Parents make the decision to home school their children for many reasons, and there are usually several considerations that they examine before making their final decision to teach their children at home instead of in a traditional school. Parents who homeschool their children come from a diverse variety of backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences but all of them have one common goal: to provide their children with the best education they possibly can.
There are many different approaches to homeschooling, and it is a wise parent who does plenty of in-depth research about these approaches prior to taking on this important task. Before making the decision to begin homeschooling your children, there are several questions that you should ask yourself.
- Why am I planning to home school my child? Is it for religious or philosophical reasons? Is it because I feel that traditional schools are not meeting my child’s individual needs? Is it because I do not feel comfortable with the environment in the public and private school options that are available to me?
Answering this question is important in helping to define the approach that you will take to schooling your own children. As with any type of school, it is important to have a clear mission about what you want to accomplish, and how you plan on accomplishing it.
- Do I have the patience necessary to home school my children?This may sound silly until you stop and think about the fact that you will now hold the role of both teacher and parent. Teaching requires demands that parenting may not, and vice-versa. Your role as a teacher may differ from the approach you have taken as a parent, as more structure and demands may be required.
- How will I evaluate my child?Any good teacher, either in a traditional school or a home school, needs to have a way of evaluating their children to ensure that understanding is occurring. Depending upon where you live, there may be guidelines in place for testing, but this is not always enough. An excellent teacher evaluates her students almost constantly in non-formal ways, to decide whether a subject has been mastered, needs remediation, or extension.
- How will I handle issues when they arise?Again, having a plan in place is of high importance. How will you deal with a child who is unmotivated or uninterested? To think that this will never happen is naïve, as all children struggle with something at times, whether it is academic, social or emotional. Flexibility, organization and patience are three of the most important qualities that any teacher, at home or in a traditional school, can have.
- How long do I plan to homeschool?Is this something that you are interested in doing while your child is an early learner? Do you plan to enroll them in a regular school as they get older, or is your plan to teach your child throughout their entire school career? Do you plan to follow the lead of your child as they mature and give them a say in their schooling choices?
- If there is more than one child in the family, how will I meet all of their needs?Teaching multiple ages can certainly work (it has since the days of the one room schoolhouse!), but parents and teachers must plan carefully to find ways to meet the needs of all the children. You will need to decide if you plan to teach your children together, carve out separate blocks of time for each of them, involve the use of computer programs or other ways of enhancing learning and providing appropriate challenges for each child.
There are many considerations for parents to make before taking on the lifestyle change that home schooling offers. If you are thinking about homeschooling your children, you should know that planning is imperative from the very onset. You not only need to consider what approach you should take, but also do a great deal of self-reflection to ensure that you have ways for creating the patience, organization and flexibility necessary to give your child the best education possible, which after all is your goal.