When you feel in your heart that God is calling you to homeschool, it’s tempting to plow ahead and make the decision, leaving your spouse behind. I understand...I’ve been there too. When I began feeling that God was calling us to homeschool, I was a few months ahead of my husband in getting on board. I’d been thinking about it much longer than he had, and I had already been through all the “What if…” scenarios.
Being a public school graduate and a public school teacher, I had tried to talk myself out of it several times.
- I mean, what if my kids were weird?
- What if they were unsocialized? (I laugh as I type that question now, but at the time, it seemed a legitimate argument!).
- How would I teach different grade levels at one time?
- How would we survive financially with the added cost of homeschooling?
However, even with these questions swirling around in my head, I felt strongly that God was leading us to become a homeschool family, so I decided to talk to my husband about it. I’m so glad I did. That conversation began our homeschooling journey as a family, and I could not do what I do without his unwavering support.
There is no formula for getting your spouse on board with homeschooling, but there are some key actions that can help you talk through the process of deciding your child’s educational path.
1. Ask Your Spouse to Pray About It
Prayer is the most important element of this decision. I do not recommend going ahead with plans to homeschool without first bathing your future conversations in prayer. You are setting yourself and your spouse up for failure if you go into the discussion without talking to God first. So the very first action you need to take is simply to ask your spouse to pray with you about it. Here’s what I asked my husband:
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about homeschooling. I feel that it’s something we need to consider and discuss at some point, but I’m not sure. I have a lot of questions about it. Would you just pray with me about it for a week or more?”
2. Discuss It With Pros and Cons
After a week or more of prayer, make a time to sit down and talk over the pros and cons. On your list, write down everything you think would be good about homeschooling and all your concerns.
Then use these lists to talk about homeschooling. First, start with your pros and share your heart. Tell your spouse why you began considering homeschooling. Then give your spouse uninterrupted time to share what their pros are. Then repeat the process for cons.
Be sure that you allow your spouse to freely share concerns without you feeling the need to defend homeschooling. Remember, your concerns are legitimate. Your spouse’s concerns are too, so listen accordingly. Once you get through your lists, agree to continue praying about it and set up a time to talk again.
3. List Your Goals for Your Children
This next step is pretty important. At your next discussion, you’ll need to bring your pros/cons list once again, but before you begin, spend some time writing down three to five goals for your children. Use this as your guiding thought:
When our children grow up, we will consider their childhood a success if these three things are true of them.
Once you decide on your goals, look at your pros list. Do your pros match up with your goals? How about your cons list?
Thinking about your goals can help you process how homeschooling could help you reach those goals. Share openly with each other how you are feeling about the decision.
4. Discuss the Cost
There are plenty of costs to consider in homeschooling. Of course, possibly the most pressing is the financial cost. It can be a pretty big adjustment to go from public school, which is free, to homeschooling where you pay for your curriculum, and you feed your children every meal at home.
When my husband and I had this conversation, we were just finishing up a year of public school kindergarten with our oldest child. We sat down and counted up the cost of curriculum. It was a little surprising, but then, we discussed how much money we had spent on public school. That was even more surprising.
We realized that we had contributed hundreds of dollars to fundraisers through the course of the year. Then, we considered how much we spent on new school clothes and shoes. We had noticed that our kindergartener was even showing an interest in name brand clothing already. We added in the cost of backpacks and lunches.
When we really examined how much we had spent, we were surprised to see that what we had spent on kindergarten in public school was close to the cost of homeschool curriculum.
We knew these public school costs would only continue to rise as our children got older. When we crunched some numbers, we saw that, in homeschooling, we could go without buying new school clothes every year. We knew we could stop participating in fundraisers, and we even realized that we would be able to reuse the curriculum with our younger kids coming up. By our estimate, we felt like after our first few years, we might even end up saving money.
We evaluated many different programs and landed on Sonlight, feeling even better about our financial decision. Having a home library has always been important for us, so we knew the books in Sonlight would be worth the investment.
Finally we considered the fact that if we continued homeschooling, I would not be going back to work full time. This was tough, especially for me. I had always visualized myself back in the classroom once our children reached school age. However, when my husband and I looked at our goals and considered how homeschooling could help us reach those goals, it gave us the clear answer that we needed. For us, homeschooling would be worth all the sacrifices we would make.
5. Wait For Your Spouse
I have an incredibly supportive husband. We went through the process I outlined above, and once we both decided to homeschool, he was with me 100%. However, I know the journey is not that way for every couple. For those moms and dads who can’t quite get the other spouse on board, my advice is simple:
I could not homeschool without my husband’s support. On tough days, I need my husband to remind me why we chose this life. I need my husband to troubleshoot problems with me and to back me up on discipline matters.
If your spouse is not on board, wait and pray. Don’t nag or coerce. Don’t even try to persuade. Don’t say, “I told you this would happen if…” Pray that God will align both of your hearts to His perfect will for your family. And then, wait.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It goes against the norms of society and takes courage. Be patient with your spouse. It can be a lot to process. More importantly, trust God, and know that if it is His will, He will make it so in His perfect timing.
Compare curriculum with this handy checklist.