What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling (also known as home education) is a rapidly growing alternative form of education whereby parents take the responsibility to educate their children at home rather than sending them to school. However, although the name suggests all learning activities are home-based, homeschooled children are often enrolled in clubs and activities outside of the home to supplement and enrich the child’s learning experience. Additionally, home-schooling is not to be confused with ‘school at home’. Homeschool families have the privilege of customising their children’s education to fit their learning styles, needs and this flexibility is one of the reasons families are drawn to homeschooling.
Is homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in many countries including the UK and the US. However, there are some countries where homeschooling isn’t legal. It is also important to note that each country has its unique laws with regards to homeschooling, and these laws can also differ from state to state. It is important to research your locality’s laws with regards to homeschooling before you get started.
Why do families choose to homeschool?
There are several reasons as to why families opt for homeschooling rather than sending their children to a public or private school system. According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Education (in 2016), the number one reason parents decided to homeschool their children was due to a concern about the environment of schools, with dissatisfaction with academic instruction following second. Parents also highlighted their desire to provide moral and religious instruction in their child’s education as their reason to homeschool, as well as citing reasons such as their child having special needs, illness, or a physical/mental health need.
As a Muslim homeschooling parent, I will personally highlight that the tarbiyah of our children falls upon us, the parents. Consequently, homeschooling allows us to cultivate and educate our children without having to compromise their deen. Contrary to popular opinion research has also shown that there are numerous academic advantages that come with homeschooling; it doesn’t compromise academics in any shape or form.
What are the Homeschooling methodologies/approaches?
Often when families research how to get started with homeschooling, articles relating to methodologies of homeschooling arise. Popular approaches include Classical, Charlotte Mason, Eclectic, Waldorf, Montessori, and Unschooling.
A homeschooling approach is essentially a method of learning that encourages a particular learning style though they all overlap in one way or another. For example, the classical approach is probably most aligned with traditional schooling, with a more structured approach to learning, heavily focusing on reading, logic, and language learning, especially Greek and Latin. The Charlotte Mason approach, on the other hand, encourages short periods of study, unit studies, with nature studies, observations, and portfolios as a method of teaching. You can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of each approach in this extensive article HERE.
However, it’s important to note that although approaches to homeschooling can be a useful starting point, feeling the need to adhere to one style and all that it promotes is one of the number one reasons mothers begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed. I’ve discussed this numerous times with mothers both in-person and online, that methodologies should assist you not restrict you. As a Muslim homeschool parent, it is also important to be selective in what methodologies we follow, ensuring they adhere to our Islamic values and principles.
I want to homeschool. How do I get started?
- Find out the legality of homeschooling in your locality first, and familiarise yourself.
- Start slow. Homeschooling full time is a transition. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on everything at once. Start with two to three core subjects, and incorporate more subjects as you (and your children) find your feet. Also, avoid trying to replicate another homeschoolers day; incorporate your school time in a manner that complements the season of life you are in.
- DON’T jump in and buy the curriculum you’ve seen other homeschoolers using and promoting. With young children especially, there is often no need to buy lots of curricula as there are tonnes of websites with free worksheets for all subjects. More often than not, many homeschoolers regret purchasing expensive curricula so early on which as it doesn’t serve their child’s needs.
- Take your time to research curricula before you purchase anything. There are several factors to consider when purchasing a curriculum, whilst still noting that no homeschool curriculum is perfect. This includes family dynamics, finance, newborns, pregnancy, and multiple children to name a few. I will be writing more about this in a separate post as it is a topic many parents struggle with.