Thursday 23rd of November 2017

homeschool word cloud

Homeschooling provides an unparalleled opportunity to teach, watch and learn with your children - and in most cases, with a group of other people's children as well. I am so fascinated by how many people think homeschooling means children are sitting at home for 6.5 hours a day, churning out schoolwork without the benefit of a teacher, classmates, and extra-curricular activities. So many people have said to me "oh I could never homeschool - my child needs that socialization." Homeschooled children have friends, play sports, play in bands, participate in theater, go on field trips - homeschooling is certainly not for everybody. But neither is traditional school. Not everyone fits easily into the mold of public school, and for children who find school stressful, homeschooling is a great option.

There is no question that some children thrive in traditional school settings, but many young people simply feel stifled in typical structured school environments, especially when teachers focus on discipline and "teaching to the test."  I remember discussing this with my sister years ago - she said "how will he learn to confirm to corporate America if he can't handle school! That was the last thing I cared about - my priorities were encouraging creativity and critical thinking.

To get started with homeschooling, parents need to know the laws of their jurisdiction. And once the legal requirements are met, there are other important considerations too, starting with homeschooling versus unschooling—which is basically the choice between a curriculum and a curriculum-free experience.

Unschooling is a term coined in the late 1970s by John Holt, an American educator and author of numerous books and the magazine called Growing Without Schooling. John Holt's first book, How Children Fail, published in 1964 (with a revised edition published in 1982) details Holt's teaching experiences and research that led him to believe that traditional schooling can do more harm than good to children's ability and desire to learn.

Proponents of unschooling consider the world children live in as the ultimate teacher. In other words,  children learn what they need to in the course of their lives—shopping for household supplies becomes an economics lesson, cooking and baking become lessons in anything from science to fractions, in urban areas, museums and even the public library can be a rich resource for history. Unschoolers find unlimited resources for learning, with the idea that learning comes naturally to children, and does not need to be structured in a strict teacher/student setting.

Unschoolers and homeschoolers also rely on tutors and private classes to achieve particular goals. Families often pool their resources to fully serve the needs of the children—establishing park days, hiring teachers for specialized and advanced subjects, and planning field trips.

In addition to setting up classes with tutors and other local experts, there are lots of online courses now for homeschoolers. Openculture.com lists hundreds of free courses homeschoolers, including college level and certificate-granting programs ABSOLUTELY FREE!

 

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