For most of the history, education of children at home by family members was a very common practice. Many families even now prefer to use less formal ways of educating their kids.
Home schooling or home education, is educating your children at home or a variety of other places. Usually conducted by a parent, tutor or even an online tutor these days.
Before the introduction of Compulsory school attendance laws, childhood education was primarily done by families and local communities.
Parents cite mainly two reasons for home schooling their kids, one is dissatisfaction with the local schools and an interest or increased involvement in their children’s learning and development.
Dissatisfaction with the local schools typically includes concerns about the environment, quality of academic instruction, bullying, racism, curriculum or even lack of faith in the school’s ability to cater to their child’s special needs.
While some parents prefer home schooling so that they have more control over how and what their children are taught. By home schooling they are able to cater more adequately to an individual child’s aptitudes and abilities.
Some parents even prefer to provide instructions from a specific religious or moral position.
Parents are of the view that by home schooling their kids they are able to take advantage of the efficiency of one-to-one instruction which also gives the child more time to spend on childhood activities, socializing and non-academic learning.
Home schooling can also be a matter of consistency for families living in isolated rural locations, or for those who travel frequently.
Many young athletes, musicians and actors are taught at home to accommodate their training and practice schedules more conveniently.
There are various other reasons that might motivate you to home school your kids.
But once you have made the big decision, there is quite a bit to learn as a parent and as a tutor, starting from the curriculum choices, websites, books and methods.
It is really hard to know where to begin. Initially you will have to do some homework yourself before starting up such as:
Begin with the legal stuff – investigate the laws in your state or province
Home school laws differ not only from country to county but even from state to state in the US. Before starting you need to know what the local laws requires of you and your child.
For example, some of the states require a certain number of college credits from the parent(s) who will be tutoring them. A few states require only a high school diploma.
Whereas most of the states would require you to go to your school district and declare your intention to home school your kids, their curriculum and a yearly testing of your child, whereas some states have virtually no requirements at all.
You can always check A-Z’s Homeschool Laws, which lists the regulations and laws for each state in a very simple language.
After getting yourself acquainted with the local laws it’s time for you to do some research on home schooling, especially for first timers.
You can always read books on home schooling, google about home schooling or look for blogs which guide you how to start about with home schooling, all of which will give a good idea of the many different ways to home school.
Time and cost involved
Home schooling is very different from classroom tutoring. As no two families who home school will follow the same model of tutoring. Every family has their own sets of unique circumstances to deal with. Home schooling requires patience from both you and your child.
Home schooling takes time and having kids at home all day makes it even more difficult. Hence setting up a routine or schedule is very important.
Some parents set up an actual classroom whereas others prefer to tutor them on the kitchen tables or on couches. Parents who work late hours usually prefer to tutor their kids in the evenings or in the night.
Hence there is no single or a best way to home school. But depending on your style, comfort, age (of your kids) and their abilities you may like to:
- Organize some type of a schedule for schoolwork, activities, playdates, etc.
- Set measurable goals to monitor your child’s progress
- Plan your housekeeping routine according to your home schooling schedule
- Set a school schedule which can be flexible enough to accommodate your child’s special needs but the time for education should be clearly market out
- Always schedule school hours in such a way that your kids get enough time to spend with their working parents
Home schooling will also have a cost, but that doesn’t mean it is expensive. You will definitely need some basic school supplies and materials such as pencils, paper, erasers, etc.
Get to know your child’s learning style
As a home school parent or teacher you will be in a better position to cater to your child’s learning style. By keeping your child’s learning style in mind will help you a lot in planning a creative curriculum for them.
For example, if your child has more of hands on learning style, you can always teach him or her geometry by digging holes or building various geometric shapes in your backyard.
If he or she is having trouble with fractions, you can have a cooking class, in which apart from learning a few tips of cooking you can practically make them work with the measuring cups and explain the various size relations.
With the advent of internet there is so much available to home schoolers today. Once you have identified the methods that resonate with you and your child’s abilities, use them to narrow down your curriculum options.
You can find many curricula online for free, or take help of websites such as All in One Homeschool; Ambleside Online; Guest Hollow and Old Fashioned Education.
Apart from the full curriculum that you can find online, there are also plenty of extras that you can easily integrate with your lessons. For example, you might have chosen a curriculum which will focus more on core classes, and not have anything on arts or music.
In such cases you can easily go online and look for craft ideas, colouring ideas, YouTube is full of classical music performances which can be used easily as supplementary activities.
You can also take help of the websites such as Free Homeschool Deals; Spelling City; Successful Homeschooling; and Vocabulary Games to supplement your home schooling experience.
Find a support group
There are many groups available to help with home schooling and it is also recommended that you join a home school legal defense organisation. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is one of the largest organizations, although Christian but is open to all home schooling families.
You can even find a support network – online. You could easily chat with other home school families and it would be great for your kids to have some friends and activities to share with. You can also find local support groups; Facebook is also a great place to meet local home school groups, co-ops and even some online-home school groups.
Home school definitely not means hunkering down at home with your children with a bunch of books. Try to include more field trips in your curriculum. Think of creative ideas to making learning a fun and enjoyable experience for your children.
You can go to national parks for a class on biology. Visit a rock climbing studio for physical education. Visit beaches, art galleries, aquariums, zoos and museums. Many of these local attractions are either free or very inexpensive.
Such field trips allow your child to see the real world application of education. There are a number of activities for home schoolers and many of the museums and science centre’s even offer day time classes, especially for them.
Online schooling is a great option for those who want their children to be home schooled but are uncertain about where to start from. Sometimes parents even doubt themselves, if they have the time or knowledge to make curriculum choices or even their teaching abilities for home schooling.
Such parents can always opt for an online public school. In such platforms your child will be able to connect to a teacher online and they will then plan the curriculum. Your job is just to keep your child on track with his or her lessons and introduce supplementary activities or outings as you see fit.
The only downside of an online public school is that all curriculum choices, assignments and accountability will be out of your hands. Most of the home schoolers prefer shorter school days whereas most of the online public schools require a minimum number of seat hours per day.
Home schooling is an exciting adventure and you have just taken your first steps in this journey. Home schooling is rewarding for sure, but finding the best curriculum may sound like a daunting task. Let us take you through this hurdle also.
How to find the best home school curriculum:
Understand various learning styles
When tutoring your child, you must understand that your child is unique and his or her curriculum should be well suited to his or her strengths and requirements. It is recommended to understand what a learning style is and how it relates to your child.
Each child leans differently. A learning style is defined as “a certain way one processes and retains information”. There are three main types of learning styles:
- Visual learner – this type of learning style focuses of observation and sense of sight. Diagrams, charts, lists are all ways in which a visual learner takes in the information. Their preferred method of learning is via reading. They also visualize really well through imagination. But as a tutor you should not forget that a visual learner may experience visual overload, hence be aware of their body language if they look confused or fatigued.
- Auditory learner – in most cases children who love to chat or talk might be auditory learners. Talking and listening are the best ways with which such kids process information. Recorded lectures are a great method to study for a test by such students.
- Kinaesthetic (hands-on) learner – these are the movers and shakers. Children who are really active and find it difficult to sit still at one place fall under the category of kinaesthetic learners. Structured, hands-on activities are the best way of teaching these doers. Incorporating movement into lessons will increase your child’s passion for school work. Since kinaesthetic learner are movers it is recommended not to schedule too much time sitting down.
Study of the learning styles of their kids will not seem to be an important task for many parents. But studies have shown that when both students (your kids) and teachers (you) know their learning styles and teach accordingly, students:
- Score higher on tests
- Have better attitudes
- Retain information longer
- Experience less frustration, even with more difficult subjects
- Are more efficient with their time
After completing you research by either looking at websites, reading reviews or talking to other home schoolers you should now narrow down in your mind what exactly you are looking for and what would be the best curriculum for your child.
A great way to research curriculum is at CurriculumExpress.com; They have everything sorted by grade level, publisher and subject.
While googling you can also keep the following links in your mind:
- Home school Curriculum, Top selected products and reviews on Amazon
- Cathy Duffy Reviews, a premier home school curriculum review website where you can browse thousands of science, language, arts, and other curricula easily.
Define your teaching style
It is not only your child’s learning style but also keeping your teaching style in mind is very helpful. Every teacher has his or her own style of teaching. There are five main categories of styles of teaching:
- Lecture style or the authority style
- Coach style or the demonstrator style
- Activity style or the facilitator style
- Group style or the delegator style
- Blended style or the hybrid style
Modern methods of teaching require various types of teachers and the ideal teaching style in today’s world is the blended or the hybrid style. Which is a blend of everything a teacher has to offer.
Identify your students interest
Use your child’s interest to choose the most engaging curriculum and supplements which will make lessons fun and engaging. They would love to learn and will always demand for more.
While looking for the best home schooling curriculum you also need to have a budget in mind, so that you have a clear idea of what is to be considered and what not. Discuss with family members, outline about your kids needs and wants and then set an amount that you can spend without stressing too much.
A child’s education can be customized to support his or her learning capabilities, style and interests. It is not uncommon for a child to experience more than one approach. Many families use an eclectic approach, which is picking and choosing from various suppliers.
Home schools use a wide variety of methods and materials. Families use different educational methods, which represent a variety of educational paradigms. A student’s education can be customized to support his or her learning levels, style or interests and it is not uncommon for a student to experience more than one single approach as the family discovers what works best for their child. Broadly all these teaching methods can be categorized into six different categories:
Informal learning always happens outside the classroom, and has no traditional boundaries of education. It is an everyday form of learning through participation and creation. It differs from traditional form of learning as in case of informal learning there are no expected objectives or outcomes. In informal learning a student expected to complete a task with various different intentions, but ends up learning skills in the process.
Children watching their tomato plants grow will not think about photosynthesis but they will learn that their plant is growing with water and sunlight. This gives them a base understanding of complex scientific concepts without any background study.
Structured versus un-structured
Most of the approaches to home schooling fall under these two basic categories: structured and unstructured home schooling.
Structured home schooling includes any form or method of home education that will follow a basic curriculum with articulated goals and outcomes. Intention is to imitate the structure of a traditional school setting while personalizing the curriculum.
Unstructured home schooling is a form of home schooling in which parents do not follow or construct a curriculum at all. Also known as unschooling, the aim of this method is to teach a child through his or her daily experiences and focuses more on self-directed learning by the child, free of textbooks, teachers or any form of assessment or success or failure.
In this method, multiple subjects such as science, mathematics, history, geography, etc. all are studied in relation to a single topic. This method is useful in teaching multiple grades simultaneously.
The integrated thematic instruction is an extended form of unit studies, that utilizes one central theme integrated throughout the curriculum, hence a child will finish a school year with a deep understanding of a certain broad area or subject.
The all-in-one home schooling curricula also known as school-at-home, school-in-a-box, or the traditional approach, is a method of teaching in which the curriculum and homework are very similar to those used in a public or a private school.
It is purchased as grade level packages or separately by subject, the package contains all the books, materials, tests, answer keys and extensive teacher guides that will be required. All these materials cover the same subject areas as a public school does, hence this method of home schooling allows for an easy transition into the schooling system.
Unschooling and natural learning
Natural learning, can be explained as a type of learning on demand, where children pursue knowledge based on their interests while parents take an active part in facilitating experiences and activities conducive to learning. This method does not rely heavily on textbooks instead it looks for those learning movements through a child’s daily activities.
The term “Unschooling”, is coined by John Holt. He describes it as an approach in which parents do not authoritatively direct a child’s education, instead they interact with them follow their interests and leave them free to explore and learn as their interests lead.
Unschooling does not mean that the child is not being educated but it definitely implies that the child is not being schooled or educated in a rigid school-type manner.
Autonomous learning is a school of education that sees learners as individuals who should and can be autonomous which means, be responsible for their own learning climate. In autonomous learning, the child usually gets to decide what projects he or she wish to work on and what interests to pursue.
Home schooling High School:
It is true that most of the families that home school their kids for elementary classes do not continue home schooling for high school. And one of the biggest reasons for not doing so is – fear. Fear that home schooling high school will be difficult. Fear of the difficult subjects, fear that their child won’t get a good enough education to get into a college, fear that they might limit their child’s growth.
5 Ways to Prepare Your Middle Schooler for High School:
The Middle school years are a time of transition for tweens in many ways. The 6thto 8thgraders obviously experience various social, physical and emotional changes around them. However middle school also serves as the purpose for preparing your child for more challenging academics of the high school.
As home schooling parents it is recommended that you use these middle school years to prepare your tween for high school. You can prepare them by adapting following methods:
Transition from guided learning to independent learning
One of the biggest transitions during the middle school is preparing your child to assume responsibility for their own education. This is the time when as parents you should change your roles from a teacher to a facilitator and allow home schooled tweens or teens to take charge of their school day.
Help in improving study skills
This is the perfect time to help your tween in developing his or her own independent study skill. Encourage them to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. And then work on improving the weak areas.
As parent you should also encourage them to use a study planner, with which they can keep track of their own assignments. Inculcate the habit of including daily study time in their planners.
Involve them in making curriculum choices
It is ok if you have been selecting the curriculum for your kids until now. But as your student when they enter their teen years, you should engage them in the curriculum selection process. Even if you are not willing to hand over the selection process entirely, it is advisable to take their inputs into consideration.
You can always give potential high school curriculum a test run during the middle school years. This can be achieved by trying a middle school version of the curriculum or using the high school curriculum version in his or her 8thgrade.
Work on his or her weaknesses
This is the best time to catch up on areas where he or she might be behind or weak. If he or she still struggles with automatic recall of concepts, make them practice until they can recall them effortlessly. If they struggle in getting their thoughts on paper, you can always look for creative ways to encourage writing.
Focus on improving any areas of weakness that you might have identified.
Focus on you children and observe them during their 6thand 7thgrades. Start exploring their extracurricular interests and talents so that during their high school you can easily tailor his or her interests into skills and natural aptitudes.
Key Skills & Experiences to Prepare Your Middle School Teen for High School:
Build time management skills
As already mentioned middle school is the time where you need to help your teen to take some responsibility for their education. It is the time where you begin to train them to organize their own day and week.
It is essential for them to learn to budget their time the same way you teach them to budget their finances. By encouraging independent time management during these years, you give your kids an opportunity to learn, make mistakes, feel the consequences of mis-managed time and make adjustments – all of this in the safe environment of your home.
You can start by giving them one or two subjects to manage. Show them how their curriculum is laid out, when their assignments are due, when exams will be taken, etc. Explain how planning will help them to use their time more wisely and allow for more free time.
Encourage study skills and note-taking
Since home schoolers are not exposed to classroom teaching, many of them find it really difficult to take notes. And note taking is a skill that you cannot teach but your kid will have to learn it by his or her own experience.
You can find ways to inculcate note-taking skill in your child. Find an instructional video related to what he or she is studying at present and make him or her jot down major points covered and write out vocabulary words with definitions. Even outlining the main points of the textbook as they read will build these skills.
Study skills are often related to note-taking skills. A curriculum that comes with a study guide will really help your child to prepare for tests.
Teach test-taking strategies
Home schooling is all about learning and becoming life-long learners. Hence some of you might think that teaching test taking strategies is really not that important. But if your child is college bound, he or she will face plenty of them. Even if they go straight into a career, there are various certifications or skill assessment tests that they might face.
Taking a test is really easy if a child knows how to prepare for it and how to approach it. Train them adequately to tackle both multiple choice and comprehension questions. There are many test preparation courses available online, and now is the best time to slowly begin to introduce this skill in them.
Build computer and technical skills
Regardless of their strengths, you should always encourage your children to develop technological skills. Let them take an online course with which they can learn MS Office as well as Mac version of these courses. Make sure they learn how to type.
You can also build on their passions by having them to start a blog. They can always write about something that they love.
Expose them to good books
Good books especially for middle schoolers build’s their grammar and vocabulary. Individual readings or even read them aloud will work wonders.
What are the benefits of Home Schooling:
Every educational system will always offer great opportunities to children to learn new information and skills. One of the greatest benefits of home schooling is its flexibility. Home schooling can create a wealth of opportunities that are not available with other school options.
- As a parent you have a more direct role on your child’s daily learning
- In the end you are satisfied that your children are learning, developing skills and maturing in a way that aligns to your goals and values
- You build strong relationships with your children
- Vacations and many other activities can be used as part of your home school curriculum
- Your children will face less ridicule and social pressures that reduce self-esteem and discourage learning
- You and your children both develop connections with other home schoolers of varying ages and skill levels
- Real-life skill building is always stronger in home based learning
- Your child can move quickly through assignments and subjects that he or she understands and spend more time on topics that they find challenging
- Home schoolers tend to perform better on standardized tests
- The best part of home schooling is – No Homework, since all the schooling or learning is going on during the day, there is absolutely no need to task your child with additional work
- Ability to pursue child’s interest and have more personalized learning
- Less distraction from students who do not value learning which allows for greater achievements
- Home schooled students often show a greater pride in their achievements as they are self-motivated
Top Myths About Home Schooling:
Home schooling is an area that is still subject to myths and misperceptions. Such as:
- Home schooling is only for religious or faith based families; the desire for religious education is not the primary reason instead many families prefer secular home school curriculum and wish to integrate their personal values when appropriate.
- Home schoolers don’t socialize; again not true, home schoolers actually socialize more. The basic nature of personalized learning and curriculum is to explore the world more.
- Home schoolers are gifted or naturally intelligent; this myth is many times used to explain high academic achievements of home schoolers when compared to public school students.
- Home schoolers do not go to college; the truth is that home schoolers are more likely to attend college when compared to traditionally schooled children.
- Home schooling is not an accepted form of education; home schooling predates our current public education system and thus has been around for over a hundred years.
- Home schoolers do not learn as much as public school students do; with a more flexible learning environment, a home schooled students are quick learners, as their curriculum always aligns with their learning styles.
- Home schoolers just play video games all day long; home schooling is a lifestyle choice which requires substantial planning.
- Parents are not qualified enough to teach; as a parent you are always more than qualified to teach your own children. The knowledge that you pass on to your children from the day they were born is very substantial and significant. It goes well beyond the ability to read, write, understand or appreciate.
- Home schooled kids cannot play sports or participate in extra-curricular activities; many local school boards allow home schooled children to participate in after school activities.
Resources that can help you in getting started:
- Homeschooling Legal Defense Association, the association will defend against any illegal harassment
- HSLDA Website, you can learn about your states home schooling laws
- Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto, a classic written by an award winning public school teacher
- The first year of home schooling your child by Linda Dobson
- Teach your own by John Holt, again a classic written by a home school dad
- The well trained mind by Susan Wise Bauer