The number of homeschooled children has been increasing drastically over the last few years. Religion and culture preservation is no longer the sole reason for families who start homeschooling their children. The family profile of homeschooling has also evolved over the past 40 years to become more inclusive and diverse on all socio-cultural-religious and economic levels. Yet the resources and strategies available have not caught up to the lifestyle demands and educational values of the new demographic. Many parents, with all their good intentions, struggle to create cohesive and quality curriculum models that are manageable, modern and affordable. I totally empathize as a parent and former teacher. The valid feeling that one cannot have it all looms overhead and clouds your vision of how to proceed. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you jump into homeschooling.
Schools today, due to the federal and state education policies, continue to place more emphasis on core standards and standardized tests. While parents are not completely ready to abandon that criterion, they are looking for a curriculum which is more flexible, engaging and creative. The one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work for parents whose children are ‘special’ in different ways. Whether they are immature, intensely shy, unevenly intelligent or involved in professional acting or musical careers, they all are looking for a more flexible education schedule and approach.
Even the best schools today are facing issues of crowding which effectively means that the teachers, however skilled and motivated, are unable to give personal attention to students. The additional issues of bullying, peer pressure, the gadgets and fashion race give way to concerns regarding the general safety of the students. For some families, it is also about spending more quality time together and reducing the long school hours.
Here's the other side of homeschooling that needs to be discussed. Many, actually most families realize at some point on their homeschool path, that homeschooling is actually harder than it looks and way more challenging than they would have imagined. I’ve met with many parents, mostly mothers whom traditionally take on the primary homeschool role, who claim that it is close to impossible to keep it all together. One client was literally in tears as she said running her department of twelve was by far an easier task than managing her son’s homeschool program. Homeschooling requires a big vision and incredible attention to detail. Forget about juggling - you are starring in what can feel like a one-person improv routine where you play every role and are responsible for keeping the storyline going in a way that captures and holds the audience’s attention.
It’s easy to underestimate the responsibilities and EQ (emotional intelligence) required to starting and maintaining a dynamic program. And largely, for this reason, parents default to the old teaching and learning strategies they rejected in the traditional school. I’ve seen parents start off, pencils sharpened with daily morning meetings with their children (a great practice for tuning in and beginning the day with unity and purpose) and reflective pow-wows, inquiry books and writing sessions only to end up with online tutoring, a crate of printables, tension over upcoming standardized tests and a messy home.
Also check out The Start-Up (a Foundation Program) as a great way to begin a rewarding and operationally successful homeschool program.
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