Six Things You DON'T Need in Order to Homeschool

I’ve read a gazillion posts about things that are necessary/important/crucial for homeschooling. I’ve even written some of those posts. But this post is a little different.

Wanna know what isn’t essential for homeschooling? These five things are totally nonessential for homeschooling success.

Sometimes people think they’re terribly important, though, and the lack of them can actually cause people to decide against homeschooling.  But I’m here to tell you…with the voice of experience…you don’t need to worry about any of these. So don’t let the lack of them hold you back from beginning homeschooling. And if you’re already a homeschooler, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t homeschool well without these six things.

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A teaching certificate

I actually happen to have a teaching certificate. I received my undergraduate and then my master’s degree in education. I’m not sure it did much good in preparing me to homeschool, though. In many ways I think that having teaching experience in a “real school” made my early years of homeschooling much more difficult. I began homeschooling expecting it to be like “real school,” and it frustrated me when it wasn’t. So parents that were not previously “real school” teachers have an advantage when they begin homeschooling.

What if someone tells you that you aren’t qualified to teach your child because you don’t have a teaching certificate? There are many reasons this isn’t true. In fact I’ve written a post about this myth here. From my own experience as a classroom teacher and then as a homeschool mom, I can tell you that a mother who loves her children and who is willing to research and learn can teach as well or better than any classroom teacher who is distracted by a whole classroom of twenty or more children with any kind of range of behavioral issues.

Lots of money

Don’t get me wrong- I love to spend money on homeschooling. I love curricula. I love books. I love supplies. But there are many, many ways to homeschool inexpensively. I have a whole page with resources that are free or mostly free for homeschooling.

If you take some time to look, you can homeschool with little money. The three “essentials” for homeschooling for free or almost free? A library card (and a good relationship with your librarian), a good computer (my computer), and a good printer (my printer). If you have those three things, the resources are limitless.

A Schoolroom

I love to look at Open House blog posts where people show off their homeschooling spaces. But, you know what, I don’t have very much of a homeschooling space. And that’s okay.

Our family has six people living in a not very large space. For years our front room served many purposes- dining room, pantry, schoolroom, playroom, and library. Now we’ve divided the room with a panel wall, and my oldest daughter has a bedroom on one side, while the other side plays the roles of dining room and pantry.

So there’s no such thing as a designated schoolroom in my house. We have shelves of books everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Kids work in their rooms on desks. We read together in the living room. Sometimes kids take their work outside.

If you have an extra room that can be made into an awesome schoolroom, go for it! And enjoy it. But if your house is filled to the brim already, and there’s no way that you can carve out a space totally designated to homeschooling, that’s okay too.

All kinds of extra classes

There are many opportunities available for homeschoolers depending on where you live. It is fun for the kids- and for you- to be involved in groups, but you can spread yourself too thin if you’re not careful.

You don’t need to sign up for every group and every class so that your kids have opportunities for “socialization.” If you do that, you’ll end up spending tons of money and running yourself ragged. Just hang out with friends occasionally. Do some literature activities or science experiments with them. Go to church and let your kids hang out with kids in their age group. But don’t feel like you have to sign up for so many formal classes, groups, and programs.

Perfect kids

I have heard so many times, “I just couldn’t homeschool. My kids won’t listen to me.” I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. Sometimes my kids won’t listen to me either.

It’s true. I’ve spent all morning dealing with a recalcitrant child or sibling bickering. We’ve had to put our schoolwork aside and just pray and start over. Because no one is going to learn with stubborn hearts and attitudes.
Knowing that we have behavioral issues to work on makes me want my kids home even more. We need to work on the attitudes and heart issues behind their disobedience. No kids are perfect. No kids are easy all the time.

Perfect homemaking skills

I know homeschooling moms who make their own bread, keep chickens and gather their own eggs, grow a huge garden and serve fresh vegetables and can the leftovers, make their own yogurt, clean with homemade cleaners and laundry detergent, sew all the clothes for their families. And on top of this get up at 5am every morning and keep a spotless house.

I’m not one of those moms. I don’t bake bread. I don’t sew. I don’t make my own laundry detergent. I don’t keep chickens. I’ve never had a successful garden. And, for me, five o’ clock only comes once a day, and it’s not before the sun is up! 

I don’t think there is anything wrong with any of those things. But it isn’t me. And it’s not “required” of homeschoolers. So if you still feed your family food out of a box and your house looks more than a little “lived in,” it’s okay. You can still homeschool your kids successfully.

If you’ve been thinking that you could never hack homeschooling because you weren’t a teacher or you don’t have extra money or you don’t have space in your house to create a schoolroom or you don’t have time and energy to sign up for one hundred different classes or your kids are just not so well-behaved all the time or you’re not the next Martha Stewart, think again. None of those things are required for homeschooling or I’d have been kicked out long ago.

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