By World Family Education
Transitioning from traditional school to home education is a major life adjustment and involves several phases of adjustment. Your family will need time to adapt to the new situation, new expectations, and new roles.
Read more about Transitions and how to handle them successfully from World Family Education.
Beginning home education for the first time will feel quite different to a student used to the typical structured classroom environment. Students who have attended traditional school are used to learning begin regulated by the school system. With home education, a family can create a schedule and academic plan that works best for them.
Some families prefer to maintain a classroom-like environment in their home, with desks, scheduled subjects, and timed tests. Others choose to create a more relaxed environment, allowing their child to sleep later in the morning, have a flexible schedule, and spend more time on subjects they enjoy and less on the ones they don’t. Those choosing to “unschool” may not structure much instructional time at all.
Some home educators describe the first few months of homeschooling as a “deschooling” period. It’s the adjustment phase when your child adapts to a way of learning that isn’t managed by the traditional schooling structure. A series of good articles that describe “deschooling” is at The Homeschool Mom.
Below are some specific areas you will see differences between traditional school and home education followed by some tips to help with the transition.
The home education experience is usually stationary unless it is part of a family’s transient lifestyle. However, compared to traditional schooling, its location is very flexible. Most academic activities happen in the home, but a lot of learning takes place outside the home as parents intentionally build teaching moments into everyday life. Extra activities like music lessons are outsourced in the community.
Home education can be highly customized to meet the needs of an individual student, and your attention can be fully on their needs. Distractions do exist in this setting, but usually not social distractions like you would find in a traditional school. Student interest can drive learning experiences, and your child is freer to explore topics they enjoy in greater depth. The flexibility of home education allows students to be further ahead or further behind in a skill than other kids of the same age.
Home education curriculum is often a combination of materials that a family chooses to meet their goals or because those materials were readily available. Families beginning their home education journey usually start with a packaged curriculum until they get comfortable with evaluating individual student needs and how a resource can meet that need.
Academic assessments in the home education setting can be flexible and informal, unless the student is enrolled in a correspondence or online course or there is some state or national requirement for annual assessment.
Home education is not usually limited to a calendar schedule and sometimes not even a daily schedule. While some countries define how many days students must be in school, ultimately a family decides what days those will be. Some families choose to do school year-round while others roughly follow a school calendar. The daily schedule for home educators is very flexible. Some families define time periods that are meant for academics and may even define specific times for subjects similar to traditional schools. Some families are much more flexible and may even concentrate on one subject each day. Timed activities and deadlines tend to be much more flexible than in traditional school.
Home education presents a situation in which parent and teacher disciplinary roles are intertwined. For some, this can present a challenge, and intentional decisions must be made on behavioral and role expectations.
Home education provides an opportunity for the parent to design the progression toward independence. If this is not intentionally done, students at home may rely too heavily on parental guidance and assistance, and can be somewhat delayed in organizational skills. An extreme opposite situation can also develop in which a student is not given enough parental support and is entirely responsible for his/her educational organization and management. While some students are able to thrive in these extremes, the ideal is to be balanced and intentional in what is expected of students’ organizational development.
The home education experience will certainly bring a family into a unique culture group that is focused on family education. While this will look somewhat different in different countries, if you can find other home educators, you will find community and a unique worldview. At the same time, families who are educating at home have an opportunity to engage local culture at a level that their international school counterparts may not be able to. Part of the education often includes local language and culture experiences, and can bring a very rich experience to the family.
Home education is often viewed as isolating to kids, and many are concerned with the social implications this may have. However, it does not have to be isolated at all. Parents can be intentional about activities and groups for their kids to develop outside relationships and social interaction. While the home-educated student may not have as wide a social network, it has the potential to go very deep.
Homeschooling for a Season — The Goodwin Journey explores the challenges of temporary home education while living internationally.
Transitioning from a Traditional to Online School — Advice from 21st Century Cyber Charter School for making the switch to online schooling.
What, When, Why & How of Deschooling — Time4Learning explores all aspects of deschooling.