Is Homeschooling for you?
This last year families have faced a different educational reality. Many parents have taken on a greater role in their children’s learning since the start of the pandemic, and some wonder whether or not to continue schooling at home given the current uncertainties. Families that have chosen homeschooling as an educational path in the past for reasons of academic standards, socialization, lower stress, and improved family connection, are now being approached by parents who are considering homeschooling because of the changes that the pandemic has imposed on children’s education.
Homeschooling is a family commitment. One parent needs to be available to spend time actively involved in the child’s education. However, some parents come up with creative solutions and manage to arrange a schooling schedule which allows both parents to work part-time and take on responsibility for different subject areas. It is important that both parents agree with the decision to homeschool; any uncertainties on the parents’ part can translate into resistance in children. Take time to reflect on why you want to homeschool, inform yourself about different homeschooling methods and curriculum options which will help you make a confident decision. A great place to start is homeschool.today which has answers, resources, and links to everything needed.
Homeschooling is not the same as “doing school at home”; it can be more efficient, focused, flexible, and engaging. Parents new to homeschooling can feel intimidated because they feel that they are not able to reproduce a classroom environment. Yet tutoring is one of the most efficient methods of education since it is tailored to the individual child’s needs and rate of learning. One of the advantages is that this flexibility allows students to progress more quickly in some subject areas, while spending more time if needed in others (it is not uncommon to work in different grade levels in different subjects). The one-on-one focus also eliminates the need for homework, as practice is integrated into the schoolwork and any difficulties can be addressed as they occur. Students can have the freedom to research subjects of particular interest in depth as well as study subjects that may not be offered in school at their grade levels.
Finally, socialization in a homeschool environment offers students the freedom to interact with a wide variety of ages including younger siblings (who love being read to), older homeschool friends (who can act as role models), neighbours (who might welcome a helping hand), and seniors (who have wonderful stories to tell if given the time), preparing students for the “real world” better than identification with an age-segregated peer group.
A question that is often posed to homeschooling parents is whether they are licenced teachers or have some special qualifications. While some homeschoolers do bring with them a background in the education field, it is by no means necessary. All parents are qualified to teach their children; indeed they are particularly well-suited to the task as no one knows their child better. As the instructor, you spend time studying, growing, and learning together with your child. One of the wonderful side effects of homeschooling is that the parent receives a “re-education” and many have commented how wonderful it is to finally have a deeper understanding of history, alto-cumulous clouds, or the aurora borealis. My favorite time in our family’s homeschooling years has been reading aloud classic books (something we would otherwise never have time for anymore). Importantly, as a parent you can teach not only academic subjects but life experiences as well, serving as a guide for acceptable, productive behaviour. Together you can set goals, work hard, manage time, and be disciplined in reaching your goals. You can take a rest and go for a walk when you become unproductive. Learning these life skills will help your child succeed in many of life’s endeavours.
If you think that homeschooling might be for you, here are some final points to help you get started: – Visit homeschool.today or ontariohomeschool.org for information and forms for requesting permission to homeschool and helpful resource links. Other great sites to help you start out are thecanadianhomeschooler.com, canadianhomeeducation.com, and homeschoolcanada.ca.
Explore the myriad of curriculum available to homeschoolers. Take a look at these sites to get an idea of all the opportunities: learninghouse.ca, rainbowresource.com, classicaleducationbooks.ca; a great site for homeschool curriculum reviews is cathyduffyreviews.com. If you feel daunted by the prospect of creating a schedule for completing all curriculum within the school year, take a look at homeschoolplanet.com.
Explore online classes. Children in grade 7 and up can benefit from online courses in math, English, foreign languages, science, and history. There are also many unique subject opportunities such as astronomy, Norse or Greek mythology, Latin, graphic design, personal finance, art history, etc. There are many online homeschool providers of very high academic quality based in the U.S. including at-tps.org, clrconline.com, scholeacademy.com, memoriapressacademy.com, veritaspress.com. Many of these U.S. online schools are accredited, include AP courses in all subjects, and are recognized by Canadian universities (check with universities for details). In Canada the selection is more limited and generally includes only courses that are part of the provincial curriculum including virtualhighschool.com and ilc.org ; khanacademy.org provides free online courses and tutorials.
Lastly, establish regular routines and schedules. We have kept a daily downtime in the afternoon for reading/audiobooks for years and it has kept us sane. Do not attempt this educational journey alone. Support from other homeschooling families is important for both the parents and students. Many homeschool groups meet for educational or sports activities on a weekly basis. There are many homeschool facebook groups; you can also visit ochec.org and ontariohomeschool.org for more information. Limiting screen time and maximizing outdoor exposure through daily walks can work miracles in lifting moods. Powering off your phone and placing it in a location away from you until schooling is done demonstrates to your child that they have your full attention and care.
All the best on your educational journey!