If you want to start homeschooling soon or maybe you’re just looking into it as a possible thing to do with your kids in the future then you might get confused about how and where to start.
Plus there are all the different types of homeschooling and the terms and expressions that get bandied around. In this mini-series, we will break down the different types of homeschooling so that it makes it easier for you to choose the right path for your family.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I just want to say that I’m not anti-school, and not always pro homeschool. I don’t believe homeschooling is the right choice, for the best needs of all children, just as I don’t believe all schooling situations are always the best choice for the child.
In an ideal world, kids would be able to enjoy their education and follow their passions without stress or shame being attached to their learning. Sometimes, due to circumstances, school or home might be the best and safest place for the child, even if their education is compromised.
That being said, I’m not a huge fan of Victorian factory-style teaching, which is how most traditional schools operate. I don’t think it is the best way to educate a child, and I’m 100% sure that the majority of school teachers are just as frustrated as the kids because of the constraints put upon them in the name of regulations and red tape.
I’m also not a fan of the brainwashing of children, especially in a religious context, that sometimes happens in certain homeschool communities.
I do believe that we would have far happier adults if when as kids, they were encouraged to follow their passions and interests at a deep level.
Homeschooling isn’t for everyone and sometimes both kids and parents thrive better with the children in a school environment, or sadly, sometimes school is a safer option for kids rather than being at home. Deciding to homeschool is a big decision, especially in some areas of the world where it isn’t such a common choice and may have a stigma attached to it.
And finally, Covid threw a lot of parents into a schooling-from-home situation, but be clear, schooling from home is NOT the same as homeschooling. And being forced to educate your kids during a pandemic is far from ideal and completely different from choosing to homeschool under normal circumstances.
Educate (one’s child) at home instead of sending them to a school.
Just as there are different types of schools, that teach different curricula, styles teaching styles, etc. there are different ways to homeschool.
Local state government rules may influence the choice of homeschooling method. In some countries or the United States, specific States have very specific requirements when it comes to homeschooling. In fact, in some countries, homeschooling is illegal but then this can also vary depending on whether the child is a citizen, registered as a resident or on some other type of visa.
Here are 10 examples of places where it is illegal to homeschool:
- Austria (up to the age of 15 it is OK)
- Norway (for children under the age of 12)
There are more, here is an extensive list but as the rules are always changing, do your research for the latest information.
There might also be loop homes depending on your circumstances that are worth exploring. For example, American military families are not bound by Germany’s homeschool laws.
The first step to start homeschooling
If you are planning to start homeschooling, your first step should be to find out the legalities of homeschooling where you live. If it is a place with restrictions, does your family qualify for exceptional circumstances and what requirements are there if you do go forward with homeschooling?
In Japan, the laws state that Japanese kids up to the age of leaving junior high (aged 15/16) must be provided with an education and it’s a parent’s responsibility to make sure they get it. But if your child is not Japanese, you can basically do what you like!
My son is Japanese. In our experience, the rules were very lax, when we started homeschooling we had to:
- Registering our son at city hall
- Also at the local junior high school (that he never once set foot in).
- My husband had an annual quick meeting with the headmaster. Which was just a formality.
That was all we had to do.
We did get supplied with the national curriculum books for free but my son was ahead of schedule so they were never used.
But I know other parents that had a much harder time when they chose to start homeschooling in Japan. With pushback from the local BOE, home visits and the such like. Now, I don’t know the full back stories so there might have been other things at play there or maybe we dropped lucky. I recommend joining some local homeschool groups and asking around to get specific feedback about where you live.
Checklist to get started:
I can’t possibly list all the information for every different place and circumstance combination here so it is time to roll up your sleeves and get your research hat on. Get used to it, homeschooling involves a lot of research!
Get started by answering these questions
- Is it legal to homeschool where you live?
- If it is not legal, are there any loopholes or special circumstances that would allow you to start homeschooling?
- What are the homeschooling rules/requirements? Do you have to submit test papers, or forms of what your kids have studied? Any other rules?
- Join local Facebook or similar homeschool groups/communities to get information from those already doing it where you live.
- Write an extensive list of pros and cons for homeschooling, specific to your family. Don’t sugarcoat it. It’s a big decision so you need to get down and dirty so you know what you are getting yourself into.
- Research to find local homeschool co-op groups, meet-ups or anything else that might happen in your area for homeschoolers.
- Realistically think about how homeschooling will fit into your day, especially if you are working too. The age of your child(ren) and how much help and attention they will need are important to consider. As a rule of thumb, a regular traditional school day can be done in 3 hours of learning at home.
How do I pick a curriculum when I start homeschooling?
The biggest mistake those who want to start homeschooling make is rushing in to buy a curriculum. It is not always cheap and then they feel like they have to stick with it for the year because they paid for it.
In the next part of this series, we will look at deschooling. This is the second thing you need to do before you crack open the school books and get out the pencil case.
Using the deschooling time to connect with your child. Get to know how they tick better, what their preferred learning style is and what they are interested in. This will help you make better decisions when it comes to choosing a curriculum.
Choosing a curriculum can be fun and exciting but also overwhelming. By all means, have a look around but until you have answered all of the above and gone through the deschooling, hold off on the curriculum buying. (We will go into this in more detail later in the series)
There are almost as many homeschool styles as there are flavours at an ice cream parlour! So you can create your own deliciously unique educational sundae!
I’ll cover these in more detail in the rest of the series. At as you do your research you might come across some of these terms:
- Deschooling – unlearning the educational programming of traditional schools.
- Worldschooling – educating your child whilst on the road.
- Montessori – educational philosophy created by Dr Maria Montessori.
- Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner.
- Charlotte Manson – educational philosophy created by Charolotte Manson.
- Child-led – Following the child’s interests.
- Unschooling – The child doesn’t follow a set curriculum.
We will dig more into these over the next few posts so that you can choose the right style for your family. Once you know that, picking a curriculum, if you choose to go that route, will be easier.
If you want to read more about our personal education journey I’ve got a blog post here.
But first, homework! If you want to start homeschooling go and research the list above…
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