Home schooling is not for the faint-hearted.
It takes a major commitment on the part of the entire family -- a commitment to research myriad curriculums, prepare lessons, spend 180 days yearly in the home classroom, review and grade classwork, and ensure kids receive adequate socialization through sources other than school. And, since it's usually mothers who home school, it means they must do that in addition to doing all the motherly things usually expected of a stay-at-home mom. Experts point out that it takes a considerable amount of time daily to home school. Barb Woodhall, a Syracuse mother and home schooler of three sons, ages 7, 10 and 12, sees home schooling "basically as a full-time job," an assessment most home schoolers agree with.
Many home schoolers treat their home as a school during the day, taking no phone calls, running no errands and planning no non-school-related functions.
Woodhall's kids are now old enough that they're able to do some things on their own, which allows her to get a few things done during the day. "But most non-school activities are still done after school and on weekends. Sure there are some things I don't get to do."
Experts point out that the time commitment may mean the home schooling mom or dad has little time for her or himself. They advise that the home schoolers take care to set some time aside or risk burning out.
Home schooling can also be a financial strain. While some curriculums are inexpensive, there's still the possible income loss because one spouse does not work outside the home. One area home schooler pointed out that they still pay taxes to put other people's children through public school.
While those not involved with home schooling worry that home schooled kids may not get enough socialization, Woodhall said it's just not a problem. "My kids are very comfortable socializing with a broad range of ages from kids to adults, because they're exposed to all ages."
She said in addition to interacting with other kids at their church, her kids attend a physical education class weekly and go on field trips to such places as factories, hospitals, the Utah State Fair, the Children's Museum of Utah, a Thiokol rocket launching and the Utah Symphony, through support groups they're involved with.
"I believe my kids actually have an advantage over kids in traditional schools because they're not stuck in a classroom with 25 other kids their own age, which gives them the opportunity to interact with a broader range of people."
Support for parents is offered through numerous associations such as the Utah Home Education Association, the LDS Home Education Association and the Utah Christian Home School Association (UTEH).
Through such associations, home schoolers can find curriculums and discussion groups, as well as opportunities to share field trips and experiments.
Woodhall plans on teaching her kids through high school. However, many parents home school only through elementary or junior high school, and there are some experts who advise not making it a life-long commitment, but taking it one year at a time.