Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Home-schooling


Something I wrote as part of an application process for some online work.  If you happen to swing by and have thoughts, I'd love to hear them.  I did write this off the top of my head, with what little I know from friends and family on both sides of this fence.

Education is a hot topic for parents, today more than ever.  Public school systems come under fire for poor retention or "adjusting" test scores to garner more state and federal education money.  State and federal governments are at a loss how to fix an ailing system.

Aside from public education and charter schools, schooling at home, or home-schooling, is an option more and more parents are choosing for at least a portion of their children's education.

Home-schooling gives parents the freedom to choose classroom topics, to a great extent.  As long as the basics are covered (with quarterly to annual testing, depending on local requirements) to the state's satisfaction, home-schooling parents have the opportunity to increase the breadth of the student's learning to include religion, astronomy, philosophy, and so much more.  Such simple things as trips to the zoo can now become lessons in science or biology.  Committed parents and students can complete comparable lesson plans in half or a quarter of the time required in attending public school, leaving the remainder of the days free for other family activities.

A great deal of material is available on the internet, about home-schooling in general and including lesson plans for various subjects.  Parents on a budget can find free material, and other parents with larger budgets can buy comprehensive lesson plans for subjects with which they are unfamiliar.  Most school districts choose to offer home-schoolers inclusion in physical education activities or extracurriculars, and many areas have home-school cooperatives, where student may learn a subject or engage in sport activities together.

On the other hand, being a home-schooling parent nearly always requires that the teaching parent remain at home, so as to be available to the students during the day.  Even if the home-schooling parent works from home, rarely is the income as high as if that same parent were working a full-time job.  This lack of income can sometimes adversely affect home life, and to raise a family with only one income requires a great deal of commitment on the part of the entire family.

Public schools offer students a different socialization level, experienced teachers and a strict schedule.  Many parents prefer this for their children, and many children need the regimen to learn effectively.  It's easy to see, on a six-week schedule, how well or poorly the student is progressing, and where he or she needs help.  Students make life-long friends in public schools, and are able to participate in things like school dances and graduation events.  Many parents do not have the option to remain at home, particularly with more and more single parent families in this country.  In this case, public school or a charter school would the parent's most viable choice.

How to educate a child is one of any parent's most important priorities.  Each family must consider the options and make the choice that satisfies that family's needs in the best way possible.