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Homeschooling Considerations

Families who are considering homeschooling are faced by a range of issues: legality, curriculum, funding, subject expertise, post school options and life after homeschooling.

1.  Legalities

Is homeschooling legal? In most countries the answer is most certainly yes!  Having stated this, the legal status varies tremendously from countries and indeed, within state and provincial regions within a country. For example in the USA, all fifty states recognize some method of educating children at home.  Some states offer free public school online, others recognize religious or family run schools.  These circumstances are similar in many other countries, particularly those in Europe.

Foremost, if you are considering homeschooling, your initial fieldwork is to check with your state or provincial Department of Education and see what the regulations are for pulling a child from their existing traditional education institution and placing them in a homeschool environment.  If the child has not attended traditional school in the past, it may require a different set of notifications.  Homeschooling is legal in many countries, but it is extremely important that each family be in full compliance with their local regulatory homeschooling laws and be thoroughly ware that laws and requirements differ tremendously.

2.  Curriculum

There are several options for finding a suitable homeschool curriculum.  Perhaps the best way is to ask other homeschooling families or homeschooling associations. Each will have their own favorite curriculum or combination of different curricula. Some families go to homeschool conferences where curriculum vendors market their product.  Other families search the internet for their instructional material.  One popular curriculum is the British National Curriculum: https://www.gov.uk/national-curriculum/overview and the NSW Board of Studies: http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/

Many states and provinces in various countries where a free, online public education is offered, the department of education often provide books, materials, even use of a computer.  Libraries are a great source of educational material, especially where literature and history are concerned.  For early elementary students there are many sources for basic mathematics, literacy, humanities and science. One tremendous website for homeschoolers to use is Edhelper: http://www.edhelper.com/

 

3. Expense

Homeschooling does not have to be expensive.  Sources of educational material are wide-spread.  For families unwilling or unable to spend a lot of money, there are free and low cost curricula to be found online, such as those mentioned previously. The other end of the spectrum are the all-in-one box curricula which may be quite costly, however they do offer many services including lesson planning and grading as well as record-keeping and an interface with the department of education.  Essentially, homeschooling can be as cost effective or as expensive as a family chooses.  There are many options between the two extremes that will accommodate families in all economic circumstances.

4. Expertise

Not every parent will feel comfortable teaching every subject. While most parents will feel comfortable teaching the basics to younger students, when it comes to advanced fields of study such as literature analysis, mathematics, physics, chemistry and economics, many parents feel like they are not qualified to teach their students. Other courses such as foreign languages or music instruction often require more teaching than a parent might feel comfortable with.  The answer to this dilemma is to out-source.  The idea that a parent does all the teaching in a homeschooling situation is usually a fallacy.

Good advice is to check with local homeschool support groups to see if there are group classes.  Local libraries may offer courses.  Many times post-schooling students earn money through tutoring so check with your closest college or university to see if tutors are available.  Often checking with fellow homeschoolers will show a need and you might join with other families to fund a course. Additionally, some students in a homeschool environment also attend mainstream classes at a school for certain subjects, thus creating a unique blending of homeschooling and traditional schooling – in some cases being the best of both worlds.

5. Higher Education

In the past, higher institutions of education (colleges, universities and technical training centres) might have been hesitant to accept homeschoolers because they were unsure of the amount of scholarship abilities of a homeschooler.  However, that has changed for the most part, particularly in countries where homeschooling is rapidly growing, for example in Australia, England and Canada.  Higher educational institutions find that homeschoolers are generally well prepared for applied courses, performing better on standardized tests and required less remedial work than traditionally educated students.  Higher educational institutions also find that homeschool high school students often take dual credit courses which provide both high school and post-schooling credit.  Homeschool students tend to be self-starters and are accustomed to studying and preparing projects.  In fact, many institutions of higher learning seek out homeschool students because they find that homeschooled students measure up very competitively with other students.

6. Post Homeschool Planning

Planning is part of any successful homeschool operation. When you are trying to figure out how to prepare your student for higher education, there are a number of important questions to consider.

1.      Does the current curriculum have high school coursework available?

2.      Does your child know what they might want to do when they grow up?

3.      What are the admission requirements for a college or university that has programs in the area your student would want to study?

7. Testing

If you live in a region that requires routine standardized tests then your student will be exposed to them throughout their educational experience. Some regions do not require testing or reporting at all, while others list it as an optional practice. It is important to prepare your student for standardised tests if he or she intends to attend a higher educational institution.

There are several ways to help your homeschooled student prepare for these admission tests.

1.      Attend a tutoring college that offers specialised test taking classes.

2.      Ultilise test preparation guidelines.  They usually contain past test papers with attached answers.

3.      Practice tests. It is possible to incorporate practice tests in the test prep.

It is important to find out the target scores required for the standardized tests in terms of acceptance into an identified course offered at a higher educational institution. Check with the higher institution of education to which your student intends to submit applications. Generally the more data you have, the clearer the picture becomes about entry requirements, thus allowing you to design an appropriate plan to ensure success.

8. Records

Since homeschooled students generally do not have a school keeping maintaining their high school transcripts, this will be the homeschooling parents’ responsibility. Important features to include in the student’s transcript is the course title, the material source, the basic course outline, and the student’s scores in the courses.

Other important records to keep for your homeschooled high school student are records of field trips, work-study experiences, outside course participation, volunteer and charity participation, club participation, and records of independent study projects. You might also consider compiling a student portfolio that includes samples of the student’s work. This would be of particular importance if your student is an artist, writer, or music.

It is realistic and worthy to homeschool high school aged students in many cases. In most cases where proper planning is evident and the considerations raised in this article are addressed,  as a parent  you can expect your child (student) to excel at a higher institution of learning.  

 

 

 

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