In Part 1, we discussed the changes the Marion County School District is making that are causing some parents to look at alternatives for educating their children. We discussed the state requirements for homeschooling, and where to find free or inexpensive materials and resources.
Now, let’s look at some of the other benefits of homeschooling.
People often picture homeschooling as being just like public school, simply transferred to the home setting. They imagine little desks lined up in rows, with the children hard at work on worksheets and reading textbooks while the teacher (Mom or Dad) stands at a blackboard attached the the wall. Homeschooling is typically nothing like that, however.
The really great thing about homeschooling is the opportunities for learning that occur outside of sitting down and actually studying. When you head to Wal-Mart to pick up groceries, you can teach your child math skills by having them total up your grocery bill, or how to use a calculator to do this. They can improve their reading skills when you tell them to find you a specific brand of pasta or to choose a particular frozen dinner out of the multitude available. They can work on their reasoning skills when you have them read the signs above each aisle and determine where you would find a particular item based on what’s listed on the signs.
Math and reading are both used when making a recipe, and science can come into play when you explain why you use baking soda or baking powder in a recipe. Cooking skills are a necessity in life, as are housekeeping and laundry skills, so doing chores and helping with dinner can count as a home economics class. Heading over to Greenway Park to play on a Saturday, or going for a hike at Silver River State Park can both count as PE, and you can incorporate science into the hike by identifying various plants and animals. You can even turn the hike into a geography lesson by having your child use the map to determine where you are on the trail and how to get to your destination. Bring a compass and you can also teach them some survival skills – a lesson they won’t get in public school.
A field trip to Silver Springs can teach your child about the various habitats found in Florida, and many wild animals. A Saturday afternoon spent at the Appleton Museum can be an excellent history and art lesson – multiple afternoons could be spent here, creating many lessons.
You can use certain TV shows on such educational channels as Discovery, Science, History, National Geographic, Planet Green, Smithsonian, National Geographic Wild, Animal Planet, and more, as teaching tools about a wide variety of subjects such as science, social studies, history, nature, geography, and biology.
With all of these opportunities for learning, it becomes quite clear that homeschooling is not something that needs to be done Monday through Friday from 7:45am to 2:05pm. It is something that can, and should, occur anytime, anywhere. It will take place in the evenings, on the weekends, during summer vacation and winter break, while on vacation and at home. You can find the time – likely the time you spend right now helping with homework – to teach those lessons that you need to actually teach. Worksheets can be worked on while your child is with a sitter when you are at work, and then you can grade them when you get home.
Another key thing to keep in mind is that homeschooling is incredibly flexible. You are ultimately responsible for your child’s education, but you can outsource parts of it, so to speak. Perhaps you are horrible with math, but your former spouse is an accountant – he/she can handle the math part of your child’s education. Maybe you have no musical talent whatsoever, but you have a friend who knows how to play guitar, piano and drums – maybe he/she would be willing to give your child lessons, and now music is covered.
It is important to remember that not every parent is cut out to homeschool, nor is every child cut out to be homeschooled. If you feel that it is not the right choice for you and/or your children, or you try it and find that it just isn’t working for you, there is nothing to wrong with that. If you are looking for alternatives to the traditional public school, however, homeschooling can be one well worth looking into.