Many aspects of the public school system concern me and have encouraged me to search for educational alternatives for my children. I have one son who is not yet of school age, but the time to research and discover alternatives is now so I can prepare for whatever my decision happens to be.
Our home state of Utah recently voted on vouchers for schools, which I voted in favor of. The measure did not pass, unfortunately, so our next alternative is homeschooling. I like the idea of having more control over my child’s education and being able to adapt teaching methods and practices to conform to individual children’s needs. I believe that public schools would like to offer a more individualized educational experience for children, but the resources are just not there. As a mother, I am highly invested in my children’s educations and believe that homeschooling is a great option.
I’ve talked with a number of homeschool parents and have heard some great ideas, discussed as follows.
Involve the Community
A favorite idea is to get community members to come teach about a certain topic. For example, invite a war veteran to teach history, a journalist to teach writing, a small business owner to teach economics, a nurse to teach health, an artist to teach art history.
Involving the community is an excellent idea and can open kids up to career possibilities. This is something I wish I had had in my schooling experience, more opportunities to interact with people actually doing what I thought I wanted to do. Inviting others to come teach is a great idea because it takes some pressure off the parent and opens kid’s minds to the possibilities available to them.
Alternate Between Home and Public School
A mother I know homeschooled but only for certain grades. Her kids went in and out of public school depending on their individual needs. She homeschooled for the early grade school years because she felt that she could teach her children reading and other fundamentals more effectively that the teacher of an overcrowded classroom.
I spent a year substitute teaching all grades, and grade school was the most difficult. I don’t know how teachers can teach anything with all the babysitting that has to go on. With 25 seven year olds in a small room, teaching anything is very difficult. Many of these frazzled teachers come up with anything to keep the children occupied, so learning often suffers.
This mother would send her children to public school for the late elementary school years and then take them out again through junior high. She felt that since junior high is such an awkward and awful time for many kids they would be better off at home for those few years. Her children would then go to public high school.
Participate in Sports and Music Programs
One great thing about public school is the extracurricular programs like sports and music. Homeschooled kids should have the opportunity to participate in band and sports teams at the public school since homeschooling doesn’t provide for those types of groups. Sports and music are an important part of a child’s “education.”
Create Homeschool Groups
Many people are concerned about the social impact of homeschooling, and the practical solution is to homeschool together with other families, creating a small social network for children to learn how to interact with others.
Organize Field Trips
Homeschooling really facilitates field trips. With small groups and no legal limitations, parents are free to take their children pretty much anywhere to do some on site learning.
A large-scale idea is to take a few months, if individual family circumstances allow, and travel to visit the American history sites. The mother I referred to above did this with her family, and her children still remember and talk about the things they learned on that trip. When kids can use their senses to learn things, they’ll remember better. Being at the places rather than just talking about them makes a huge difference.
The thing I love about homeschooling is that it gives parents the opportunity to create unique and personal learning experiences where children can see and touch and feel the things they’re learning about, rather than just hearing. My favorite saying that I’ve heard homeschool parents use is, “Don’t let public school get in the way of your child’s education.”
Like I said, I think there’s a place for both home and public school in the educational career of a child, but some things are better off being taught at home where they can be more personalized and real, with less wasted time and busy work. As a mother, I want the best possible education for my children, so homeschooling is probably in our future.