More parents in the United States are becoming interested in homeschooling. Many parents do not know what first steps should be taken to start homeschooling kids. Making the choice to homeschool should be carefully researched and planned. There are many avenues to support families who wish to implement a successful homeschool curriculum.
Differences Between Homeschool and Public/Private School
Public and private school systems are great for many things. In addition to daily supervision, they provide a standardized curriculum. The benefits public/private school systems offer work to provide many young people with tools and skills needed in adult life.
Through homeschooling parents can customize curriculum to facilitate learning in the best way possible for students' learning styles. Homeschooling takes more work and time from parents, but allows for control over what and how children are learning. Homeschooling puts the power into the hands of families.
Benefits of Homeschooling
Homeschooling allows for integration of subjects that are overlooked by private/public schools. Homeschooling provides opportunities to customize lessons and allows adaptation of systematic lessons. Biology can include family pets and gardens. Social and history studies can be relevant to the child's experiences. Math can involve processes children already understand so skills can integrate into their framework without feeling irrelevant.
Homeschooling allows the ability to involve children in activities that include wider age ranges. Parents of homeschooled kids often organize group activities including classes, field trips, and family retreats, seminars and conferences. Homeschool group activities creates affinity within families and allow for bonds to be built that can last a lifetime.
How To Begin Homeschooling
The first step in homeschooling is researching successful methods other parents have used. Some parents use third-party programs for certain subjects. Others personally design curriculum. Subjects like math and science can be difficult for parents to teach on their own. There are many organizations, schools and colleges offering online courses for all ages and abilities, many are free or inexpensive.
Some parents include their children in planning curriculum by asking what the child wants to learn, engaging them in curriculum development. This encourages children to take responsibility in their education and allows for additional learning – curriculum development involves research, organization and critical decision-making. By incorporating the child in curriculum development parents often learn things about their child's interests and knowledge.
Legalities of Homeschooling
Many states require school age children to be enrolled in age-appropriate educational programs. In some states parents must file a simple affidavit establishing themselves as a private school. There are many websites with resources to help parents determine what requirements need to be met to stay in compliance with law.
Planning a Curriculum
Most states require that children be taught certain subjects each year. Following state requirements ensures that the child learns all relevant subjects to help them advance academically. Most states have requirements that curriculum include basic subjects like math, science, history, social studies, language, arts and physical education. Parents must find or create lessons that support children's advancement through these subjects.
The sky is the limit when planning a homeschool curriculum. If children have passions or hobbies they can sometimes be counted as subjects. For example, children participating in 4-H programs can count activities towards biology, and children building mini-vehicles or models can apply projects towards physics. Almost anything that interests a child can be incorporated into their study program.
First Days of Homeschooling
Homeschooling is easy for some families, while others may need to adapt. Sometimes the first processes a family implements are not ideal for long-term use. The best thing about homeschooling is that if something doesn't work families are free to change their program at any time.
Like any practice, there may be times when children or parent become frustrated, confused or doubtful. This is okay. Before beginning, establish boundaries and guidelines for when parents or children feel overwhelmed. Sometimes the best thing is to push through the frustration, while other times it may be appropriate to take a break or temporarily move to another subject.
Allow for breaks when planning a school day. Breaks should involve things like eating and drinking to promote brain activity, moving around, spending time outside, or cooking. When taking breaks during a school day avoid allowing students to watch television or play video games. Activities involving screens are not ideal for breaks during school days.
Homeschooling is a great way to build relationships between family members and set foundations for children to have an affinity for learning and educational growth. Parents who wish to start homeschooling kids can find support and information by networking with organizations and parents who have experience with homeschooling legalities and practicalities. The possibilities are endless with homeschooling so parents should research options and be ready and willing to adapt to create the best learning experience for their child.