Homeschooling Your Children: The Basic Facts!

Wikipedia states that “Home education, also called homeschooling or home school, is an educational alternative in which children are educated at home by their parents, in contrast to the compulsory attendance which takes place in an institution with a campus such as a public school or private school.”

Around the world Homeschooling has been increasing quite substantially over the last 4 years. In 2003, in the United States, approximately 1.1 million children were Home Schooled, up 29% from 850,000 in 1999. Recent figures show that Homeschooling in other Western Countries are also continuing to grow. For example, an estimated 50,000 children are considered “home-educated” in the United Kingdom; Australia – 26,500; and in Canada (as at 2001) it was estimated that 80,000 children were educated at home with the numbers continuing to increase.

Most home education advocates have individual motivations to home-educate. Academic and social results of home education are varied and are the source of vibrant debate. Some feel that they can more effectively tailor a student’s academic program to suit an individual strengths and weaknesses, especially children who are gifted or have learning disabilities. Others are religious parents who see non-religious education as contrary to their moral or religious systems. Still others feel that the negative social pressures of schools, such as bullying, drugs, school violence, and other school-related problems, are impacting negatively to a child’s development. Many parents simply like the idea of teaching their own children rather than letting someone else do so.

A common concern voiced about home-educated children is they lack the social interaction with students and society that a school environment provides. Many home-education families address these concerns by joining numerous organizations, including home-education cooperatives, independent study programs and specialized enrichment groups for physical education, art, music, and debate. Most are also active in community groups. Home-educated children generally socialize with other children the same way that school children do: outside of school, via personal visits and through sports teams, clubs, and religious groups.

The academic effectiveness of homeschooling is largely a settled issue. “Numerous studies have confirmed the academic integrity of home education programs, demonstrating that on average, home-educated students outperform their publicly-run school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects.” The performance gaps between minorities and gender that plague publicly-run schools are virtually non-existent amongst home-educated students.

Notable home-educated individuals

o Thomas Edison, United States, scientist and inventor

o Alexander Graham Bell, Scotland, Inventor (Telephone, Hydrofoil)

o Dakota Fanning, United States, actress

o Hilary Duff, United States, Actress/Singer

o Charles Evans Hughes, United States, Governor of New York, United States Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the United States

o Frankie Muniz, United States, Actor

o Rosa Parks, United States, civil rights activist

o Susan La Flesche Picotte, United States, first American Indian woman physician

o Woodrow Wilson, United States, the only United States President to hold a Ph.D.

o George Washington, United States, First United States President

o Abraham Lincoln, United States, President during American Civil War

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything learnt in school” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Copyright © 2006 Matt Weight

Social Networking For Homeschool Children

Home school students as a whole have been a pretty successful bunch, though this is difficult to measure because there are not many statistics taken yet. It is not at all uncommon to hear about the young home school author, the music prodigy, or the computer genius.

I have also not witnessed homes school students’ inability to comingle with other children their own age due to lack of socialization. What I do notice is that despite the fact that many home school children I know are involved in many different activities, they simply do not have access to the same range of children that is available to their public schooled counterparts.

Networking is important as an adult and believe it or not that networking starts at a very young age. I am constantly surprised by how often my past comes back to visit in different aspects of my life. I am glad that I have developed relationships that have lasted for many years and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to meet numerous people over the years. Email once made it much easier to keep in contact with all of these people but now days that has become too rigorous a task. Social networking sites such as Face book and MySpace have added another level of connectivity to life and networking that was unheard of just a couple of years ago.

I believe these social networking sites offer great opportunities for home school students to connect and feel part of a group. This is virtual home school software that has the ability to bring home school students from all across the world into the same classroom.

I do not advocate letting your child loose on these sites without any type of supervision or expectation. I am careful to limit the amount of time they spend on these sites and I require that I have full access to the accounts. Like other home school software these sites offer opportunities that were not available a few short years ago and they give parents another tool to enrich their child’s life.

Connections made today can be very valuable tomorrow and long term friendships are a very important part of a health mind, spirit, and body.

How to Teach Using Hands-On Homeschooling

What exactly is Hands-on Homeschooling?

Hands-on homeschooling is a method that focuses on “doing” to help children grasp a subject or concept. For example, instead of just reading about how to multiply, the child would use manipulative to “act out” the problem for a different way to visualize the problem. This can be an very effective method for helping children who are kinetic learners and who might have a difficulty connecting the dots without concrete real-life examples.

How to teach using a hands-on method

The main proponents of this style of schooling would be Charlotte Mason and the Montessori method. Both focus on creative activity and exploration as an important part of a child’s learning and development, rather than just sitting in a chair for five hours and completing workbook pages and reading textbooks.

A good place to start would be to go to the Simply Charlotte Mason website. There is a wealth of free resources and information on how to get started with her gentle methods.

Dr. Maria Montessori developed her teaching methods by observing children and how they best learned. The Montessori method focuses more on setting up an appropriate learning “environment” to aid children in learning. MichaelOlaf.Net is a great website for learning more about the Montessori method with several free e-books to download.

Using a hands-on approach supplementally

Both of these methods can also be combined with other methods as well, as they are easy to adapt. For instance, maybe your child does well with a computer-based math program. Your could still use Montessori or Charlotte Mason methods for literature, science, history, etc. Maybe you really want to use the Abeka’s curriculum. Your could still supplement with hands-on unit studies from Greenleaf Press or Beautiful Feet for history to make it more interesting.

Charlotte Mason and Maria Montessori both advocated a gentle and more natural approach to education rather than “forced” learning. These methods are not for every parent and child but are well worth learning more about. These methods are also very well suited to children who don’t do as well with more traditional Homeschooling methods.