Many Christian parents are committed to educating their children at home because of their conviction that this is God's will for their family. They are concerned for the spiritual training and character development as well as the social and academic welfare of their children.
Specific advantages have been expressed as follows:
Parents can present all academic subjects from a biblical perspective and include spiritual training. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10 NAS).
Homeschooling makes quality time available to train and influence children in all areas in an integrated way.
Each child receives individual attention and has his unique needs met.
Parents can control destructive influences such as various temptations, false teachings (including secular humanism and occult influences of the New Age movement), negative peer pressure, and unsafe environments.
Children gain respect for their parents as teachers.
The family experiences unity, closeness, and mutual enjoyment of one another as they spend more time working together.
Children develop confidence and independent thinking away from the peer pressure to conform and in the security of their own home.
Children have time to explore new interests and to think.
Communication between different age groups is enhanced.
Tutorial-style education helps each child achieve his full educational potential.
Flexible scheduling can accommodate parents' work and vacation times and allow time for many activities.
There is no one right way to homeschool. There is no one right method or curriculum.
As an artist has at his disposal an entire palette of colors to mix and use, so a home educator has a vast array of effective methods from which to choose.
These choices may be based on:
The ages of the children.
The subject matter being taught.
The number of children that you are teaching.
The learning styles your children find most effective.
The time you have available to prepare and teach material.
The varying abilities or special needs of your children.
The motivation that certain methods may provide to your individual children.
The variety of methods is endless. As you choose and mix them, your homeschool will become uniquely fitted to your family.
Fine materials developed for Christian and private schools are available to home educators. With the huge growth of the homeschool movement new materials are also being developed or adapted especially for use in home teaching.These materials may be obtained in several basic ways:
You may order texts and teaching aids directly from the publishers or through mail-order companies. Homeschool magazines regularly present advertisements of numerous suppliers of quality teaching materials.
A home extension program offered through a local Christian school or church can provide teaching materials, testing and counseling. Materials, testing and guidance can also be obtained through correspondence courses.
Home educators can choose or combine elements of any of the following approaches:
Traditional Textbooks. High quality textbooks are available from publishers. These cover each subject in depth and in a logical order of topics.
Worktexts. Some publishers have combined textbook information with exercises in consumable write-in books.
Classical Approach. Children progress from memory and learning skills to advance reasoning and finally expressive use of language to discuss their knowledge and beliefs. This is fast becoming the most popular trend in home education.
Unit Studies. Theme centered units integrate information from several subjects. Language art and math need additional systematic teaching.
Books & Life Experiences. Other than basic teaching in the three R’s, much learning comes through reading good literature and nonfiction. Normal everyday activities also supplement book-learning and give it perspective.
Mike Farris, one of North America’s homeschooling pioneers predicts that the return to classical education in terms of curriculum content will increase dramatically. High tech lessons in classical languages and great books are on-line today and Farris projects that “easy to use” programs will emerge on the market. The number one rule of home education curriculum will be “Is it easy for mom to use?” Other trends according to Farris include apprenticeship in lieu of university training and increased involvement in the political process on behalf of homeschooling families.
The following are some common difficulties along with some suggested solutions.Lack of confidence. At first you may lack confidence in choosing materials and methods, doubting your ability to teach. With experience, you will gain confidence.
Fear of being unable to work with your own children. Parents who do not have their children’s respect will have trouble getting their cooperation. Gaining their respect through proper relationships, discipline, training, and example should be the parents’ top priority, whether or not they are homeschooling. Homeschooling can provide the incentive and optimum setting to accomplish this.
Inadequate time and energy. Home teaching requires an investment of time and energy, especially by mothers. Self-discipline and good organization will help ensure a well-run household. A daily schedule, teaching plan, and a chore list can keep school and housework organized. Children can also be a great help when trained to assist with the cooking, laundry, and household chores.
Lack of commitment. Families gain the strength to overcome difficulties when they develop the conviction that homeschooling is best for their family and is God’s will for them.
Social pressure. Pressure from well-meaning friends or relatives can be a real deterrent. Make a well-informed decision and then stand on your convictions. More information and a loving attitude often help others understand and accept God’s leading for the homeschool family.
Financial investment. Costs of materials or programs vary considerably, but are always less than a private school. Many materials can be reused for siblings.
Several institutions throughout North America have welcomed home-educated student. “Many of these schools actively recruit home-educated graduates because of their maturity, independent thinking skills, creativity, and extensive academic preparation,” says Inge Cannon, executive director of Education PLUS.In preparation for university or college entrance or any vocational training program, parents should prepare a thorough transcript of high school level work, award a diploma, and specify and actual high school graduation date. Occasionally GED tests may be required by a college or employer for additional verification. MACHS hosts an annual graduation recognition at our annual spring conference.
Some homeschoolers are entering their chosen fields through apprenticeship programs designed and supervised by parents and professionals.
The issue of “socialization” is quite possibly the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling.Popular opinion assumes that children need periods of interaction with a group of peers to acquire social skills. By contrast, however, many believe that extensive peer contact during childhood can cause undesirable peer dependency.
“Do not be deceived: `Bad company corrupts good morals’” (I Cor. 15:33 NAS).
Young children are more likely to be influenced by the majority than to be an influence on them. Children who receive their education outside the home are prone to accept their peers’ and teachers’ values over those of their parents.
Some advantages of freedom from peer pressure can be self-confidence, independent thinking, the ability to relate to people of all ages, and better family relations.
Godly principles of interaction can be taught, demonstrated, and reinforced at home by parents. Children can learn needed social skills by interacting with siblings or other children and adults under their parents’ supervision. Young people who have had this type of training have adjusted very well to adult life.
You can help your children build lasting Christian friendships with people of all ages as they interact with church and family friends.
Dr. Brain Ray reports that numerous studies have found that home educated children are as well adjusted socially and emotionally as student in conventional school, or better.
Andrew Nikiforuk stated in Chatelaine magazine (March, 1994) that given the strong emphasis homeschoolers place on character development, the argument that children schooled at home are brought up in a bubble and can’t cope in the real world just doesn’t hold.
Author Ray E. Ballmann states that homeschoolers on average score higher than their conventionally schooled peers in tests that measure both self-concept and sociability. A young child learns good sociability primarily by watching and mirroring. Do you want your child to model after you or after his peers, after his teacher at school or his teacher at home? What kind of socialization do you want for your child, positive or negative?
Homeschooling is also growing quickly as the educational practice of choice for parents of children who are particularly gifted or talented. With homeschooling, a student’s education can be customized so that he or she can excel at whatever pace is appropriate. The gifted child or youth can quickly become competent in the basics, and then accelerate, through instruction by special tutors or mentors, in any area of special giftedness or interest such as science, history, painting, geography, or instrumental music.
Homeschooling is especially suited to the needs of children who are learning disabled, ADD or ADHD, autistic, inexplicably academically slow, who have chronic illnesses, or who are physically limited or handicapped. Many parents are realizing that individually tailored curricula, flexibility, one-to-one teaching, and the time-efficient nature of homeschooling contribute to making homeschooling an excellent choice for their youngsters who have special needs. Research supports their conviction.
Homeschooling requires a time commitment, but not as much as you might expect. One-to-one tutoring is more efficient than classroom instruction and thus takes less time.Time requirements vary according to the methods used, the ages of the children, and how many children are being taught.
Academic instruction might begin with one-half to one hour for the early grades and work up to a few hours of instruction and/or independent study for upper grades.
Most correspondence courses state that their work can be completed in four or five hours per day.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
Agree together as husband and wife on your decision to homeschool.
Research home education by reading one or two basic home education books, such as Christopher Klicka’s The Right Choice. Also meet and visit with more experienced homeschoolers in your church or at a local support group and make an effort to attend MACHS annual homeschool conference.
Contact MACHS, your provincial homeschool organization, to learn of local support groups, events, and publications as well as Manitoba’s laws governing home education.
Make arrangements to comply with the law according to your religious convictions and recommendations of MACHS and/or HSLDA. Consider joining MACHS and Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada to show solidarity with homeschoolers across the province and the country.
Get your home life and schedule in order by establishing discipline of your children and your use of time. Also, consider getting rid of unnecessary or little used possessions to make way for learning materials and study space.
Choose methods and teaching materials that you feel most comfortable in starting out with and that would be appropriate to the age and number of your children. If you feel overwhelmed by the choices you must make, you may want to use a prepared curriculum from a textbook, worktext, or unit study publisher for your first year. It may also help to start with only one or a few subjects and add more as you go along, adjusting your pace accordingly.
Reassess and experiment with different materials and methods and make adjustments as you become more experienced with home education.
Throughout this educational process, you will, of course, want to give top priority to your children’s spiritual and character development.
Homeschooling is a way of life in which the home is the center of life and learning. Through home education, parents can experience, in a unique way, their responsibility to bring up their children by instilling strong moral and spiritual values.
Subjects such as Bible, science, history, and literature can be taught to several grade levels of children together.Lessons can be presented in an amplified manner with explanations that enable all children to understand.
Older students can do much of their work independently while younger ones receive necessary tutoring in basic skills.
You know your children better than anyone and have the deepest love and concern for them. You also have the most direct and long-term responsibility for your children.Educationally, one-to-one tutoring of a child has many advantages over the typical classroom where one teacher tries to meet the needs of many children at different learning levels.
Your example and enthusiasm in learning with your children will motivate and encourage them far more than striving to appear as if you know it all. You do not need to know everything in order to teach.
Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, conducted a nationwide study of home education in Canada involving more that 800 families with 2,800 children. He found these home educated children scored at or above the 76th percentile in all subject areas. (The national average of all conventionally schooled children is the 50th percentile.)
Dr. Ray says, “The tutorial method has always been the superior method for educating children. Homeschooling epitomizes this method, providing the essentials for success – a close relationship between the student and teacher, motivation, flexibility, and individualization.”
Several resources are available to give you on-the-job training:
Homeschool conferences, workshops, and book fairs at local, regional, and provincial levels provide practical instruction in teaching techniques unique to home instruction. Up-to-date information on these events is a regular feature of homeschooling magazines and MACHS newsletter, the Times at Home.
Homeschooling magazines present articles that inform, encourage, and inspire you in various principles and techniques of home teaching.
Provincial and local homeschool support groups can greatly encourage and help you as ideas and information is exchanged.
What do I do if the Department of Education calls and says that they need to visit my home? The first thing to relealize is that a visit is only required if it is stated that there are concerns with the educational program of your children. All other visit requests can be denied.When a valid reason for a visit is provided, you are able to schedule a meeting time within a reasonable period of time and are allowed to have an independent party with you during the visit. MACHS is willing to assist as much as possible. The visit can also be planned for a location outside of your home.
Parents should be able to show that there is an educational plan in place and that you are working towards your goals. Student work samples and curriculum that is being used should be available on request.
Most often these visit are just to verify that a solid plan is in place. Being in touch with MACHS is helpful. Additional support can be obtained through your HSLDA membership.