Homeschooling: What You Should Know

Homeschooling has both its supporters and detractors. Some think it's an effective alternative to raise better people. Others believe that it can become a "bubble" in the face of reality. Who's right? Learn more here.
Homeschooling: What You Should Know

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 05 November, 2022

Homeschooling, or education at home, is a trend that, as the name suggests, has to do with teaching children at home. While this trend is well-rooted in some countries, it’s still very much a new idea in others, where it faces legal barriers to becoming a reality.

This trend was born in the United States in the 1970s. It was promoted by the pedagogue and writer John Holt, who questioned the effectiveness of traditional schooling. The homeschooling trend later spread to Europe and other countries.

With the 2020 crisis in the world, the premises of homeschooling gained strength. Although it’s not a mainstream form of education today, there’s every indication that it’s a steadily growing movement.

Homeschooling

homeschooling

Homeschooling is an educational option in which some people decide to educate their children at home, outside of the traditional educational system. They use their own methodology and pedagogy and design their own curriculum.

This movement originated, in particular, because of moral and religious issues. Some families of specific religious denominations with particular beliefs believed that traditional schools didn’t promote the values of their family or community. For this reason, they obtained the right to educate their children at home through legal channels.

Many of the advocates of this trend believe that the right age for a child to be integrated into public schools is 16 years old. At that age, they’ve already received a foundation at home that, in the opinion of those who opt for this alternative, gives them more criteria to overcome the reality of public schools.

There’s no specific method to implement homeschooling or education at home. Parents are free to decide how they want to teach their children. Sometimes, they opt for an education fully adapted to the interests and rhythms of the child; other times, they opt for a more standardized education.

The characteristics and benefits of homeschooling

Homeschooling is, ultimately, a commitment to personalized education. In general, it promotes children’s autonomy in their educational process and seeks to ensure that children are motivated by their intrinsic learning needs.

It’s also an alternative that seeks to place greater emphasis on values. The objective is not only to stimulate children’s cognitive functions, but also to form good people. The promoters of this trend claim that it also develops a greater love for knowledge.

On the other hand, homeschoolers, or students who opt for homeschooling or being educated at home, are said to achieve a closer bond with their families. In many cases, it’s considered a joint learning process that benefits the whole family. Of course, it requires a great deal of dedication on the part of the parents.

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How is homeschooling done?

For parents, homeschooling is a great challenge. They have to organize things in such a way that home life does not affect their children’s learning, and vice versa. The biggest difficulty lies in creating the right conditions for the process to be efficient in reality. The aspects that must be taken into account to implement this educational modality are the following.

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There must be a routine

Routines bring order, but also security and confidence. That’s why it’s very important to establish daily habits and structure time based on the activities to be performed. Some of the actions that facilitate this are the following:

  • Develop a weekly calendar that’s visible and clear to the children.
  • Try to be in tune with the regular school calendar of the city or country as much as possible.
  • Plan the entire school year from the beginning.
  • Set aside time for breaks.

It’s important to note that some families will decide not to have routines or make them very flexible. This is completely valid in homeschooling, as long as the purpose of not introducing stable habits is clear.

Structure the learning process

Whatever methodology is adopted, the best thing to do is to plan the lessons and teach them according to some pedagogical criteria. Ideally, this should be adapted to the needs, possibilities, and interests of the children.

Provide entertaining content

It’s best to find ways to make the content interesting and fun for the child. Homeschooling or education at home lends itself to be richer in this aspect, since it’s not subject to the difficulty of having to attend to a large number of different students, as happens in school.

Stay very organized

One of the keys to homeschooling is organization. If there’s not enough order, both when it comes to ideas, methods, and development of activities, there’s a risk that children feel confused or fail to take advantage of the teachings. They may also become demotivated.

The curriculum

homeschooling
Homeschooling poses great challenges for parents, who must reconcile their family life with their educational life.

One of the crucial aspects of homeschooling is what to teach the children and in what order. It’s necessary to prepare a curriculum. This includes the learning content, the methodology, the objectives in the development of skills and abilities, and the evaluation of the process.

The proper way to develop the curriculum is to take into account the following aspects:

  • Goal setting: This includes a general educational objective, as well as specific objectives for each subject to be taught. The parents or caretakers must answer the question: what is the child expected to achieve?
  • Subjects: It’s necessary to define the subjects to be taught carefully. It’s best if they correspond, at least in a basic way, to what other children would learn in a traditional school.
  • Subdivide the subjects: Each subject has certain contents. The best thing to do is to specify them and arrange them in order of complexity, from lesser to greater.
  • Establish cycles: The usual thing is to organize the contents by cycles – that is to say, to establish a beginning and an end for them. With what content does the training in, for example, grammar begin? With what does it end?
  • Define tools and materials: This consists of identifying the books, videos, games, and other activities that will be used to transmit learning.
  • Make an evaluation plan: It’s necessary to evaluate the learning periodically to verify if the objectives have been achieved or not.

However, it must be said that there’s still a question about access to spaces such as laboratories, which are difficult to set up at home.

Evaluate if you really would like to join this trend

Homeschooling is a controversial approach that is not legal or regulated in most countries. Many experts believe that depriving children of interaction with their peers at school is counterproductive to their psychosocial development.

An alternative to homeschooling is a type of training that could be called “hybrid” learning. This involves combining school attendance with homeschooling. It’s a more flexible approach and one that could draw the best from both worlds.

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