Information About Home Schooling-Is It Right For You?

Home schooling can be a wonderful experience, but it's not for everyone. Answer these questions to decide if it's right for your family.

Home schooling can be a wonderful experience for parent and child, but it's not for everyone. Answer these questions to help you decide if you should home school your child.

Why do you want to home school? People have lots of reasons - educational, social, religious - for home schooling. But no matter which of these factors may be part of your decision, the main reason should be the joy of teaching your child and the opportunity to learn more about your child and yourself. If that isn't present, the other reasons are not likely to be enough motivation to carry you through the difficult times.

What are your expectations? We have all heard stories about the home schooled children who have entered Ivy League schools on full scholarship, won spelling bees or science fairs, or excelled in some other area. But most home schooled children will fall short of these marks. If you think that home schooling guarantees outstanding accomplishment, reconsider. While most home schooled children do at least as well as their traditionally schooled counterparts, there are no guarantees.

Are you patient? The every day demands of parenting require patience, and when you add the academic component to the equation, even more patience is needed to keep it in balance. If your child isn't mastering a concept as quickly as you expected, how would you respond?

Are you flexible? While there are some home school families who manage home schooling as much like a traditional classroom as possible, most families find that the different types of learning experiences made possible by home schooling are an important part of the process. Can you combine a trip to the grocery store with a math lesson? A family vacation with a geography class? Cooking dinner with a science demonstration? The most successful home schooling families are always "at school" because they are just continuing the natural learning process that began at birth.

Are you organized? Although home schooling often looks completely spontaneous and random, there is a good deal of planning that goes into the activities and curriculum to make sure that different types of material are covered. State requirements vary greatly, and in some areas you may be required to keep records of your child's progress, perhaps producing a portfolio of the year's work.

Are you resourceful? Complete curriculum packages are available from a variety of sources, but the best home schooling is what happens outside of the package. Reaching out to other home schooling parents and community resources will greatly enrich your child's home schooling experience. Invite friends and neighbors to lunch with you and your child to talk about their careers. Ask local businesses if they will allow a visit so that your child can learn about what they do. Seek out programs at parks, libraries, museums, etc. You will need to create learning opportunities in addition to being able to take advantage of the serendipitous moments which throw them your way.

Do you communicate well with your child? Are you comfortable with correcting your child? Does he or she respond well? Is your approval and praise adequate or does your child seem to need the recognition of others on a regular basis? Will your child pretend to understand a concept to please you or will he or she feel comfortable saying, "I don't get it!"

Is your child excited about home schooling? No matter how great you feel about the idea, if your child doesn't agree with you, it is likely to be a miserable experience for both of you. If your child is hesitant because of not having time with other children, that can be easily addressed through scouts, church groups, athletics, and even group activities with other home schoolers. But if there are other reservations that can't be eliminated, then home schooling may not be right for you.

If you decide to try home schooling, keep your imagination and your sense or humor available 24 hours a day. It will be a rewarding experience for you and your child if you do.

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