Is Homeschooling Right for Your Family?
A Guide to explain what homeschooling is and how it is done
COVID-19 has changed our lives and the world we live in and affects every aspect of our daily living, causing us to question even the most basic activities such as shopping, socializing, and working. A major cause of concern is schooling and whether to allow our children to attend school or seek alternatives. Homeschooling is an option many families are considering.
This blog will explain what homeschooling is, things to consider, steps to do to get started, and the basics of how it is done to help families with this important educational decision.
Homeschooling is a progressive movement around the country, in which parents educate their children at home instead of sending them to a traditional public or private school. There are a variety of reasons families choose to homeschool, including dissatisfaction with the educational options available, different religious or educational philosophies, and the belief that children are not progressing within the traditional school structure. The homeschooling movement began growing in the 1970s as an alternative educational option. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there are now more than 2 million homeschooled children in the U.S., and rapidly increasing each year. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and in many foreign countries, but the laws differ from state to state.
Research will help you determine when and how to start your homeschool program. The first step is making sure you know and understand how homeschooling is regulated in your state. Tap into national and local resources, like homeschooling organizations, to find homeschooling curriculum and tips. Review homeschooling teaching philosophies, study other homeschooling programs, consider your children’s learning styles, and look for an approach that will meet their needs. Develop a comprehensive plan for how you will approach home education and be prepared to adapt it frequently.
Setting goals for yourself, your children, and your family will help you get the most out of homeschooling, and it’s a great way to start preparing for homeschooling. Determine where each child is in his or her development, and set realistic, measurable goals for each student. Develop a schedule in line with legal requirements for homeschooling in your state; as long as you are meeting state standards, you can configure your school year any way you’d like. Make the most of this opportunity by considering teaching and learning styles and seasonal cycles. Select homeschool curriculum, while keeping in mind what kind of learner each child is. Your curriculum should reflect your homeschooling philosophy and how your children learn best.
Research will help you find the right fit, so use catalogs, conferences, curriculum guides, used bookstores, recommendations from other homeschoolers, and other education resources in your community. Acquire supplies as needed.
Parents who start homeschooling will soon discover that while it is a cheaper alternative to private school, it can be more expensive than public school. Teaching materials are likely to be one of the greatest expenses, so borrowing from friends and sharing resources with other homeschoolers can help you reduce these costs. Spending on sports, field trips, and other extracurricular activities add up, as does the cost of school supplies. Parents with multiple children will find that once they have set up their in-house library and purchased homeschool curriculum, the per-child cost of homeschooling will go down. Memberships in home school associations and the cost of homeschooling conferences are expensive as well, but they can save you money in the long run.
These days, parents can easily access comprehensive, quality homeschool curriculum. This can include online lectures, online textbooks, regular assessment of student learning, and access to counselors. A wide range of learning software is available to students, offering them a structured approach to learning plus the flexibility to master material at their own pace. Interactive CD programs, for example, are widely used in homeschool settings. Tablets have also proven to be a powerful learning tool and can be stocked with educational apps that complement subjects such as math, reading, and foreign languages. The Internet is full of material that can be used to supplement homeschooling programs, including animated lessons, interactive learning activities, and printable guides and worksheets. Technology plays a crucial role in helping homeschooled students stay connected, either in the formal setting of an online course or in informal settings, such as chat rooms and online communities.
Homeschooling adults and students can’t rely on the automatic social connections created by traditional public schools, so they’ve become very adept at developing their own networks. Connecting with other homeschoolers, both online and in-person, can fill you in on new homeschooling programs, legal issues, innovations in online programming, and more. Find online groups for homeschoolers in your area and keep up to date through Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Bookmark your state homeschooling organization’s website and visit it frequently. Sign up for email lists for events and set up alerts for homeschool headlines on your newsfeed.
Take advantage of community resources, like museums and nature centers, and sign up for newsletters to be aware of field trip opportunities and special events. Organized sports are a great way for young people to connect, and sites like the Home Schooled Sports Network (HSPN) offer a Team Locator, making it simple for homeschool students to find nearby teams.
If you choose to begin homeschooling, here are the steps to take to switch from traditional schooling:
First, review your state’s guidelines for homeschooling. While families can homeschool in all 50 states, each state has different legal options under which you can homeschool.
You can look to your state’s Department of Education website or find your state on the Home School Legal Defense Association’s map to read about your legal options for homeschooling.
2. Withdraw and Inform
If you are already enrolled in a public or private school, it is recommended that you send a withdrawal letter to your school district. Request transcripts from your child’s school when you withdraw. Many states also require that you submit a notice of your intent to homeschool to the state and/or your school district.
Develop plans for what learning will look like in your home. Include the time you will start and end, what curriculum you will use, and how often you will learn through outings. Make sure you’re familiar with what subjects are required learning in your state.
As you start to homeschool, do your best to keep track. Use a planner or syllabus to record what you work on each week with your child. Don’t forget to follow your state guidelines for testing and assessments!
The following sites contain useful information and resources for those interested in continuing their exploration of homeschooling.
Homeschooling your children will affect almost every aspect of life in your household. It is an important decision and one that requires a close examination of several crucial pieces of information such as exploring the world of homeschooling, looking at your schooling options and the costs involved, considering how you and your family will respond to the freedom of setting your own schedules, spending more time together, and living your lives outside the mainstream.