Your 101 Guide to Homeschooling
Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular. In 2020-2021, there were approximately 3.7 million students that studied at home. Interestingly, since 2019, the number has increased to more than a million. That can be explained by the pandemic, which has changed the number dramatically. Still, homeschooling owes its popularity not only to the pandemic but also to new trends. Nowadays, many parents believe they can teach their children themselves. Moms and dads name many advantages, such as the pointlessness of spending time on getting to school or a more person-oriented schedule. They are also concerned about the poor environments of schools. And many kids share their opinion. So, let’s talk more about studying at home.
How Does Homeschooling Work?
Homeschooled kids don’t visit any public or private school. Parents are their teachers. Such children study at their homes following their own curriculum. Boys and girls of the K-12 age range fall under the requirement for homeschooling. Rules depend on the state you live in and can significantly vary. Nevertheless, despite its obvious popularity and convenience, such countries as Germany or Sweden don`t allow homeschooling at all, except for some cases.
As a rule, parents can use approved curriculums or follow their own ones. The evaluation system also depends on the local law. Students either take tests or not. But parents can often make them do it if they wish.
If you don’t know how to homeschool your kid, find more information about it. Besides, you must be sure whether you`re patient and persistent enough not to give it up in the middle of a year.
Homeschooled kids don’t need to start their studying routine early in the morning. It can even be evening time if it’s convenient for them. Parents can pay more attention to the subjects kids find difficult and let them learn extra time. Thus, the schedule completely reflects their needs. Furthermore, siblings can study together if they are able to comprehend the information. The rights of homeschooled children are equal to the rights of those who graduated a public school. They can enter a college, find a good job, be an entrepreneur or join the military.
Who Can Homeschool My Child?
If you ask “should I homeschool my child”, the answer is no. Check with a state law who can teach your child. There can be three possible options:
- Relatives: parents, an older sibling, or other relatives who`ll teach a child for free;
- Someone who will receive compensation and isn’t a family member;
- Cooperation with other families who prefer homeschooling.
Let’s talk about it more.
Although there is no law forbidding relatives to instruct children, they cannot do it without guardianship. Parents, in turn, should take care of paperwork and testing if the law requires it. They also have to store the records in case one needs them when entering college.
If you don’t want to teach kids personally you can turn to a tutoring service or hire a teacher. Cooperation with families is also a good chance to share the difficulties with others. If you are good at math but a poor literature teacher, help other families with math and invite those parents, who can handle literature. But be sure to check everything with the state law.
How to Get Started Homeschooling?
As a rule, no degree is required from parents in almost all states. Yet, your background knowledge plays an important role. Boulter, in his research, claims that the level of parents` education influences their kids`achievements. Thus, those children whose moms and dads averaged only 13 years of education showed a decline in their motivation and scores.
The children who have never gone to school can begin studying at home right after they turn the appropriate age. From now on, they adhere to local state law.
Those parents whose kids were going to school should write a letter of withdrawal first. In it, they describe the reasons and intention. Address it either to a local superintendent or a school principal. After receiving a confirmation, continue to follow local guidelines. By the way, you’d better make a list of all the stuff needed to give lessons at home. The state doesn`t cover the expenditure, though.
Should I Stick to a Curriculum?
The very idea is that it’s you who knows better how to homeschool your kids. You can make a curriculum on your own. There`s no accredited or obligatory one. However, you should check with the law again.
When making a curriculum for a homeschooler take into account such aspects as:
- Kids` development level;
- Their interests and strengths;
- Learning style your kid prefers;
- Post-graduation plans, etc.
The majority stick to a school plan, but many parents still look for a curriculum that is more child-oriented. By the way, subjects that are not grade-specific can be combined. Take, for example, arts or literature. Kids of different ages may learn it together and fulfill age-appropriate tasks.
Does Homeschooling Affect Social Skills?
Critics argue that kids don’t have enough opportunities to develop their social connections. That’s one of the pitfalls many people believe in. Also, parents claim that the lack of daily face-to-face communication can negatively affect socialization.
Well, it’s up to you to decide what’s better for your child. On the one hand, homeschooled children aren`t exposed to the threat of becoming a victim of bullying, which is good for their mental wellbeing. Plus, they don`t experience possible peer pressure doing what they want. On the other hand, if a child has difficulties with communication, it’d be better to find the reason and see a child psychologist.
Scientists, yet, believe that if you are familiar with the principles of how homeschooling works, you`ll succeed. For example, researchers conducted a study – Evidence for Homeschooling. They claim that homeschooled kids score significantly better on socialization and are more adapted to adulthood – 84% to 23%. Moreover, homeschooled kids turned out to be more conscious according to the NEO Five-Factor Inventory measure.
For that matter, school classes aren’t the only place to socialize. There are many other opportunities to make friends:
- Art or music classes;
- Girl Scouts or boy scouts;
- Volunteer routine, etc.
Yet, some local requirements for homeschooling don’t allow homeschooled kids to join school sports teams. You should check it out.
Benefits of Homeschooling
- Academic Performance. 78% of peer-reviewed studies reveal that homeschooled children have better academic achievements than those who attend public schools. It can be explained by the flexibility of the learning process and the absence of psychological pressure.
- No Homework. Parents can decide whether their children should do homework. Since the whole lesson is dedicated to only your kid, there’s no need to assign homework. But, if needed, they can do extra exercises.
- Room for Emotional Freedom. One more advantage of homeschooling is that the learning process is customized to kids` needs. They can express themselves as they wish, put on clothes they feel comfortable in and take a break whenever they want. Such simple things boost mood and, thus, bring one’s brain to work.
- Personal Growth. Homeschooled children are 100% engaged in a lesson, unlike in a common school. Subsequently, they perceive more information and spend more time chewing on the topic. Also, kids can receive the answers to all the questions they are wondering about. A teacher in a school doesn’t have the opportunity to meet their curiosity completely.
- Flexibility. You can choose everything – class start time, number of lessons, types of lessons, topics, etc. Thus, parents can create the most comfortable environment for both them and their little ones.
Can Homeschooling Be Difficult?
Both parents and kids can experience some difficulties when turning to homeschooling. Yet, not all facts about homeschooling can be considered to be negative. Everything depends on your goals and desirable daily plan.
Parents can go through such difficulties as:
- Lack of knowledge;
- Change of a lifestyle;
- Additional chores;
- Less time for yourself;
- Spending half of the day indoors;
- Work and learning processes are hard to combine;
- One should follow the requirements for homeschooling provided by law, etc.
However, if you prefer being at home, these cons turn out to be pros for you. Take, for example, career perspectives. If you are a freelancer, you climb a career ladder whenever you have time and homeschooling is no more a problem.
What About Grades?
Testing isn`t obligatory all over the USA, but you should check it with the state law. For example, in Arizona, Columbia, Texas, Connecticut, and many other states no testing is required. At the same time, in Florida students should take tests annually if parents follow the state law. In Colorado, students must be tested in a year. In Pennsylvania, students should take a test in the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades. See, you should make it clear before making a schedule.
If your kid is to take an annual standardized test, you can administer it yourself. Besides, some support groups offer help in organizing a Test Day. It’s held under the control of one of the certified parents or a hired person.
Parents of those students who don’t have to pass a test can organize it themselves. Yet, there are many doubts about it. Some people believe that testing is no longer a useful tool to motivate children. By the way, according to NHES national sample, 60% of parents are not satisfied with academic instruction. They consider it to be the very reason to start homeschooling. And frequent testing is a part of it. People believe it causes stress and puts pressure on kids. Meanwhile, taking tests from time to time makes your little one ready for important ones such as SAT or the ACT.
How to Check Knowledge?
If you want to come up with your own system, set the goals first. What qualities or skills do you want to evaluate? Here are important ones:
- Reading, speaking skills;
- Traits of characters developed;
- Useful skills;
- Physical abilities;
- Excursions, trips made, etc.
Keep a list of the content you have covered with your little one. Make a review each month and each year. It`ll motivate you to explore the world further and more intensively. Your list may include such topics as:
- Books read;
- Documentaries watched;
- Discoveries done;
- Games that you have played;
- Interests that appeared;
- Achievements (based on the goals you set);
- Physical activities done, etc.
Nowadays, homeschooling is steadily gaining popularity and becoming more widespread. There are many homeschooling bloggers who share their resources for your benefit. Considering the current state of affairs, many kids will have to get used to blended learning or homeschool education. Parents cannot help but take it for granted. Thus, it’s time for you to get to know how to homeschool your kids. Of course, take into account your circumstances and a kid’s opinion before making a choice in favor of homeschooling. But don`t forget that many children are happy now, being homeschooled by their parents.
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