There are different ways to educate your children beyond the mainstream school system. Options include Montessori and Steiner schools which provide an “alternative” education, boarding schools where you send your children away, and homeschooling, a style of parent-led home education that gained popularity during the lockdowns that began in 2020.
If you choose to homeschool, this brings with it a host of challenges and considerations. These could stem from the fact that you are not a qualified educator yourself, a lack of curriculum direction, or animosity from your children toward their new learning environment. Regardless of what bumps in the road you’re facing, you’ll need a plan. Here, we present some tips to make homeschooling a more successful endeavor for all involved.
What differentiates homeschooling from mainstream education?
In order to provide the best learning environment possible, it’s important to understand the key differences between homeschooling and the mainstream system. By identifying these, you’ll be better able to cover all the bases, and better prepared for any problems that arise. Some key differences include:
- Freedom with the curriculum: You can choose what subjects to study, and which ones to omit.
- More time at home: Your children won’t go to a new location and environment each day.
- Less opportunity to socialize: Children will not interact with the same number of people in a homeschooling environment.
Bearing these factors in mind will help you to finesse your home learning environment. It’s important to remember that homeschooling does not guarantee accelerated academic achievement. The success of your homeschooling efforts will depend on the decisions you make. Read on for tips on homeschooling your children. (1)
1. Decide on a curriculum
There are a range of curriculums available to parents who wish to homeschool their children. In fact, in light of the recent uptick in homeschooling, the variety of options available has surged. Thankfully, there are homeschooling curriculum reviews available, and you can decide on the best fit by keeping the following ideas in mind: (2)
- Consider your outcomes: Maybe you want your children to go to college, or perhaps they want to enter straight into the workforce upon completion of their studies. Either way, your curriculum should reflect this in its choice of subjects.
- Don’t discount outsourcing: You may find yourself lacking the necessary time or expertise for certain aspects of your children’s homeschooling. To compensate for this, some curriculums are designed to have certain subjects or modules outsourced.
- Think about the delivery: Is it interactive? Does it teach by rote? Consider this and shape it around your children’s learning style: maybe they’re visual learners, confident readers and writers, or perhaps they have learning difficulties which requires a different approach altogether.
2. Join a homeschooling group or community
Meeting local homeschoolers will give you a huge confidence boost. Often, homeschoolers experience similar struggles, so this can be a great way to collectively troubleshoot any pitfalls. Homeschool classifieds can be a good place to trade materials and teaching tips between parents.
3. Create a learning space
Removing the learning process from everyday living spaces is essential to the educational success of your children. Using rooms and spaces that are associated with leisure or relaxation will act as a distraction and impair their ability to focus. (3)
Finding a new room is ideal, or making over an old space as a learning environment can suffice when space is limited. Also, consider the need for a blackboard, bookshelf, computer, and space for arts and crafts—all of which require space.
4. Combine education and leisure activities
Nowadays, lots of entertainment is loaded with educational value. Video games have become incredibly complex, and many require a great deal of critical thinking to make progress. Studies by the American Psychological Association have found a positive correlation between this and academic outcomes. (4)
Additionally, many TV series and films are incredibly informative while still being exciting enough to retain the attention of developing minds. The skills, ideas, and arguments learned in this media can be a great source of inspiration in the classroom. These resources are not replacements for lessons, however, and moderation should be exercised.
5. Remember the importance of socializing your children
There is so much more to education than good grades. School is where children learn a lot of their social skills and how to interact with the wider world. To maintain regular social interactions, follow some of these ideas: (5)
- Arrange regular excursions with fellow homeschoolers.
- Hold regular “group sessions” with other students. Hosting duties can rotate between parents.
- Organize group projects.
- Take lunch breaks with local students.
- Switch out of teacher mode and share important moments with your children outside of the classroom.
By remembering the core differences between homeschool and mainstream education, and following the above tips, you should be able to minimize adversities, and provide the best possible outcomes for your children in a homeschooling environment.
- “Academic Achievement of Homeschool and Public School Students and Student Perception of Parent Involvement”, Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ794828
- “Rise in pupils in England being home-schooled due to Covid fears, says Ofsted chief”, Source: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/sep/30/rise-in-home-schooling-is-partly-down-to-misinformation-says-ofsted-chief
- “Online learning could leave kids even more distracted than they already are”, Source: https://nypost.com/2020/05/08/how-online-learning-could-leave-kids-even-more-distracted/
- “Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds”, Source: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/02/video-game
- “It’s Not Children’s Education We Should Worry About, It’s Their Mental Health”, Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2020/05/15/its-not-childrens-education-we-should-worry-about-its-their-mental-health/?sh=4d03481e1fcb