So a friend or family member has told you they are going to homeschool their children?
Let me guess, a few thoughts may be running through your brain…
- That is ridiculous! Kids need to go to school!
- They’re going to turn out weird and unsocialised.
- Don’t they want the best education for their children?
- Hopefully, this is just a phase and they get over it soon.
- That’s a great idea, but probably unrealistic. Who has the time?
- But they’re not qualified!
- What about high school? University? A career?
I hear you. If you haven’t yet had a positive experience with homeschooling, it can seem a bit out there!
But you want to understand, right? I hope you do. You love this person and you want to support them. I know for sure they would love your support.
So let’s get educated.
Here’s what you need to know…
What is homeschooling?
That’s a tough question! Put simply, homeschooling means children learning without school. In reality, it can be many different things. There are lots of different ways to homeschool, from recreating a school like environment in your home to the total freedom of unschooling.
What does it look like?
Most people who aren’t familiar with modern homeschooling might automatically picture the stereotypical family sitting around the kitchen table while Mum delivers lessons. Although this still might be true for some, homeschooling today doesn’t generally resemble this. In fact, the word homeschooling isn’t even very accurate. Education happens everywhere. It’s chats in the car, it’s visiting museums and art galleries, it’s exploring nature, it’s extracurricular classes, it’s playing with friends, it’s shopping trips and working out what you can buy with your birthday money.
Homeschooling can look like a million different things. Instead of sitting in the same classroom day after day, homeschoolers are living in and interacting with the real world.
Why do people homeschool?
It’s important to remember that people choose to homeschool because they want the best for their kids. They are not trying to limit or shelter them. I guarantee you they have thoroughly considered all of the same concerns you have. They did not make this decision on a whim. They are informed and they know that homeschooling can provide more than what school has to offer.
There are many reasons parents decide not to send their kids to school. Some include:
- Dissatisfaction with public schooling options
- Previous negative experiences with school
- Wanting a higher quality and more individualised education
- Freedom and lifestyle
- A more respectful environment for children
- A more connected family
- Belief in children able to direct their own learning
- Free from pressure and standardisation
- Wanting to be a part of a child’s education instead of outsourcing
Homeschooling is effective. Studies show that on average homeschoolers score better or above their peers on all measures.
A different view of education
Most homeschoolers do not buy into the current model of schooling as ‘education’. School is educating children for a world and jobs that no longer exist. Education is no longer about memorising a list of facts, but instead encouraging creative, motivated, problem solvers.
“If school is supposed to be preparation for the workforce, it’s failing. Sixty-five percent of children today will end up with jobs that don’t even exist yet. How is an educational model based on standardisation and memorisation of facts preparing children for that?” –No Adult Would Tolerate School
To us, education encompasses all of life. It is not restricted to a set curriculum. It is truly being a part of the world.
What about unschooling?
Maybe your family member told you they were planning to unschool and that was even more shocking to you!
What is unschooling? Read a more in-depth summary here.
Simply put, unschooling is a type of homeschooling where no curriculum is used and children are free to direct their own learning. While this might seem ‘hands-off’ at first, the truth is unschooling parents are very involved. It takes a lot of rethinking everything we are taught about what ‘education’ is.
You might not understand at first, and that’s ok. All we ask for is your trust and support. Remember, we’re making informed choices and we want the best for our kids, that will never change. The best thing you can do, as a supporter, is watch and trust.
What about socialisation?
This has to be one of the most common questions. But school is not the standard for socialisation, it’s just the most common route. What’s more, it’s often not healthy. I’m sure you’ve heard about the ‘bullying epidemic’. That kind of suggests it’s not working out too well.
The good news is, there are people in the real world! We interact with them every day. And there are also lots of people homeschooling. The numbers grow every year. There are homeschooling groups everywhere and so many things to get involved in. It’s time the myth of the unsocialised homeschooler was put to rest. We’re definitely not lacking in opportunities to interact with people.
Still not convinced? Read more about socialisation here:
Do you need qualifications?
You do not have to have any teaching qualifications to be able to homeschool. Any parent/guardian is able to do it. The fact is, no one knows a child better than their family. They are the perfect people to support their education. Read more here.
What about higher education?
You don’t have to complete high school to go to University. There are many paths to higher education. Homeschoolers and Unschoolers are definitely able to go on to University if they wish. The options differ between countries.
What are the requirements?
This also differs depending on where you live. You generally have to register to homeschool and then there may be other requirements you need to meet regularly. It is different country to country and state to state.
How can you help?
If you know someone who is homeschooling, chances are they would love your non-judgemental involvement. Homeschoolers have more time to visit with extended family and friends and form deeper connections. We would love you to be a supportive part of our lives!
There’s no need to try and teach the kids, just act as you normally would! No quizzing or criticising. Develop a relationship and they will naturally learn from you. Everyone has unique experiences to bring to a child’s life. As a part of our community, you are included in that.
Here’s what we want you to know…
When we tell you we are going to homeschool our kids, we don’t want criticism. Please trust us that we are capable, informed, and have considered all the information.
Trust that we know our kids and are doing what we think is best. Please value us as parents and respect our decision.
We’d love to answer your respectful questions, but we don’t want to be constantly defending our choices. It is not up for debate. We have already consulted the people who are affected by the decision.
When we perceive we are being criticised, it creates distance between us. We don’t want that to happen. We would love you to be a part of our lives. We value your contribution and support!
Though our choices may be different than your own, they are not a reflection on you. We are doing what is right for us.
It’s ok not to understand yet, we just need your support.
If you want to learn more about homeschooling you can find some good information here.