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Thinking of Homeschooling? Five Key Factors to Consider.

By Steve Kozak

Homeschooling is a crazy adventure. It’s not right for everyone, but for anyone considering jumping in should know there are a few factors to consider and several versions to pick from. If you’re new to the community, there’s so much more to it than you thought. But don’t worry, after more than a decade of being a homeschool dad, I asked my wife to help me break it down for you.  

I was a teacher for twelve years, and believe me, I was completely sold out on the traditional education process: wake up, go to school, learn from the experts, practice through homework, and repeat until you have successfully reached the standards set by the educational system. 

Then, my wife suggested we homeschool our kids. I said no. I may have asked her if she was crazy. I knew homeschooled kids growing up. They were far too smart, unsocialized, and, honestly, a little odd. At least, that was my perception. We are now in our tenth year of homeschooling our four kids. Yes, I was reluctant, but now that our oldest is in high school, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would choose homeschooling all over again. 

But it took us over half of those years to ignore what everyone else said we should do and figure out what worked for our family. When we started, we kind of just figured we needed to buy some curriculum and follow it, and our kids would magically be educated. That seemed okay with the first kid and even the second. Then three and four came and changed the game. We discovered what worked with one didn’t work with the other. They all had different strengths, learning styles, and motivations. 

That’s when my amazing, patient wife went on a quest to find what worked for our family. And what you are about to read is a summation of our findings (okay, hers, really)—the good and the bad. And the first thing we learned might have been the hardest pill to swallow. 

Homeschooling isn’t the right fit for everyone.

You might be considering pursuing homeschooling, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit. I know it’s weird that I put the hardest lesson first. But let’s be real with each other for a second. Homeschooling is hard. It takes a special kind of person to stick it out. My wife and I joke a lot about how, although I was a teacher, I simply don’t have the same patience she does for teaching our kids. Without her, our kids would be in school—plain and simple. But she has a passion for it. A drive to give our kids a different kind of life. She loves having them home, and she loves (even on the really bad days) being their teacher and making education a part of their everyday lives. 

So, first, think about two things. One, what is your motivation? And two, are you willing to stick it out? 

Your child’s learning needs. Homeschool is not school at home. 

Every kid learns a little differently. Every kid is stronger in some subjects and weaker in others. That means teaching techniques, motivations, and rhythms might vary for each of your kids. My older two are very self-directed, love reading, discovery learning, and honestly, just learning in general. They focus on getting their work done so they can enjoy the rest of their day. On the other hand, the younger two will spend all day fighting every lesson or assignment because their focus is on anything but school. Therefore, we must create a different learning environment to help them stay focused and calm. 

This is the first, and perhaps the hardest, lesson I had to learn. Homeschool is not just school at home. There are so many other factors to consider and variables at play that traditional classrooms don’t have to deal with. When students walk into school, it’s school. Their toys, television, video games, etc., are at home. Walking into a school building sets the tone for school. Waking up and heading down to the kitchen table for school requires a different focus on the tone set for the day. Each has its challenges and benefits, however, deciding to homeschool almost always sets the tone in the home that learning is something that happens all day, every day. It’s less about school and more about learning. 

Know Your Limit and Play To Your Strengths

As I said above, although I was a professional educator, my wife does all the teaching. Believe me, I tried to help my older two in some subjects. I do not have the patience for elementary math or reading. When we first began, naturally, I would offer to help. I usually made the kids cry because I got frustrated and impatient. My wife, on the other hand, seems to have endless patience. She creates unique ways to teach them, spends hours researching, tweaking lesson plans, and making how they learn incredibly fun. She is a master at integrating everyday life with learning. 

The lesson I learned? Know your limits and play to your strengths. In other words, lean into what you do well and get help where needed. But that also means embracing the reality that you might not be cut out for homeschooling. Left to do it alone, I would opt to send my kids to school. But I can come alongside my wife and help her in areas she struggles with. I help with history and language arts. I read and grade papers, help my kids understand how to write, and sometimes I even read some of the classics they need to read to discuss together. 

The kind of homeschooling environment you want to create. 

Academic Focused 

Coming from the world of education, where grades were paramount, this was my pick. Focus on the academics, teach hard work, grade papers, and yes, fail your own kids if that’s what’s necessary. And for some, this is the right path. Especially if you intend on your kids attending college and perhaps post-grad work. 

This is often how homeschooled kids are perceived–lacking socialization but crazy smart. With just a few students, you can accelerate the rate of coursework while still giving one-on-one attention, something traditional schooling has a hard time doing. And for good reason. 

The key here–unless you feel equipped to do so—is finding the right curriculum plan, materials, and schedule for your kids. So, if this is the route for you, go for it. My only advice would be to ensure you don’t lose focus on the arts, athletics, and socialization. 


Swing the pendulum completely the other way, and you will have unschooling. I know it sounds like you’re rejecting the idea of school altogether. Some had even classified this type of homeschooling as more reminiscent of the earlier agricultural days when kids learned to be farmers and housewives. While this type of schooling does find its roots in earlier times, that characterization is not entirely true. 

Unschooling focuses on learning through everyday experiences rather than from a textbook. Everything taught is driven through application first, lesson second. It provides extreme amounts of socialization–as many families who practice this type of homeschooling travel a lot. While certain rhythms are built in to ensure subjects like math and science, most learning is driven by student curiosity. 

Online Learning

Now, if you’re a little intimated or unsure that you have the skills and patience to teach your kids everything, they need to know so they can be successful in college and beyond but still want to have some control over their education and perhaps have the freedom to travel. Or maybe you want them at home. Online learning might be your solution. There are several schools that have built an entire educational model from the same foundation successfully used by colleges and universities to expand the number of and kinds of people they can serve. In other words, in today’s digital landscape, you can now give your kids a full educational experience totally online. 

That does mean, however, that your child will spend a great deal of time in front of a screen. As with all screen time, it comes at a cost. So, it is important to balance that time with plenty of outdoor time and physical activity. 


Classical education approaches teaching and learning based on the instructional style developed by a Latin writer in the Middle Ages named Martianus Capella. It is built off of a three-part process of training the mind called the trivium. The purpose was to create a form of education that presented a uniform method of teaching all human knowledge.

Homeschool families love this kind of education because it emphasizes kids’ learning to think for themselves as it becomes appropriate for their developmental stage. This approach is broken into three phases: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The grammar stage lays the foundation for all learning, placing an emphasis on the basics. The goal in the next two phases is to continue building more knowledge from that basic framework. 

The downside, however, for other families is that this form of education is very parent-intensive and involved and requires repetition and discussion. Depending on the relational chemistry of your family, this might not be the right choice. 

Hybrids and Coops 

Finally, while a hybrid or coop model isn’t really an exclusive style one family adheres to, it’s worth mentioning because both of these provide a stronger sense of community during your homeschool journey. 

If you haven’t heard of coops and hybrid models, they are incredibly simple. Imagine having a group of people who come together to almost create a school-like community for a few hours a week. Hybrids are a bit more organized and growing in popularity. They are usually highly organized, with hired professionals who will teach your kids specific subjects on specific days of the week. It’s not a full school schedule but it provides help in areas you may be comfortable teaching. 

Coops are slightly different as they are traditionally designed to focus on community. Families will come together for art, physical education, and oftentimes specialized science or career exploration.

By Steve Kozak

Steve is a writer, pastor, non-profit professional, and, most importantly, a homeschool dad of four. He and his wife, Erin, call Indiana home but spend most of their time traveling.

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