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Education

The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling

Lockdown left our children with no other option other than remote education. Now that schools have opened again, many households are reluctant to go back to the way that things were. At-home education is here to stay. We’re going to take you through a look at how homeschooling works, the pros and cons, and how children develop differently. There are also handy lifehacks and parenting tips for homeschoolers coming up.

Contents:

What is homeschooling?

homeschooling

There are many ways to understand homeschooling and many applicable schools of thought. Here’s a breakdown of homeschooling’s basic definition, where and when it originated, and how homeschooling works. We’ll also be highlighting curriculums, core methods and exploring all the benefits and drawbacks.

Basic definition

Homeschooling is both the act of educating your child at home and a movement for educational reform intended as an alternative to formal education. Each child’s tuition is designed according to their unique needs and affinities, letting them learn at their own pace. Independent homeschooling utilizes a range of different learning methods and philosophies. There are more curriculums available now than ever, thanks to the online learning boom.

History and facts

Up until the 1830s, homeschooling was the primary form of education. By the early 19th century, formal classrooms overtook informal, at-home education. American Calvinist philosopher Rousas John Rushdoony first began to purport learning at home as an alternative to secular public schools. However, in 1976, educator John Caldwell Holt published “Instead of Education, Ways to Help People Do Things Better”, advocating that children leave compulsory schooling and instead participate in homeschooling.

Ever since Holt has been heralded as the father of homeschooling. Early pioneers like John Holt with the ongoing newsletter “Growing Without Schooling” and his associate, educational theorist Raymond Moore paved the way for the modern movement we know today. Parent Michael Farris used his legal expertise as an attorney to found The Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983. It has since become the nexus of homeschooling in America and a bold, influential example to the rest of the world.

How does homeschooling work?

homeschooled

Homeschooling involves one-on-one learning leaning on a variety of resources. Each State and locality will have its own regulations that cover acceptable homeschooling programs and curriculums. Choosing a curriculum will determine the focus of education and the number of pre-existing resources like worksheets, videos, and tests available. Parents combine traditional intellectual development exercises for studying at home with outside lessons, private tutors, excursions, and technological solutions like apps and online classes.

Read more How to choose a good tutor for a child?

Homeschooling curriculums

There are many different ways to approach homeschooling and several proven, reliable curriculums to pick from. The best fit for your child will be a curriculum that you have created based on their individual development, but pre-existing solutions simplify setting out subjects, lessons, and time-frames. Each curriculum available is a product that’s been formulated and sold by a company specializing in a particular educational method or learning philosophy. Explore all of your options to construct or pick the one that’s best for your child.

Homeschooling models

The number of successful, proven approaches to at-home education is growing steadily. Here are a breakdown and overview of the eight basic, accepted homeschooling models.

Classical

The classical method is a three-step approach built upon a foundation of knowledge dating back to the Old Testament. Notable works classified under the “Great Books” are studied under the framework of the “Applied Trivium”. Subjects are studied in chronological order. This develops a historical understanding of the flow and formation of ideas throughout time.

The three components of classical homeschool are together called the “Trivium”. At an elementary level, memory is trained by learning facts using repetition. From this basis, analytical thinking is developed by feeding the inquisitive nature of a growing mind. Finally, rhetoric follows, whereby students express knowledge and logic learned using reports, projects, papers, other writing, and verbal communication exercises.

Charlotte Mason

Based on the Christian principles taught by educator and reformer Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason, this homeschooling method is built around short study periods. Each session ranges between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the level of education. Reading is core to the Charlotte Mason method, featuring many prominent classics, biographies, and impactful moral and socio-economic tales. Nature walks and journaling replace lectures and quizzes, accompanying most lessons.

The Charlotte Mason method is ideal for families looking for a reliable form of biblical training. It installs a Christian-conscious basis of education and is highly suited to low-budget educators and non-professional teachers. Elementary and middle school learning is the strongest, with family orientated workbooks common.

Montessori

The renowned Italian educator, Dr. Maria Montessori, founded the acclaimed Montessori Method with a focus on an adaptive, humanistic approach to education in the early 1900s. Her methodology that shuns grades and testing is built on two basic principles – developing the psyche by interacting with the environment and channeling the latent, inherent untapped path of development found in young children.

The Montessori Method utilizes a range of tactile, interactive objects to aid education. Study periods are divided into time segments as large as three hours. Instead of following a lesson plan, unstructured learning occurs during fixed periods based on the student’s interests.

Unschooling


Unschooling, also known as natural learning or experiential learning, is a system and philosophy for home education created by the homeschooling pioneer John Holt. Learners lead their own education, learning through living at their own pace. Parents facilitate education by providing information relevant to their child’s interests. Parents nurture the optimal environment and resources to explore affinities intelligibly.

There are many different branches of unschooling available. More popular systems include Worldschooling, which educates students by allowing them to experience the culture and society of foreign places. Another top choice is project-based unschooling involving real-world problem-solving. The popularity and rich history of unschooling grant parents a vast range of information to learn from.

School-at-Home

School-at-Home replicates the teacher-led experience of formal education. Boxed curriculum sets with textbooks and workbooks are typically provided to facilitate distance education or correspondence learning. Online schools often use this familiar approach. Families who value simplicity and the time-saving benefits of a whole grade school of learning resources in a single package will love this method of homeschooling.

Various boxed homeschool curricula are expensive when compared to alternate education options. Packages containing an entire curriculum for the student’s subject choice are provided for the year and arrive at a substantial cost. Curriculums closely mimic the format of formal school.

Waldorf Education

The Waldorf Education method has been established as an independent school movement since 1919 and has been in the U.S. since roughly 1928. Learners are guided through a learning strategy that includes a diverse curriculum spanning the arts, music, physical education, and academics. Within Waldorf Education, childhood is divided into three distinct stages. Each seven-year period marks a time whereby the child learns differently.

Early childhood spans birth to age seven. Children develop through doing rich sensory environments and ample play-based tasks. Between seven and 14 during middle childhood, children develop using the imagination relying on storytelling, music, and movement. The final segment of learning, adolescence, between 14 and 21, marks a period where kids are given far more control over what they are learning and how.

Unit Studies

Unit Studies involve studying one specific topic, analyzing it from multiple angles encompassing all academic subjects. Families focused on the unit study approach have many curriculum options at their disposal. Once familiar with the approach, custom unit studies are available as a primary learning style for either individual subjects or all education.

A series of learning activities and experiences are formulated that all relate back to a singular topic that’s being studied. Topics are explored in as much detail as possible, including practical exercises, experiments, excursions, observation, and academics.

Eclectic Education


Eclectic homeschooling offers a midway point between the fixed structure of a traditional curriculum and the flexible, free unschooling approach. Eclectic education is a method of homeschooling that uses resources and learning styles from multiple education methods. It’s the most personalized of all approaches, focusing on finding the right techniques and learning aids to suit the student instead of putting the child in charge of what they want to learn.

Developing the learning method that works best for each child is the primary goal of eclectic education. Traditional subjects and those customarily seen as electives and optional are viewed with equal importance. Subject choice is made according to each child’s personality.

Pros and cons of homeschooling

homeschoolers

The United States currently has an estimated four to five million students being homeschooled between the grades of K to 12. That’s roughly 9% of all school-going children, and the count is rising. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of homeschooling that have become clear through the movement’s evolution.

Benefits of homeschooling

Homeschool students can look forward to a range of benefits. Studies show homeschoolers score better on achievement tests than public-school students regardless of their parent’s income or education. Here are some of the other main benefits of homeschooling:

  • parents and guardians have a more direct role in their child’s daily education and learning experience;
  • children develop at a pace optimal suited to their individuality and academic growth;
  • kids form stronger relationships with their parents and guardians;
  • homeschooling lessons progress at a far faster pace than regular classes;
  • children learn, grow and obtain skills that are aligned with family values and goals;
  • bullies and negative influences are minimized, eliminating the majority of negative peer pressure;
  • vacations and other out-of-home activities can be made a part of learning;
  • bundled curriculum resources and learning packages present considerable savings;
  • personalized learning allows children to develop affinities and pursue personal interests;
  • fewer distractions while learning translates to better retention, attention, and improved education overall.

Disadvantages of homeschooling

homeschool definition

No one can deny that homeschoolers are exposed to less social interaction. However, certain families prefer this developmental model. Additionally, the following primary disadvantages of homeschooling should be considered:

  • learners may never benefit from the influence of being exposed to expert educators;
  • complex, intricate learning experiences (such as dissection) require significant planning and resources;
  • homeschooling is a time-consuming experience that will fill the schedule of the parent or parents;
  • planning school activities, combined with managing admin and teaching, translates to a significant transitional adjustment period;
  • opportunities for social interaction need to be created proactively and aren’t as readily available as sport and team building activities at school;
  • the income of most households is severely diminished due to one parent staying at home;
  • spending all day with a parent can lead to conflict and feelings of confinement;
  • homeschooling is more expensive on average than attending a formal public school;
  • naysayers can pose a problem for those who are sensitive to the opinions of others;
  • there can be a lack of unbiased, critical opinions and peer reviews.

Public school vs. homeschool

Despite personal growth being better for certain individuals within specific educational structures, public school and homeschool fruit comparable results when the same devotion has been paid to studies. Both come with inherent benefits and drawbacks distinctly different from each other. Exposure to people from several cultures and varied backgrounds prepares students for social interactions later in life with less proactivity needed.

Problems with homeschooling

benefits of homeschooling

Homeschoolers most often lack the motivation to pursue their studies with avid interest continually. If ample opportunities are not provided, homeschooling can leave students lonely or lacking adequate social development for healthy interactions later in life. Mixing home and school life without enough attention paid to separating the learning schedule from the rest of your child’s lifestyle will lead to unnecessary stress and an impaired education process.

Read more The child does not want to study or to do their homework: what should parents do?

Negative effects of homeschooling

Without varied regular exposure to other kids and adequate social interaction, homeschooled children can lack the diversity needed to thrive in today’s world. Secular views are easily transferable and limiting to free thought and self-development. Certain students find mainstream college integration more difficult than their formally educated counterparts. However, this again comes down to upbringing and social development.

Are homeschooled kids different?

Given a well-rounded homeschooling system, homeschooled kids are no different from other children. In fact, 78% of all peer-reviewed studies confirm that homeschoolers perform measurably better than those educated in institutional schools.

Reasons to/not to homeschool

home education

For some, homeschooling will help them reach higher peaks than they ever thought possible. However, there are other families who simply can’t go without traditional institutionalized education. Homeschooling may not be for everyone.

Here are five of the top reasons to homeschool your child:

  • complete customization of curriculum for faster learning and addressing the education of special needs or gifted students;
  • an enhanced family dynamic and improved social bonds between children and parents;
  • homeschooled kids have a safer environment that’s free from negative influences and distractions;
  • prime alternative education option for those challenged by difficult circumstances, health, or frequent traveling;
  • guided social interactions offer moderated introduction of values, beliefs, and world views.

Following are five valid reasons to not homeschool your child:

  • don’t homeschool if you don’t have enough free time;
  • don’t homeschool if you can’t afford the income loss of a parent staying home;
  • don’t homeschool if you rely on the public school system for affordability, food, or aid programs;
  • don’t homeschool if you hold objections to the education style;
  • don’t homeschool if family life is already troubled, conflicted, or constrained.

How to homeschool your child: tips and life hacks for parents

what is homeschooling

Each parent will approach childhood education differently. However, there are certain life hacks and handy advice that are universal. Here is a selection of ten homeschooling tips that will make an immediate impact on learning in your household:

Create an environment cohesive to a focused, fun learning experience

Set up a room with everything your child needs to learn effectively in one place. Learning doesn’t need to be confined to this one space but dedicating an area to education will inspire concentration and attentive learning naturally.

Ask your child a lot of questions and adapt their education accordingly

The beauty of homeschooling is that you’re not constrained by a fixed syllabus or learning philosophy. Today’s societal diversity has bred children that thrive uniquely in different learning structures. This often takes combining educational methods and practical lesson styles. Don’t be afraid to use all the resources available to you.

Form and keep a consistent routine

pros and cons of homeschooling

Your method of education will largely determine the lesson style and length. Set out defined periods for learning and stick to them. Routine prepares a child to manage time and available resources. It also ensures that their home life and education are compartmentalized. Otherwise, it easily begins to feel like one long grind with no separation between work and everything else.

Ensure ample resources and technology are available

Homeschoolers are more enabled today in the age of remote learning than ever. Take the time to find your child enough learning resources to support their natural interest, education, and ongoing intellectual development. Every school of thought, educational method, and individual curriculum will have ample information available online.

Involve your child in deciding on changes to their education

Before jumping from method to method, remember that consistency is the key to success in any endeavor. However, homeschooling is built around your child’s unique development. So, when you do make changes, involve them in the decision-making process as far as possible.

Supply ample opportunities for social development

how does homeschooling work

Many homeschooling methods hinge upon social interaction, excursions, and social events. Community clubs for sport, games, study, collaborative hobbies and other activities are ideal for homeschoolers. Also, keep in mind that there are also many safe, stimulating, socially-distant social opportunities available online.

Combine memory, spatial learning, tactile stimulation, discussion, and practical exercises

Your syllabus and learning style’s exact nature will depend on your curriculum and methodology, but balance is always best. Look for the areas of education lacking in your child’s life and steadily but surely work at broadening their base of education.

Connect with a homeschooling support network

Most localities have local homeschooling support networks that either convene online or in-person at predefined locations. Whether you consult with a personal support group or a homeschooling organization is up to you. No matter which you pick, make sure that you reach out to like-minded individuals. A little support goes a long way, and you’ll learn a host of new teaching tactics and coping mechanisms.

Set time aside for breaks

how to homeschool your child

The length, frequency, and spacing of your child’s breaks will depend on many factors ranging from their focus to what you’re studying and how. Always incorporate breaks regularly. No child will have the attention to enduring ongoing lengthy study sessions and still be wholeheartedly invested if they aren’t given enough time off.

Define homeschooling goals

The flexibility of homeschooling makes goal setting vitally important. Consider the big picture and divide your goals into achievable milestones. Factor in the activities you wish to accomplish and the progress desired, including academic and life skills. Goal setting gives you a rounded overview of how you’re balancing learning, family life, and connected activities.

Homeschooling – A Unique Opportunity To Bond And Grow With Your Child

If you have weighed the pros and cons and are still considering making the switch or sticking to your decision, rest assured – you’re not alone. Many families out there share your journey, and there are many more who will, ensuring support for every situation and a ready supply of information and stories to relate to. How do you juggle being a teacher, parent, and planner? We encourage you to share your tips and advice in the comments section below.

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