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Deciding to Homeschool
Q: I am undecided on what to do about my three-year-old's education. Should I send her to school or homeschool? I want her to be around children, and I also want her to have a good education. I am so confused, and I am running out of time. Could you give me some advice?
A: Actually, you are not running out of time. As a parent, it is your right and responsibility to provide the best education available for your daughter. If you feel pressured to make major educational choices with a three-year-old child, that's a red flag that something is not right. The first thing you must do is relax. You do not have to make a decision right now, or even next year. I was very undecided when my daughter was four-years-old, and decided to just "wait it out" and homeschool until I made up my mind. My daughter is now 13, we're still homeschooling, and we haven't regretted one day!
Is your daughter walking, talking, and able to help dress and feed herself? Then you have already been homeschooling for three years! Some of the most challenging aspects of teaching your daughter are already behind you -- why not take the next few years and simply enjoy being together? ABC's and 123's are a lot easier to teach than going through that first year of sleepless nights, messy meals, and potty training.
I suggest you read at least one book about homeschooling. Here are two excellent choices, both written by Linda Dobson: Homeschooling the Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8-Year-Old Child and The First Year Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start. Both will give you the confidence you need to provide the best education for your daughter.
Homeschooled students consistently outperform their schooled peers on standardized tests. The longer a student homeschools, the greater his performance score. Tests show that on average, by the time a homeschooled student is in the eighth grade, they are four years ahead of their schooled peers!
The disadvantages of homeschooling? Well, you have to enjoy being with your child, and be willing to spend most of the day together, at least when they are young. You will also incur additional costs, which can be kept to a minimum by utilizing your library.
Don't feel your daughter will not have friends! There are homeschool support and resource groups in every state that meet regularly. She'll actually make many new friends, and you'll get to meet parents who share your educational philosophy. Good luck!
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.