Getting Started With Homeschooling – Tools & Tips

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Homeschooling – A Growing Option in American Education

The United States Department of Education [1] estimates that around 1.77 million of the country’s students are homeschooled, a figure that has been rising in recent years. Household education has been a popular form of schooling in the U.S. for many years, and parents don’t need to be qualified teachers to become home tutors.

If you’re considering homeschooling your child, here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.

Research your state laws

While home education is legal in all 50 states, specific requirements will vary between each region. California isHome Schooling Legal Defense Association one of a few states which recognizes home schooling as a form of private education, and local laws require household education to maintain a register of attendance. In Tennessee, homeschooling is not considered private education, but parents must submit proof to the state that their child has received at least 180 days of instruction and conduct tests in grades 5, 7 and 9. The state of Nebraska requires parents to annually file notarized forms detailing the parent/child responsibilities and an academic calendar of at least 1,032 teaching hours for elementary school students.

Look into your state’s laws to determine the legal side of home education in your area. Almost all states require some form of educational proof submission, and many outline mandatory subjects which must be taught to a homeschooled child. You can also expect to have to provide evidence of immunizations your child has received and ensure they are up-to-date with current requirements, or submit proof of exemption.

While some states do not require parents of homeschooled children to keep records of everything, it is recommended that you do so in case you need to provide proof of any aspects of your child’s home education at any point.

Assess your child’s current educational level

In order to provide the very best educational support you can, you must assess how your child learns, and consider what teaching technique they will respond best to.

“Teachers use assessment data to inform and refine how they plan and implement activities within their curriculum,” states the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. [2]

“Assessments address a child’s learning and development in all developmental domains and help teachers identify developmental and learning goals to be expressed within the program curriculum.”

Be prepared to measure their relationship with education as you move along the homeschooling spectrum, and be flexible enough to make changes to your schooling system if you can see that your child needs it.

Balance your reasons to homeschool with your teaching technique

A 2012 study by the National Household Education Survey [3] found that 77% of parents cited a desire to provide moral instruction as a reason for homeschooling their children, while 91% were concerned about the traditional school environment and 74% were dissatisfied with their child’s academic instruction at other schools.  The survey found that parent doubts over conventional schooling has risen since 2007.

Your reasoning behind your decision to homeschool will likely govern the way you decide to tackle it, so defining it in the beginning is important. For parents looking to perform religious instruction, your methods will mirror those outlined in your faith. If you are considering the option because you have a child with special needs, you will need to make accommodations to measure and encourage their mental development. Whatever your reasons, finding a teaching method that benefits your child is critical.

In a study conducted by the Home School Legal Defense Association [4], homeschooled students between kindergarten and grade twelve were found to develop reading skills at a level 39% higher than their public school educated peers, and also outperformed them in language, math, science and social studies skills. To achieve these figures of success, you must strategize your home education method before making the switch.

Get to know other homeschoolers in your community

Teaching at home doesn’t mean going it alone. Network with other home education parents in your area, and you might be surprised how many there are that you can find. These groups will also prove helpful when it comes to establishing field trips or social days for your child, and they can interact with peers who are of the same educational background that they are.

A community of other parents surrounding you can make it much easier to deal with issues and problems when they arise, and having some likeminded figures to discuss things with can be indispensable.

You can also find many websites that provide support to home education parents, with discussion forums and advice detailing everything you could ever need when it comes to school at home.

Things to remember

While your home education style will develop as you become comfortable with it, there are a few simple guidelines every parent can follow when it comes to dealing with the daily ins and outs of homeschooling:

  • You don’t have to model the classroom environment:

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to turn into a seasoned college professor overnight, and remember that homeschooling isn’t supposed to be a carbon copy of the average public school class in your living room.

  • It’s possible to socialize your child outside of public school:
    “Homeschool students and their parents are very engaged in their communities, including activities such as sports teams, co-operative classes, church activities and community service,” reports a research study by The National Home Education Research Institute. [5]
    “Further, homeschool children typically interact with a broader range of ages.”
  • Technology is your best friend:
    Advances in computer technology mean creating a successful homeschooling plan is an achievable feat for any parent with the will to do so. Take advantage of online systems and processes that can aid your child’s learning and make your organization much easier.

Citations

  1. The United States Department of Education – “Statistics about Non-Public Education in United States” http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/statistics.html
  1. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families – “Purposes for Assessment in Child Care Programs” http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/youngstar/pdf/purpose_for_assessment.pdf
  1. The National Household Education Survey – “Parent and Family Involvement in Education” http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013028rev.pdf
  1. The Home School Legal Defense Association – “Homeschool Progress Report 2009” http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray2009/2009_ray_studyfinal.pdf
  1. The National Home Education Research Institute – “Home Education Reason and Research” http://www.nheri.org/HERR.pdf

 

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