Whether it’s the uncertainty of returning to school after a pandemic and civil unrest or you just want to be the one educating your child, it may not be as hard as you think to get started. Homeschooling can mean anything from enrolling your child in an online program with a curricular similar to your local school or starting from scratch on your own and creating a lifelong learner.
The details are up to you and potentially, your child. And while many parents are concerned about their own education and how they may not be adequate to teach their child, remember that you have plenty of resources at your fingertips and part of the degrees that teachers get involve learning how to manage a full classroom with plenty of diversity. Some of those things simply don’t apply to homeschool teachers.
Each state has its own rule from homeschooling. To find yours, go to your search bar and type in your state, followed by “homeschool laws.” There are some basic requirements to be met in every state, but most stop at those. One of the biggest requirements is that the child attends school 180 days out of the year. However, most states don’t have requirements of what happens on those days or how many hours have to be spent on education, so meeting this criteria is fairly easy. Just be sure to maintain attendance records in states where you may be required to show them to your local school district. Know your laws inside and out. Some school districts may ask you for attendance records, but you may not be legally required to show them.
Here’s where the very idea of homeschooling splinters out into various paths. For those who want to stick with the state curriculum requirements, it may be easier for you to sign your child up in one of the many online schools. To be accredited in your state, they have to follow your state’s education requirements. If you prefer to develop your own curriculum that meets state requirements, visit your state’s Department of Education website to get the detailed requirements for your child’s age/grade. Otherwise, you can develop your own concept of education. Just be sure to follow state laws, and know the difference between laws and guidelines.
Concept of Education
One of the best parts about homeschooling is that you get to define what education means to you. All students should learn the basics of math, English, reading, writing, history/government, and science. But you can teach them in a way that makes sense for your child. For instance, if your child loves science but hates history, you can include history lessons in your science experiments.
Everyone learns differently, which is sometimes why public education isn’t the answer for everyone. While some children love filling out worksheets, others find it easier to learn using hands-on experience. When homeschooling, you get to decide what a class consists of and how the learning experience is implemented.
Prepping for School
It’s helpful to the learner as well as the teacher to have a setting that is just for school. In many cases, people simply modify existing areas. For example, you might put cloth posters on your blinds so when they are up you don’t see them, but when they are down, the poster is visible. Pictures hung with a cord on top rather than on the back can be flipped around for school use. Anything with a glass front (like a picture frame) can be used as a whiteboard.
To get in the mindset and routine, it helps to start school at the same time every day. Schedule breaks in between classes, too. But don’t get hung up on time. If the student has completed his or her work early, give an extended break or start the next class early.
Some parents prefer the unschooling method. This method can even go so far as to eliminate the classroom experience altogether. Instead, the child learns from real-life experiences. You might teach science, math, reading, and writing through cooking and trying new recipes, for instance.
Before you make your decision on how to homeschool, first decide what the goal is. If you’re trying to create a lifelong learner who questions and learns from everything, for instance, using a strict schedule is counterintuitive because it indicates that learning stops at a specific time. Whatever methods you use, remember to inject some fun into it. Learning doesn’t have to be a brutal process with firm lines and restrictions.
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