A Beginners Guide To Homeschooling

Making the choice to home school can leave parents feeling over whelmed with options. Tips for making important educational decisions for your children.

It doesn't matter if you are home schooling your children from the very beginning or if you decide to home school after having your children in public school for a period of time. Keeping your kids at home to be educated may begin to feel like the last easy decision you get to make as you are confronted with all the various aspects of home schooling. From course and curriculum selection to teaching styles there are numerous ways to go about home schooling. So many ways, in fact, that many parents new to home education often find themselves completely overwhelmed.

If you happen to be one of those over whelmed parents there is hope in site! One of the best aspects of home schooling is that you as the parent can custom tailor your child's education, and your child will be your best guide for choosing how to go about selecting curriculum and establishing a teaching style. Keeping your child and his or her interests in mind, begin narrowing down the possibilities!

Before you begin buying supplies and making plans it is essential to check with your states home schooling regulations. The rules that pertain to home schooling are different for each state; so if you have moved recently do not assume that the same rules apply in your new state! Some states have very strict rules about what curriculums can be used and require regular testing and submission of schoolwork. Other states require only a good faith effort on the parent's part and nothing more. Regulations in some states will have a large influence on how you educate your children; however, most methods of teaching can still be adhered to while meeting legal requirements.

Once you've established your legal boundaries the next step is to spend some time exploring how your child learns best, and what teaching methods work best for your family. Many parents who have had their child(ren) in public school spend some time "˜decompressing'. They take a break from school all together. This time can be spent gradually transitioning from one teaching method to another, encouraging children to have fun learning, letting stressed children relax and regain confidence, etc. Taking a break and moving into home schooling slowly is a great way to smooth out the transition for parents and children. It's also a way to give different teaching methods an informal trial run before settling on the one that will be used full time.

There are a few basic ways of selecting educational materials for your child. There are complete curriculums available, generally divided by grade level that encompass everything your child will need to learn for that school year. The benefit of this method is that it is all-inclusive. Everything from math to social studies is planned out and ready to be taught without you as the parent having to do anything more than open a book and start the day's lesson. The cons to this method include price (complete curriculums are often expensive), and the restrictive nature. Your child may do well with some aspects of the curriculum, but not others. With a pre-set curriculum you lose your ability to customize materials to your child's needs. This lack of customization causes many parents to custom pick their own curriculum, which is another popular schooling method. Parents who dislike complete curriculums use a variety of methods and resources to cover the topics they feel are important for their children to learn. The benefits of this method are numerous and include a great deal of freedom both in media (lessons can be taught via books, computer, TV, audio, hands on experiences, etc) and content (parents can custom pick subjects to be covered). This method does require that a great deal of time be spent gathering various educational materials together "˜from scratch' to create a balanced curriculum. Last but not least, some parents feel that a set curriculum is not required. Children are given access to a wide range of learning materials ranging from various media to hands on activities and are allowed to learn and "˜self educate' at their own pace. The biggest draw back of this method is that it is often viewed as educational neglect by those who feel children must be taught in a traditional manner to learn; it may also fall short of educational standards in states with rigid home schooling laws.

In addition to selecting a curriculum that works best for your child, establishing the method in which you teach is also important. Teaching methods often go hand in hand with curriculum styles. Some parents find that adhering to a strict schedule works best for their children; other parents don't enforce set school times at all. Most families find a happy medium between the two extremes and allow for flexible schooling times and methods.

Most importantly, if a method isn't working for your child, drop it! Don't be afraid to experiment and try different curriculums and teaching methods. Even within the same family it is often necessary to use different educational styles for different children.

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