The term ‘home schooling’ basically refers to the process in which one or more children are educated and instructed by parents, a tutor, or legal guardians away from the public school system.
Laws Governing Home Schooling
State, provincial and even school district laws across Canada and the US define home schooling differently. The legal requirements for establishing a home school also vary with the State.
For instance, in North Carolina, you must first file a ‘Notice of Intent’ to start home schooling. Within that notice you have to specify and prove that the primary educator has at least a high school diploma. Ongoing reporting throughout the year is to provide record of the child’s attendance, disease immunization and hours of study.
Every year, the child is required to undergo a standardized test – sometimes at the national level. Although North Carolina has tough restrictions and rigorous demands, most states and provinces are far more lenient.
What Is School Age?
For most children, the actual process of learning begins long before school age. Many children already know their alphabets, the names of colors, animals, how to spell their name, and more – even before they reach the public school system. This is mostly due to the dedication of a member of the family who has taken the time to teach the child.
Formal (or for that matter informal) home schooling is just a natural progression of those early years.
Instead of sending a child to a public school, parents make their own curriculum and teach their children in ways that best suit the child.
Should You Home School?
Before you decide to begin home schooling, there are certain matters for consideration. First off, meet with parents of other home schoolers and be open to their opinions – namely the pros and cons based on their personal experiences.
Then ask yourself why you have a personal interest and would want to adopt this method of educating your child. This is very important, as the success of home schooling your child/ren depends on the clarity and sincerity of your purpose.
You might also want to investigate the costs, financing and expense of the home schooling method you choose. It could cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand every year, but more importantly, you want to consider the loss of income for at least one person in your family. Unless of course, the home schooling parent is also a home-based business owner.
The question I hear most often from parents considering home schooling is whether I, or they, are qualified to teach their child at home. Although today I find it odd to be asked, it was one of my own first questions when I contemplated home schooling my own child.
Today I look at it this way: teaching is simply a continuation or extension of parenting and, with the assistance of the internet, information is easy to come buy. Online resources, virtual classrooms and research materials are every where you click. There are various books and resources for those interested in home schooling.
Pros and Cons of Learning at Home
Home schooling may seem like a lot of fun and freedom from the outside, but little is as simple as it may seem. Home schooling is a lot of added responsibility and hard work. If successful it facilitates a strong bond of love and respect between parent and child, while providing your child with the best, personalized form of education.
Some of the cons of home schooling are the responsibility of teaching your child rests solely on you. You cannot blame anyone else if your child is seen lacking in the skills that his peers excel in. If your child cannot do the things that are expected from other children of his age group, it may reflect poorly on you as an educator as well as a parent.
A critical part of home schooling is the time that you have to invest in your children. Not so bad in itself, but if you are a person who relies heavily on weekly get-togethers with friends, leisurely shopping at the mall, visits to the gym, spa or other entertainment. Finding the time to educate and dedicate the hours of home schooling may be a challenge.
This can become frustrating and rewards can seem slim – you need to be a person who can see ‘the big picture’.
As discussed earlier a parent dedicated to home schooling has little time left to report to the office or maintain a career. This often leads to household stress over finances – especially if both parents aren’t in agreement over what’s ‘best for Timmy’.
You cannot take a break when you feel like it. Feelings of guilt will assail you if you neglect studies just because you are feeling blue. You also fear that the child will take advantage of the situation. Even when you have given homework, you have to be around to give a helping hand. This means that anytime your child is around you, you are on duty! For some parents and teachers, this may mean (or at least feel like) work during every waking hour.
Finally consider that if you choose to home school your child in the early years and later enrolling your child into a public school, you may need to allot extra time for emotional and social readjustment. A child who is used to being at home for the whole day and enjoying much freedom may have some distressing emotional upheavals before he or she gets used to the rigors and rudeness of a regular school life.
Which ever path you take, rest comfortably in your decisions and know that you have options and with the right help and changes in your current lifestyle and interaction with your child, can switch schooling option at any time.
This home schooling article was originally posted on GoodByeCityLife.com in 1999. It was moved to this page in 2013’s site redesign.