Guest Author - Carolyn Chambers Clark, EdD, RN
What do you need to consider if you want to home school your child?
* Your education
You don't need an impressive educational background to succeed at homeschooling. A high school education or even less will do according to research studies.
* Your financial situation
Research has shown that those parents who spend less than $200 per child per year on homeschool curriculum can get as good results as those who spend $400-$599 per child per year.
Weigh the benefits of socializing with peers against factors operating in some schools today:
~kids taking guns and knives into school classrooms
~ bullying (more feared by teens than terrorists according to the National Crime Prevention Council)
~ exposure to drugs (according to the National Center for Substance Abuse, 5 milliong high schoolers binge drink once a month or more often)
~ the risk of being forced to give your child Ritalin (or Adderall, or Prozac) after being labeled ADHD), other children giving your child street drugs
~social pressures to have sex or dress "sexy" (according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy), more than 80 percent of kids aged 12-14 are pressured to have sex too early)
* Your ability to prepare your child for the real world
Weigh the fact that your child will not be spending all day with peers the same age doing activities that don't result in usable products or findings against the creative things you can do as a homeschooler.
In the real world, your child will work with individuals of varying ages, on real projects that yield real results. You can make your homeschooling look more like the real world than schools can by helping them volunteer at a nursing home or develop a way to feed the homeless or help abused kids or women, take day trips to visit companies and talking to people about what they do, learning to play an instrument and/or attending a symphony orchestra or choral presentation, going to the planetarium to study the stars and constellations, going to the zoo to study zoology and biology or raising an animal or fish to study reproduction and social behavior, inviting other home schooled children to your home and leading groups on various topics and studying how the group interacted and how to get better results, and on and on...
* Time commitment
Homeschooling will take up a lot of time in your day. It is more than just sitting down with books for a couple of hours. Experiments and projects must be done, lessons must be prepared, papers graded, field trips and park days to take, music lessons, and more, but the benefits of bonding with your child and building teaching and communication skills can be huge.
*Lack of privacy and time for yourself
You will have little personal time or time alone. You must set aside time for yourself and stick to it or you'll never have time alone. When you home school you're with your child 24/7. Find ways to get your partner to help or other homeschooling moms and dads to rotate schooling your child for one day while you get a day off in exchange for you doing the same the next day.
You'll still have to get housework and laundry done, but you may have to change the time you do it. Get your children involved doing laundry and housework. All children should know how to do wash, cook (or participate in cooking for the very young ones) a meal, and so forth. Use household tasks (including cleaning up home schooling project mess) to teach them organization, social skills, decision making, taking responsibility, or other skills?
It's imperative that both you and your partner are in agreement about home schooling. More than that, your spouse or partner must be willing to support your efforts.
* Child readiness
If you're willing and your child isn't, home schooling won't work. Talk to your child and listen well. For what reasons does your child want to home school? Are they realistic?
Remember that you already know whatever you plan to teach your child. A problem new teachers face is to teach at too high a level because they're anxious. If you can read and write, you can teach your children. The curriculum and teacher materials will help through the planning and teaching. You can get help from others if you get stuck or hire tutors for the difficult subjects. Just take a deep breath, buy a relaxation or self-hypnosis tape that can help you stay calm and on focus.
What other home schooling resources are there?
Here are some other resources to consider:
Homeschool catalogs: Beautiful Feet Books (800-889-1978), Birch Court Books (800-655-1811), The Book Cellar (603-880-6400), Christian Book Distributors (800) 247-4784), Elijah Company (888-2-ELIJAH), Farm Country General Store (309-367-2844), Lifetime Books & Gifts (863-676-6311), Shekinah Curriculum Cellar (903-643-2760), Sycamore Tree (949-650-4466), and Timberdoodle (360-426-0672).
And some web sites....
Academically stimulating curriculum Inspires children to do their best
Free K-8 School From Home
Connections Academy Give Your Child a Better Education
Home School Program K-12
Accredited Home/Independent Study online/text & great teachers
Mary Pride, Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps
Home Schooling Achievement, 2001, Home School Legal Defense Association brochure.
Dr. David Stein, Ritalin is Not the Answer
Psychiatric Medications: www.breggin.com
Beverly Hernandez, firstname.lastname@example.org