Homeschooling takes almost as many forms as there are families doing it — from a daily routine following a scheduled curriculum to child-led learning in which parents supervise and help. Since every family is unique (number and ages of children, personalities, interests, goals, etc.), each family will homeschool differently. It’s important to remember that there is no one “right” way to homeschool. Parents will discover their own teaching style and their children’s learning style.
Just as there is no such thing as a typical homeschooling family, it’s difficult to describe a typical homeschool day. Children learn from a variety of activities, such as reading, conversation, play, outside classes, volunteer work and apprenticeships. They typically will have some time on their own at home (to read, play, build, draw, write, do a science experiment, work on math), and some time with their parents (to get help with any of the above, to talk, to do work on a project together), and some time with others outside the home (in an art class, in Scouts, in a homeschoolers’ orchestra, in a volunteer job at an animal shelter). Some families set aside a specific part of the day for academic work; others do not. Often this varies for each child and the family often adapts its schedule as the children grow and their needs change.
Families from every philosophical, religious, political, racial and economic group choose homeschooling as the best way to educate their children. It is almost impossible to list all of the reasons parents give for deciding to homeschool their children. However, parents do fall into three very broad, and increasingly overlapping, ideological groups:
Religious/Moral Values: An estimated seventy-five percent of all homeschooling parents do so for religious reasons. Many parents feel that schools (including private, religion-based schools) do not address the spiritual issues and morals they want incorporated into their children’s education. Some parents object to the teaching of ideas and theories contrary to theirs — evolution and sex education, for example.
Inadequate School-based Education: Growning numbers of parents are citing dissatisfaction with the level of their children’s education as the primary reason for homeschooling. Most parents in this group have had children in public and/or private schools, but decided to homeschool because of the lack of individual attention, inadequate teaching methods, and declining academic standards, as well as poor school performance by children that excel at home. Also, concerns about school safety have increased in recent years, resulting in an increase in the number of children who begin homeschooling during the middle and high school years.
Political Beliefs: Parents in this group tend to be politically liberal, and homeschool their children in an effort to distance themselves from institutions of all kinds that encroach on their freedom. Some also cite the restrictive school environment that allows for little if any student-led instruction as the primary reason for homeschooling.
Many homeschooling parents believe that the social atmosphere of schools today is harmful to children and is not conducive to personal and intellectual growth. Many also cite a desire to play a more prominent role in their children’s education and lives.
People homeschool for myriad reasons. But their overwhelming reason is to get the best possible education for their children. Any classroom teacher will tell you that the children who succeed in school are those whose parents are involved in their education. Homeschooling simply brings that involvement to a new level. The learning process which begins at birth simply continues naturally with the parents as teachers. When this partnership is working well, why dissolve it merely because at a certain age, children are “supposed to be in school”?