How on earth do you educate your child at home?
How do you get started when you’re not a teacher?
How do you keep your child interested in book work
when they’d rather be outside climbing trees?
Unfortunately, there are no pat answers to any of the standard questions about getting under way. Every answer must be put into the context of your child, your family, your circumstances.
The answers you’re looking for will depend largely on why you’re home educating in the first place.
If you’ve pulled your child out of school for a brief period of time, for travel or to help them settle after some kind of trauma, etc., and you plan to return them to the school system soon, you’ll probably be most comfortable maintaining workbooks and following a more structured model of home education.
If your child has been bullied and just needs some time at home in order to regain their composure and reclaim their inner strength, then a period of de-schooling might be just what the child needs.
If you’re in home education for the moment, but not sure if you’ll continue, other personal considerations will come into play as to whether you want more or less structure in your days. Read articles on Considerations, Approaches, factors in Learning, etc., to help you shape how you might want your home education experience to look over time.
If you’re committed to home education for the long haul, I seriously encourage you to do lots of reading about approaches that are less structured and which fall into the more ‘natural’ end of the various approaches.
Children who are ‘schooled at home’ for long periods burn out, begin to fight the structure or withdraw from it, and can frustrate parents no end. Even parents who have considered themselves committed home educators can find themselves shunting their children back into the school system because they just don’t know what else to do to get them to concentrate on their books at home. Read articles on De-Schooling, Considerations, Approaches, etc. Authors whose writings might help include : John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn …
- Authorities, trained as they are to understand formal and highly structured educational models, are endeavouring (locally at least) to understand and develop authentic assessment strategies for families who prefer more natural approaches to education. My genuine encouragement is that you don’t shy away from dialogue with authorities. People who prefer more natural approaches usually do so from quite deep ethical belief – be willing to talk about your approach, because that helps authorities to see that your child is genuinely learning and being well equipped for adult life.
- I should also point out here that there is quite large a body of evidence supporting natural learners, and encouraging home educators to pursue the personal education of their children. NHERI is a US organisation with a large body of research in support of home education. Local home educators from a broad range of approaches have also successfully transitioned to tertiary studies and careers, excelling in their chosen paths.
How you begin home educating will likely be quite different to how you finish, if you persist with it through all the years of your child’s “official” education.
Read our Express Start article if you just want to get going with something, but do be flexible and adjust to the preferences that you and your child unearth as you work together. It is, after all, a journey.
We must get beyond textbooks, go out into the by-paths…
and tell the world the glories of our journey.
~ John Hope Franklin