biggest challenge has been constantly trying to convince my wife not to worry – that everything will work out great.
A little background …
My wife and I both work from home, but she spends a lot of time out of the house meeting with customers. Consequently, I determine most of our daughter’s routine. I happen to take a fairly liberal approach to education; my wife tends to be a “dragon” mom (yes, she’s Chinese), and gets very nervous when she doesn’t see our daughter studying 12–14 hours per day. So, in spite of the fact that our (10 year-old) daughter has taken university-level courses on Coursera (!), and is far ahead of her peers in many areas, she still wants to push her harder.
Therefore … spend time before you begin, to ensure your family is aligned about the expectations of homeschooling.
Be prepared to adjust your approach on how you homeschool. There are numerous blogs and articles about this topic, and it certainly happened with us.
Many new homeschooling families start out with specific plans on how they intend to homeschool. Perhaps they are attempting to replicate the public school curriculum in the home. In many cases, these big plans fall apart over the first few months. In its place, a new routine and curricular approach develops. (This is “deschooling).
I had anticipated that we would do much of our learning online, with my oversight and assistance. But this approach had problems. There are some topics that are great online, while others are not suitable. This is an an area that I monitor carefully, and discuss with our daughter.
In this example, I asked my daughter to rank her areas of study. After discussing the results with her, I was able to determine:
- first choice is self-learning (graphics, writing)
- next is online learning (Latin is via Skype class)
- last is traditional classroom (Chinese).
This is just an example. I have used this method for several iterations, and have already eliminated some methods that don’t work well. (For example, I learned that she needs discussion about math topics, so videos and online instruction doesn’t work well).
The key take-away is that the approach to curriculum and learning method/style will evolve. Not really a challenge – just something I didn’t anticipate, and that takes more time and effort than I expected.
If you ask our daughter, she will tell you that homeschooling is great – and for her it is. In my opinion, she is progressing academically far faster than her peers.
However, getting it right is challenging. I have found that monitoring and adjusting the curriculum (and keeping our family aligned) takes more time and effort than the learning itself. (Once she is engaged in her learning, that part is actually easy).
That’s our story. I am pretty sure that every homeschooling family has their own set of challenges – that’s just the nature of homeschooling.