One of the main goals most of us have in parenting our children is to provide them with an excellent education. For some, that may mean buying a home in the best public school district or applying to the most prestigious private school, but others will choose an entirely different path. Interest in home schooling has skyrocketed in the last decade, and you may be interested in learning about this often-overlooked option. Here are some steps you can take to help you learn about home education:
- Learn about the various styles of home schooling. All home schoolers are not cast from the same mold. There are as many ways to home school as there are families who home school! For starters, though, here are five home school styles you should become familiar with:
Talk to home schoolers in your area. Most communities have one or more home school groups, families that get together for field trips, park days, and holiday parties. Some home school groups even form co-ops, which is when a parent (usually the mom) from each family will teach one school subject to all of the children. A co-op will usually meet only one day a week for a few special subjects such as home economics and science labs, but some meet 4-5 days a week and encompass the entire curriculum.
Join an Internet home schooling forum. One of the best and most efficient ways to learn about home schooling is to find and join an active forum community. There are Internet forums for every type of home schooling style and family personality, and you will likely find answers to many of your home schooling questions from the friendly people on these forums.
Find out about the laws in your state. Home schooling is a legal option in all 50 states, and each state regulates its own home schoolers. Your state may require you to have a college degree and charter your own private school, or you may live in a state that only requires your signature on a simple form each year. You can read about the laws in your particular state at HomeSchoolLegalDefenseAssociation.
Research some curriculum companies to see what is offered for sale. Once you've decided which style of home schooling fits your family's lifestyle best, you will find several (or perhaps dozens of) companies that market home schooling products just for your style.
Visit a home school convention in your area. At a convention, you will not only meet other prospective, rookie and veteran home schoolers, but you'll also be able to put your hands on curriculum packages and listen to experts speak on everything from Making Math Exciting to Teaching with Toddlers Underfoot to Getting Your Home Schooled Children Into the Best Universities.
- Traditional, or textbook, style home schooling relies on textbooks and teaching materials in the same way that public and private schools do. These home schoolers might set up a "school room" in their home and have a regular daily schedule of subjects, much like a traditional school.
- The classical approach to home schooling follows a methodology of learning begun during the Middle Ages. Its three staged learning process, called the Trivium, is composed of a Grammar Stage, when children absorb information, a Logic Stage, when they explore their knowledge through logical argument, and the final, Rhetoric Stage, when the older child transforms knowledge into wisdom through speaking and writing.
- Unit studies are plans of study based around a theme or topic of the child's interest, and usually encompass several subjects such as history, geography, science, language and perhaps even math. A unit study might last a few days or several months, and may lead to interest in another topic or topics for future study.
- Eclectic home schoolers use a variety of materials to teach different subjects. This family may use one curriculum company for math materials and another for language arts. They may join organized sports for physical education and join a co-op for science and history studies. More home schoolers use an eclectic approach than any other method.
- Unschooling is a term with different meanings for different people. Some unschoolers direct their children's learning, but using methods besides textbooks or workbooks (except perhaps for math). Others do not attempt to direct their children's education at all, preferring to leave the child to learn on his own, as his interests lead him.
If you feel that your children might benefit from an education at home, then you're not alone. More than one million children in the United States are currently being home schooled, and that number is climbing rapidly. Home schooling can offer a terrific education for your children, and is a legitimate option to consider.