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Homeschooling: Where do I start?

Each family must decide how they want to approach home schooling.

by Ann Bowers

Each family must decide how they want to approach home schooling. Whatever approach you take, you will be successful. You children will learn quickly and thoroughly because of the personal attention and teaching techniques geared to each one’s learning style. Your children will acquire knowledge, develop academic skills, and learn your family’s religious and moral values.
Academic Standards

The first thing you must obtain is a copy of your state or country’s academic standards for each educational level. These give you a specific set of goals that define the content taught at each level, in each grade, and when the content may be considered to have been mastered. This document used to be called “Scope and Sequence.” While you aren’t required to follow the standards exactly, at some point, your child should have mastered them. The academic standards allow you to evaluate whether or not your children are keeping pace with students in traditional schools. This is important in case you ever want your children to return to the local school system, take a standardized achievement test, or attend university. Knowing the standards will also reassure you that you are teaching everything that children need to learn.

Approaches to Home Schooling
There are many approaches to home schooling. Here are some of them: 
  • Structured schooling means teaching the state standards in an organized, goal-oriented manner.
  • Interest based, sometimes called “unschooling,” is learning through real life experiences. Children pursue their own interests and the parents provide encouragement, resources and activities that teach necessary skills and knowledge through the child’s interests.
  • A learning style approach is used with children who have a dominant learning style, such as kinesthetic (tactile) or auditory.
  • A philosophical style of education is structured according to the tenets of an educational philosophy espoused by educational experts, such as “Back To Basics.”     The accelerated approach is used with children who are extremely intelligent, have a special talent, or want to reach a specific occupational goal.
  • The accommodating approach is used when a child has a special need.
  • In a unit based approach, the teaching and learning is focused on a particular topic for a period of time and each child learns about the topic at his/her own level of understanding.
  • A community approach involves the family in community activities, including religious groups, youth organizations, and volunteer activities outside the home.
  • The eclectic approach includes any combination of the above! 
What do I need to purchase and where do I find it?
You probably will purchase some items, but before you do, search through what you already have. Determine where in the home you will teach the children. Prepare the area with desks or a large table, chairs, bookcases, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, paper, a computer. Organize your books by fiction and non-fiction, including reference books, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses. Learning games and toys, such as Monopoly, puzzles, blocks, cards, Scrabble, Life, and so forth are very useful. 
Spend some time at yard sales and in thrift shops, looking for useful items. Ask relatives and friends if they have books or toys their children no longer want. Search through attics for microscopes, telescopes, or costumes for make-believe. Find or purchase a calculator for each child. Fellow home schooling families will have tons of items to give away or share. Explore Goodwill and eBay. 

Don’t forget your local library for books, books, books! And, the library also has magazines, videos, and computers to use. 
Remember that there are unlimited resources on the Internet, accessible by computer, which is an item you should purchase, if at all possible. The resources include: lesson plans for specific topics, ideas for projects and crafts, templates for projects you can print out, workbook and practice pages, free materials, materials to purchase, bookstores, encyclopedia websites, and research sites on any subject. There are online tutoring services also. 
You may decide to use the textbooks the local school system uses. It’s entirely up to you. Sometimes they are very useful for science projects and other difficult subjects. If you do use them, get a Teacher’s Guide as well. It will help explain how to teach some of the more difficult concepts. 
Educational supply stores are very handy. You can get almost any kind of learning aid at these stores. You will need a current globe. 
Educational conferences are good sources of learning materials and catalogs for ordering them.

Bio for Ann Bowers

Ann Bowers has been an elementary school teacher, in kindergarten through 8th grade, for 20 years. 

She was a Bilingual Education Grant Project Coordinator for seven years and a school principal for seven.  She has a B.A. in English, an M.A. in Education, and holds


California Life Teaching Credentials and specialist credentials in Remedial Reading and Teaching English as a Second Language.  She is retired and has started a second career as a freelance writer.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2006  


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