So you are considering educating your child at home but have a lot of questions about this whole "home school" thing. Below are some of the most common questions we have run across with some straight-forward answers to them.
What is a home education?
A home education is a legal method of providing your student with instruction and support for their learning needs away from the traditional brick-and-mortal classroom, typically in the child's home and facilitated by a parent, tutor or other adult.
Do I need to be a certified teacher to teach my child?
It is very important to check the laws in your state, but at this writing it is not necessary to have teacher certification to teach your child at home in the United States. However, most require some type of accountability or supervision.
Do I need a dedicated classroom?
While many home educators have dedicated space set up for teaching their children, it is not a prerequisite. However, you will want to create an atmosphere for learning and a have a place where your child can study uninterrupted by outside disturbances. Additionally, many families believe that the "world is your classroom" and take education opportunities to outside locations, expanding their children's perspectives beyond the thought that learning is only for the classroom.
How do I know what to teach my child?
Again, be sure to check your state laws as to what is required for a balanced home education, but also take into consideration your child's skill levels. If your child has been struggling at their current grade level, then it is perfectly acceptable to take a step back and revisit levels and subjects that they find difficult to help them succeed further down the road. Perhaps you have a child who excels academically and is above grade level. Home educating allows for more opportunities to challenge these types of students. They beauty of educating at home is that you can tailor their education to suit their specific strengths and weaknesses.
How can I teach a subject that I never had in school or that I did not do well in?
Most home educators run across this situation at one time or another throughout their teaching years. Some rely on online instruction or textbooks to fill in the blanks for them. Others find tutors or ask other family members to step in to help out. And many choose to learn beside their student, a win-win for everyone.
Where can I find home education resources and curriculum?
There are many companies that provide home education materials. A quick Google search will bring up a large list of suppliers for everything under the sun. The Homeschool Buyers Co-op is an excellent place to start with a carefully curated selection of award-winning curriculum for all subjects, minimizing the effort it takes screening and sifting through tens of thousands of products found elsewhere. The work has already been done for you in that you will find choices that have already been reviewed and approved by home educators like yourself at the lowest prices anywhere.
What do I do now that I have my curriculum/resources?
Trust your instincts. You have been teaching your children since they came into your family and you know them better than anyone else. Home educating them is just another step in the process. Don't worry about making mistakes or if you feel ill-equipped. We all have been there and done that. Review your materials, read through any instructions that have been provided and dig in. If you run into trouble (and we all have at some point or another) reach out to other home educators for support and help. Facebook groups such as the Homeschool Buyers Co-op can provide a wealth of information and encouragement. Pay attention to your child's learning habits and style and adjust your teaching methods to fit their needs. Home education is a lot of trial and error and there is no one-size-fits all formula. Be patient with your student and yourself until you find the right path for your family. Because you are working towards providing the best for your child, you can do nothing but succeed.