Since I tend to live in a homeschooling bubble, I don’t really think too much about what people outside the bubble might be wondering about our community. So, in an effort to find out, I recently asked a group of non-homeschooling friends, “What question would YOU want to ask a homeschooler?” Here are some of their questions. I will do my best to try to answer.
1. Understanding Why.
“Why do you pick homeschooling over public school?”
You are going to find that a lot of the answers are going to involve a lot of personal responses. The thing about homeschooling is that it’s a form of education that is completely different for every single family. No two do it exactly the same.
This applies to this question, too. The reasons that people choose to homeschool are quite varied, but the general reasons tend to fall into the following categories:
- To offer an education that better lines up with your religious or moral beliefs.
- Disapproval or dissatisfaction with the school system’s curriculum, methods, agenda, ability to meet your child’s needs, environment, etc.
- Bullying or other social challenges.
- Medical needs such as illness, autism, allergies, learning disabilities, etc. that would be better controlled from home.
- Lifestyle choice, such as travelling, sports/acting, or living in a foreign country
What qualifications do you need to teach your children? Do you have to take training to homeschool kids?
Because teachers are required to have a teaching degree in order to teach in a school, there’s a common curiosity to wonder if homeschoolers need some training too. The answer is no. While teachers are taught methodology, evaluations, classroom management, and other similar skills, homeschooling parents typically don’t need any of the same skills. Some of the benefits of teaching as a homeschooler are that you aren’t bound to current educational conventions or styles, you can tailor fit your learning plans to your child’s styles and interests, and you don’t really need to evaluate their successes because you can see it first hand.
3. The Rules.
Are their specific provincial/federal guidelines to follow when you homeschool?
In Canada, you are legally allowed to homeschool in every province and territory, however, each one has their own set of rules and regulations. Some provinces, like Ontario, only request families inform their local school board each year of their intent to homeschool. Others require mid-year reports or co-ordinator visits. A few require a lot more intervention.
Can you homeschool until the child enters college/university?
You can homeschool from day one and just keep on going as long as you want. In fact, you could even continue through post-secondary by doing online and distance courses! It really depends on what is best for your child and their learning experiences.
4. The Nitty-Gritty.
What kind of schedule do you follow daily? How many hours a day do you spend on schooling?
Every family homeschools differently, so this answer will vary greatly. Some families homeschool all morning and take the afternoons off. Some work on and off throughout the day. Some do more work for 4 days and then take a 3 day weekend. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that it’s completely flexible to each family, each child, each situation.
At our house, we typically start school around 9 am and work through our school plans to finish around noon. Then we do lunch and chores before the kids have free play and computer time for a few hours in the afternoon. Later in the day, we head outside for some fresh air and action play before heading in for supper.
Are you actually teaching them, or are children being taught online? Do your children send work in or is it done online?
Again, every family does things differently. There are many terrific online options – virtual schools and classes, youtube videos, games, programs, and websites, but not every family uses online to teach or uses it exclusively. In fact, for the most part, I’d say that families tend to combine online resources with offline learning.
Some provinces request a portfolio of the work done throughout the year, so many families keep paperwork or documentation of their school activities. It’s not obligatory for most places, though.
Do you have a support system/ teacher to go to for help?
Homeschoolers have a variety of options for support when they are having trouble. Typically, they look for help within the homeschool community – either local to themselves or online. There they can find more experienced homeschoolers who have been there, done that. Most people are happily willing to offer their insight, suggestions and support.
Do you need to submit testing to the province?
At this time, I am not aware of any testing required in any province or territory. I do know that homeschoolers have the option of participating in provincial tests if they choose to but other than that – nothing obligatory.
How do your children get the socialization they need with others? Since they aren’t surrounded by kids everyday, how else do you teach social skills with kids that are not family?
Homeschoolers generally don’t stay locked up in their homes and never venture out into the world. Most of the are actively involved with others: taking part in homeschooling groups, classes, activities, and programs. They join extra-curricular clubs like scouts. They join sports teams. They play at the playground. They go to stores. They have neighbours and friends. They are part of the communities they live in.
Being in a closed environment where they are segregated by age group like they are in a school setting doesn’t provide a wider range of social experiences that are offered in a homeschooling family. Homeschooling groups are often inclusive of a variety of age groups – from baby to teens as well as their parents. Kids learn how to interact with all these varieties and with adults as well.
Even if they are with their family 99% of the time, there are plenty of learning opportunities for what is socially acceptable and what is not.
Yes, you are going to hear examples of that “awkward homeschooled kid.” But they might have been shy even in a school room. There no reason whatsoever to believe that a child who has been homeschooled is going to be unsocialized.
Come back tomorrow to get the answers to things like homeschool styles, curriculum, costs, post-secondary, and mom time.