In 2010, there were about two million students in grades K-12 that were home schooled. This, coupled with around a 5% increase every year in the number of students schooled at home, demonstrates the increasing popularity of this educational option. However, home schooling is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Here are a few of the more important things a parent should know and understand before they decide to home school their child.
Although home schooling is legal in all 50 states, there are different requirements that vary from state to state. In some states, no notification to the state is necessary; a parent can simply choose not to enroll their child in a public or private school. In other states, however, notification to the state is necessary. In some cases, states require that parents send an approved curriculum and permit home visitations from state education officials. Parents wishing to home school their children should always check local state regulations first.
Although local school districts cannot legally prevent parents from home schooling their child, they also do not have to assist them either. Because school districts lose federal and state aid for each child that is not enrolled in a public school, local administrators may experience a conflict of interest or be downright hostile to the idea. The best way to transition into a homeschooling environment and lifestyle is to find and connect with other local parents who have already made a similar decision and have experience. There are homeschooling support groups in every state.
Thanks to the internet, parents who might have been intimated by the thought of planning a comprehensive curriculum now have a plethora of resources at their disposal. There are curriculum guides and planners that are both free and for sale. When deciding on a curriculum, parents should first ensure that is age appropriate for their child. Then, they should strive for a well-balanced curriculum that integrates many different subject areas: reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, civics, art, music, and physical education.
One disadvantage homeschooling parents will have to overcome at first is a lack of educational supplies compared to public schools. Although parents may spend as little or as much as they wish on their child�۪s education, it�۪s advisable for them to acquire at least a minimum level of supplies, including: pencils, pens, paper, crayons, whiteboards or chalkboards, markers or chalk, scissors, ruler, glue sticks, construction paper, notebooks, binders, folders, calculator, dictionary, thesaurus, and a book bag. Extra purchases might include microscopes, telescopes, computers, puzzles, games, chemistry sets, and educational videos.
Before parents begin homeschooling their children, they should have a frank and open conversation with them. They should let their children know why they are opting for homeschooling, discuss their hopes and expectations for their children, and inform them of ���rules� and procedures they will follow. Parents should encourage their children to be actively involved in the conversation; it�۪s only natural that they will have lots of concerns and questions. Let children help plan and set up the homeschooling area ��� this will help them feel ownership of the school and educational objectives. In addition, parents must present a unified front to other family members as well: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Have similar open conversations with the entire family if necessary.
Even if parents do not have formal training or education in teaching, that does not mean they don�۪t have the personality or faculties to teach their children. However, parents should familiarize themselves with some basic principles of educational psychology. Children possess a myriad of different intelligences, from mathematical to musical to social. However, not all children learn at the same rate and in the same way. Parents, like all teachers, should adapt their particular teaching style to the unique learning styles and needs of their children. Luckily, there are many resources out there for parents to determine how their children learn and apply information in educational settings. Above all, parents should strive to teach to and develop all of their children�۪s natural intelligences.
The difficulties of lesson planning can be overwhelming even to the most experienced teacher. Parents starting homeschooling, however, should not be intimidated. They should conduct research and determine on an annual basis what their children should be learning. Once year-long educational objectives have been determined, parents should begin to block out one to two month ���units� of learning that integrate and work towards these objectives. In turn, weekly lesson plans should be consistent and align with monthly objectives, and daily plans with weekly ones. While yearly and monthly educational objectives should remain relatively consistent, parents should feel free to make modifications to their weekly daily plans as they see fit or need to. Daily lesson plans are best written in pencil ��� they have erasers! Luckily, there are excellent lesson planning resources, guides, and templates out there for the homeschooling parent.
While homeschooled children are not legally required to take standardized tests, it�۪s advisable for parents to administer their own diagnostic exercises to consistently and regularly evaluate their children�۪s academic progress. Based on the results, parents can modify, subtract, or expand on their lesson plans to best meet the needs of their children.
One useful and fun way to demonstrate what a homeschooled child has learned is to create a permanent record in the form of an academic portfolio. Every few weeks, parents and children should select some of their best work samples across a variety of subjects and include them in the portfolio. At the end of the year, parents and children can review the portfolio, feel a sense of accomplishment, and plan for the next school year. In some states, parents are required to keep portfolios as physical proof of their children�۪s academic progress. As children get closer to entering college, these portfolios will also allow them to demonstrate their merits and academic potential to admissions officers.