YOUR CHILD'S EDUCATION
Is Homeschooling Right for You?
CBN.com - “God, what can we do?”
It started as a simple, but urgent prayer. Our seventh grade daughter, who normally thrived in public school, struggled. We addressed the issues with the teaching staff and administration, but no change transpired. As a family, we talked about different ways to handle the difficulties, but the problems remained. After enduring nearly a full year of bullying and middle school drama, her grades slipped, she didn’t care about school, many days came home crying, and her self-esteem tanked. Two weeks after the school year ended, we made the decision to begin homeschooling that fall. I was petrified. I felt terribly inadequate. Uncertain I’d know how to teach her, I prayed for guidance. I spent the summer researching tools, assessments, curriculum, and statistics. Then we leapt into the adventure.
The decision-making process to homeschool a child is daunting. If the child presently attends public school, it’s more intimidating. Many people eagerly voice their opinions on home-based education and at times, the debate is heated. However, according to the National Home Education Research Institute, significant growth has transpired in the past three to five years with the homeschool population in 2010 reaching 2.4 million students.
But is it right for you? If you are considering a home-based education for your child, here are a few things to consider as you begin your decision-making process:
1. There is no one right answer.
What is right for one person may not be right for the next. Every child learns and processes information differently. For some, their style of learning is conducive to a traditional school setting. For others it is not. Whether parents are able to devote the time needed to homeschool their child depends on the individual circumstances. Do not feel pressured to conform to what people around you are doing. Identify for yourself why you want to choose a home-based education and make the decision that best fits your family’s goals.
The homeschool route does not have to be an isolation experience. Start by looking online for resources in your area. Many geographical areas have co-ops and organizations that provide elective or core classes for homeschooled students. You may also wish to sign your child up to volunteer in your church or with an organization to get them involved in the community helping others. You could also consider adopting the public school schedule as your own so your child has the same days off as the neighborhood friends.
3. Teaching credentials.
Many parents feel they cannot homeschool if they do not have a teaching certificate. In my research, I found the level of a parent’s secondary education made little or no difference in a child’s test scores. There are considerable resources available—DVD video options, computer courses, as well as the traditional books just to name a few. Much of the curriculum available contains vast teaching notes for a parent’s use. Don’t allow your self-assessed qualifications to intimidate you from researching what is available.
4. State requirements.
The laws vary in each state for home-based education. Do your research. Most states, if not all, have a central homeschool organization available for information, reference, and conferences. The Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org) is also a tremendous resource for state laws and regulations. The membership is minimal, but their representation on your behalf is invaluable. Make sure you know what is required in your state.
5. Know your limits.
Home-based education is a large commitment. It takes time, preparation, and discipline to have a positive homeschool experience. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do and understand what your schedule allows. If a home-based education is a high priority for you, make the necessary adjustments to avoid conflicting commitments. If realistic adjustments cannot be made, then understand perhaps now is not the best time to pursue this option for your child’s education.
Our daughter excelled in our home-based education, met new friends within the first week of attending a homeschool choir class, and her confidence flourished once again. It proved to be one of the best experiences she encountered and the right decision for us at that point in her education.
Remember, homeschooling is not for everyone. But if you find yourself led to pursue such direction, start researching, get informed, and begin the adventure. It will be an unforgettable journey for the whole family.
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Karla Kassebaum is a freelance writer with a heart for parents and family. She lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter. Her website, www.karlakassebaum.com, offers encouragement, laughter, and perspective for the daily messes parents encounter.
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