With increasing frequency over the past 10 years, parents have asked me various questions about home-schooling, all pretty much boiling down to "Should I home-school my child?"
First, I am a proponent of home-schooling. (Full disclosure: I am on the board of Parentalrights.org, an offshoot of the Home School Legal Defense Fund, and I have spoken at numerous home-school conferences). I think it is the right of parents to direct and control their children's education.
Second, home-schooling is not "one size fits all." Some parents are more suited to home-schooling than others. That same statement also applies to children. Home-schooling is not likely to be successful unless parent and child are well-suited to the process.
Third, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in home-school culture is the mistaken idea that successful home-schooling requires lots of involvement on the part of the home-schooling parent. That is not true, and I gather that it irritates some home-school moms when I say as much.
Home-schooling is a two-way process. A parent does not have to be highly educated to home-school successfully, but regardless of academic credentials, the motivation to further one's self-education needs to be there. A parent who wants to turn a home into the most effective educational environment possible should tune the television to learning channels only, read a preponderance of non-fiction, and read a lot. The more one knows about a broad range of topics and issues, the more one will be able to transmit.
I do not generally recommend attempting home-schooling if disobedience is a major problem in the home. Behavioral problems are going to contaminate the process and need to be resolved before home-schooling is undertaken. The same applies to a child who doesn't want to be home-schooled. If there's a question as to whether home-schooling is going to work, begin in early to mid-July. If, for whatever reason, it obviously isn't going to be productive, the child can start regular school on time with his or her peers.
High involvement on the part of a home-schooling parent is likely to turn into micro-management and create push-back from the child. First, there are home-school curricula that do not require a high level of parental involvement. Second, the best home-school structure involves the parent teaching for 10 to 15 minutes, giving a 30-minute assignment that the child does independently, grading the paper (immediate feedback), then moving on to the next instructional module. Minimizing parent involvement maximizes student responsibility.
Maximum home-school success is generally obtained within the context of a home-school cooperative. Parents who wants to explore this education option should get in touch with their state home-school coordinator, find a home-school cooperative in their area, talk to other home-schooling parents and attend a home-school conference.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his Web site, Rosemond.com.
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