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By Carla Aoyagi -

I am a veteran of this homeschooling thing. Four kids, all with different learning styles, scattered across the grade range...high school, middle school, and elementary. I have seen a lot, tried a lot, cried a lot, yelled way too much and struggled, albeit successfully, to finally find a life-school flex-plan thingy that works for our family. Through it all, I came to realize—through my own struggles and the inquiries of others—that there were definitely many questions (and answers) I wished I had when I began. Here are some considerations I would like to have given my younger self.

1. What is your motivation for homeschooling?

When I began seriously thinking about homeschooling my first child, I already had a decent inner library of information and experience I gleaned from school, books and the like. I also had a significant chip on my shoulder about my own experiences in public school. As a neurospicy woman from the generation just prior to the start of seriously recognizing learning challenges and differences, I suffered and languished a lot. I recognized, although not explicitly, that my first child exhibited a similar nature to me and I had the nebulous idea that it would be better for them not to repeat my uncomfortable experience. But I, and my first child, suffered quite a bit during these first 4-5 years of that undefined "feeling" driving my "need" to homeschool. I fell into the accepted way to teach and ended up almost souring us all on the experience.

I blame the paperwork. The level of records and proof that is needed, no matter how you homeschool, is hard not to get caught up in. Eventually, I did ask myself and concretely answer the "why,” and it really made the difference for everyone involved. For me, "One needs to be allowed to learn how to learn" and "living is learning" were and still are my maxims. Your motivation may stem from a combination of ideas, feelings and ideals that may be difficult for you to truly nail down, but it will do you and your children well to ask yourself the “why” in any given educational and life path you decide upon.

2. What are your resources?

Myself, as "Exhibit A", had access to education—a relatively broad information base and ability to research, as well as a resourceful/creative nature. I had time—making the decision to begin homeschool early on with my children, I worked from home and had a flexible schedule. Finally, I had a decent support network—my spouse silently agreed to my decision to homeschool, and I had some relatively available family to help.

What I needed was more complicated. My education did not really come with adequate experience—I was young and was in a mental and emotional position where it was hard to ask for help and guidance. My flexible time suffered from my inexperience in being a parent, and my neurospiciness didn't particularly make things easier. I had no money. Material resources were not that difficult to work around as I was creative, but the constant juggling and worry really drained me, leaving me with little energy. My support network was not nearly as robust as it could have been either. My spouse didn't really hinder me, but he also did not participate (some of this was due to his work, but much of it was personality). Medical issues and time constraints made coordinating with family, friends, and even our homeschool charter challenging as well.

3. Self reflection is always difficult. The ultimate final question: Can you homeschool?

I personally think that if your philosophy and mindset are well founded and adequately flexible then you can do almost anything, but the key to answering the homeschool question lies in self-analysis. Can you build that support network you will need to make up for the resources (time, money, education, experience) you lack? There were so many times I faced (and to be honest, was defeated by) this question. I saw this question trip up a great number of my homeschool parent friends. There is no shame in saying "no" to this question. There are limitations—not everyone has a partner or the time or the energy. Not everyone has family (either nearby or willing to help). Not everyone has the knowledge base to even begin asking the right questions.

In the Northstate, I feel we are in an envious position when it comes to creating a favorable situation for saying "yes" to homeschooling. In Butte and the surrounding counties, we have access to quite a few resources—a university and community colleges that offer all sorts of educational and life experiences (campus events, community education, theater and music). A vibrant community (farmers markets, SBDC, more local music and art), a beautiful natural environment (parks, hikes, wetlands, mountains etc) and even ready-built support networks that make navigating first (or fourth) time homeschooling much less daunting (Core Butte Homeschool Charter School, Sutter Butte Homeschool Charter School). This is all alongside the numerous online resources available for all walks of life.

There are so many wonderful resources, ideas, and people in our community that can help you determine if homeschooling is a good fit for your family. Feel free to email me at and I will do my best to answer your questions or connect you with the resources and people I believe can.


Carla Aoyagi has lived in Butte county for most of her life, with a short stint in Southern California to get her BS in material engineering. Her real job is as a media director for a fairly large company, while her magical job is creating and sharing her art and ancient mythological inspired tales. She homeschools her four children and works to keep the small family farm growing some food.


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