Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Checking Out the So-Called Disadvantages of Home Schooling

Home schooling is more acceptable today than ever before. You can even go on to say that it is now in vogue and that more and more parents are willing to try it on their children. And this trend will probably not change anytime soon and will only continue until it becomes at par with the more traditional methods of educating children.
There are several reasons for this increased acceptance of home schooling, not the least of which are the benefits that it brings. Evidence has shown that those who undergo it usually perform better when taking standardized tests than their counterparts who were not schooled at home. That alone is a very good reason to favor this right there, and yet there are also the other reasons such as a child getting the kind of education that fits his abilities and personality better, among others.
Enough about the benefits of this, as there have already been plenty of discussion about that. What about its opposite, how about the so-called disadvantages of this? It is probably also worth looking at it, so that people can compare the pros and cons of this, which would allow them to make better decisions about whether to home school their kids or not.
Home Schooling Disadvantages
Even as we have noted the positive things about it, it is also important that we check out its perceived disadvantages. The following are some examples of those:
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage seen by critics of this is the limitations that are naturally set when it comes to the social exposure and interaction by the children who are under this educational system. And indeed this is a very valid point that needs to be looked at very seriously, since social exposure is one of the main benefits of going to school in the traditional manner, apart from the academic ones. While there might be some groups that help in addressing this by scheduling field trips and such, still that would hardly be enough to compensate for what is lost.
There are also some concerns about the supposed narrowness of the academic focus of it's curriculums. Now there is also some truth to this since the parents could either select from existing home school programs or they could choose to use the curriculum that has been adopted by the local school district. The said narrowness of the curriculum becomes compounded by the fact that it is taught by just one parent, thereby limiting the views and ideas that are passed on to the child, as this situation is seen to likely affect the way the child learns.
Opportunities that are always open to those who study in the usual way are also not open to those who are engaged in home schooling. This lack in the number of opportunities can be attributed to the limitations placed on the information that could reach a parent who is looking for advantages situations for his child - like financial assistance, scholarships, and the like.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teaching Kids Creativity Through Science

Creativity is a subjective thing, usually considered an inherent trait and one most often associated with "soft" school subjects such as music and art class. You either have creativity or you don't, right? But is that really true? Can kids in particular be taught how to be more creative and can that happen in science class? I happen to think so and here's why.
Rote Learning Stifles Creativity
In the public school environment, creative answers and solutions are often not appreciated. And it's no wonder with all the red tape and national requirements that teachers face these days. They are more worried about getting their kids to pass standards tests than encouraging them to think about new ways to approach old problems. Fortunately, as a homeschool teacher, you can get past those barriers to creativity.
The biggest obstacle to promoting creativity in the classroom is rote learning - asking your kids to simply memorize facts out of context. There's nothing creative about that type of learning and it can actually be detrimental in the way it discourages kids from thinking outside the box or making decisions on their own.
Let's look at an example. If you are teaching astronomy this semester, you might be studying the planets in our solar system which, of course, revolve around our sun. That's a fact - but a pretty boring one. Your kids might be memorizing the names and orders of all those planets, again a fact but not one that gets kids excited. And learning those random facts doesn't result in good retention because they aren't associated with things within the child's environment.
Exploration Promotes Creativity
No matter what subject you are teaching in the home classroom, it can involve creative learning if you help them explore new knowledge while allowing mistakes to be made. Kids are much more likely to become creative when presented with "what if" questions without obvious answers.
In the above example about teaching astronomy, an easy way to get creative is to ask students to create a model of the solar system while talking about color choices based on what each planet's atmosphere is like. While you're at it, have your kids explore why or why not human beings might be able to one day live on other planets. Ask them about the elements necessary to support life and discuss which planets are most likely to contain those elements. There was a recent scientific discovery of a new planet in the Alpha Centauri system closes to our own which is very similar in size to Earth. Exploring science news such as this opens the door to creative exploration.
When it comes to teaching science, experimentation should be a major aspect of the curriculum. And there are few things better at promoting creativity than the ability to form hypotheses and then perform experiments to find out whether they are supported or found false. The less knowledge a child has at his disposal, the more likely those hypotheses are to be outlandish, but that's okay. He can hone his knowledge based on facts about the natural world as he progresses through the basics of science. Thus, making mistakes is itself an integral part of creativity because it leads to exploration of how to get it right next time.
Giving kids the answers to every problem and asking them to memorize those facts is one way to teach science, but a more effective way that also promotes creativity is by allowing them to explore knowledge. Help them get excited about the wonders of the natural world and they are sure to think of all sorts of fantastic new ideas. Creativity can be taught as long as the homeschool classroom encourages it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

3 Reasons to Choose Home Schooling Over Traditional Schooling

Reasons to choose home schooling over traditional schooling may vary from family to family. The three reasons presented in this article concern: (1) design of instruction, (2) small class size, and (3) utilization of resources.
Design of Instruction
"Curricula became as creative as parents chose to be, with choices ranging from printed materials to computer-generated programs, libraries/museums, field trips, resource facilities, networking opportunities, and public school resources (Hanna, 1996). Those who choose homeschooling today have many more choices available" (Hanna, 2012, 613). Parents administering a home school education are free to design the instruction of their students based on their preset objectives and budgets. The limitations of each home school project can be limited only by the time the planner spends on researching the state, its guidelines, its resources and other available resources in material and personnel.
Class size
Homeschooling class sizes can be limited to the students in one family or the class size can involve students from many families. In the latter case, the educational experiences that involve other families and larger sizes can be supplemented by individualized instruction from the educator inside the home. When researching material and instruction providers, also check on options for lesson credits to be recorded, transferred, and managed. Does the provider offer the option to purchase materials without the company's record keeping, instruction online or distant learning packages?
Utilization of family resources
Parents may choose homeschooling for their students to utilize the talents of a parent with educator skills that prefers to telecommute even as a volunteer teacher or learning coach. One income families may find that schooling for their students can be done more economically in the home. Parents with research and planning skills may also find becoming home educators to use of that resource. The lack of available funds for the homeschooling project does not have to be a reason to abandon the idea. The most important of the family's resources is its students. Each student should be considered individually to determine is homeschooling will be more beneficial than a traditional schooling experience.
The three reasons presented in this article should be the beginning of the quest to determine if homeschooling is right for the students in any given family. If the opportunity to make decisions about the instruction, class size and utilization of resources is not enough reasons to use homeschooling for the benefit of the students in your care, add more reasons to your research. Consider this article your beginning, not your ending.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Important Preparations for Homeschooling High School

If you plan to homeschool high school soon, it's time to pay attention to your student's college preparations, and get them ready for college level work by the time they graduate. There's a lot of planning at this stage, including selecting courses, keeping good records, and paying attention to important testing dates.
One of the most important courses to pay attention to in high school is foreign language. Colleges like to see two or three years of a single language, so if your student doesn't start in their Freshman year, they'll need to start in their Sophomore year. Don't wait until Junior year to begin!
It's also very important to plan some rigorous classes. That doesn't mean that in Freshman year your student must do calculus. It means that you try to keep your child challenged. Make sure to give them classes that aren't easy. That doesn't mean they should be overwhelming, just not all easy. Keep it rigorous and keep them challenged. Plan your courses, so you'll know exactly what courses you'll cover over the four years of high school
Early high school is the time to think about taking the PSAT for practice. Sophomore year is a good time to take the PSAT just for fun. It doesn't count for National Merit Scholarship (that's Junior year), it's just for practice. The PSAT is only offered during October, so register for the test by September. It's easy to register, just call your local public or private high school, and tell them you'd like to know if you can register your child to take the PSAT at their school.
If, for some reason, the school says no, call the next closest high school. Most of them are very welcoming. The College Board is the company that oversees the PSAT, and they encourage public schools to provide the tests to homeschooled children.
Make sure as you begin high school that you're keeping good records. Keep a good reading list and make sure that you get your transcript done each year. Sometimes you might be asked to provide a transcript when you least expect it. For instance, when your child starts driving, and you want to get the Good Student Discount, the insurance company will probably ask for a transcript. This can save you hundreds of dollars, so make sure you have it ready.
Course descriptions are important to begin writing early. Don't be intimidated, they're just a paragraph about what the class was like. You're perfectly capable of writing them, but if you put it off until later, like until the first day of senior year, it will be really hard to come up with four years of course descriptions all at once. Work on them one year at a time so that you'll only have a few each year.
Course descriptions and homeschool records are so important! If you'd like more help, watch my FREE webinar, Homeschool Records that Open Doors, where you'll learn the secrets of creating admission and scholarship winning homeschool records.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling High School

All parents have some reservations about homeschooling high school when the concept first crosses their mind. The high school years are important to your child's future, and no parent wants to risk messing up their child's ability to go to college, start a career, or chase other dreams. Teenagers are also more rebellious and challenging than younger children, and if they have special learning needs homeschooling could be a full-time job.
Homeschooling high school is not for everyone, but virtually all parents who do a bit of research realize that it is not as difficult as they thought it was going to be in the beginning. If your child is struggling in public or private school and you believe they would learn better or would be safer at home, this guide to homeschooling will help you decide if this can work for you.
Homeschooling is like anything else in life: you will get out of it what you put into it. Your child will benefit more if you are active in their studies.
High School Curriculum
The benefit to homeschooling high school is the ability to design a custom curriculum that suits your teenager's learning style while preparing them for the future they want to live. Do not underestimate your ability to provide college prep curriculum and to develop coursework and projects that allow your child to explore areas of interest on a deeper level.
Check state requirements and allow your child to explore college programs they may be interested in attending. If they have some idea of what they may want to do after high school, you can look at the requirements for college admission or entry level jobs and tailor your curriculum to prepare your child for those requirements. State requirements are the minimum of what your child must learn. You want to push beyond the minimum.
You could sign your child up for an online curriculum that let's your child off easy and allows you to check out of the learning process, but that is only cheating your child of the future they deserve. Forget about just passing required classes to get the diploma. You want your child to excel in high school so they can excel in the future. Make sure they are progressing in math each year, no matter what level they are at upon graduation. Include the basics, such as English, social studies, and science.
If your child wants to attend college, make sure they are fluent in at least one foreign language by graduation, and it helps to add in some form of fine art as well. This can be painting, photography, novel writing, or some form of dance. Preparation for college entrance exams is necessary as well.
Homeschooling high school also means including electives. You can teach typing, computer programs, and driver's education. Other electives should cater to your child's individual interests and future career goals.
Making Decisions
Allow your teenager to help make decisions about their curriculum and chosen teaching methods. Take them to homeschooling conventions and fairs so you can look at different resources and make decisions together. Your child will be more interested in learning if they have a say in what they are learning.
If your concern is that you do not have the knowledge to teach some subjects at the high school level, look for tutoring centers, private tutors, and college courses open to high school students in your local area. There are also online tutorials that will go in-depth to explain geometry and other difficult subjects.
The worst thing you can do while homeschooling high school is isolate yourself or your child. Join a homeschooling association or a local group. Learn from others, and eventually you will be the one offering the help and insider secrets.