Introduction to Homeschooling
The Whys & Hows of Homeschooling
As many as 2 million children nationwide (with a projected increase of 7-15%
per year) learn at home in kitchens converted to classrooms. That makes
homeschooling the fastest growing educational alternative in the country
Parents homeschool their children for a variety of reasons:
- Some have educational philosophies or religious beliefs that are inconsistent
with public and private schooling.
- Others begin homeschooling to rescue their children from the de-socialization
taking place on school campuses - to prevent exposure to drugs, gangs, and risky
- Parents choose homeschooling to achieve academic excellence by custom-tailoring
a curriculum suited to their child's interests, learning styles, and needs. Most
students, including those with learning differences or special needs flourish in
the one-on-one environment of a homeschool.
The latest nationwide studies of religious and secular homeschooled students support
the claim of homeschooling proponents that home education is more successful than
public education. The National Home Education Research Institute reports that homeschooled
students scored, on the average, in the 80th to 87th percentiles on standardized academic
achievement tests. The national average for public schooled children is the 50th percentile.
The successful, documented track record of homeschoolers is one reason that
college admissions panels have adapted their application process for the
home educated. Homeschoolers have been accepted at major universities and
colleges including Harvard, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Stanford University, all of the University
of California campuses, and even the U.S. Military Academies.
How do homeschooling parents go about teaching their children at home? There
is no one right way to homeschool and no one-size-fits-all mindset. Many agree
that developing a personal educational philosophy is a good way to start. Homeschooling
advocate, Jackie Orsi, a former Trustee with the California Homeschool Network, elaborated
on this idea, "There needs to be a parental vision of the kind of whole person
you hope to raise, someone who is not merely knowledgeable but also productive, civil,
generous, creative, responsible, self-assured, wise, and ultimately, lovable. That's a
parent's complete task, of which schooling the child is just a rather minor part of the
whole." Once a philosophy is developed it guides the parent in choosing from a
variety of methods:
- Some homeschoolers recreate traditional schooling at home, complete with
textbooks and recess.
- Others attend Home Study Programs through public school districts. Teachers
help parents develop a course of study for their children and supply resource
materials. The parent executes the plan at home (like a teacher's aid) and
reports back to the school district monthly.
- Charter Schools offer Home Study Programs providing curriculum development
and teaching assistance. Some provide families $1000 per student in educational
credit toward the purchase of consumable educational materials.
- Homeschoolers may also become members of private school Independent Study
Programs. These programs vary but generally supply record keeping, guidance,
support, and curriculum counseling.
- A few home educators employ tutors to instruct their children at home.
- There are families that engage in what is known as "unschooling or
interest-initiated, child-centered learning. Parents act as facilitators --
providing materials and resources to satiate their child,s own interests in
any particular field of study.
- Educational technology provides many options to the classroom at home.
Educational software includes everything from pre-K activities to complete
curriculum packages for grades K-12. The Internet offers research opportunities
in every subject along with online, interactive homeschool classes and college
courses. Audio and video courses are available. Public television offers courses
for credit through community colleges.
- Home educators also participate in correspondence courses. Private schools
offer complete curriculum packages for pre-K through high school. A number of
colleges and universities provide high school correspondence courses and give
college credit for them upon completion.
- Most home educators utilize a wide variety of resources. They may allow for
interest-initiated learning in some areas and blend it with unit studies in
history or science. They may also use a textbook for math, take foreign language
classes outside of the home, and supplement their studies with classes at local
museums or with a correspondence course. They use an eclectic mix of educational
tools to custom-tailor a learning program that emphasizes their child's strengths,
and helps to manage weaknesses.
Parents have a profusion of resources to choose from in the task of educating their
children, not the least of which is the public library. Homeschooling advocacy organizations provide all kinds of assistance,
counseling, presentations, publications and products for parents pursuing home education.
Homeschooling parents organize cooperative classes, field trips, park days, and social
events that can be accessed through regional homeschool newsletters and support groups.
Additionally, major textbook publishers and testing services now package their product
lines specifically for homeschoolers.
like their school-going counterparts, also participate in after-school
sports programs, dance classes, 4-H projects, music lessons, scouting,
and church activities. They enjoy friendships with neighborhood kids as
well. Opportunities for socialization prevail.
The phenomenal growth of the homeschooling movement makes the one-time underground
activity easily accessible today. While homeschooling may not be right for every family,
it is definitely a viable educational alternative. Perhaps you and your children will
forego the back-to-school sales and join millions of other children who learn at home.
Intrigued? Then please explore the rest of this website to discover resources and support
for homeschooling families.
Keep the home fires burning,
Diane Flynn Keith
Homefires~The Journal of Homeschooling