We all know it happens often that one parent is excited about homeschooling while the other one is on the fence. If you’re excited and your partner is ambivalent, how do you get them on board?
There’s no magic formula, but try these tips.
Let them see actual homeschoolers.
Go to a homeschool conference, especially one with a teen panel where kids talk about their experience homeschooling. Or just visit your local park day or co-op together. Or invite a homeschool family over for dinner. Let them see that families who do this are happy and have cool kids.
Hit them with a little literature.
Sometimes a good little book about homeschooling can help persuade a parent who’s on the fence. However, another tactic I’ve seen impress parents on the fence is actually looking at some homeschool materials. Sometimes seeing how detailed a homeschool history or math program can be leads parents to say with some wonder, “I never got an education like this!”
Show them some statistics.
There aren’t a lot of statistics about the success of homeschoolers because nearly all the surveys have biased or very small samples. Still, we know there are success stories. We also know that schools aren’t doing a great job. American scores on PISA, an international measure of education, and a good comparison point because it doesn’t change constantly like most American tests, have mostly remained flat and don’t compare well to many other developed nations. While some academic topics, like algebra I in middle school, have moved younger, there are also tests that indicate that we’re not building a strong foundation in these subjects. Overall, American schools just aren’t doing as great a job as they should.
Help them understand that you can always change course and that there’s no rush.
We know that despite the fact that schools don’t seem to be doing a better job, that kids are more anxious than ever before. The whole point of homeschooling can be to step away from the wrong kind of pressure. You have time! Part of having that time too is recognizing that you can always go back to traditional school. With that in mind, there’s no reason not to take a year or two or more to see how it goes.
Sit down and work out your education goals together.
This is really key for coming to consensus about your kids’ education. People rarely have the goal “to fit into the system.” You and your partner are probably closer together than you think. Make short and long term goals together and then think about whether homeschooling can accomplish those goals. When your partner thinks about the big picture issues, like learning to enjoy education or develop your own interests, they may be more open to thinking about homeschooling. Or you may come to a better understanding of your partner’s goals for traditional academic benchmarks being met and figure out how to make those work in a homeschool context.
Look at hybrid options together.
One way to allay a partner’s fears about homeschooling is to compromise with a hybrid option, such as taking a significant number of online classes, doing part-time enrollment, or using a university model private school for some classes. How available these types of options are depends on your location and finances, but sometimes choosing to do some outside school can help everyone get what they want.
Don’t minimize financial concerns.
Speaking of finances, if part of homeschooling means that you’ll leave a job and your partner’s job will have to carry you all, then don’t get dismissive about it. It can add a lot of stress to your partner’s sense of security for the family. While homeschooling may be worth sacrificing for, especially if the sacrifice is mostly luxuries, it can still make life more stressful. Before you start, go over the finances together. Have a plan for if circumstances change.
Share the college success stories.
Finally, the long term fear that nearly every parent harbors is whether or not your child will be able to compete by getting into college. There are so many great homeschool success stories on that front. Share them! Talk about how homeschoolers often have a better shot at getting into many top colleges because they can have much more individualized, tailored transcripts and resumes of experiences than public school kids. It can be easier to stand out. Neither option is a guarantee of getting into the perfect school; it takes hard work by the student either way. However, homeschooling can let you package your student for the college they want.