What Is Homeschooling?
One question that every parent has to answer sooner or later is this: how am I going to best prepare my child for a successful life?
Every parent has a slightly different answer to this question, but almost unanimously, parents and experts alike agree that a solid education is the best foundation for a fulfilling adulthood.
This leads to another question: what kind of school is best for my child? A public school or a private school?
Although every state in the U.S. has enacted compulsory attendance laws. WIth some variation, these lawas require students between the ages of six and sixteen to attend school. Some parents might not know that they are legally allowed to educate their children at home. This approach to education is known as homeschooling. While the exact legal terminology for what constitutes homeschooling is slightly different in every state, the state of Arizona offers a solid definition of homeschooling that is useful for someone who is unfamiliar with the concept:
“Home education is best defined as parent-led, family-funded, relationship-based education of a child at home. Homeschoolers are parents or legal guardians who choose to educate their own children at home in at least the required subjects of grammar, math, science and social studies.”
The latest reports on homeschooling in the U.S indicate that between 1.5 and 2 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are homeschooled each year. This makes up about 3 percent of the total school age population in the U.S., which is estimated to be about 55-56 million children.
Why Do Families Homeschool?
While each family has its own reasons for choosing to homeschool, the most common reasons are:
A parent who homeschools his child can tailor the curriculum to perfectly match the strengths and interests of the child.
It allows for variation in teaching styles.
A parent who homeschools his child can adapt his teaching style to the needs of his child and can adopt strategies and approaches that might not be possible in a traditional school setting.
It allows for a custom pace.
A parent who homeschools his child can adapt the speed of the child’s progress through the educational material. For instance, if a child can breeze through math but needs more time with reading, or vice-versa, the parent can accommodate this more easily than a teacher in a traditional classroom.
It increases family bonding time
Many families believe homeschooling enriches the bonds between siblings, parents, and children.
It allows parent to controlled the peer environemt.
A parent who homeschools his child can monitor not only the other children his child interacts with, but also the nature and duration of those interactions.
It allows parents to conrol the learning environment.
Many parents who homeschool their children don’t believe public (or private) schools create a safe learning environment. Therefore, they prefer to educate their children at home.
Often, parents homeschool their children in order to ensure they learn a specific set of beliefs and values, whether secular or spiritual.
How to Homeschool: Tips for Parents
For parents who want to homeschool their children, the first step is to check the state laws and find out the specifics of how homeschooling works in their area. Most states require families to register with either their local or state school district. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has an excellent state-by-state resource guide that contains all the legal information a family needs to know. After understanding the legal ins and outs of homeschooling, the next step is to find a curriculum to teach the child. An abundance of both for-profit and non-profit curricula and general homeschooling resources are available online for families. HSLDA is a great place to start, and the following list, while not comprehensive, contains links to free online curricula for interested families.
- The Khan Academy offers free online curricula for all grade levels in all subjects.
- Ambleside Online offers free online curricula for all grade levels based on the teaching philosophy of Charlotte Mason.
- CK-12 offers free online curricula for all grade levels in all subjects.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers free online high school courses with a focus on mathematics, science and technology.
- Academic Earth offers free online college level courses in a wide variety of subjects.
Homeschooling might not be for everyone, but for some children and families it’s exactly what they need. Parents or primary caregivers can also keep in mind that the decision to homeschool is not forever. Some families use homeschooling as a temporary bridge when moving from one city to another. Some use it to get through a particularly challenging developmental phase for a child. There are many reasons to homeschool children: the most important thing for parents to do if they choose this option is to check local guidelines and to make a decision based on what they feel is best for their child.