What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is when parents choose to educate their children at home instead of send them to a traditional public or private school. People choose homeschooling for a number of reasons.
Many homeschool parents are dissatisfied with the lack of individual attention, inadequate teaching methods, declining academic standards, and the overall level of their children's education in the public school setting, so they choose to homeschool instead to get the best possible education for their children.
There are growing concerns about school safety, bullying, and peer pressure in recent years. Many families believe that homeschooling provides a safer environment for children because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, bullying, and peer pressure often found in the public schools. Many parents also want to play a more prominent role in their children's education and lives. This also helps to enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings.
religious and political) Homeschooling allows families to educate according to their personal beliefs, faith, philosophy, and values. Many families believe that instilling their values and beliefs as they raise their children is an essential part of education.
Homeschooling allows learning to fit around demanding sports practice schedules, music lessons, performances, or games. A homeschool student can study in-depth a subject they are passionate about such as science or photography.
Homeschooling allows children to learn at their own pace. Children can be challenged when necessary or provided support when they are struggling.
Many homeschool families have children with serious health issues and find that homeschooling is a better alternative to their children missing school.
Homeschooling allows families to follow unusual schedules. Some families have a parent that has an unsual schedule or seasonsal work. Some families have a mobile lifestyle which causes them to travel. Homeschooling gives these families the flexibility and freedom to spend as much time together as a family as they can.
Homeschooling is home-based but does not take place just in the home. Much of a child's home education occurs in the community. Homeschoolers often take advantage of the outdoors for science and nature study or take field trips to places such as museums, libraries, zoos, science centers, parks, and art centers. They like to join in community volunteer work and participate in scouting, 4-H, political drives, church related activities, and sports teams. Homeschool children learn from a variety of activities such as reading, play, and outside classes. They typically will have some time on their own at home to read, build, draw, write, and work on their studies. They will also have some time with their parents to get help with their studies, to talk, to work on a project together, and just spend quality time together. There is also time with others outside the home in co-op classes, music classes, volunteer work, and so on. Homeschoolers organize their days in whatever way works best for them.
It's difficult to describe a typical homeschool day since all families and homeschoolers are different. Many thrive with structure and begin their learning early in the morning, like a traditional public school. Some choose to be more flexible about when they start their "school" day, allowing their children to sleep later and avoid the lethargy that is a problem for many public school kids.
Homeschoolers have the freedom to structure their school year schedule to fit their needs. Some families follow their local public school schedule, some school year-round, and others take time off during the year when they need it.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but legal requirements vary from state to state. See state requirements: CRHE
Each homeschool method doesn't work for every family. Most families take a little from each method and come up with their own homeschooling approach. Learn as much as you can about homeschooling and the different methods and then make the best decision for you and your family.
Below are the most common homeschooling methods.
The school at home style looks the most like public school since it is usually a very structured approach. Families who follow the school at home method typically purchase a boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, a schedule, record keeping, and grades. Some families make up their own lesson plans and find their own materials designed to teach all subjects at a specific grade level. This approach is a great choice for families who require a structured learning environment.
The classical homeschool method is based on three stages of learning. The grammar stage (grades 1 through 4) focuses on memorization of facts and figures. The logic stage (grades 5 through 8) focuses on the student's ability to understand abstract, the relationship between events, use formal logic, and see cause and effect. The rhetoric stage (grades 9 through 12) focuses on a student's ability to express their own thoughts through writing and speech using knowledge and reason. It follows a sequential, four-year cyclical study of science and history. Languages such as Greek and Latin are, as well as classical works of literature and philosophy, are taught starting at an early age.
The Montessori method was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, in the early 1900s. This method is based on the idea that learning is a natural, self-directed process. It focuses on hands-on activities, allowing children to learn about the world through the use of their senses using manipulatives. Wooden tools are preferred over plastic ones, and learning materials are kept organized and ready to use. The aim of this method is not to teach facts but to cultivate a life-long love of learning. The Montessori method also discourages the use of television and computers, especially for young children.
The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling is based on the writings of the 19th century British educator of the same name who advocated learning through living books, nature study, music, art, and free time to enjoy life. This approach includes all core subjects with a main focus on classic literature, poetry, fine arts, crafts, and classical music. The Charlotte Mason method encourages reading rich literature and spending time in nature.
Unit studies pull all or most subjects into one general theme. For example, if a student is interested in trains then a unit study on trains could include reading fiction and non-fiction about trains, studying about the different types of trains, learning about railroads and railroad conductors, visiting a local railroad yard, taking a train ride, reading about the history of the railroads and trains, calculating the distance between different railroad stops or figuring out how much weight a typical railroad freight car can hold, visiting a train or railroad museum, watching a documentary on the train or railroads, learning about how the railroad and trains affected our history, writing a story about trains, talking to a railroad engineer, build a train out of Legos, and drawing a train. This method takes advantage of the fact that children learn best when they are interested in a topic and encourage a love of learning. This style of learning is mostly popular with families that have children in the elementary ages.
Unschooling is the homeschooling method that is also known as child-led learning. Unschoolers do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Children learn from everyday life experiences and follow their interests. Unschooled children have time to research and become experts in the things in which they are interested. Parents act more as a facilitator, providing opportunities for learning, but never coercing a child to learn something they haven't chosen to learn.
Eclectic homeschooling is the method used by many homeschooling families. Many homeschoolers start out with some sort of formal homeschool program, but often find that a "one size fits all" approach to homeschooling doesn't work for them. They soon find that they can pick and choose from a variety of homeschooling resources that are more personalized for their needs. Eclectic homeschoolers can use workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, they can use an online curriculum for science, or they can unschool some subjects if they choose. The benefit of this homeschool method is that it allows the family to choose the resources (textbooks, co-ops, online resources, tutoring, hands-on experience, and field trips) that work best for them and their needs.
There are many advantages to homeschooling. The list below is only a partial list. Most homeschool parents can quickly come up with their own advantages after homeschooling just a short amount of time. The advantages on this list are just some that we hope will help you with your decision process.
"What about socialization?" This is usually the most often asked question homeschoolers receive when friends, relatives, and/or strangers learn that you are homeschooling your children. What many of these people don't realize is that homeschoolers socialize with people of all ages and not just their peers. Most homeschooling families eventually become involved in many activities and have very active social calendars. The difference between public school (where the socialization is built in) and homeschooling is in public school the socialization is built in. Homeschool parents have to take charge and make sure their children are given opportunities to grown in their social development and connect with other homeschooled children. Here are some ideas for meaningful socialization for your homeschool family:
-join a homeschool co-op in your area
-join a Yahoo or Facebook group for a local homeschool network in your area (they are a wealth of information for classes and other social opportunities)
-join a homeschool support group
-join a church group
-join a sports team
-join a civic organization
-take a class at the YMCA
-join the community theater
-go to summer camp
-meet your neighbors
-go to the park
-spend time with family members
-get part-time jobs (for older children)
-take community college /dual enrollment courses (for high school students)