Questions & Answers
by Sue Welch & Cindy Short, co-editors, Teaching Home Magazine
Q Why do families home school?
A Many Christians are committed to educating their children at home because of their conviction that this is God's will for their family. They are concerned for their children's spiritual and academic training, character development, and social welfare.
Specific advantages have been expressed as follows:
· Parents can present all academic subjects from a biblical perspective and include spiritual training. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10 NAS).
· Home schooling makes quality time available to train and influence children in all areas in an integrated way.
· Each child receives individual attention and has his unique needs met.
· Parents can control destructive influences such as various temptations, false teachings (including secular humanism and occult influences of the New Age movement), negative peer pressure, and unsafe environments.
· Children gain respect for their parents as teachers.
· The family experiences unity, closeness, and enjoyment of one another as they spend more time together.
· Children develop confidence and independent thinking away from the peer pressure to conform and in the security of their own home.
· Children have time to explore new interests and to think.
· Communication between different age groups is enhanced.
· Tutorial-style education helps each child achieve his educational potential.
· Flexible scheduling can accommodate parents' work and vacation times and allow time for many activities.
Q Are parents qualified to teach their children?
A You know your children better than anyone else and have the deepest love and concern for them.
You also have the most direct and long-term responsibility for your children before God, who commands parents to teach their children His Word, the most important thing they will learn.
Educationally, one-to-one tutoring has many advantages over a classroom where one teacher tries to meet the needs of many children at different levels.
You do not need to know everything in order to teach. Your example and enthusiasm in learning with your children will motivate and encourage them.
Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (Box 13939, Salem OR 97309), conducted an analysis in 1994 of standardized test results for 16,320 home school children nationwide. He found these children to average at or above the 73rd percentile in all subject areas. (The national average is the 50th percentile.)
A 1997 nationwide study, Strengths of Their Own, by Dr. Ray demonstrated that there is little relationship between the parents' education levels and their children's scores. He also found that whether the parent is a certified teacher or not has no bearing on a child's scores.
Dr. Ray says, "The tutorial method of teaching has always been the superior method. Home education epitomizes this method, providing essentials for success such as a close student/teacher relationship, family-consistent values, motivation, flexibility, and individualization."
Several resources are available to give home educators on-the-job training:
· Home-school conventions, workshops, and book fairs at local, state, and regional levels provide practical instruction in teaching techniques.
· The Teaching Home prints articles that inform and encourage in principles and techniques of home teaching.
· Home-school support groups can greatly encourage and help you as ideas and information are exchanged.
· God promises His wisdom and assures you that He will supply your needs as you follow His leading.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5-7).
QIs home schooling legal in every state?
AEach state sets its own laws governing home education. Meeting these requirements range from informing the school district of your intent to home school and having your children tested to fulfilling requirements to be a private school.
Legislation is continually being proposed in many states. It is important for you to work with your state and local Christian home-school organizations to aid the passage of favorable bills.
Constitutional rights to liberty and privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment and the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment guarantee parents the right to educate their children according to their convictions. However, lower courts have ruled inconsistently in applying these rights to home schooling.
We encourage you to comply with the law as far as your conscience will allow.
It is important to obtain a copy of your state's home-school law. Many problems can be avoided by being accurately informed and by using tact and respect in dealing with school authorities.
For legal defense and assistance, contact Home School Legal Defense Assoc., Box 3000, Purcellville VA 20134 (540-338-5600). To qualify for membership, apply before you are contacted by authorities regarding school attendance laws. HSLDA offers a free summary of your state's home-school law.
HSLDA advises members of their rights, deals with school officials, and advocates the right of parents to teach their children at home in the courts, congress, state legislatures, and the media.
QWhat about socialization?
AThe issue of "socialization" is quite possibly the most misunderstood aspect of home schooling.
Popular opinion assumes that children need periods of interaction with a group of peers to acquire social skills. By contrast, however, many believe that extensive peer contact during childhood can cause undesirable peer dependency.
God says, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals' " (1 Cor. 15:33 NAS).
Young children are more likely to be influenced by the majority than to be an influence on them. Children who receive their education outside the home are prone to accept their peers' and teachers' values over those of their parents.
Advantages of freedom from peer pressure can be independent thinking, self-confidence, ability to relate to all ages, and better family relations.
Godly principles of interaction can be taught, demonstrated, and reinforced at home by parents. Children can learn needed social skills by interacting with siblings or other children and adults under their parents' supervision. Young people who have had this type of training have adjusted very well to adult life.
You can help your children build lasting Christian friendships with people of all ages as they interact with church and family friends.
Numerous studies have found that home-educated children are well adjusted socially and emotionally.
"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NAS.
QHow much time does it take to home school?
AHome schooling does require a time commitment, but not as much as might be expected. One-to-one tutoring is more efficient than classroom instruction, so takes less time.
Time requirements vary according to methods used, ages of the children, and how many children are being taught.
Academic instruction and/or independent study might take one-half to one hour a day for early grades and a few hours for upper grades.
Most correspondence courses state that their work can be completed in four or five hours per day.
QHow can we teach several children at once?
AClasses in Bible, literature, science, and history can be taught to several ages of children together.
Lessons can be presented in an amplified manner with explanations that enable all children to understand.
Older students can do much of their work independently while younger ones receive necessary tutoring in basic skills.
QAre children prepared for higher education?
AApproximately 700 institutions are listed on HSLDA's informal survey of colleges and universities which welcome home-educated students. "Many of these schools actively recruit home-educated graduates because of their maturity, independent thinking skills, creativity, and extensive academic preparation," says Inge Cannon, director of Education PLUS.
In preparation for college entrance or vocational training programs, parents should prepare a transcript of high school work, award a diploma, and specify an actual graduation date. Occasionally, SAT, ACT, or GED tests may be required by a college or employer.
For military enlistment and some employment, if your student completes 15 credit hours of college work, a high school diploma is not necessary.
Many colleges offer nontraditional programs for off-campus study. Students can study at home for college credit through distance learning or earn college credit with CLEP tests.
Some home schoolers are entering their chosen fields through apprenticeship programs designed and supervised by parents and professionals.
QWhat materials are available?
AFine Christian educational materials developed for Christian schools are available to home educators. New materials have also been developed or adapted especially for home teaching. These materials may be obtained in the following ways:
· You may order texts and teaching materials from the publishers or mail-order companies. Each issue of The Teaching Home presents more than 70 suppliers of quality teaching materials.
· A home-extension program offered through a local Christian school or church can provide teaching materials, testing, and counseling.
· Materials, testing, and guidance can also be obtained through Christian correspondence courses.
Home educators can choose or combine elements of these approaches:
Traditional Textbooks. Quality textbooks are available from Christian publishers. These cover each subject in depth and in a logical order of topics.
Worktexts. Some publishers have combined textbook information with exercises in consumable write-in books.
Classical Approach. Children progress from memorization of facts and development of learning skills to advanced logical reasoning and expressive use of language to discuss their knowledge and beliefs.
Principle Approach. Teachers and students keep notebooks for each subject containing biblical principles, personal applications, and information acquired from various sources.
Unit Studies. Theme-centered units integrate information from several subjects. Language arts and math need additional systemic teaching.
Books & Life Experiences. Other than studying the three Rs, much learning comes from reading good literature and nonfiction. Everyday activities supplement study and give it perspective.
QWhat about my child's special interests?
AA wealth of experiences outside the home can supplement and enrich home education. Unlimited possibilities abound for field trips that a family or group can take. These provide valuable in-the-field learning.
Specialized classes are often available through parks, museums, art schools, or private teachers. Church and community teams offer various sports opportunities.
There may actually be more enrichment activities and time in which to do them available for home-taught students than for those in school.
QCan I teach my special-needs child?
AMany children with special needs are being successfully home educated. HSLDA membership has proven to be especially helpful to these families.
The Teaching Home back issue on "Special Needs" has many helps and resources and can be ordered on the attached form.
QWhat methods do home schoolers use?
AThere is no one "right" way to home school. There is no one right method or curriculum.
As an artist has at his disposal an entire palatte of colors to mix and use, so a home educator has a vast array of effective methods from which to choose.
These choices may be based on:
· The ages of the children.
· The subject matter being taught.
· The number of children that you are teaching.
· The learning styles your children find most effective.
· The time you have available to prepare and teach material.
· The varying abilities or special needs of your children.
· The motivation that certain methods provide to your individual children.
The variety of methods is endless. As you choose and mix them, your home school will become uniquely fitted to your family.
QAre there any difficulties in home schooling?
AFollowing are some common difficulties along with suggested solutions.
Lack of confidence. At first you may lack confidence in choosing materials and methods, doubting your ability to teach. With experience, you will gain confidence.
Fear of being unable to work with your own children. Parents who do not have their children's respect will have trouble getting their cooperation. Gaining their respect through proper relationships, discipline, training, and example should be parents' top priority, whether or not they are home schooling. Home schooling can provide the incentive and optimum setting to accomplish this.
Inadequate time and energy. Home teaching requires an investment of time and energy, especially by mothers. Self-discipline and good organization will help ensure a well-run household. A daily schedule, teaching plan, and chore list can keep school and housework organized.
Children can also be a great help when trained to assist with the cooking, laundry, and household chores.
Lack of commitment. Families gain strength to overcome difficulties when they develop the conviction that home schooling is best for their family and is God's will for them.
Social pressure. Pressure from well-meaning friends or relatives can be a real deterrent. Make a well-informed decision and then stand on your convictions. More information and a loving attitude often help others understand and accept God's leading for the home-school family.
Financial investment. Costs of materials or programs vary considerably, but are always less than a private school. Many materials can be reused for siblings.
QHow do we get started in home schooling?
AHere are some suggestions to help you get started:
· Seek the Lord and agree as husband and wife on your decision to home school. Continue to pray for wisdom, guidance, and strength. Make daily quiet time with the Lord a top priority.
· Research home education by reading a basic book on how to home educate, such as Christopher Klicka's The Right Choice (available from HSLDA, 540-338-5600), and back issues of The Teaching Home magazine.
Meet and visit with experiencd home schoolers in your church or local support group, and make an effort to attend your state's home-school convention.
· Contact your state home-school organization to learn of local support groups, events, publications, and your state's laws governing home education.
· Make arrangements to comply with the law according to your conscience and recommendations of state organizations and/or Home School Legal Defense Association. Consider joining HSLDA.
· Get your home and life in order. Establish discipline and child training. Organize your family's schedule and chore assignments to fit your educational activities. Do a thorough cleaning and get rid of unnecessary possessions to make way for learning materials and study space.
· Choose methods and teaching materials that you feel most comfortable in starting with and that would be appropriate to the age and number of your children. If you feel overwhelmed by the choices you must make, you may want to use a prepared curriculum from a textbook, worktext, or unit study publisher for your first year.
Re-evaluate and experiment with different materials and methods and make adjustments as you become more experienced with home education.
Home schooling is a way of life in which the home is the center of life and learning. Through home education, parents fulfill in a unique way their responsibility to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
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