Monday, October 26, 2009

Can I Homeschool My Child?

Over the last several years, more and more parents have considered homeschooling their children.  The reasons vary; different learning styles require a child to have more one on one instruction, school violence, religious convictions, (wanting to avoid indoctrination,) there are many more valid reasons out there.  You may ask, “Would I be able to homeschool my child?”  Some parents may be concerned that this idea is impossible because they do not have training in education or an education degree.  With the number of various resources available this concern can be greatly diminished. 

Look back a couple hundred years ago, the responsibility of schooling usually fell on the parents shoulders.  It wasn’t till the last 50 - 60 years our federal or state government took over the education of our children.  Who knows better how to raise our children, us as parents or the government and an unknown bureaucrat?  I think we all know the answer to that one. 

The Bible states: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6)  Your job as a parent is to spend time with your children and to give them the tools they need to head down the path toward their future.  To instill the morals and standards your child needs to grow into a responsible adult.  In order for a child to succeed in whatever he feels led to do, as parents we need to instill a sense of respect and honor for their parents, elders and themselves.  The supplies parents had available to them many years ago may have been meager, but most parents made sure their children had a slate to write on and some chalk.  Some of the reading was done from classics written by the likes of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, if they were available to the family.  Otherwise, the most common resource available to most families was the Bible.  Consider Abraham Lincoln, according to some historians most of his reading was done from the Bible beside the fireplace at night.

The children also learned basic skills such as wood working, plowing a field, harvesting wheat, growing a garden or caring for animals on the farm.  These were life skills that were taught on a daily basis in order for families to survive but it also taught a good work ethic and a sense of responsibility to children at an early age.

Times have changed since then haven’t they?  With the advancement of technology with both electronic and paper resources a parent considering homeschool has many if not thousands of options, and the ability to research and make an informed decision.  One good source which is a must have is Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.  In her book Cathy Duffy not only gives you the top 100 picks for curriculum choices but she also helps you to identify your child’s leaning style so that you will be able to better teach him/her.

Numerous statistics and studies have shown that "homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that children who are homeschooled two or more years, score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less." As determined by a 2007 study entitled "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers' Across America."  Another important finding of "Strengths of Their Own" was that the race of the student does not make any difference. There was no significant difference between minority and white homeschooled students. These findings show that when parents, regardless of race, commit themselves to make the necessary sacrifices and tutor their children at home, almost all obstacles present in other school systems disappear.

There are millions of families who have been homeschooling for many years and have had children graduate and move on to college.  These families have seen the need to reach out to new homeschooling families and create resources to help parents get started and point them in the right direction.   Rainbow Resource Center is a family owned business with just this idea in mind.  They offer thousands of different curriculums along with reviews of certain products and a detailed description of what the curriculum contains.  They also offer teaching aids, learning aids and quality toys for children.

There are a few things to consider before you make your decision.  The first is to ask yourself, do you have the time to commit to teaching your child?  Your job as a parent is to spend time with your children and to make sure they are headed down the right path.  To get to know your child’s learning styles and encourage them to learn, to help your child reach his or her greatest potential.  Teaching your child will require time and effort from you. 

Another item to consider - is your spouse on board and supportive?  If both of you aren’t together on this, it will not be easy.  Teaching your children at home requires a lot of time, sacrifice and effort.  If your spouse is not on board it could cause a strain between the two of you or your family.   If you have multiple children there may be times that both of you might have to tackle the teaching responsibility.  Your spouse might help you to see things you might over look or help you to teach something in a completely different way that helps your child to really “grasp it”!

Check out your states laws regarding homeschooling.  There are many websites out there that break legal requirements down by state.  This will let you know if you are able and willing to tackle homeschooling from the legal perspective.  Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a great place to start; they have all the current news on homeschooling and the laws for each state.  They also have links on how to get started homeschooling, articles regarding specific age groups, a curriculum market and so much more.  Click this link if you would like to check out their website.  Homeschool Legal Defense Association

Talk to other parents who have or are currently homeschooling in your area.  They can give you guidance and point you in the right direction.  They may even be able to answer questions you may have or make certain recommendations.  They can give you ideas on what to expect, however know that each family approaches homeschooling differently each according to their needs. 

Above all, the most important aspect of your decision is prayer.  The decision to homeschool is not an easy decision.  With a lot of prayer, thought, research and family discussions it can be the best decision you make regarding your child’s education.  

Once the decision is made and you start your homeschooling journey, there will be days of smooth sailing.  Then there will be tough days that you may ask yourself, “Why are we doing this?”  When your child later looks at you and says, “I got it Mom!  I understand it now!”  That’s when you say, “And this is why I am teaching my child!”  So you may ask, “Could I homeschool my children?”  I say, “Yes, yes you can!”