A growing number of parents have expressed an interest in homeschooling their kids in the past couple of years for a range of reasons. From teaching your kids how to love writing, reading, and learning, to being more in control of the type of curriculum your child learns in general, there’s a lot that might appeal to you.
There are also some downsides of homeschooling that you have to be aware of before you ultimately make a decision.
The following are six general things to know about homeschooling if you’re thinking about it for your family.
1. What is Homeschooling?
You may have a general overview or idea of what homeschooling is, in that your child is educated outside of a traditional school environment. That’s essentially where the similarities end between homeschool families and children.
Homeschool can look different for every family, and you don’t have to follow one set curriculum or schedule. You’re directing your child’s education, or maybe you’re letting your child direct it.
With traditional schooling, the same standards are required across the state you live in and even the entire country, so there are not a lot of opportunities to take into account a child’s individual needs or interests.
2. Homeschool Approaches
There are so many general approaches to homeschooling you can take, or you can borrow components from different ones. The most popular approaches to homeschooling include:
- The Classical Method has three components—grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The classical method is a way for students to develop their learning process. Younger students focus on the basics, including memorization, and older students learn more about analytical thinking.
- If you follow the Montessori Method, you are creating an environment intended to prepare your child for success. You provide the tools your child needs for the day, and they often help you throughout the day with chores that have meaning to them. There’s an emphasis on children having choices within certain limits, so they become more confident in their own abilities.
- Unit studies usually focus on one topic for several months. Your child receives activities and materials from you so they can learn a variety of subjects but with a common theme.
- The Waldorf education method emphasizes imagination and creativity. Reading and other more traditional academic topics aren’t started until after the age of seven.
- Wildschooling is a way to get kids outside, and it’s like a nature school where the natural surroundings guide the learning experience.
- Unschooling is child-led learning. Your child is directing their education and their day. As a parent and educator, your role is to provide resources and observe, but you don’t force anything.
3. Reasons to Homeschool
There are so many reasons parents and families decide to homeschool.
Some of the most frequently shared reasons include:
- Problems like bullying in the current school environment
- You might feel like your child needs more of a challenge or a different environment to better suit their needs
- Your child could have a disability requiring more individualized attention than a traditional school environment can deliver
- If you’re moving in the middle of the school year, or you have to move often for any reason, homeschooling can create a sense of consistency
There’s really no bad reason to homeschool your child if you’ve done your research and feel it’s what’s best in your situation and for your child’s education.
4. Are There Guidelines?
It’s legal everywhere in the U.S. to homeschool, but every state has its own guidelines. You need to check into what those are where you live. There’s the Home School Legal Defense Association that can be a good place to start.
Depending on your state, you might be required to teach particular subjects during the school year. If this is the case where you live, you’ll need to find a curriculum aligning with your state’s required standards.
You may also have to teach your child for a set number of hours a day, for so many days a year. You might also have to keep records of the subjects you cover.
Your record-keeping doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You just need to typically keep some general logs of what you’re teaching your child and depending on state and local laws where you are, you might not have to do this at all.
States might require that homeschoolers do achievement testing every couple of years, so check on this to stay compliant too.
5. The Benefits of Homeschooling
Some of the many benefits of homeschooling include:
- You have the opportunity to design your child’s education in a way that’s well-suited to their needs and skill level. You can focus on your child’s strengths and weaknesses as needed, and there’s a sense of efficiency. You don’t waste your time on the things your child easily understands, and you can put extra time into the things that are more challenging for them.
- It’s not possible for public or even private schools to fully develop a curriculum that’s suited and tailored to each individual child’s style of learning, but if you homeschool, you can easily do so.
- Right now is an exciting time to consider homeschooling because technology offers so many options that weren’t previously available. There are online courses, lectures, videos, and supplemental materials.
- Your schedule can be as flexible as you need or want with homeschooling. There are some families that only spend an hour or so a day on schoolwork because they’re efficient and can get so much done.
- A lot of homeschool families feel it strengthens their relationships with one another. Homeschool kids can have a strong bond with their parents and siblings.
6. The Downsides
As with anything, homeschooling can have downsides. One of the biggest fears for parents is the lack of being around other kids. There are ways to avoid this downside, though.
There are often local homeschool groups that meet, or you can create one if you can’t find one in your community. You can also make sure your child engages with other kids in different settings, like sports and extracurriculars or church.
Finally, homeschooling is hard work, and it can be time-consuming, so you need to be able to dedicate enough time to it as a parent and an educator.