Homeschooling is an alternative form of education that is flexible and there is some cooperative learning, hardly done within the confines of a home. In most cases tutors are hired and children are encouraged to attend community classes for specific domains. Mentoring is a vital part of homeschooling and parents are always on the lookout for mentors whose inputs work for their child. In addition to this there are other aspects such as entrepreneurship, distance education, service work and independent study, which play an important role. It’s not surprising to see that nearly all schools are more alike than different but each homeschool is as unique as each child. As far as legalities are concerned, it is legal in every state in the United States. It’s always recommended that parents get in touch with the local homeschooling association or consult your state/local department of education, if possible, to find out the state mandates.
So what are the advantages of homeschooling? It’s a great option for asynchronous learners who can learn in an environment tailored to meet the child’s needs. Children get to follow their passion and there is no daily focus on their deficits. Moreover, the child follows a flexible lifestyle and parents can trust their children to make informed decisions and allow them to fail and learn from it. This does not happen in schools as teachers make the decisions and do not allow them to fail. Homeschooling also means giving your child private school education at a lower cost.
Now let’s delve into the disadvantages. It certainly is a steep learning curve for parents at the start and that’s perfectly normal. In most cases one spouse may have to quit or cut down on work. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel unqualified to teach but it’s also very easy to find support and aid with distance learning and public homeschool programs. No doubt parents need to make an effort to get their child to socialise and there will be times when they get to hear disapproving remarks from the family, friends or the community, but then it’s a part of character building. Homeschooling may be costlier than a public school in certain cases. Fear of failure is common as you are taking on a big chunk of your child’s upbringing in your own hands but homeschooling parents need to see each other and get a lot of support which helps.
If you decide to start, don’t wait too long to make a start because you can’t really predict what it will be like. So just start!
The first step is de-schooling – both for the parent and child. It’s about taking the brick wall that surrounds you, one by one, and seeing what the possibilities are. It takes some time to move from the school-based to the home-based mindset, so give it some time and don’t expect the transition to happen quickly. While leaving school the child should be an integral part of the decision making process. Talk to the teachers openly, honestly and diplomatically – it’s always better to leave in good terms. Look at it as a step that moves your child closer to success not away from failure.
The important thing to remember is school is a separate part of everyday life but homeschool is integrated into everyday life. Get to know homeschooling in the first few weeks and it’s always better not to buy an expensive curriculum online or at the store because chances are that you are not going to use them! Although there are many homeschooling methods you do not have to strictly follow any one of them but just choose what works best for your child. Many parents worry if they are keeping up but that is the best part of having a gifted child who is homeschooled is that they really don’t have to keep up to a schedule and can pretty much catch up at their own pace.
Next is the big question of socialization. Surprisingly, parents will find that homeschooling is more community oriented than most schools. The depth in which you can connect with another homeschooling parent/child cannot be compared with traditional schools. Some children do benefit with less socialization and here it’s more about socializing appropriately. Also a child’s social needs keep changing and this option offers such flexibility to move one from one peer group to another.
Finally it’s very important to trust you child’s decision to learn and lifelong learning should be the ultimate goal. Many times you may feel that you are not doing enough, or think that traditional school is better, or may be take a long time to deschool. It’s fine to go through the whole gamut of thoughts. It’s normal. Nothing can beat the joy that you feel when see what your child can do.