Are there any good reasons to homeschool? There is certainly the compelling reason of the declining academic standards in government schools. Other reasons include the existence of gangs and guns on school campuses. The peer influence of sex, drugs and alcohol, teachers with their own agendas, "gender-free" restrooms and last, but not least, the daily tedium of packing lunches. Aside from these reasons, I have been told, repeatedly, that the public school environment can be quite a SOCIALIZING experience.
The idea of homeschooling can be appealing, but where do you begin? I would suggest that you check out the laws of your state...better yet, check out the laws of ALL 50 states. If you decide to homeschool, you may have to move---suddenly--in the middle of the night. Next, you should purchase two or three homeschooling magazines. Do not be dismayed by the seemingly IDYLLIC scenes featuring peaceful children attended by their calm and graceful mothers. As with ALL cover photos, these too have been edited. Undoubtedly, dirty dishes and fighting children have been cropped out---haggard lines and dark circles have been airbrushed. Be sure to order as many catalogs from the vendors advertising in these magazines. Actually...just order one or two---then plan on renting an extra P.O. Box.
Finally, join a homeschooling group. Before you go to your first meeting, make certain that you are appropriately attired in denim.
Before you begin your home education experience, determine your child's "learning style". Here are a few guidelines.
1. Some children are "visual learners"---they learn by observing and or watching. They enjoy books with illustrations. These children are those that can see you through the pantry door---eating that last piece of chocolate you had hidden away. They are also the children expressing their sympathy for the "owie" on your face, (or your neighbor's face) which is actually just a zit, a freckle, or a mole...soon to be removed. These are somewhat dangerous children to take into public as they will observe and comment loudly upon things better left unnoticed. Unfortunately, this is the most common learning style.
2. "Auditory learners" learn best through listening. They must hear subject matter verbalized and are easy to identify because of this. They will often repeat things in a "mantra-like" fashion---going about the house repeating things over and over again..."Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles..." They also ask uncomfortable questions and share your personal information with strangers on the phone.
3. The "Kinesthetic learner" is always doing something...as they learn best by doing. However, this type of learning style appears to be confined to exhaustingly involved projects, time consuming adventures and field trips and expensive and potentially dangerous experiments. It rarely translates into keeping a room clean, preparing meals or helping with the laundry.
4. The most common learner of all is the "T.V. Learner". This child will sit for hours in front of the T.V. and watch program after program. The memory retention of this learning type is tremendous, but is often confined to commercial jingles. While this type of learner appears independent, he does exhibit signs of drug withdrawal and even "demon possession" when the T.V. is turned off.
Once you have determined your child's learning modality, you can move on to choosing which educational method you should use.
1. The "Traditional" education method--similar to classroom learning, seems a comfortable way to start. However, in the home, "traditional educational procedures", such as "roll call", "passing out papers", "lining up" and "lunch count", take very little time. Combined with the fact that you won't be going to "anti-drug" programs, Oral Arts festivals, Cultural Diversity training sessions, Tolerance assemblies or Standardized Testing...you may find your school day finishing rather early.
2. The "Unit Studies" approach takes a topic and builds lessons around this topic using library books, activities, projects and crafts. As appealing as this method may appear, approach it with caution. Many homeschooling families have had their homes quarantined and even condemned by the Health Department in the midst of a "Unit Study".
3. The "Unschooling" approach allows your child to let you know when he or she is ready to learn and what, in particular they want to learn. This form of education seems to best suit the "T.V. Learning" modality.
4. "Classical Education" appeals to many parents who believe this approach will afford their children an excellent education. Some of the more difficult hurdles to overcome when choosing this approach are learning Greek and Latin and of course, the weighty wearing of togas made of denim.
5. The "Eclectic" homeschooling approach is one chosen by most families. This is a combination of all the previous approaches depending on your child's learning modality. This would probably describe my own family's homeschooling philosophy and clearly explains our abject poverty and my three nervous breakdowns.
After determining your learning modalities and your educational methods, it's time to move on to purchasing your curriculum. This is also when you approach your Bank Manager about the second mortgage on your home. If you choose to purchase curriculum at a Home School Convention, make sure you rent a U-Haul truck to bring home all the purchases you will make. Of course, another option is to simply shop with those five tons of catalogs via phone or the internet. your only danger in choosing to shop this way is that sometimes the description of the items lead one to believe in miracles..."This Spelling Program will have your 1st grader competing in National Spelling Bees and will keep him fascinated for hours". More than likely, this program's interest level would put someone to sleep who's been in solitary confinement for most of his life...in Zimbabwe.
Surprisingly enough, the most unique and satisfying curriculum shopping experience can be had at your local park. On some mysterious day every summer, homeschooling mothers gather together to display their used and sometimes quite new curriculum. This is placed upon blankets or picnic tables. For the best prices, look for the listless woman sitting passively beside a mountain of books, games and experiments. Her hair may be slightly askew and her denim jumper on backwards, but she will be willing to deal. Best of all, you may even find some books with the answers already filled in.