There are many choices on the spectrum between homeschooling and traditional public schooling. Some homeschooled children eventually find themselves walking across the stage at graduation. In contrast, those that went to a public school can find themselves sitting at their dining room table conducting science experiments during their middle school years. It is a fluid decision and not one that needs to be a permanent decision at any schooling stage. With so much information out on the market, from education departments to curriculum developers, it is no wonder that parents are left in the middle bewildered at their options for what would be best for their child’s academic studies. Every parent wants to get the very best for their child. This causes many parents to wonder, “How can I tell if I should home school my child?”
Answer: Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but is more accessible than people realize.
For as many different types of children, learning styles, and families, homeschooling curriculums are designed to assist with the demands, challenges, gifts, and lifestyles of the parents who decide to embark on them. Many parents decide to homeschool their children because they want to be a more integral part of their education. In contrast, others choose this methodology because the educational institutions in their neighborhoods do not provide conducive learning environments that meet their child’s needs. For whatever reason a parent decides to teach their child at home, homeschooling offers the flexibility to tailor to any family’s needs.
One of the questions parents might ask is if they need to have a degree to homeschool their child. While many states have requirements on how many hours are spent in education per calendar year and proof that learning is taking place through regular reporting, there is no requirement on a parent’s education. There are thousands of curriculums available online that help guide parents and many localities have homeschooling groups that offer additional local resources and support.
One of the demands of homeschooling is time and discipline. Each child has a different learning method, especially if they have special needs, challenges or gifts. Homeschooling requires a serious dedication of time, as well as creativity, to keep children engaged. Some parents fall into the trap of thinking their child will want to sit at the table all day reading a book. In reality, hands-on learning, field trips, and practical application are what keep kids engaged. Homeschooling takes time. It takes time to plan, time to execute, and time to evaluate. Any parent can homeschool, but it requires a solid passion for ensuring that their child is learning. They need to be meeting a similar level to those in traditional schooling. The main difference is how it can be presented.
If a child is restless in school, acting out negatively, does not get along well with their peers, gets distracted too easily, gets bored, or struggles to maintain a passing average, homeschooling is always an option. Some children need more individualized attention than schools are able to provide. Others need more of a challenge to meet their needs. If a child has health issues that force him to miss school regularly, homeschooling may be the option you seek.
The best thing a parent can avoid is cockiness in thinking that they can teach their child better than the pros. Teachers are trained professionals who have experience working with a variety of different learning styles. Homeschooling may not be the best option for you or your child if you decide to try it out of spite or as punishment. Homeschooling can be a genuinely positive modality when approached from the right angle of care.
There are many online resources and local community groups that can help any parent who feels overwhelmed with homeschool decisions. Below are three links, packed with information, that provide parents with thoughts, considerations, ideas, and strategies to begin homeschooling their child/children in any stage of development:
- The National Center for Education Statistics - This website utilizes the surveying of both homeschooling and non-homeschooling parents to provide fast facts and statistics on educational institutions and alternative methods of schooling. The NCES is a great resource used by the U.S. Department of Education and can help provide statistics and complex data when creating homeschooling proposals to local and state districts.
- LEAH - Although based in New York, LEAH (Loving Education at Home) is an example of a statewide website dedicated to assisting parents with their decision to homeschool. Many states have such sites, which provide resources, templates, curriculum suggestions, ideas for parents, and support online. This article focuses on the early stages and getting started.
- The United States Department of State - The State Department has compiled a list of resources through their family liaison department for parents who are opting for homeschooling or virtual learning. It provides a one-stop-shop for accredited programs, information, and links on state requirements and strategies to assist parents choosing to make this decision.