If you are thinking about homeschooling your child, you are not alone. Many people, especially in the U.S. are using for this method of learning. But home education can be daunting, especially if it is your first time. Before taking the big step that will impact your child’s future, it is important to be sure you are informed. As parents, you need to understand all about homeschooling, what it entails and what it will demand from the child and from you as parents. There is not one specific way of getting home education but here are a few basics to help you along the way.
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling means educating children at home, instead of sending them to private or public schools. It does not mean that all education must take place at home, but only that you as parents are solely responsible for the child’s education. You determine your child’s education and facilitate the instruction following state laws. You take care of what the children learn, how they do it and when they do it.
How to Start Homeschooling
Parents do not need a degree or special training to start homeschooling. However, in some states a minimum education requirement, like a GED may be required. The process can start as soon as your child turns school age. Those who wish to withdraw their child from school to start homeschooling will have to write an application to the school principal or administration that explains your reason before taking the step. But before you do that, here is a quick list of things you should do to get started:
- Learn About Homeschooling and Responsibility.
- Understand Your State’s Laws and Learning Requirements.
- Plan a Curriculum.
- Establish a Learning Space.
- Study Homeschooling Methods and Resources.
- Determine How You Will Organize Records.
- Determine Local Socialization Options.
- Find a Support Network.
Laws or Requirements of Homeschooling
In America, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states but may have various law requirements. Some states have several requirements, while others have only a few.
Here are some examples of requirements:
- Parent qualifications such as a GED
- Declaration of intent
- Number of instruction hours
- Portfolio reviews
- Professional evaluation
- Required subjects
- Standardized testing
- Sports access
Structuring Home Education
Homeschoolers need to plan a timetable. The good part is that you can structure the day, in fact the entire school year the way it suits you.
First, determine your yearly schedule. You’ll need to check with your state’s laws. Some states will require a minimum number of hours, others may require a certain number of school days. Here are example yearly schedules:
- Follow your local school’s calendar. This is usually from Labor Day until the end of May or early June.
- Year-round schooling with 6-9 weeks on/1 week off.
- Monday-Thursday schooling until attendance requirement is reached.
Weekly and Daily Schedule
When mapping out your weeks and days, be sure to consult again with your state’s laws. You can consider two scheduling options: block schedules and loop schedules. A block schedule is one in which one or more subjects are given a large span of time. A loop schedule is where there is a list of subjects to cover but no specific timeframe in which to cover them.
When you design your daily schedule, consider your child’s needs as well as your own. Some parents organize the schooling early in the day, just as in traditional schools, but others may not believe in having a strict routine. For example, if your child is excited about a certain project, some parents will let their child proceed with it no matter what the time.
Educational Philosophy or Method
The traditional system of learning by textbooks and tests is not the only system of education. There are many other methods and homeschoolers can use any or combine different ones according to the child’s needs. Methods you should look into include:
- Charlotte Mason
- Unit Studies
- Eclectic Education
Selecting a Curriculum
The core subjects you teach your child will be the curriculum. Again, review your state’s laws for requirements. Next, make an outline for the year. Keep in mind that each child may need different ways to absorb information including online courses, field trips, or conducting experiments. Also, think about your own strengths, your child’s interests, and budget. These all factor into your curriculum.
Find a Support Community of Homeschoolers
There are so many questions and challenges that you may get overwhelmed. Having a support community online or otherwise will be of immense help to guide you, get advice and share experiences. Ask your friends or explore online to establish a good network for support and advice.
Online Versus Home Education
While homeschooling requires dedication, time and effort, another option that works for many is online education. It allows the flexibility of homeschooling and is not as intense for the parents.
Home education has its limits because a parent may not be well-versed in all subjects. With online schooling you can have qualified teachers who are experts in their subjects.
Home education requires parents to do their own research and make the curriculum according to the required standards of the state. With e-learning you do not have to worry about it. An online curriculum is state approved.
Online learning in fact complements the home learning environment and both of these can be blended to make learning more engaging and effective.
What’s the Difference between Online School and Homeschooling
Homeschooling is very different from online schools. Parents are in charge of home education and develop their own curriculum. With e-learning the teachers of the virtual school manage the studies from any location and the curriculum is a structured one. Online teachers are certified experienced professionals who draft a comprehensive educational programme for the students.
Pros and Cons of Homeschooling
Homeschooling offers many pros, like the freedom to educate your child the way you want. It is more of a one-on-one learning that allows the flexibility to make education more personalized, providing the child individual attention. If your child is taking time to grasp a particular concept, you have the liberty to spend as much time on it as you want until he or she comprehends it fully. There is some flexibility for curriculum specifics that need to be completed within a particular time frame. It also means spending more time with your child. You are in control to set the pace of learning and decide when to take a break. Additionally, homeschoolers are not exposed to peer pressure. A parent can take care of academic, behavior or emotional issues as they arise.
There are also some negatives to consider when homeschooling. Everything is in your hands and for some parents that is the scary part. Everyone is not cut out for the task. Some parents are hesitant to become educators of their child and may not be ready to take on additional duties. You will need to arrange and facilitate the lessons, make curriculum, plan field trips and experiments. All this demands careful management of time which can be quite stressful.
Why Do Parents Choose Homeschooling
Parents may choose homeschooling for different reasons including:
- Parents may not agree with the traditional school’s one-size-fits-all approach.
- Some settle for it because they want to incorporate religious beliefs in learning which may not be possible in school education.
- Others may be more concerned with the problematic social issues on the rise nowadays like drug use, shootings and bullying.
- It works well for military families and those whose jobs require traveling.
- At times, families may be facing challenging situations like financial constraints or contending with illness, so homeschooling in such scenarios makes more sense.
- It is especially suitable for children with learning disabilities.
Homeschooling is an increasingly popular trend but comes with its share of challenges. Whether or not it works for you and your child depends largely on your commitment, planning, discipline as well as your unique needs and circumstances.Now you have a good overview, you can become more educated on what it entails. If you begin educating your child at home, you’ll have a great resource to help you along the way.