What if it became illegal, as it is in some countries? What if our situation changed and I did not have the freedom to stay home? What if our children had needs that could not be met solely at home? What if anything else made homeschooling impossible for a season, or for the rest of their schooling years?
What would we do if we couldn't home school anymore? Let me share my thoughts with you, with the hope that this will encourage parents who would like to home school but can't, as well as parents who don't feel called to home school but want to be more involved with their children's educational journey. Remember, however you choose to have your child "educated", you are and always will be your child's most important teacher.
1. Develop an opinion about educational philosophies, methods, trends, Common Core standards, etc. Even though I taught in the public schools for fourteen years, before I began home schooling, I couldn't have very easily defined my "educational philosophy". There are some basic ones in the home schooling world (some great definitions can be found HERE) and there are many others in public and private schools. It can feel overwhelming, but knowing your bent, and what you believe the purpose of education is, will help you evaluate your child's school and programs to know what you agree with and where they may have gaps that you will want to address in other ways.
2. Know your child's strengths and weaknesses. One of the bonuses of home schooling is that you can teach in a way that addresses you child's individuality. You can still make sure that happens by understanding your child and helping his or her teacher do the same thing, and you can also choose activities at home that will build her strengths and help with her weaknesses
3. Be involved at your child's school. Volunteer, be in touch with his teachers, visit his classroom; know the curriculum; attend evening events for parents; understand what technology your child is using and why. Being involved will help you know what is going on and will put you in a good position to address concerns with teachers and the administration.
5. Teach them what they aren't learning at school. If you have an opinion about the educational philosophy that you favor, if you are involved at your child's school, and if you are familiar with what they are studying, then you will have a good idea of what they aren't learning, too. If there are gaps that you believe your child needs, especially in the area of Bible knowledge and the integration of faith with other subjects, find a way to teach that to your children outside of school, or whether on your own or through Released Time Bible Education. At home, some wonderful resources would include Grapevine Bible Studies, Bible Road Trip, and similar programs for the whole family.
6. Look for teachable moments in everyday life - cooking, at the grocery store, through service activities. Childhood is one extended time of learning and growing and that is not limited to the time they spend in school.
8. Guard your family time fiercely. One of my least favorite things about sending my children to "regular" school would be the loss of time together as a family. If your children are in school for seven or eight hours a day (including travel time), think very carefully about how to use the rest of the time. Do not schedule so many activities that you find yourselves exhausted by bed time or never being together as a family. If that means your child doesn't take dance or music lessons or participate in organized sports every season (or at all), so be it. You need to decide what is important to your family, but don't be afraid to go against the popular flow of having more extracurricular activities than you truly have time for as a family.
9. Find a group of like-minded parents and encourage each other. By "like-minded" I don't just mean friends with the same beliefs, but other parents with similar convictions about what they want their children learning. You may find this at church, through MOPS or moms groups, or through home school affinity groups.
10. Take advantage of summer vacations as time to home school as a family. After all, learning can and should be fun! If you are thinking about homeschooling, this is the perfect time to "try it out" in a limited way while you make sure your children's learning doesn't lapse during the "lazy" days of summer.
Does all of this take a lot of commitment and a lot of time? Absolutely. Quite honestly, that is one of many reasons we are homeschooling. We feel it is a much better use of our time and resources to teach our children at home rather than add on to a full day of learning outside the walls of our home. But if we had to, we would, as very little ranks up there in importance with the preparation of our children for adulthood and, most importantly, as mature followers of Christ in a world that increasingly goes its own way.
If you do not home school, what resources have you found to supplement what your children are learning at school? If you do home school, what aspects of your schooling would you want to make sure continued if you could no longer do it all at home? Join the discussion below!
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