A Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling

Homeschooling 101

If you are thinking to homeschool your child, you are not alone. Many people, especially in the US are opting for this mode 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 if you are equipped to take this path. Parents 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 takes place at home, but only that parents are responsible for the children’s education. They take care of what the children learn, how they do it and when they do it.

How to Start Homeschooling?

Getting Started

Parents do not need a degree 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.

Laws or Requirements of Homeschooling

In America homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, however the requirements vary from place to place. Some states have a few requirements, while others have none. You may have to give a declaration of intent or specify the number of instruction hours in some states and in some you may be asked for portfolio reviews, professional evaluation or standardized testing at different levels.

Structuring Home Education

Homeschoolers need to chalk out a plan or timetable. The good part is that you can structure the day, in fact the entire school year the way it suits you. Some people 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

Having a schedule also depends on the educational philosophy you adopt. 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. 

Working Out a Curriculum

The next step is selecting the curriculum or course that is in line with your home education method. You can take help from online courses, plan field trips and experiments.

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 huge help to guide you, get advice and share experiences. 

Online Versus Home Education

While homeschooling requires dedication, time and effort, private schooling is expensive. Another option that works for many is online education. It allows the flexibility of homeschooling and is not as costly as studying in a private school. 

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 program for the students.

Pros and Cons

Homeschooling offers 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 are no deadlines or 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. Homeschoolers are not exposed to peer pressure. A parent can take care of academic, behavioral or emotional issues as they arise. Also you can build their character by giving as much time as you may think is important for character building activities. 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 need to arrange 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

  1. Parents may choose homeschooling for different reasons. 
  2. Parents may not agree with the traditional school’s one-size-fits-all approach. 
  3. Some settle for it because they want to incorporate religious beliefs in learning which may not be possible in school education.  
  4. Others may be more concerned with the problematic social issues on the rise nowadays like drug use, shootings and bullying. 
  5. It works well for military families and those whose jobs require traveling. 
  6. At times, families may be facing challenging situations like financial constraints or contending with illness, so homeschooling in such scenarios makes more sense.
  7. 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 depends largely on your commitment, planning, discipline as well as your unique needs and circumstances.

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