You accompany your kids to a casual play date with the kids next door. The mom turns to you and says, “So, I’ve decided I’m going to homeschool!” You say, “Wow that’s great!” At that moment, so many questions pop into your head: “Why?” or, “Should I do that, too?”
Homeschooling has become so popular lately, it’s hard not to wonder if you should jump on the bandwagon. The internet has made it easier to access curriculum and connect with other homeschoolers, and there are many homeschooling communities in various cities. Besides, research suggests homeschooled children tend to do better on standardized tests, stick around longer in college and do better once they’re enrolled.
In both content and style, it’s all about personalization.
Belinda Boone, mom of four, has been homeschooling her kids for four years now and describes it as very rewarding.
“I love being able to teach my kids the curriculum I choose, and I get to have conversations with them during the day that I wouldn’t,” Boone says. “Cincinnati has such a huge homeschool following now, and there are many options for extra programs. Curriculums lay out lesson plans so easily that anyone can follow them.
But how do you know if homeschooling is right for your family?
It comes down to personal preference, Boone says. So far it has been a plus for her family’s lifestyle.
“I only have my experience to pull from, but I’ve loved the relationship I’ve formed with my kids as their primary teacher,” says Boone. “I can work at their pace, and take my time on subjects they may be struggling with.”
And those nagging doubts about whether you should or not? They’re normal and a part of it all. Just remember this: you have been your child’s teacher from day one, so you’re already a huge part of his education.
Requirements vary state-to-state when it comes to homeschooling.
According to Brittany Halpin, deputy director of the Office of Communications & Outreach for the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio requires homeschool students to have a minimum of 900 hours of instruction per school term in language arts, geography, math, science, physical education, fine arts, first aid and safety and fire prevention. In Kentucky, it’s a minimum of 1,062 instructional hours covering similar subjects.
So, where can a parent begin? First, to be a homeschooling parent in Ohio you must have one of the following:
• A high school diploma
• A certificate of high school equivalence
• Standardized test scores that demonstrate
high school equivalence
• Another equivalent credential found
appropriate by your district superintendent
In Kentucky, any parent can homeschool their child, there are no educational requirements. Next? Dig into resources — they are plentiful!
“There are a wide variety of resources available to parents selecting curriculums and instructional materials,” says Halpin. “Start with your local school district. Review curriculum and pacing guides on district websites. State and national homeschool associations are also a good source for materials and recommendations,” she adds.
One of the best sources though will be other homeschooling parents. Get yourself connected to a local group, then it’s as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee with another homeschooling parent.
Pros & Cons of Homeschooling
Of course, all children are different and what works for one may not work for the other — but isn’t that one of the reasons that draws you to homeschooling to begin with? Often schools don’t have the time or manpower to reach all children and their different learning styles.
“Every child is unique,” says Halpin. “Parents interested in homeschooling are generally looking for the option that allows them to customize their child’s education.” The only caveat being that homeschooling is a significant commitment. When you sit down with your family to try and come to a homeschooling or not decision, weigh the pros and cons.
• Educational freedom
• Day to day flexibility and control
• Knowing your child better
• No busywork
• Personal time restraints
• Seeking out social situations for your kids
• Feeling “out of the loop” with local kids in
public or private schools
According to Rebecca Kochenderfer, founder of homeschool.com, there are pros and cons no matter which way you go. “With homeschooling, we a have the freedom to educate as we see fit, on a schedule that fits our family, and we have time to explore hobbies and pursuits that would be difficult for the typical schooled student,” Kochenderfer says. “Homeschooling offers the ability to tailor fit a child’s education to his specific needs. A few cons may include the parent feeling burnt out at times and the fact that some parents don’t feel qualified to teach some subjects.”
Again, homeschooling your children is all about personal preferences, resources and time. Use your discretion, and do what works best for your family. Include your kids in the homeschool decision making process and they will partner with you willingly, knowing that a decision was made as a team.