A Growing Trend
The definition of homeschooling is the education of children at home by their parents, thus known as homeschool parents. As this trend is not going away anytime soon with over 2.5 million homeschool students grades K-12 and is actually growing at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum, I thought it would be good to approach a couple of the benefits as well as the challenges involved in pursuing homeschooling. This is a choice our parents in this country still have and some are not quite sure with what’s involved.
One of the biggest concerns I hear is about is social interaction and the burnout factor. We will approach both of those concerns within the five areas in this article: Where to start, Benefits and challenges, Qualifications, Legal issues and Social issues. This article is somewhat based upon the interview I did with my daughter-in-law, Jessica Johnson, as a homeschool parent. I also spent three years as a homeschool parent with our three sons. I felt it was a good subject to approach as many readers may be grandparents or have kids or friends that will soon be married and starting their families. This especially applies to those at the halftime of life. (see How do You Know You’re at Halftime?)
Where to Start for Homeschool Parents
I will be the first to say that homeschooling is not for everyone. I feel there are very good options in our schools, but it is a choice we still have in this country. I do urge parents to be very involved in their child’s education, no matter what the choice. Do your research and join a good support group. I can’t emphasize this enough. There are communities and large regional conferences to connect with other homeschool parents (such as Great Homeschool Conventions) so there is support and many resources available.
Many choose to combine the public classroom with homeschooling. With private, charter and even some public schools providing homeschooling parents programs to help them, there are many good options. Something that came out in my interview with Jessica was that her sister, presently a teacher in the California public schools, spends much of her time preparing kids for standardized tests. There is a lot of research out on how some kids struggle with test-taking and this is not always the best way to measure a child’s educational progress. Kids learn super-fast and providing extra programs that will capture their imagination and zest for learning is the key and a huge benefit of homeschooling. In fact, homeschoolers typically score 15 to 30% above public-school students on standardized tests.*
Benefits and Challenges for Homeschool Parents
One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the freedom for a parent to be intricately involved in their child’s education. With the quick rate that kids learn, instilling a love for learning and the ability to pursue extra-curricular opportunities is a definite benefit. Adding a language, dance, music and other subjects is definitely another plus. Also, there is the ability to have a flexible schedule for those who are traveling or have unique work hours. Many children of actors and even child actors have been homeschooled or learned from a tutor. Also, those who travel a lot for work can combine the education of their children with their travel, even to different countries.
One of the biggest challenges of homeschooling is burnout of a parent. Homeschooling usually lands on the mom, though a growing number of dads have also stepped up. You have to have some time off. This is where support groups, charter schools and other organizations come in. Many of those also carry a cost, so if you are also purchasing any of your materials, realize this may not be a cheap endeavor. However, there are huge benefits with the quality of education you are providing your child with the ability to add tutoring and other options. If you are serious about approaching homeschooling, definitely look into support groups. Many readers may be grandparents or soon-to-be grandparents and you can be a huge support to family members or other community groups if you choose to do so.
Qualifications of Being a Homeschooling Parent
A common misnomer is that you need to have a teaching degree or even a college degree to homeschool your child. This is a false pretense. If there is a subject with which you are absolutely clueless, there are tutors a-plenty, but this is rarely the case and is more common if you choose to continue through secondary grades. There is no comparison to the quality of individual attention and education a child gets at home with being in a class of 28-32 other children. You will know right away if your child is struggling in a particular area and will be able to help them through it. In fact, homeschooled children go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population. And when we chose to put our kids in a local school classroom, they were way ahead of their class and fit right in both academically and socially.
I found most of the educational materials available were also super helpful in guiding the coursework. For resources, the yearly regional homeschooling conferences have companies that provide a plethora of homeschooling materials. There is no shortage, believe me as this is a huge business! In many classrooms, kids are given extra busywork so the teacher can get around to those who may be struggling which can cause your child to be bored. I hold our teachers in high esteem for how much they do for our kids—they are challenged with large class sizes and students with special needs that are not always met by another aide.
Legal Issue for Homeschooling Parents
As of this date, it is perfectly legal to homeschool your child in this country. There are legal organizations who have fought hard and are continuing to fight to uphold this right, even helping parents who need legal help. Every state will be a little different, but understand there is help if needed. This is a right we have in this country.
There will always be the isolated cases where a parent has abused this right and not given their kids the education they deserve, but those are few and far between. If you do your research, you will find thriving homeschooling communities with kids that are excelling in most every area all across the country. They are entering our colleges and obtaining graduate degrees as upstanding citizens, also participating in local community service.
Social Issues for Homeschooling Parents
The social issue is one of the most common issues I hear about. Actually, there is no issue for kids having social interaction with the availability of support groups. In my three years of homeschooling, I always belonged to at least one really good support group. I was working part-time, but was able to do most of my work in the evening hours, freeing up time for field trips and extra activities. I realize not everyone has this option, but with the growing trend of creating flexible work hours and working remotely, this could be an option to consider.
Every year, our kids were in a musical (Yes, I directed this but had a lot of help!) and we had at least one extra activity planned weekly. We visited a farm, the fair, museums and many other places. The year we did a craft fair, our boys made small ceramic animals and sold every single one in our little booth. There was so much they learned about being young entrepreneurs with that experience.
Whether you are reading this as a parent with children still of school-age or as a grandparent, I hope this has pulled back the curtain on some of the different aspects and realities of homeschooling. At the very least, it should help you understand some of the logistics. It is a sacrifice of time, energy and resources, but I found it well-worth the investment. To help you plan for your next year, our free download for this article is: https://GoalsForYourLife.com/yearlyplanner
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