What is homeschooling all about, anyway?

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The term “homeschooling” refers to choosing to educate children at home, rather than in a public or private school. Usually one or both parents act as “teacher”, although not in the same way as a classroom teacher. Yes, it is totally legal in all fifty states. In fact, it would be illegal or even unconstitutional to deny parents the right to choose where, how, and what their children are taught.

Homeschooling provides a personal and individualized educational experience for the child. Children learn faster and more when they receive individual interaction from a parent or guardian. Parents care more about each child’s individual success because it is THEIR child – no one loves your child more than you do.

Anyone who homeschools will tell you that the experience builds a closer relationship between all members of the family. There are very few problems for teens and parents to get along, and each child learns to contribute to the family as a whole. They are learning to interact with people of all ages, how the real world works, instead of being forced to be part of an unnatural group where everyone is the same age.

There are as many different ways to homeschool as there are homeschooling families. Each family will develop their own system, routine, rhythm, whatever works best for them. This does not mean that you have to know everything before you start. Most families will research many theories, curricula, etc. different, and then they will try what appeals to them. If something doesn’t quite work for them, they try something else. There are no hard and fast rules.

This highlights one of the main advantages of homeschooling, namely that the methods used are chosen to best suit the needs and learning style of the child. When a particular topic is too easy, you can move on. When a child needs to spend more time learning a skill, she can take as long as it takes. In a traditional classroom, the teacher needs to get everyone doing the same thing at the same time, boring those who have mastered the skill or leaving those who need extra attention behind. This child-centered, self-paced homeschooling feature is a major draw to many.

No special skills or training are required for homeschooling. You are teachers simply because you are parents. The requirements for homeschoolers vary from state to state, but I am not aware of any state that requires special certification or degrees for homeschooling parents. Also, most education courses of study apply to traditional classrooms and managing 20 to 30 students at a time. They don’t really focus on one-on-one teaching. There are many resources available to help parents who are new to homeschooling. For example, the curriculum we’ve been using (now in our sixth year) gives me a daily lesson plan that explains everything that needs to be done to learn the subject. They also have counselors available to answer any questions we may have. It would be very difficult to fail with so much help and support.

Of course, a packaged curriculum is not for everyone. But even those who create their own study plan will be able to find books, websites, support groups, and more to help them. No one needs to “reinvent the wheel” when starting homeschooling.

Wherever you are on this journey, I wish you the best. In the end, you need to figure out the path that works best for YOU, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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