Please Help! I Want to Homeschool

Updated on March 06, 2014
N.S. asks from Panama City, FL
18 answers

My son is 4 years old now and I am considering to home school him due to the lack of good schools here in Panama city, fl. I am so lost and stressed. I don't know where to go in order to start this process and what all i need to get. :-( Do you have any tips or ideas on how you started it? Is it possible to work a full time job and still homeschool him?.

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answers from Washington DC on

Full disclosure: I am a public school teacher. I have many family members and friends who homeschool (including more than one working for my same school system). For some, it is a true choice. Others came to do it out of desperation. Their degrees of success have varied widely from a 15 year old who is now taking CC courses to children who are years behind and may never catch up.

Things to consider:
1) Will you homeschool (approximate a school experience with distinct courses, a set curriculum, and lesson plans even if your school day/year vary from the 7 hours/180 days norm)? Or will you unschool (follow your son's lead without a predetermined plan)?
2) Do you have full support of the other parent/your partner?
3) Are you going to be able to find work that fits around your son's education or fit his education around your working hours?
4) Can you join a homeschooling coop or other association to advise you and provide a peer group for your son?

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answers from San Francisco on

I think the first thing to realize is that there are many, many ways to homeschool, and that for some families, one way is best, and for other families, another way is best. There's no one right answer, and as your son gets older, your methods may change. There are a few things I'd recommend. First, look up any homeschooling charter schools that may exist in your area. These are actually public schools that will pay for curriculum materials and provide a supervising teacher, and then you will be your child's "learning coach." In other words, you are doing the day-to-day teaching, but there's a master teacher you will report to, to make sure you're staying on track, and the master teacher issues the grades at the end of the semester. One that springs to mind is K12 - in your area, it's probably called Florida Virtual Academy or something similar. We started off using K12, and while the curriculum itself is very solid, it wasn't exactly right for my kids.

I ended up deciding I would rather not report to a public school while homeschooling my children, and that my kids would benefit more from a Waldorf-style education (which is very hands-on and project-based, with an emphasis on the whole child, not just prepping for standardized tests). Therefore, we decided to use Oak Meadow curriculum. I think I paid about $500 each child for an entire year's worth of curriculum/art supplies, and we have been very happy with it. (I'm sure you could find the curriculum used on Amazon or somewhere, too.) I should note that I use Life of Fred math curriculum (not Oak Meadow), and my girls LOVE it.

Like I said, there are many ways to homeschool, and none is any more valid than the next. When you're starting out, I think it's best to keep things simple and don't get too stressed out about it. Learning should be fun, and homeschooling can be a fun experience for both you and your child. I would also recommend looking up your local chapter of the HSLDA (which is a homeschooling organization) - in our area, the local chapter has get-togethers and conferences, which are usually reasonable in price, and informative.

ETA: I love the people who don't homeschool and never have, but feel the need to tell you exactly what it will be like. Umm... no. I co-own a business and I work full-time. However, I work from home, so homeschooling works for our family. I have to structure my day carefully, but it works. What people don't realize is that homeschooling kids are often able to learn all that their public school counterparts do in about half the time. At home, we don't have problems with discipline, or with trying to transition 25 kids to a different activity. We don't have anti-bullying assemblies (well, we do, but it's more like, "Be nice to your sister!"). My kids don't have to wait in a lunch line. My 6th grader usually finishes her assigned school work before lunch, and then has the rest of the day to read for fun, work on art or music, etc. It IS possible to work full-time and homeschool. Just wanted to throw that out there!

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answers from New York on

Homeschooling is your full time job.

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answers from Detroit on

no you cannot work full time and homeschool him.. his schooling is your full time job.

possibly if you work midnights and you could teach him during the day. and go to work on the midnight shift but I thinkyou would be exhausted...

I consider homeschool all the time.. there are lots of problems in the public schools but .. kids need to learn to live in the world and the best way to learn is to experience the world..

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

You have two years to figure it out and it's worth the research.

I homeschool and there is no WAY I could work and do an adequate job, but my oldest is in second grade and has a lot of structured academic work in addition to her music lessons and martial arts. We do Classical Homeschooling which is more time consuming than some of the other styles, but even unschoolers or cyber schoolers couldn't really swing homeschooling and full-time work I'm fairly certain. But you could supplement your son's education in the evenings if you got a hold of homeschooling materials (so many great ones available) that you felt were lacking in school. For instance, PA no longer teaches cursive, but we have handwriting books with cursive, and we could do lots of our literature and history reading in the evenings instead of daytime...there are excellent spelling workbooks and things...but honestly, on top of a full school day, supplementing seems like overkill if you aren't careful...

Anyway, kindergarten does not take too much time academics-wise, but what would your son be doing while you are at work if he's not in school? If you can solve that, you could homeschool him in just a couple hours per day at that age. My son is in kindergarten and with his daily reading, writing and math curriculums, he's done in less than two hours and the rest of the day is play and learning vicariously by listening to older sib's lessons and our adventures out and about. He's reading at a first grade level and getting good at writing and great at math, but you can only focus on it for so long in boys that age and then play is better. The work load didn't get "heavy" for us until first grade in my oldest. So you could research it and work up until your son is that age. Here is a good link describing the different homeschooling styles and how to get started. Charlotte Mason has outstanding reading lists available by grade online.

And honestly, even if your child has to go to a sub-par school, you can find a way to make sure he gets a full education within your scheduling needs. Many people have come up against that challenge and succeeded with determination. Try not to stress:

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Lots of folks work and homeschool. Start looking for homeschool groups in your area. Local families will be your best resource.

At 4, he doesn't need school yet. Even classical approaches don't start kids till 6, so you have time.

Please do ignore all the schoolers who think it isn't possible. I know it's possible, because I know homeschoolers that work. It may require working a different shift than your spouse, but it is possible if you want it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Florida is a wonderful homeschool state - I've been doing it for 7+ years. Graduated one kiddo already.

I would find a homeschool support group in your area (google "Panama City Homeschool Support"). Start attending their meetings before the year ends and you will very likely pick up some tips and meet some other moms.

FPEA (Florida Parent Educator's Assn) has their big convention in May. I would consider attending. Lots of vendors there.

I worked part-time when my kids were younger but it was tough. That being said I've known people who make it work.

Start gathering info and you'll feel better.

It's a great lifestyle and I wish you luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

please understand that people who insist categorically that it's impossible to homeschool while working really mean it's impossible for THEM.
others can, and do make it work.
so please don't take the word of people who don't homeschool and are often hostile to the very concept.
that being said, working full-time while homeschooling is a big challenge, and you need to be prepared, energetic and all-in to make it work. i'm much more concerned about you feeling lost and stressed before you've even researched it than i am about your schedule. homeschooling IS a big commitment, and it's about way more than education. it's a family attitude and lifestyle, and you are going to need to be creative and flexible, with your husband right there with you, to make it work.
so in order to give you good information, you need to provide more details. what is your current work schedule, and what is your husband's? how much flexibility is built into that? is your son currently in daycare, and if so, for how long? how do you anticipate this working when you start homeschooling?
i worked part-time during my kids' entire homeschool experience. we handled it with a combination of networking with friends so that they could go to co-ops or have study days or just plain hang-out time with friends while i worked, or them bringing projects to my work with me, or them working independently at home alone when they were older (my kids were and are very responsible.) but my job was very flexible, and my kids were good about sitting at a table for a few hours at a stretch and swotting away at something. we also could bring books, snacks and gameboys so they had something to do if they finished early, or needed a brain break. not everyone has that degree of freedom in their work, or kids that relatively easy.
i suggest you google homeschool groups and co-ops in your area and meet up IRL with members and talk to them, get a feel for what's available. there's a huge difference in groups that are religion-based than secular ones. some are purely social, some very structured indeed. don't base your conclusions off an encounter with one or even three groups. think hard about what your parenting style is, what your family values are, and what you hope to get out of homeschooling.
also look up your state's laws and make sure you are in compliance. some states have very little oversight, others are quite restrictive. for example, in maryland i had the option of reporting to the board of ed with a portfolio of my kids' work for them to review (free) or using an umbrella organization and bypassing the not-homeschool-friendly BOE (anywhere from reasonable to very expensive indeed depending on the org.) i chose the portfolio option, which worked but caused me a lot of jaw-clenching moments. only you can decide if it's worth it to you.
PM me if you have questions.
ETA to the comment that homeschooling is sub-par because kids need to 'live in the world', that's exactly what most homeschoolers do. the stereotype of kids kept cloistered is laughably outdated. homeschoolers 'live in the world' far more than kids sequestered in artificial age-specific groups in choreographed 45 minute focus chunks.

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answers from Lakeland on

I started homeschooling this year and I love it. First find some homeschooling groups like Angela S suggested, you will make friends and get help. It is also important to meet up with other homeschoolers so the kids can play and interact with other kids. We still do after school stuff like dance, music lessons, etc.

When (and if) you decide to homeschool you need to let the county know with a letter, you can find the state laws, requirements and loads of other info at this site I too agree that Florida is a great state to homeschool in and there are lots of groups all over the state.

I am close friends with a homeschooling family and both parents work full time, there are no laws stating what time of day kids can learn. You will need to find someone to care for your child while you are working I doubt a daycare will take an older child so consider a nanny/babysitter.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My husb and I are in curriculum development, and have met lots of home-schooling families. The number one piece of advice most of them will give you is to join a support group or co-op in your area. Google for lists of nearby groups; they are growing all the time. You'll find other families have already blazed a trail for you to follow.

There are many approaches to home-schooling, from imitating your state syllabus and the classroom techniques of public schools, all the way to the other extreme of "un"schooling. All approaches seem to work for some children, but probably not all. Be aware that different groups will follow different philosophies of education and spiritual development; you can usually find one that feels most right to you.

Good luck on your investigation!

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answers from Chicago on

I do not homeschool, but would venture to guess that you can't do it while working a full time job. Where is your son while you're working? Is he in daycare? Many child care centers have preschools/kindergartens. Have you looked into private schools? We live in a bad school district, and send our kids to an excellent Catholic school.

Look into a homeschool co-op in your area. They can give you info and resources to get you started. They often have meet-ups and go on field trips together.

A girl my daughter played softball with was home schooled, but not by her mother. She went to another lady's house who home schooled her kids, and a few others. I'm sure this wasn't free, but probably a lot less than a private school.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

This is what I imagine his day will be like if you continue to work.

Get up, go to child care for the next 6 months full days, eat, to to circle time, have preschool class activities in the morning time, play time, clean up, lunch, nap time, get up and cleaned up, eat a snack, have some play time, get picked up, go home, eat dinner, go to school for the next 4-5 hours then go to bed.

That's not a life for a kid. He needs you to either let him go to school with his peers or not make him sit all day and all evening each day. That's not a life for a kid. Kids need to play, they need to use their imaginations, to build things with blocks, do puzzles, play in the dirt, eat dirt, make mud pies, ride their bikes, and more. They need to play or the miss vital parts of their development. If they don't play a majority of the day they don't develop their brains.

So, either home-school him or go to work. I'd say kindergarten and the lower grades in elementary school are only for learning basics and he's not going to be permanently scared by going to school with the rest of the kids his age.

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answers from Cleveland on

just curious why you feel You have the knowledge to be able to teach your child what they need to know?
or maybe you would consider public at a certain point?
what is your long term plan?

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answers from Miami on

I'm confused as to the reason that you are so lost and stressed. Is it because you don't know how you'll manage a job AND homeschooling? Or is it because you don't know how to homeschool?

You have to decide between the two, you know. You can't work full time AND homeschool. The good thing is that your son is ONLY 4. He's not even kinder age. You have time to research homeschooling and make a decision.

Of course, if you cannot afford to stop working, the decision is really actually made for you...

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answers from Los Angeles on

I do a hybrid home school for my Kindergardner. I can say that at the low grades, its a lot of one on one. I do think what are are describing is possible for an older student who is self directed. I know of high school students doing this with full time working parents. They do most everything on -line and work in a small homeschool group, getting together here and there. Each parent takes a 1/2 day off a week. I do not see how you could do it working full time away from home. The time commitment is 1.5 -2 hours a day for kindergarden and 4- 6 hours day for grades 1 and 2. And that is of you are using someone else's curriculum. If you develop your own curriculum add time onto what i listed.
If your work hours are flexible, see if you can find a hybrid home school that teaches your child 2 or 3 days a week. They develop the curriculum and you still get to have a lot of hands on, while not totally overwhelming yourself with the full burden. They are usually Christian based and about half the price of private school. They are popping up everywhere.

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answers from Tampa on

Curriculum is available all over the internet. I myself went to a convention to be able to look at it to make sure it was for me. I have gotten a lot of help from other homeschool families, but don't stress about being in a group immediately. This takes time. All homeschooling takes time, so take a deep breath and just start researching on the internet what things interest you. You have gotten a lot of good advice on finding things. There is a huge convention in Orlando at the end of May (not sure on date). There you can find lots (and I mean overwhelming lots) of choices, ideas, and people who can give you advice. There are homeschool curriculums that give you lesson plans that take a whole school day of time, and there are homeschool curriculums that are more self taught and self explanatory and of course everything in between. I was told by the company I use that you can purchase the kindergarten curriculum or teach your child to read and then start in first grade. Money was tight for us and so we went with teaching to read and then starting first grade (the next year) and it worked beautifully. I found that when they were younger, they were a lot less time consuming, and as they got older (especially my son) it became much more time consuming. My daughter is very self taught and self reliable, my son however, needs me constantly to keep him focused. All children are different but for me and my two it is a full time job. Working is probably possible, but as they get older, you have more to do even though they are more self sufficient. I have homeschooled my 2 children for 9 years, and I always take it one year at a time. No plan whether I am going to go the distance or not, just work with your kids and learn how they learn and how you can best teach them. I am only a high school graduate, and my children are well taught and get straight A's. You don't need a college degree to do this. Also, I have the full support of my husband, and that makes all the difference in the world. He doesn't do it, but support is key. Good luck. All things are possible, but when doing this for your children, not all things are best.

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answers from Las Vegas on

You don't mention your plan. Where will he go while you are at work? Do you plan to homeschool forever? Will he go to daycare? If so, will he be the only 1st, 2nd, and or 3rd grader at the preschool? He will get bored.

I work full time and come home and chase, holler at, feed, and help my daughter about everything and anything. She is in 2nd grade now and is very capable of working independently. She is also very capable of sitting in front of a TV and doing nothing.

This is where it doesn't seem feasible to me. I am gone for 10.5 hours a day. I pick my daughter up, feed her, and she gets started on HW. She reads for 20 minutes, does math (times may vary), studies spelling words, 1 english page, and may work on a book report where she has read from a different book. Then it is shower time, time to pick out the next days clothes, perhaps watch a little TV MAYBE and she is in bed and this is my free time. It is 10:00 here.

Maybe one of the HS moms can answer this, does homeschooling eliminate the need for homework? I realize it is 1:1, but it still seems they get more than 7 hours of study time in per day.

So how will you determine if he needs a reading or math program? My daughter needed a reading program. If you asked me, she was getting it and would be caught up with the rest of them in no time. No time never came until I put her in Kumon.

There must be a private school you can place him in. If you can't afford it, ask if they have tuition assistance. My husband just worked 5 extra hours at our church/school for a fundraiser to support some kid who can't afford to go to the school.

I always feel it is best to learn from others, as he is already learning from you, just my opinion.



answers from Hartford on

I have not had any expirience in this stuff because all of mykids are going to a public school. I do know however that working a full time job and home schooling will not work very well. There is no way anybody could be able to pull that off. If you are going to home school him and I have learned this from some friends it is very difficult. It is very hard to keep them focused if they are athome with all their toys, tvs and having Mom as their teacher. Friends have said it is very hard to say no you will do your work. They know that they can ask for a break and most moms will give it to them. I believe that you can give them a break once or twice every day depending on how longit takesto finish their work. Teaching young children is very hard. I am a teacher and it was a strugglethe first year figuring out how to teach all thechildren math esspecially. That is just my point of view, but it is your desision and i believe that you will do fine whatever you choose.

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