Top tips for homeschooling
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 5% of children in the US are educated at home. The number of homeschooled students has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns and school closures highlighted the benefits homeschooling to families.
We spoke to Beth, who has been homeschooling her daughter, Addy, for 12 years in Virginia, USA. As such, she has a wealth of advice for other parents who are considering the transition to home education.
Are you considering homeschooling?
“My first piece of advice is that parents can do it!” emphasises Beth. “It might not always be easy, but the rewards of homeschooling are worth it.” Addy says, “While homeschooling is not for everyone, if you are considering it then I would highly encourage it.”
Before you make the decision to start homeschooling, the most important thing is to check the specific homeschooling laws in your state or country and ensure that you follow them. Every state and country have different legal requirements for educating your child at home. Do you need to register with the authorities to let them know your child is homeschooled? Do you need to teach your child certain subjects and topics, or follow an official curriculum? It is essential that you abide by any regulations to protect yourself and your child.
Advantages of homeschooling
A significant advantage of homeschooling is that it offers opportunities to tailor a student’s studies according to their interests. “Follow their passions!” advises Beth. “Don’t forget the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, but teach these through things that interest your child.”
Another benefit of homeschooling is that it provides a huge degree of freedom for students to learn at their own pace in an environment that is appropriate for them. Unlike most public schools, homeschooling does not have to involve sitting at a desk all day. “Always keep your child’s learning style in mind,” says Beth. “Are they an auditory learner? Do they like hands-on activities? Do they enjoy sitting in a chair and reading?” With homeschooling, your child can use whatever learning method works best for them.
You also don’t have to follow a standard 8am-to-3pm Monday-to-Friday school working week. You can schedule classes around your other family commitments and allow your child to learn at the times when they are most productive. However, if you are homeschooled, Addy does advise that you “get up early and get your work done!”
Homeschooling learning ideas
“Go to the grocery store and calculate prices (math!), then come home and cook or bake (chemistry!),” suggests Beth. “Go outside to study birds (biology!), build and program a robot (computing!) and go see a live orchestra (music!).” She also recommends taking advantage of all the resources available in your community. “Visit the zoo, local museums, historical sites and art galleries, and go to festivals and farmers markets.” These will all provide educational experiences for learning about animals, agriculture, history and culture. And use your local environment to stimulate discussions about different topics. “If you live in the mountains, go hiking to learn about wildlife and geographical features. If you live near the sea, learn about marine life and coastal preservation.” Addy says a highlight of homeschooling is that first and foremost, you can focus on making learning fun. “You can do things that you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do,” she says.
There are loads of resources available online that you can use for teaching your child, including general information about topics, lesson plans and online courses. “The internet is full of information,” says Beth, “and be sure to visit your local library!”
“Don’t forget about the kids spending time with other kids their age,” says Beth. This is hugely important to ensure they have opportunities for social interactions. “This could be with church groups, sports clubs, scouts, music classes, etc.” Look for homeschooling groups in your area to connect with other homeschooling families. This will allow you share ideas and resources with other parents and for your child to meet other homeschooled students and potentially to participate in group lessons led by specialist tutors.
“My final piece of advice is that no decision is irreversible,” says Beth. “If something doesn’t work, try something else. Not every subject nor every curriculum fits every student, and that’s ok. What matters most is that you are spending time with your family, showing them the world and giving them the tools to learn and work in the community. And if homeschooling doesn’t work for your family, that’s ok too. Remember – one size does not fit all and you know your child best!”
Futurum Careers provides educational resources for 14-to-19-year-olds. Visit www.futurumcareers.com/articles to find articles and activities relating to a wide range of subjects that you can use for homeschooling,and sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest education and careers resources.