Monthly Archives: October 2012

Educating Your Family and Friends About Your Decision to Home-School

While your decision to home school is uniquely your own, it is great if you have the support of your family and friends too. Unfortunately, getting your friends and family on board can sometimes be challenging. For the uninitiated, home schooling can be a new and strange concept, even though we, as a society, have actually been home schooling for centuries. And, despite the current growing popularity of home schooling due to failing schools, limited educational choices, and schoolyard bullying, home education still has a lot of stigma attached.

If your family and friends are not familiar with the many benefits of an education at home, they may bring up every argument and stereotype they’ve heard to convince you that you should send your child to school.

It is important to remember that most of these concerned interjectors will be people who care about you, and have perhaps not been exposed to the many positives of home schooling. You need to determine why it is that you want to home school your family, and to consider (and answer) the following questions:

“How will your child know how to interact with their peers?” “Why are you afraid of the school system?” “What about socialisation?” “What about the overall school experiences that help children develop into adults?” “What about sports and other activities?” “Are you sure you can teach your child all that they need to learn?” “Teaching is a highly professional skill, can you do it?” “Sounds expensive, how can you manage the books and the cost?” “You’re going to quit work? What about your career?”

In many cases, unless your friends and family home schooled themselves, they are going to assume that the “normal” way to educate children, the way that they understand and are familiar with, will be superior. If that is the case, you may experience quite significant pressure to conform to a standard public or private education. By doing your research first, using resources such as the internet, you can put their concerns to rest and help yourself to stand firm.

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Rebuttals are simple. Firstly, you can talk about taking control of your child’s education. You can also talk about how you want to have the most time you can with you child. As for activities and socialisation, you can address that by showing them the community based activities that your child can participate in.

And if we don’t sacrifice for our children who are we going to sacrifice for?

Keeping your lesson plans, curriculum, and other teaching materials at hand is a great way to show that not only are you ready, but you are serious about teaching your child. You can also show them the various options for homeschooling and demonstrate the flexibility and the customisation of education for your child over the “one-size-fits-all” solution at the local public school.

To encourage your family and friends to fully support your position, you may consider including them in the education process. For instance, if they speak a language, or have a specific skill your child might be interested in, ask them if they would consider teaching your child about that topic. Involvement can be an effective tool to get family on board. If they still are not interested, be prepared to move forward without them. The most important thing to remember is that the choice is about you and your children, not your extended family.

Homeschooling is not always easy. Like the rest of life, it has its hard days too. Fortunately, there is plenty of support available, whether it comes from your family, or whether it’s from one of the many online and offline homeschooling support groups available. Since the internet became readily available to everyone, homeschooling families have been able to reach out and encourage other similarly inclined families the world over.

Exploring Educational Opportunities

Even though my daughter is not quite two yet, I am well and truly already thinking about her education.  Not because I have any intention of rushing her, but because she herself is so interested in learning about things.  It is wonderful to see her enthusiasm for learning new things. At this age learning is fun and I would hate for this change. It is very important for me, then, for me to find out about different methods of learning to determine what will work for me and my daughter. With this in mind, I am starting a series on learning styles and educational theories. I don’t want Gaia’s schooling days to be like mine where my love of learning was lost in my inquisitive nature suppressed.

Homeschooling is one potential that I am seriously contemplating.  For me, if I were to take this journey with my daughter, I imagine that at least part of my method would be of an eclectic nature, as I, myself, have such eclectic interests.  It would, of course, then depend quite a bit on my daughter’s personality and needs… and, with her only two years of age at this point, it is way too premature to speculate on what will work for her when she begins including state requirements in her education.

Eclectic Homeschooling

The available definitions for Eclectic Homeschooling are as wide and varied as the possibilities it provides. Many non-homeschoolers imagine homeschooling to be very similar in structure to public schooling, although at home. They assume that homeschooled students sit at a desk all day, working their way through a set curriculum, as well as completing assignments and exams. Indeed, this is the way that some families choose to homeschool, and it can work very well.

Eclectic homeschooling, however, involves utilising resources and information from anywhere and everywhere. Rather than be restricted to one set curriculum, they may utilise a variety of text books. But, eclectic homeschooling certainly doesn’t stop there. Eclectic homeschooling also includes using a variety of methods, tools and even locations, to educate your children, as well as letting their needs and desires determine what is taught and how. Many parents of special needs children home-school their children in an eclectic fashion.

Eclectic homeschooling is a form of homeschooling that is simply bursting with potential, because your family’s educational journey is only limited by your imagination… and, perhaps, funding. Many parents will take a child interests and turn it into a fun school subject or use a variety of books to teach literature instead of buying a program or a boring anthology of works. Eclectic homeschooling families are often very talented at discovering what works. While some parents will buy a curriculum and persevere, following it to the letter, even if their kids are struggling, this should never be the case in homeschooling. Don’t be afraid to change! If the kids are struggling, and there is little progress, maybe its time to look into another way to doing things. This is where eclectic homeschooling really comes into its own. If it’s broke, definitely fix it. It’s your kids and their future, and they are the reason we are homeshooling in the first place!

Unschooling

Somewhat closely associated to Eclectic Homeschooling is the concept of Unschooling. This method of education takes advantage of the fact that children are natural learners. Instead of setting a rigid structure, Unschoolers allow their children’s interests to direct their education, with the parents, as homeschool teachers, acting as facilitators of the learning process, rather than directors/writers/dictators.

Unschooling can be surprisingly effective when well-guided, allowing the child to maintain an interest and some influence over his/her own learning materials, utilising real life activities, as well of books and standard resources. Orthodox Unschoolers believe that learners self-determine what is important to know in the world and, as there is more to learn than can ever be learned, the skills learned in self-directed learning will keep students in good stead throughout life. Also, they argue that there is no such thing as particular topics of study being critical to know, or more important than other subjects in the grand scheme of things. Therefore, whatever direction of study the student chooses is the right one for them. Critics of Unschooling, however, express concern that Unschoolers may avoid topics that are not of interest, and may therefore be lacking in particular aspects of education and/or social skills, including those deemed important for the workforce.

Regardless of the style of homeschooling adopted long-term, many homeschooling families make good use of Unschooling as a transition from government schooling to homeschooling, allowing the child to create new educational associations, and slip into the new freedoms that homeschooling allows.