We all want our children to get the best education possible, especially in those early, formative years. Yet we have to admit, in most cases, that the public school system has become inadequate at best, and just isn’t teaching our kids the basic skills they’ll need to survive in the real-world job market.
Private schools can offer a better option, but the cost may be greater than the average family can afford, especially if there is more than one child. And the parent usually has little control over the curriculum or the peer group the child will fall in with.
Many people are looking into the option of home schooling. They are asking “Is home schooling for me?” This is an important question. And there are several related questions you should answer before diving in. Answering these questions should give you a better understanding of what home schooling is all about.
First, why would I want to home school?
Most homeschoolers believe the public schools are not doing an adequate job of educating. Slow learners are falling further and further behind while gifted students are not adequately challenged. At home slower learners can get the one-on-one attention they need. And gifted students can move ahead at their own pace and even finish early.
In a home school setting the parents can adjust the schedule to fit the child. I have two children I’m currently homeschooling. The older one is a quick learner with a photographic memory. He doesn’t need much repetition of facts in order to remember them. My second child is just the opposite. He needs hours and hours of repetition. Isn’t it amazing how different two blood brothers can be?
Parents can also adjust the curriculum to fit the child. I had no trouble teaching my older boy to read. So I used the same curriculum with boy number two. It didn’t work. Hmmm, OK. So I switched curriculums.
Now my second son is doing much better, and not nearly as frustrated with learning. And Mom didn’t have to get frustrated, either. Parents and students can be flexible when they teach and learn at home.
What are some more reasons?
Many parents are choosing to homeschool for safety reasons. Let’s face it, schools simply are not safe. Sadly, many students in public schools are faced with criminal situations every day. At the very least they probably have to put up with bullies. And when was the last time you heard of any POSITIVE effects from peer pressure? It’s easy to see that this type of environment is usually very stressful and distracts from the real purpose of being at school, namely learning.
Another reason many people home school, is because they are fed up with public schools teaching evolution, sex and other hot button subjects. Homeschoolers generally view these subjects as topics that should be taught at home, not at school.
They feel that when the schools teach these subjects the schools are usurping their parental authority. By choosing to homeschool, parents can take back their God-given authority/responsibility to raise their children with a Biblical worldview.
Whatever your reason for homeschooling make sure you define it. Knowing why you are doing something will help you to stay focused when things get rough.
How can I be sure I’m teaching my child the things he/she needs to know?
Once you have decided to homeschool, you should contact your local school board and ask them what the requirements are. Some schools require that you register your child, some do not. Some schools will allow you to use their curriculum (if you want to). Virtually every school is different. And every state has different requirements.
Many local libraries also have information on what needs to be taught at different grade levels. Of course, there have been many books written on the subject as well. And let’s not forget the web. Doing a search on home schooling will turn up loads of information.
Where can I find curriculum to use?
There are so many publishers of educational materials out there that the question becomes “How do I know which to use?”
But let’s answer the first question first.
You can find curriculum at your local library, at homeschooler’s book sales, book stores, used book stores, on-line retailers, on-line used curriculum sites, and direct from the publishers.
How do you decide which to use? That depends on you, your child and your goals. For example, if your child has learning problems, you would buy curriculum designed for children with learning problems. If you want to teach Biblical values you would purchase from a Christian publisher.
First, evaluate your child’s situation, decide what your goals will be, and choose the area of study upon which you wish to concentrate. Then go to the stores, libraries or publishers, or spend some time online, and make your selections based on these criteria.
Finally, do I have time to home school?
Ah yes, the big “T” question. There never seems to be enough time with our busy schedules these days. Obviously, if you’re not going to be home for at least six waking hours (your child’s, not yours), then it’s going to be very difficult to provide a quality education.
Ideally, there should be a stay-at-home parent to do the teaching, but even if you have to work the standard 8-hour day, it’s still possible by adjusting and pairing your schedules. It’s all a matter of priorities. We’ll always find the time to do the things we consider most important.
Take the plunge
Once you have your student(s) and curriculum in front of you the fun can start. Did I say fun? Forgive me, I’m not trying to be sarcastic. Oftentimes it may seem more like work, but you can make it fun with the right attitude. Think of it as a new, life-changing adventure that you and your child will be taking together.
Many home schoolers are even incorporating educational games and toys into their curriculum. Games can make learning easier and a lot more interesting. Just one more reason to make the bold move away from the public school system and over to the home school system.
By: Lisa M Lee
Lisa Lee is Co-owner of www.BestHomeEdToys.com, specializing in educational toys, games, kits, and supplies, with an emphasis on the homeschooled child. She and her husband are currently homeschooling their 3 small boys, and are able to work from home thanks to the internet.