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Home education is not a new idea. The public school system as we know it came to be in the early 1900's. Before that, parents were schooling their children at home-some with great success! The best example of a home schooled child is Abraham Lincoln.
Parents choose to homeschool their children for a variety of reasons. Some parents prefer for children to have lessons from a religious point of view. Evangelists will homeschool their children because of the travel their jobs entail. Some parochial schools are too far away to attend, especially if one lives in a rural area. Sometimes private schools are too expensive.
Some children do not thrive well in a public school setting. Either the child is shy or easily distracted. The public school system may not be able to attend to the needs of these types of children. Parents may feel that the school system doesn't challenge their child or approve of the curriculum taught.
Homeschooling is the easiest decision to make. The hard part is to convince friends and family that the right decision has been made. There will be a lot of criticism. There is no doubt about that. So called "experts" in the field will try to convince that there is more harm than good in homeschooling. Socialization is a big issue. The child will be socialized with a broader range of friends of all ages than he can get at school. He will learn how to talk respectfully to adults and how to help out those who are younger. He will learn skills to keep a home--cooking, cleaning, budgets. He will have the freedom to learn at his own level and to pursue a subject until he has learned everything he can about it.
Once the decision has been made, go to the library and read. Read all the books, magazine articles, everything you can find on homeschooling. Homeschooling is a calling. It affects the entire family financially, emotionally, and physically. It is not an opportunity for the teenage child to stay home and "hang-out" watching TV. But is is an opportunity for the parent to teach the values and morals that has made them what they are today. It is an opportunity for the child to volunteer at a homeless shelter, hospital nursing home. It is a chance to travel and discover America, Canada, Mexico or any other country you may choose. It is an opportunity to gain confidence and self-respect.
There are a vast amount of websites on the Internet to continue research. Just type in "homeschool", "home education", or "unschooling" in the keyword section. Each site will give valuable information. You will get overwhelmed at first, but just remember to take only the information that applies to you. You will be able to find sites for curriculum, distance education schools, unit studies, or even how to create your own tailor made studies. Send away for information booklets and catalogs. These are valuables guides to knowing where to find any book on any subject.
Do sign up with a local homeschool support group. They will be able to tell one how to get past the "red tape" and give legal information. Some will have curriculum cooperatives, field trips, spelling bees, or organaized sports. Consider joining the Home School Legal Defense Association. For a yearly fee, one will receive advice and support.
There are many curriculum resources one can choose from. Distance learning schools such as A Beka, Bob Jones University, or Calvert School will give support, testing, grading and sometimes a diploma upon graduation. If money is a factor, one can create your own curriculum. There is a lot of time involved as well as acess to a library and other alternate information systems. Used books and textbooks can be bought a garage sales, library sales or bookstores. Need to teach algebra and can't add 2+2? Purchase the one subject from any curriculum source or trade skills with another homeschooling parent. Unit studies are a great way to teach children from different age groups. One subject can teach math, social studies, reading skills, history, map reading, research skills--the possibilities are endless! Each child learns the same subject but at his own level and pace.
Homeschooling is legal in every state, but there are differnt guidelines and restrictions for each state. Be sure to know the law. That is your strength when your decision is being questioned. Knowing your rights is a bulwark in an uncertain situation. There is power in knowledge.
In a time when family values are being threatened, homeschooling can be a valuable tool in creating strong individuals. It can help a child to learn in a setting that is not distracting or overwhelming or boring. Homeschooling brings a family together--and that's the bottom line.