I’ve received a number of inquiries lately about homeschooling by parents who are concerned with their children’s schooling in the traditional setting. Covid-19 has many considering homeschooling now. Their child’s safety is the number one reason. A close second is seeing how well kids are doing at home with their studies. I must emphasis however that distance learning is not homeschooling.
Fortunately, there are many options in education now. The age specific standards and one-size-fits all model in education is being questioned. Not all children learn the same, so we must tailor the method to the way they learn best. There is no homeschooling approach superior over the next. You know your children best. You also know what your family dynamic and culture is. For us, having harmony in the house and curiosity in learning were the most important qualities. I will admit, it took us some time to find our groove. It will for you too. Remember, the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your kids are- so everyone is going to be happier.
Our experience homeschooling began ten years when our oldest was in the third grade. She had a wonderful Montesorri School experience for K-2. I had friends who were homeschooling at the time and I loved what I saw in their kids. I knew then that I wanted to give it a go. We decided on a Hybrid program first- a 1/2 homeschool, 1/2 at school for one year.
You’ll have to ask yourself what you’re looking to accomplish by homeschooling. Are you looking for more family time? This was huge for us as we love to travel and we could also visit places like museums and do field trips when everyone was in school. Are you wanting to see your kids happier? Are you motivated to homeschool so your children can follow their interests? Are you interested in homeschooling because of the negative aspects of school- grading, testing, bullying, drugs, sex? These are some of the questions that will come up and that you should discuss with your family.
Take each school year one at a time. Homeschooling is dynamic and you have many options to change things up. Your children grow and their needs change, especially as they get older. Always stay open to what they want and need. This approach makes them feel more engaged in their education- rather than just being told what to do. You will have to experiment along the way too to find what works for your family.
Types Of Homeschooling
Self-directed learning/Unschooling– Child chooses what to learn about (what are their interests and loves?) One has substantial time and autonomy to pursue interests in a deep and meaningful way. Mentors are key here.
Independent of state– You operate as your own school, must file affidavit every school year- this is very easy to do. No mandatory testing required,
Charter school or Hybrid program– Some give you set curriculum (Common Core based), others allow you to teach using your own curriculum- Most will have you teaching to the test and meeting standards for grade level. Need to check with Charter school or Hybrid program to see what they allow for curriculum.
Importance of Mentors– Once we started homeschooling independently, I knew how important the role of mentors were going to impact areas of study. Mentors provide a wealth of knowledge in a particular subject and are happy to share their expertise. Mentors want to help in any way they can, frequently going above and beyond to offer guidance. They often have a surplus of connections and influence that reaches far and wide. It’s important to have influences for the stages your children will go through while they are exploring different areas of interest.
Following Curiosity– The idea of following ones interest, or curiosity, was one of the main reasons we settled on self-directed education for our kids. Self- directed meant they were in charge of their pursuits. They had time to work towards mastery in their interests. They were not rushed into a new concept where they were sure to forget because of lack of depth in that study. Often, they would develop several interests that were connected in some way and this deepened their understanding. While self-directed education is not coercive in nature, we as parents would assist them in finding suitable online courses or resources.