What Should I Know About Homeschooling?

wiseGEEK Writer

If you’re considering homeschooling your children, there are plenty of things to think about. Homeschooling, when it first began to become popular again, was thought of as an anomaly rather than the norm. Now many parents choose to homeschool their kids for various reasons. They may feel kids are better suited to a more personal learning environment, they may be unhappy with the curriculum offered at available school districts, or they may want greater freedom to plan curricula that expresses personal beliefs like religious convictions.

Curriculum designed by parents who homeschool their children may be different than curriculum designed by teachers in a public school.
Curriculum designed by parents who homeschool their children may be different than curriculum designed by teachers in a public school.

Before you decide to homeschool, you do need to be aware of any regulations in your country or state that may need to be met. Some states in the US may require you to obtain licensure as a homeschool, and others may request that you work with a homeschool program through your school district. Know the ins and outs of state requirements so that you homeschool legally and so that your children's educational experiences will be looked on favorably by other schools, especially colleges.

Though there are many success stories of kids being schooled at home, not all parents and kids are ideally suited to this arrangement. Some parents find teaching burdensome or just admit to being bad teachers of their kids. Advanced subjects may be challenging to parents without sufficient education, and parents may need to look at employing other experts to help their kids adequately prepare for college.

Homeschooling does take a significant time commitment. The parent who acts as primary teacher tends to work no more than part-time outside of the home. Since kids are home all day, supervision is needed even when lessons aren’t occurring. Inability to work full time may create financial pressures, which homeschooling can add to. Though there are plenty of free resources, you will need to make some investments in your children’s education. Sometimes, governments may compensate parents for some of these investments or offer tax breaks if you are bearing the full burden of educating your kids.

One concern about homeschooling is the lack of socialization that kids may encounter when they don’t go to school. There are many organizations or co—ops of homeschooled kids that can help bridge this gap. There’s also some argument as to whether kids are truly socialized in the competitive environment of most public or private schools. Some argue that socialization is better when it is not forced, and that kids may learn enhanced social tools when they interact in smaller groups. This is still a matter you should think about and you may want to look to available groups in your area that can help provide plenty of social opportunities.

Traditional and homeschool teachers both need to learn how to teach. Take advantage of the many homeschooling books available, and plenty of online resources. These can offer competing theories on what should be taught and how, but it’s important to understand what you’re doing before you start. Come up with a clear pedagogy of how you want to teach, and make adjustments as needed. Having a strong idea of how you want to proceed and why may help you as a homeschooling parent.

You don’t have to commit to homeschooling for life. Sometimes kids need a break from larger schools and would benefit from a year of learning at home. If kids express a strong desire to attend public school, it may be a good idea to listen to this. You can homeschool for a short period and then decide if it is of the most benefit to your kids. Sometimes one child does better in a traditional school, and another is happier being homeschooled. Continue to weigh the needs of your kids, the success of your teaching, and your children’s attitudes toward learning at home. These considerations can help you make informed decisions about how to continue homeschooling or when to look for other options.

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