Should Every Parent Homeschool?
If you came across this article, chances are you are wondering about homeschooling your child. Are you the right parent for the job? Can any parent teach? Should every parent homeschool? These questions may be running through your mind. As a seasoned parent, homeschool teacher, and advocate for choice in education, perhaps my advice and experience can help you make this difficult and important decision.
What Does it Take to be a Homeschool Teacher?
While I am an advocate for choice in education, including homeschool, I am not going to sugar coat things to entice others to do what I do. I will not tell you that it's easy. If anything, the homeschool choice can make some things more complicated. It takes hard work and dedication from both the parents (and/or homeschool teacher) as well as the children. Though it is not easy, in my opinion, the main things required of a parent are willingness, love, and a commitment to their child's educational needs. I feel any parent with those three things may be the right candidate to be a homeschool parent and teacher.
Do I Need a Teaching Degree to Homeschool?
Because laws can change and because not all states will have the same laws, this is not necessarily a yes or no answer. Check with your state's local school board, as well as homeschool organizations for this information. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is also a great place to keep up with legalities and other aspects of homeschool. As for whether or not a parent has the ability to teach without a degree, read "Can a Parent Be a Homeschool Teacher Without a Degree?" for my opinion and research on that matter. In short, the answer is yes, it is possible.
Should All Parents Homeschool?
Asking if all parents should homeschool is similar to asking if all people should be on a basketball team. Not everyone has the talent to do so, but those who do should definitely exercise it. I believe that homeschooling is the best choice when parents are able to sufficiently educate the children and have the dedication it takes to do so. But, just like all people do not make great parents, athletes, or singers, not all people make great homeschool teachers.
How Do I Know if I'm the Right Parent for the Job?
If you can remain dedicated to doing what's best for your child's education you may be able to homeschool. Research to see what other homeschoolers are doing and ask yourself if you can do similar things. You may consider the following questions. Do I have patience for teaching my child? Will I be sure to find proper resources when I don't know a lesson my child needs to learn? Can I keep my child involved in social activities? Those are just some of the many things you will need to think about. There is no exact formula of determining who should homeschool. However, doing research and thinking about what's involved and whether it works for your family and situation can help.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
As a mom who has experienced both public school and homeschool, I have learned many small things that can make a big difference. Many of these things are not going to be told to you when you decide to homeschool. Once you decide to homeschool, you are left to figure things out on your own. Below are some of the things I have learned along the way.
Vary Your Instructional Methods
By standing in front of your children at a blackboard or just in the middle of the room when you give some of your lessons, you can be sure that your children will be able to learn in this manner if they return to traditional school or if they attend any courses outside of the home, including when they go to college. However, it is also important to provide a variety of teaching methods, so that your children can learn how to pick up information in many different ways. One on one instruction is also a great tool that is very easy to incorporate into a homeschool classroom.
Headings On Papers are Still Important
This is a small, but important task many homeschool families forget about. Even if you only have one child, the child still needs to correctly put headings on the papers, which include the name and date. This teaches something needed in college and also if your child will take outside courses. Aside from that, it helps teach organizational skills.
Group Presentations are Essential, Even for Small Families
It is imperative that your child learn how to present reports, artwork, experiments, and inventions in front of others. Family get-togethers are a great opportunity for this because there will be a good amount of people, not just one or two. This is a vital skill, as it builds confidence and teaches presentation skills that will be needed in college and maybe even in the workforce. This also teaches planning and organizational skills because the child will have to plan out , prepare, and organize their work for presentation. Oral skills will also be exercised here.
School-Like Organization Helps With College Prep
Organize your homeschool similar to that of a traditional school. Of course, you can have your own design and expression, but have a special spot for the teacher and a special spot for the students. There should be a spot for finished assignments to be graded, as well as a spot for graded assignments to be picked up. Each student should have his or her own materials to work with. Certain things, like crayons and glue, can be shared, but notebooks, writing journals, binders, and other more personal items should not be shared. Students should have a certain place for everything used in class.
Keep an "Extra-Work" Bin Handy
Keep a basket or bin with various extra worksheets for those times when a child is ahead in work, but you are not ready to move onto the next subject. Oftentimes one child finishes earlier than another, but the other child needs your help and the next subject needs explanation before the child who is ahead can begin. It is times like these when the extra work bin will come in handy. Other times you will have a child who enjoys schoolwork and just wants to do more, even after school has ended for the day. Either way, the bin is there. The bin should contain fun worksheets (coloring, dot to dot, mazes...) as well as actual work. Let the child decide. You'll be amazed at how often they pick the actual schoolwork over the fun pages.
Folders are Your Friend
This seems so simple, but keeping a folder for each subject just like in traditional school will not only teach organization, but prepare your children for what lies ahead. Should your children ever return to traditional school or attend college or formal courses, your children will need to learn how to organize in a setting outside the home.
Don't Forget About Gym
Sometimes gym can be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of things. Don't forget to take fitness time each day. Gym can consist of running, jogging, biking, skating, playing competitive sports, playing sports with family members, swimming, dancing, walking, exercising, and a variety of other physical activities. Just be sure to provide a mixture of activities throughout each week. Get your children up and moving.
Grocery Store Issues May Happen
Sometimes you'll want to make a grocery run in the middle of the day during a lesson break. Don't forget that people are going to ask you questions. They will mainly ask why the children aren't in school. Be prepared to answer this and don't get upset. Sometimes, they may just be nosy, but still give them the benefit of the doubt. Always answer politely. I like to say "Oh, we homeschool and we're in between classes, so we thought we'd make a quick grocery run." They may be satisfied with that and they may come back asking about socialization. If they do, you may like my usual response: "Oh, we get much more socialization than those in traditional school because of the learning flexibility and variety of classes and activities available." That usually works or it just makes them even more curious. Don't be afraid to answer their questions. You have nothing to hide. You just want what's best for your particular child and there is nothing wrong with that. There are many styles of schooling. Each child’s best style will vary.
Formality Can Vary
Not every lesson has to be on paper. True, you may want to keep a record for future reference, but remember that in homeschool there is greater opportunity for hands-on learning. Use that to your child's advantage. Hands-on learning can be much more effective than learning strictly from a textbook. It is best to pair both together. A child should read something, listen to it, speak it, write it, observe it, and do it (and also taste, touch, and smell it, if applicable). This will allow for the lesson to be understood from more than one angle, thus allowing for a deeper understanding.
Schedule According to Individual Needs
A schedule should be formed for organization, but remember that homeschool allows for flexibility, so if one child is throwing a fit and the older children need you for help or a lesson, they can move on to a self-instructed lesson, like free reading, until you have taken care of the problem with the other child.
Remember that in homeschool, you should have some structure to be sure lessons are being taught and learned, but also remember that homeschool allows for some flexibility when needed.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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