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Making the decision to homeschool: What you should consider

By: Teresa Aira
Source: Helium.Com
July 17, 2010

In 2007, over one million children in the United States were homeschooled and the numbers are growing. With more options available to parents, homeschooling can be more than independent study, but there are many things to consider when making the decision to school your child at home.

*What is your motivation for homeschooling?

There are many different reasons to choose to school your child at home. You may have a child that is involved in sports, such as gymnastics, at a competition level. Perhaps your child has a learning disability that requires one on one development. Sometimes, it is about the curriculum your district cannot provide or class sizes are too large to allow for a quality education. You may want to form a lasting bond with your child. The key is to fully understand the reasons you want to homeschool before you make the decision to do so.

*What support is your school district required to provide?

States differ in their positions on homeschooling and it is important to know what the laws are where you live. Some states require districts to provide the curriculum to parents if requested. Others allow homeschooled children to participate in extracurricular sports and music programs. Some states are more elusive in providing resources, and are not supportive of alternative education methods. Before you make the move into the homeschool territory you need to know the laws in your state. These can be accessed on your stateís Department of Education page of their website.

*What testing are you required to have administered and at what grade levels?

Standardized testing is required in most, if not all states at different grade levels. You will often be required to bring your child in for testing at third, fifth and eight grades to see if educational goals and standards are being met. If not, then some states can require you to send your child back into traditional schooling. In many cases, the parent bears the cost of these tests. You can download sample tests on your stateís education department website to better prepare your child.

*How much time do you have to homeschool?

If you work a demanding schedule, you may not have time to adequately teach your child without some form of support. If your are a stay-at-home parent, you possess a unique opportunity to provide your child with a quality education and build a lifetime bond that others miss out on. If you work from home, make an honest appraisal to determine if you can do both.

*Are there other alternatives available?

The advent of online public schools, such as K12, offers a blend between enrollment in public school and homeschooling. These schools give the parent support with teachers, curriculum, computers, and Internet access. You may lose the ability to put your child in local district extracurricular activities, as your child will not fit the definition of a homeschooled child.

* Do you possess the basic skills in math and language needed to adequately teach your child?

Teaching subjects requires you to have the basics. If you are poor at math, you may have a difficult time teaching your child yourself. However, you may be able to find a tutor in your area that can assist your child in areas where you are weaker.

*Have you budgeted for the expense of homeschooling?

You will have to decide on curriculum, supplies, tutors, and other expenses that may be associated with homeschooling. Donít walk into the decision without knowing if you have the resources available. However, there are many websites that offer free tools, such as lesson plans and advice, which can aid in homeschooling your child.

Homeschooling can be an ideal situation for many children and families. By making an informed decision, you can be successful. Remember what you need to consider when making the decision to homeschool: time, money, regulations and skills.

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