Guest Author - Terrie Andrade
More families are opting for homeschooling than ever before. Justifications for providing an alternative education range from residing in a district where academic performance is below standard to the benefit of imparting personal values and traditions within academic curriculum. The reasons to homeschool are as unique and individual as the parents and families, themselves.
Many parents are reluctant to teach their children because they doubt their own knowledge or capacity, but if you have a high school diploma, a desire and are prepared to make the commitment, you are likely a good candidate for teaching in the home.
If you are contemplating a homeschool program it is important to research both the academic and personal side of the issue. Your personality,other obligations and lifestyle will affect your creating a structured or casual agenda for study. Do not forget to factor in your child’s learning style and attention span. Be sure you have a good understanding of the amount of time that must be devoted to planning and instruction to determine whether it is feasible. Spare time is definitely reduced for the homeschooler.
To start, most parents purchase a curriculum package recognized and approved by their local jurisdiction. It comes with suggested lesson plans and a mechanism for evaluating and measuring progress. These packages vary in price depending on whether you purchase the support option which offers live professional advice and guidance. As your experience and comfort levels increase, these programs can be modified to better fit your specific needs.
Homeschooling has its share of critics but if your decision is driven by what is best for your child, it is no different than defending your position on other parental choices that invite controversy. The most vocal critics seem to focus on the deprivation of socialization. Obviously, children in a room with 20 other students for eight hours a day, will have greater exposure to social communication, but is this always the best form of interaction? Behavioral patterns (good or bad) are learned from example and ongoing peer modeling; unfortunately, inappropriate habits tend to be more easily imitated. Studies have shown that good planning by the homeschooler can result in even more free time being available for sports, cultural and extra-curricular activities.
Traditional classroom settings are generally reflective of the age and not the academic skill level of a student. This system causes slower learners to get left behind and faster learners to become bored. Children are frequently promoted on the basis of social similarity instead of proven sufficiency in grade level subjects. Traditional school settings are teacher-driven… out of necessity. Time constraints and the sheer number of students preclude a child-driven model. The ability to emphasize or spontaneously spend more time in areas where the child struggles is a typical advantage of home teaching. At the same time, if a skill or concept is mastered early, the freedom to move on is beneficial. It’s the parent who is best equipped to know their child’s temperament and make adjustments to create an optimum learning environment, including changing the order in which subjects are presented in recognition of high energy times or lack of interest.
Perhaps one of the most convincing arguments for homeschooling is the very personal motivation and enthusiasm for religious and social issues that can be woven into the daily lesson plan. Family values can be professed and demonstrated by examples of virtue, passion and ethics. Character lessons can be built in without concerns about discrimination or reprisal.
It often seems that homeschooling mothers are held to a higher standard than the professionals in the classroom. The decision to homeschool may prove more difficult for stepfamilies where the parent/child relationship is strained or still in the development stage. Pressure and disagreement among family members can be obstacles to both the child and the teaching parent. Good research, a realistic approach and strong support from all the adults involved will ease the transition and give the child more encouragement and opportunity to thrive.