Home schooling

Homeschooling – the darker side

It’s not all hunky-dory and smooth sailing on the homeschooling front. Like all things in life, there is a downside that has to be seriously considered when you explore the homeschooling option. Though one man’s bane may be another man’s boon, there are certain common reasons for concern.

The responsibility of teaching your child rests solely on you. You cannot blame anyone else if your child is seen wanting in the skills that his peers excel in. If your child cannot do the things that are expected from other children of his age group, it reflects badly on you as an educator as well as a parent.

A critical part of homeschooling is the time that you have to spend with your children. You may have to give up your friends, shopping and other entertainment and dedicate all these to your child. This can become frustrating at times. You have to learn to take the aggravation with equanimity and wait for the rewards with patience and enthusiasm.

A parent who is dedicated to tutor his or her child single handedly does not realistically have much time left over for a career. This means that the family is robbed of an additional source of income. In turn, this may lead to stress over finances. You will have to train yourself to live on a strictly controlled budget. While this is a matter of habit, it does need some getting used to.

You cannot take a break when you feel like it. Feelings of guilt will assail you if you neglect studies just because you are feeling blue. You also fear that the child will take advantage of the situation. Even when you have given homework, you have to be around to give a helping hand. This means that anytime your child is around you, you are on duty! For some, this may mean working every waking hour. The child studying at home also needs to get out more. This comes from staying at home all the time. Interaction with adults and other children needs to be given special attention.

Children tutored at home cannot develop in the various directions that are open to children attending public schools. To achieve that kind of exposure, you either have to be a super-parent skilled in everything, or enroll your child to various activities. This may not only prove too costly, but also be counter-productive.

It is sometimes observed that homeschooled children do not do as well in SAT tests as their school-going counterparts. Without a diploma or a GED, some students find it difficult to get into the military.

Lastly, if you envision enrolling your child to a public school, there may be a certain period of emotional as well as social adjustment. A child who is used to being at home for the whole day and enjoying so much of uncontained freedom may have to undergo some distressing emotional upheavals before he or she gets used to the rigors of a regular school life.

Homeschooling the teenager

As children start maturing into adults, parents feel insecure about homeschooling. Many parents then discontinue the homeschooling process and happily hand over the reign to outside authorities. But is this really necessary? Is the strictly compartmentalized education provided in schools a better option?

If social concerns are worrying you, look for interest-oriented associations, clubs and societies. These offer a lot of support for leaders, opportunity for shared experience, and foster a sense of belonging. Make up your own group or share this responsibility with someone else. Home education support groups provide fantastic opportunities to meet your child’s needs. This is the best way to develop intelligent, self-motivated, healthy and able young people.

If the growing burden of some of the higher level Math or Science seems to be beyond you, enlist the help of someone who knows more. You can even barter your own services and thus save some money. With homeschooling becoming more and more popular, support groups will have innumerable resources that help you find the right teacher for your child.

The underlying principle that guides homeschooling is this: any child has the innate capacity to grow, develop and achieve its full potential. All it needs is the right environment and all the right answers. Be there to provide these and think twice before you turn over this responsibility to a third party.

Homeschooling online

If Johnny is fascinated by the blinking cursor and struggles to master the movements of the mouse, you may want to look into some of the recent developments in homeschooling techniques. Gone are the days when parents had to buy material from vendors and then pass it on to their children with explanations. Today, you get the full course details, material and test papers online.

Children love to sit with the computer. In addition to making them feel like an adult, the computer also makes use of the visual and sound medium to make learning fun and easy. Streaming video and audio show various scientific processes in great detail. The colorful pictures and the various techniques used help to effectively bind the data to the child’s memory.

Many online resources have a fun testing center that aims to measure the knowledge and skill level of your child. Complicated math and science problems are dealt with deftly and elegantly. A visit to an e-library can also be fun, especially when there is an audio clip that reads out the passage to you.

E-learning has just begun to revolutionize the world of studies. If harnessed properly, a child can assimilate an astonishing amount of information from that great resource sitting right there at your table – your P.C.

Homeschooling Methods

For many people, homeschooling may call to mind the picture of two or three children sitting at a table and writing feverishly in their workbooks, while mom or dad stands nearby. This is the not entirely true. There are different methods of homeschooling, and the method you choose will decide the curriculum and your style of teaching. Given below are some of the most influential and popular homeschooling methods.

The Charlotte Mason method:
Charlotte Mason is known as the founder of the homeschooling movement. A homeschooler herself, she was passionate in her zeal to lay out the foundations for an effective a complete homeschooling program that is fun and educational at the same time. This method focuses on all the core subjects with emphasis placed on classical literature, poetry, fine arts, classical music and craft. Mason used a variety of books from classical literature, which she called ‘Living Books’. Since this method encourages a passionate awareness of literature, the child is read to daily from the ‘Living Books’. After this, the child is asked to narrate what she has heard. This process begins at the age of six, and by ten the child is expected to write her narrations in her book. Mason also advocated the use of ‘Nature Diaries’. After each short and interesting lesson, the child is asked to go to Nature and draw observations from Nature. Thus the child also gains a sense of respect for her environment. Mason believed that development of good character and behavior was essential to the complete development of the child’s personality.

The Eclectic Homeschooling:
This is a mixture of various homeschooling techniques. Here, the innovative parents trust their own judgment and pick out the topics that make the best curriculum for their child. Such parents continuously look out for the best products that will meet the needs of their homeschoolers. Most Eclectic homeschooling curriculums are improvised. This means that the basic curriculum is ready-made. The parents then make changes in the curriculum to accommodate the individual needs and interests of their children. The child’s gifts, temperament, learning style and interests dictate the curriculum. Eclectic programs include visits to the museum, libraries and factories.

Unschooling:
A Boston public educator name John Holt laid the beginnings of the unschooling method. He believed that children learned best when they are free to learn at their own pace and when they are guided by their own interests. His message was to ‘unschool’ the child. This method is a hands-on approach to learning, where the parent takes definite cues from the children. There is no definite curriculum, schedules or materials. This method is the most unstructured of the various homeschooling techniques.

The Montessori Method:
This method began in Italy, when it was observed that children have acute sensitive periods, during which they undergo periods of intense concentration. During such phases, a child will repeat an activity till he gains a measure of self-satisfaction. The Montessori method depends on a prepared environment to facilitate learning. All the materials used in this method are designed to satisfy the inner desire for spiritual development of the child. The materials used progress from simple to complex, and are rather expensive.

These are just a few of the methods of homeschooling. Whatever the method, the underlying factor is flexibility and a keen interest in the desires of the child. The secret is to use the child’s desire for knowledge to further his education.

Homeschooling hours

How many, how often and when? These are some oft-repeated questions when it comes to homeschooling hours. Flexibility is of course one of the key underlying principles behind homeschooling. This flexibility applies not only to the curriculum but also to the number of hours. It is only natural that parents, especially if they have just started out on homeschooling should feel that their children should be at their books all the time when regular school-goers are at school. This is not only fallacious but can also be damaging and counter-productive.

One of the most ignored but glaring drawbacks of the public schooling system is the sheer waste of time and energy that it causes. Many periods are simply wasted away and the child effectively derives only 1-3 hours of study everyday. Then, there are days when the studies become too intensive and other days when it’s only games and no work at all. There is a lot of ‘invisible wastage’ involved here.

Early on in your homeschooling practice, work out a schedule. It is advisable to stick to the same hours everyday. A routine makes it easier to learn and gives structure to the learning experience. It also tells the students that parents are strict about their learning. A routine also allows your child to free his mind from other activities and concentrate on studies. He knows that a particular time is strictly set aside for learning.

The actual number of hours that you need depends on the curriculum you have chosen and the learning style that suits your child. If you are dealing with a subject that seems to be more complex, you may need to sit with the child for a longer period. Using various techniques, it may be necessary to demonstrate what you are trying to teach. For instance, a lesson in Algebra may take more time than a lesson in English.

Homeschooling does not refer to the practice of sitting in front of the books and learning the printed matter. Field trips, watching documentaries, visiting factories and libraries also make up an important slice of the homeschooling process. It makes sense to intersperse these activities so that learning becomes fun. You may want to finish off the few hours of textbook learning in the morning and dedicate the afternoons to these kinds of activities.

Given the fact that too many public school hours are wasted in meaningless activities ranging from talking to extra-curricular activities, do not allow public school hours to dictate the time you should spend teaching your child at home. Remember that at home, he is getting a high-quality one-to-one time that is highly productive. About 1-3 hours of study is enough in the primary level. It is of course true that the more number of hours you put in, the more learning takes place. This is also the reason why homeschooling children are much smarter and more balanced than regular school going children.

Homeschooling and the family

According to the National Center For Education Statistics, almost 1.1 million children underwent homeschooling in 2005 alone. That’s a lot of children. Once upon a time, homeschooling used to be a radical statement – something like a declaration of independence. It was the conservative Christians who advocated homeschooling in the ’80s and legalized it in every State. But the typical homeschooler of the day is not religiously motivated.

Recent surveys indicate that parents are actually quite fed up of the public school systems where much of the learning is superficial and compulsory. They are also concerned about negative school environment ranging from drugs and abuse to negative peer pressure. As a result, we have a surprising mix of people who form the homeschooling world of today. They cut across all religious and regional borders. Their main aim is providing meaningful and productive learning through a method that strengthens the bond between the various members of the family.

All these families have one thing in common – a long enduring commitment to the sanctity of childhood. The children in these families are accorded a primary position. Many believe, and rightly so, that homeschooling allows parents to bring up children in a more natural and nurturing environment. Public schools can make one nervous, diffident and downright mean. Children who get schooled at home are protected from these damaging negative influences till they reach an age where they can handle it.

Homeschooling draws the whole family into the almost religious task of schooling. Everyone is put to work. The parents together form a bond with the children. Any experience can be turned into an educational experience. Both the parents are aware of exactly what is going into their child’s head. Parents also have greater control on the kind of religious and moral values that the child imbibes. Even watching a movie together can become a learning experience. Trips to the libraries and other places become educational as well as recreational.

A homeschooling family is primarily dependent on the income of one earning member. That means that often spending has to be curtailed and proper planning of expenditure is a must. This helps to bring the family members together and everybody gets involved in the process of saving money.

Having a parent at home to supervise, to nurture and care for the children brings with it a lot of love and caring. Even your husband chips in and there just is no room for boredom. Yes, problems do crop up, and there are a lot of misgivings in your mind. But when you know that your kids can always count on you, and your kids know it too, then homeschooling becomes a richly rewarding experience.

Homeschooling and college

As children grow out of their little pants and are ready to begin their teens, many parents wonder if they should continue with the homeschooling program. They fear that colleges may not give equal opportunities to a child educated at home.

Many fears of this kind were put to rest when 2 homeschooled boys got admission into Harvard. Harvard does not require a high school diploma for gaining admission to their degree program. Many colleges are more interested in the knowledge and behavior of the homeschooled children rather than their high school diplomas. In fact, other things being similar many colleges prefer homeschoolers because of the diversity and richness they bring to their college life.

Admission requirements may vary. While some colleges require the child to appear for the SAT, others may need a general equivalency diploma. And some may not care for any tests at all. The criterion may vary depending on the college that you wish to apply to. But, college courses really do not require any high school background or special training.

It is common to come across parents who frantically try to shift out their homeschool children to high schools because they fear unavailability of college admissions. But college admissions are open to all educated individuals, regardless of whether they are educated at home or at a public school.

Homeschool teachers

The teacher is the key to the success of homeschooling. In most cases, the teacher is a parent or a close relative. In some cases, parents may divide the subjects between them. Rarely, if both parents are busy, they may hire a homeschool teacher. Whatever the case, children need time with their parents. Parents, as a rule, make very good teachers.

Teaching does not involve a clinical presentation of facts. Learning has to be integrated lovingly into daily life for it to interest the child. That is where parents come in. Grandparents also make great teachers, especially since they have an abundance of patience.

If you feel anxious about your skill or knowledge, relax. There are countless homeschooling resources that are aimed at helping you. Professional curriculum packages, support groups, online help desks, virtual schools and library resources are all available. When you start out, you may want to make use of the commercial curriculum packages. Readymade software also allows you to record and log important achievements.

Local support groups are an excellent source of help, ideas and material. This is where you get to meet experienced homeschoolers, who will be more than happy to offer their insight and advice. Once you settle into the homeschooling routine, you will find yourself tailoring the curriculum to suit your own needs.

Homeschool – staying connected

The world has become a jungle of knowledge. Wherever you turn, you find a new fruit that just has to be passed on to your child. In the middle of all the knowledge flying to and fro, we sometimes forget to talk and relax with our children. A mom who doubles as a teacher needs to leave the teacher behind and simply become mom for a few hours everyday.

Listen to your child. Do not just hear the words, but notice the emotion too. Many children find it difficult to express exactly what they want. Talk to your child about general stuff and allow him to be ‘just a kid’. When you talk to your child, as for his opinions. Few things please him more. It also adds kilos to his self-confidence.

Most parents interrupt when their children talk. We, as adults, detest it when someone cuts across our lines. Kids keep mum because they are forced to be silent when we shut them up. But this is unhealthy and unfair. Allow your child to finish and then express your views in a rational manner. The child should have the confidence to confide in you.

Gentle parenting is the key to successful homeschooling. Be a parent first, and then a teacher.

Homeschool – Field trips

If you are going over a particular subject with the family and feel that a field trip would be beneficial, then that’s what you should do – go for a trip. If you are attached to a support group, you can plan to include other children too.

Here are some guidelines that will help you plan:
1) Collect the rates
2) Allowed ages
3) Special highlights
4) Size of the group
5) Timings
6) Eating facilities

Inform your support group of all these details well in advance so that the necessary circulars may be sent out. On the appointed day, arrange to meet with other parents and children in a particular place. Plan the mode of travel and reach the place at least 10 minutes in advance.

The field trip is not just fun. So, let your kids bring their writing material. Allow them time to stare and admire. Do not hurry them along. Collect data beforehand so that you can clear doubts. Get help from a guide, if necessary. And most importantly, have fun and enjoy the time you spend with your children.