What to Consider if You’re Thinking of Homeschooling Your Child
It was a familiar routine: in the weeks before school started, you would go shopping for school supplies, help your kids pick out the perfect new outfits, and give them a big wave and a smile as the school bus picked them up on the first day of class. Year after year, your routine stayed the same. But if you’re like many parents, you may be questioning whether it even makes sense for your kids to go back to school at all this year—at least in the traditional sense.
More parents than ever are considering homeschooling their children this fall. In one study, as many as 60% of parents said they were thinking of homeschooling their kids, with 40% seriously considering it. Even if only a small portion of those families decide to homeschool their kids in 2020, it’ll still be a huge increase over the estimated 3% of families who homeschooled their children before this school year.
Whether you’re concerned about the potential health risks of sending your child to school, aren’t confident in your school’s remote learning plan, or just want to take more control over your child’s learning, here are some things to consider:
Weigh Your Options
Homeschooling is not the same as remote learning. With remote learning, your children study what’s presented to them from their school, whether that’s done with virtual study or simply using worksheet packets sent to your home. With homeschooling, you are the teacher. That means you’ll have to determine your own lesson plans and figure out what your child should work on each day. That can be a daunting task for parents with no background in teaching. However, homeschooling also gives you a great amount of flexibility. You’re not tied to studying within school hours, which means that you can schedule learning around your work hours if you need to.
If you decide to start homeschooling your child, it’s important that you recognize the commitment involved. If you’re concerned that your children won’t learn enough with virtual school, would supplementing their learning with other programs be a better option than homeschooling full-time?
Check your State’s Requirements
Once you decide for sure that you want to homeschool, you must check your state’s legal requirements. Some states simply require you to withdraw from your local school system before starting to homeschool. Others, like New York, have much stricter rules, such as submitting quarterly instruction plans. Make sure you’re prepared to meet all the requirements before the school year begins.
Choose a Program
The next step is to choose an appropriate curriculum for your child. Luckily, you won’t have to start from scratch. There are many options to choose from that suit children of different ages and with a variety of learning styles. Select an option that will work for you and your children, and make sure it fits your goals. If your plan is to reenroll your kids in their local school district once things return to normal, you may want to stick to a curriculum that’s similar to what they were doing in school. But remember that homeschooling offers you more flexibility, so you may not want to replicate the in-school experience too closely and lose some of that freedom.
Supplement the Curriculum
Just because you’ve chosen a program to stick to, doesn’t mean you can’t find additional ways to supplement your children’s learning. There are numerous free educational apps and programs that can help your children learn additional subjects or focus on areas of interest. Duolingo, for example, is a great free option to help your kids learn a language. Apps like Coding Safari or Kodable can help even preschoolers learn to code, while apps like Loopimal and Sago Mini Music Box can cultivate young musicians’ creativity.
Parents looking for more structured supplemental options can also consider programs like Kumon. Kumon Students study at their own pace, which means students often end up studying beyond their own grade level, leaving more time to focus on their areas of interest. Many Kumon Centers are offering virtual class in addition to in-center classes, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for flexibility. Your child will build confidence, focus, and determination while improving their math, reading, and motor skills.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be a solo affair. There are many homeschooling groups on social media that can help you connect with other homeschooling families. You can learn from parents who have been homeschooling for years and get advice from parents in similar situations to yourself.
You can also consider joining a homeschooling co-op. Homeschooling co-ops have traditionally been used to help homeschooled children socialize and learn in different ways. They’re similar to the micro-schooling trend that many parents are considering this fall, but unlike some micro-schools that plan to focus on the school district’s curriculum, are specifically designed for homeschooling families.
Don’t forget to have fun! Remember that homeschooling does not have to mimic traditional school. Playing games, exploring nature, and encouraging your child’s creativity through art and music can be just as educational as traditional learning. You may find that your child excels when they balance structured learning, like their homeschooling curriculum and doing Kumon worksheets, with more nontraditional activities that allow them to focus on their interests.
The decision to homeschool your children should not be made lightly. There’s a lot to consider, including whether you intend for this to be a temporary solution or a long-term change. The flexibility that homeschooling offers can be very appealing, but it requires a big commitment. Luckily, there are many resources available to help!