There are many pros and cons to home-based learning. Homeschooling requires students and caregivers to be responsible for a well-rounded education.
Whether following a strict schedule, using a general guideline, or allowing students to learn independently, self-discipline and accountability will introduce numerous benefits to home education.
To sign up for homeschooling, follow these steps:
- Research and familiarize yourself with the homeschooling laws and regulations in your state.
- Notify your local school district of your intent to homeschool by submitting a letter of intent.
- Provide a curriculum plan to your school district outlining the subjects and materials you will use.
- Keep records of your child’s homeschooling progress and provide them to your school district upon request.
- Meet the state’s homeschool requirements, which include providing instruction in specific subjects and meeting certain attendance requirements.
- Register with a homeschooling organization or program if required by your state.
- Follow any additional regulations or laws set by your local school district or state.
- Start homeschooling and keep records of your child’s progress.
If you’ve decided to educate your children at home, this article will help you find ways to get started. It also explains what resources exist for parents who want to teach themselves instead of hiring tutors.
There are many reasons why families choose to homeschool. Still, the three main ones include the freedom to choose a curriculum, traveling without interrupting studies, and following a religious-based academic foundation. Whatever your situation, it can be scary at first but also liberating!
With that said, here are some suggestions for getting started.
One way to reduce the stress of homeschooling is by joining co-op groups of families with similar goals. Many public libraries offer free classes and workshops related to homeschooling, and most states now allow non-profit organizations to provide homeschool curricula.
Check local colleges, universities, and community centers to see if any options are available. Also, check Google Groups, Facebook pages, and social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
There are plenty of places to look for support. Once you look into various homeschooling methods, you’ll discover many great programs, each offering something unique. You could try several different kinds until you find the one you want.
The important thing is to keep trying new things, learning along the way, and seeing what works best for your lifestyle.
Another option is to join a homeschool group through your church or another organization that doesn’t focus only on teaching literacy skills. These groups usually include activities centered around music, art, science, history, and field trips. They may also involve tutoring services, sports teams, clubs, and after-school events.
One advantage of these groups is that you can talk to others already familiar with the subject matter you’re studying and ask questions of experienced teachers who know the material well. Another advantage is that group members can encourage each other and build friendships based on common interests.
Your kids won’t feel left out or intimidated by older siblings. Finally, group members can use shared experiences to discuss problems and concerns while developing strategies.
On the downside, you may not be able to participate in certain activities or lessons with younger children unless you become involved in leadership roles within the group. In addition, you’ll probably pay less per month for tuition than you would for private or charter schools.
On average, however, the cost is likely comparable between homeschooled and traditional students.
In recent years, online learning via webcasts, video conferencing, and interactive multimedia platforms have become popular among educators and learners. At least one survey shows that 70% of American adults prefer distance learning to classroom lectures. Online courses range from general college prep subjects to specific academic disciplines.
Online classes allow you to access information whenever and wherever you are, provided you have Internet access and computer equipment. Online courses are popular because they save money and space compared to brick-and-mortar facilities and provide flexibility in scheduling.
Children also find online learning an excellent way to learn as it gives them more access to educational information and allows them to work at their own pace.
The disadvantages? Face-to-face and one-on-one instruction will be challenging for students who need extra explanations or directions. High school children who are homeschooled may or may not attend an accredited institution.
If the online program is not accredited, it will be up to the parents and caregivers to maintain the necessary documentation for class credits and transcript information.
Another disadvantage is the quality of online coursework varies widely depending on instructor experience levels and instructional design choices. Lastly, not everyone learns effectively using computers, and online class participation rates tend to lag behind actual attendance.
According to statistics compiled by Blackboard Education Incorporated, nearly 75 percent of U.S.-based high school seniors took a math test last year. Although results varied considerably by region, the overall proficiency rate fell below national averages.
Only 49 percent scored proficient or above on average nationwide, even though almost 90 percent of students enrolled in Algebra II were expected to pass their state exams.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 34.6 percent of public secondary school students passed the 2008 reading tests, and 37.5 percent passed the writing portion.
Conversely, 61.1 percent of homeschooled eighth-graders met or exceeded standards for reading fluency, and 62.9 percent did so for language arts composition.
However, if you enroll your kids in virtual classrooms, you’ll still need to determine whether they’ll benefit from online learning. A lot depends upon individual student abilities and needs. Most experts recommend giving online courses a fair trial period to assess learner progress and satisfaction.
Then evaluate whether you want to stick with online lessons or switch to a hybrid model combining live instruction sessions with prerecorded modules. Either approach requires discipline and self-discipline.
Without proper management techniques, online learning can become a distraction instead of aiding academic success. Remember, technology is merely a tool. Use it wisely.
A third alternative is to hire a professional educator to oversee your child’s education. Home education consultants typically charge anywhere from $500-$3,000 per semester of instruction. Fees will vary by location but generally stay within the amount mentioned above.
Enrollment numbers, ages, and grade levels may affect the increase or decrease in academic costs. Consultants come equipped with lesson plans, handouts, assessments, record-keeping systems, and reporting tools. Besides helping you develop content knowledge, they also assist with organizational tasks and personal issues.
Before choosing a consultant, research credentials and training, consultants can fill in for absent parents, handle special projects, tutor struggling students and perform administrative duties. Ask to speak directly with former clients, read online reviews, and consult references.
Be wary of consultants who seem overly eager to sell their products. Instead, opt for a provider who gives unbiased advice and helps you decide what works best for your situation.
Also, consider working with a company whose mission includes serving underserved areas. Look for providers certified under Project Lifeline, which focuses exclusively on supporting low-income families.
The Project Lifeline certification process lasts two days, costs approximately $750, and requires extensive financial planning, budgeting, nutrition, health, and safety training. Training involves hands-on practice completing real-life scenarios.
Finally, remember that you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring your child receives a quality education. Don’t expect a babysitter or nanny to supplement a lack of effort on your behalf.
Virtual Learning Programs
Virtual learning programs combine traditional classroom settings with online curricula. Children engage in structured instruction delivered either fully online or partially online. Virtual students interact primarily via e-mail messages, chat rooms, forums, blogs, discussion boards, and text messaging services.
Instructors guide students through written instructions, videos, and audio files. Students gain practical knowledge and apply theoretical concepts.
Pros? These programs can be flexible. They can accommodate busy schedules and geographical constraints. Kids can learn anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Parents can tailor lessons to meet individual needs. Virtual classes are relatively inexpensive.
Cons? Lesson delivery may be impersonal. Student engagement may suffer. Program administrators may struggle to track progress and completion rates.