As schools plan to begin in-person classes, some parents across the U.S. decide to stick with homeschooling for their children. Amidst the coronavirus health crises that began in 2019, many public and private schools were shut down and parents were forced to search for alternative methods to educate their children.
If you want to jump right into how to go about homeschooling your children, here are ten tips you should go through right away.
1. Answering the ‘why’ question
Why do I want my child to be homeschooled? This is a question that every prospective parent must have come across while thinking about homeschooling.
The motivation can differ from person to person. Some might think that their children are not learning at school or they spend too much time doing homework or are absent from school for long durations due to lack of interest. Whatever the reason may be, it surely has to be a valid one.
It is important for the family to sit down and think about why they want to pursue this mode of education. While doing so, the parents need to check in with their children as well. How comfortable are they with the idea of being homeschooled? How long would they want to do it? And so on.
Depending on this starting point, any family can decide on the duration of their kids being homeschooled. Another question that should be answered is how to start? Should it be a gradual process or a sudden change?
Therefore, brainstorming about the ‘why’ question will help you with starting off on the right foot.
2. Knowing your state’s legal requirements
Once you have figured out the ‘why’ part of homeschooling your child, the next step is to understand the legal requirements of doing it.
The requirements vary from one state to another. In Texas, homeschools come under the private schools’ category and subjects like science and history are not required by the state law. This may not be true in another state like New York, where children in grades 1-6 are required to study US history and science as part of their curriculum.
You can visit the official website of your state’s education department or ask them to send you the required documents by postal services.
Non-profit advocacy organizations like HSLDA (Home School Legal Defence Association) also provide the right kind of information and legal help for homeschool families to overcome any challenges which they may encounter.
3. Local support groups
Every town, community, or state will have at least one homeschool group which serves different needs within the community. There are forums like the Netmums page where parents can directly ask questions to other parents who have already been homeschooling their children for a long time. Support from such groups will help you understand the initial challenges better that might impact you and you will have creative solutions readily available.
There are other sites as well like Homeschool World where groups are demarcated based on the different regions from the US.
While choosing the right type of curriculum for your child there are several factors that need to be considered. Some of the factors include the learning style of your child, age, stage of cognitive development, personality, etc.
Researching about various types of education systems and going through state-recognized standards (in your state especially) will help you identify the necessary learning outcomes for your child.
One can start with a broader learning objective or milestone (yearly), then narrow it down to months, weeks and further divide it into daily tasks or activities if needed. This type of systematic breakdown will also help you keep a track of your child’s progress throughout the year.
5. Low-cost resources
Another consideration that homeschool parents need to keep in check is keeping the expenses under control by acquiring free educational materials online. They can do so by using search engines like google, yahoo, or sites like Pinterest, Facebook groups, etc.
Apart from that, parents could wait and buy resources in bulk when discounts are in place. Sometimes, homeschoolers are offered extra discounts, so it’s important to look out for such offers online. A good way to find out about it is by subscribing to newsletters of various groups or online educational sites.
Buying annual subscriptions also helps in reducing the overall cost. Platforms like SplashLearn have a cost-effective annual subscription model and you can impart learnings to your child with their much loved game-based learning model today!
6. Time management
In a traditional school setting, kids follow a particular schedule to learn various things. The schedule becomes much more flexible in a homeschooling setting.
However, some states do require the parents to keep a record in order to meet the state requirements. For working parents, morning and evening time is a good alternative to daytime learning and can easily fill in the hours. According to The Everything Guide To Homeschooling by Sherri Linsenbach, the actual time that must be spent on core skills like Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science are:
- Preschool and Kindergarten: 30-60 minutes per day
- Elementary school: 60-90 minutes per day
- Middle school: 1.5-3 hours per day
Younger children need more time than older children who can decide what they want to study.
7. Free Time
Free time is generally given once the main activities for the day are done. But there can be exceptions too in the case of two-career families or single-parent families who might prefer to give their children free time during the first half of the day and concentrate on the core skills later during the evening.
As parents, you can think about how much time each day your child should spend on activities like arts and crafts, games, hobbies, reading, and so on.
Sometimes due to unexpected circumstances, your child might miss learning opportunities for days or weeks. Don’t worry, flexibility is the key to your problems.
You can either have the spring break early or can shift the mid-winter break as per your convenience. Including holidays and free time scheduled well in advance will help achieve the learning goals that have been set out at the beginning of the year.
8. Assessing your children
Assessment becomes an integral part of a homeschooling curriculum if the state requires it as a parameter to test a child’s annual progress.
Parents in such cases can rely on standardized tests, formative assessments, or regular home assignments. Tests like the New York State High School Regants Exam and the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills are a few tests which the students can take (Homeschool Your Child for Free by LauraMaery Gold, Joan M. Zielinski).
9. Social interaction
Socialization looks a lot different for homeschoolers as compared to kids who go to school daily. As parents who are just starting out, there is this one burning question that plagues them: will my child be able to socialize better at home as against a school environment?
The concern is understandable, but many experienced homeschool parents will tell you that their children do just as fine as any other regular school child. There are many ways through which socialization needs can be taken care of.
Parents can join a local homeschool community where they can meet like-minded people. They can also volunteer, join a hobby class, after-school programs, and so on.
10. Importance of a tutor
Sometimes homeschool parents include online tutoring as an acceptable practice. The reason for this acceptance comes from the realization that they might not be good at some of the core subjects that the child might need to learn such as math, history, science, economics, etc. In such cases, the child needs the help of an experienced tutor or an educator who will help the child fill in the learning gaps and motivate them.
Children can also enroll in online tutoring on SplashLearn and take their journey of becoming fearless learners!
These are a few of the starting points that you can consider while starting with homeschooling for your child. Further research and talking to experienced homeschool parents and educators will help you decide whether or not you are ready. There will be challenges along the way, but with the right mindset and adequate support from the community, nothing is impossible.
Why do parents choose homeschooling?
Homeschooling started as a temporary solution but turned out to be a popular choice among parents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of homeschooled children rose to 11 percent by September 2020. It was the largest in Black households.
Brian D. Ray, an internationally known researcher states that “There can be more than one reason why people are choosing homeschooling as opposed to the traditional way of schooling.” Some of the reasons are listed below:
- A child learns in the comfort and security of his/her home where they feel the safest as opposed to a school environment where it takes time for a child to feel comfortable and safe.
- A child learns at his/her own pace and time.
- Focus on the individual child’s learning requirement is at the forefront which sometimes is missed in a traditional classroom setting due to the class size.
- Bring families even closer together due to the sheer amount of quality time spent with each other.
It sounds so promising, but you might be wondering if you can do it too and the answer is ‘why not!’.
Homeschooling is not limited to a teaching style only as it encompasses everything that kids do in their daily lives. It’s a natural way of learning and living each day at home and goes beyond it as well.
Parents make great teachers as they know their children in and out. This is surely an added advantage. However, a little preparation won’t harm anyone!