Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is Homeschooling the Right Choice for My Familia?

The decision to homeschool your child is more often than not a very difficult one. I, certainly, was plagued with doubt. I worried over whether or not I had the self-discipline to buckle down and physically teach mis niños at home; whether or not I had the knowledge and patience to be a teacher; whether my kids would suffer from the lack of daily peer interaction, and so on and so on.

Families around the country homeschool for a variety of reasons: religious beliefs, learning disabilities, nomadic lifestyles, inadequate school systems, raising a bilingual and bicultural child, and many, many more.

I have found that in the end, there are several important questions to ask yourself when trying to decide if homeschooling is the best choice for your familia.

1. Will my child benefit from a homeschooling environment? And if so, how?

Not all children learn in the same way, and your job is to figure out in what manner your child learns best. Is your child a visual learner who needs to be shown by example? Or is he a hands-on learner who prefers to be given the project and then left alone to figure it out himself? Maybe your child likes to be given instructions first, so that he can figure it out using a step-by-step process? Does your child prefer repetition, or does she become easily bored and need to move on as soon as she understands the concept?

It is no secret that most children flourish with individualized attention. They learn at a more rapid pace and are less likely to get bored. Because parents can incorporate more time and flexibility into their schedules, they can discover the best way their children learn. As a result, homeschoolers can sometimes cover a lot more ground than their public/private school counterparts, whose classrooms might only teach in one of the ways mentioned above (hopefully, it is the way your child learns best) and can only go as fast as their slower learners.

2. Can I commit myself to teaching my child on a regular basis?

Parents who homeschool must adopt a certain outlook and realize that they can turn almost any situation into a learning opportunity. There are many different methods for teaching your child, but one thing is clear: They all require consistency on your behalf. The great thing about homeshooling is that you can have a more flexible schedule, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to buckle down and work hard.

3. Can I afford to homeschool?

No matter what you hear, homeschooling isn’t cheap. (But neither is public school, if you think about it.) There are thousands of curricula available on the market (more on that later). And you still have to figure in the cost of school supplies, books, field trips, supplemental materials, and maybe even extracurricular classes, such as music, art and/or sports. Studies show that on average, homeschool families spend about $500 a year. Families sending their children to public or private schools spend way more than that.

Do you have to buy an expensive curriculum? No. You can even put together your own using your own ideas and any of the free lesson plans available on the Internet. But remember that ANYONE can put together a lesson plan and put it on-line– complete with inaccuracies. So, por favor, be careful and research your plans carefully. Try to go with bigger and well-known sites.

For the family that is homeschooling for the first time, I do strongly suggest using a curriculum to get you started. By the end of your first year, you should feel confident enough to branch off on your own if you so choose.

4. How will homeschooling affect our family life and relationships?

Homeschooling can be a wonderful way to reinforce family ties and even a way to work through challenging relationships. No one will be more concerned with your child’s education than you are, and teaching your child can add a whole new dimension to your relationship. If you remember to teach your child with love, joy, and a little patience – your child will blossom.

Do your children squabble with each other? Homeschooling can open more opportunities for you to train or guide their relationships to be more supportive and loving. Check out this excellent post by Stefani on Simple Homeschool for some great examples.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to homeschool your child, remember that you are your child’s biggest fan. They rely on you to support them academically so that they can live their best life. And I hope you will find some helpful information on Mommy Maestra to aid you on your homeschooling journey or to supplement your child’s formal education. Please feel free to share your thoughts, tips, and discoveries, so that we may all learn together on this path.

Check out my other posts!

Did you enjoy this article? Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Let me help! My book - The Latino Family's Guide to Homeschooling - covers everything you see here and more. 


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