parents thoughts on the home school decision


Homeschooling: What's Next?
by Brian Thomas
A Child's

So, you're homeschooling your children and the decision to put them into the next academic setting arises. What do you do? What are some of the options?

Many parents see homeschooling as a viable alternative to what they have done over a year or more for their children's education. Some people even bring their students from first grade all the way through high school. However, most opt to homeschool for only a few years. Having children either at home or grouped with other children for a year or more represents a decision that many parents feel is well worth the sacrifice. 

One family I know dipped a toe into the homeschool waters when a trip to Europe for a year allowed them to consider homeschooling as an option. The opportunity for the children to see the great museums of Europe, visit ancestors in Ireland, and get a chance to soak up the culture of an unfamiliar land can be the most tremendous educational 
experience that a parent can offer a child. Also, just being in charge of their educational lives gives some parents a huge sense of empowerment. But how can you keep that going once they go back to "regular" school?

I have to admit, when I first began my sojourn into education, homeschooling seemed like an extreme "no confidence" vote for many public and private schools. How deceived I was. Parents choose to homeschool for a variety of legitimate reasons, many of which involve a multitude of personal choices and wishes, which must be revisited once the decision is made to put kids in a normative classroom setting.

The family that I mention above who did a tour of the great cathedrals of Europe homeschooled because their son wanted to spend the year with the family in Europe, but they also wanted to closely monitor a heart ailment that their son began to develop in the fourth grade. The family came out of the heart scare with flying colors and it's good to report that the boy is doing fine. The family chose to an independent school because they felt that they took him as far as he could go. It's important to note that parents have many choices for their children once they come to the decision to put them in public or private school.

Here are a few things to consider that (hopefully) can help parents along their journey in finding the next place for a homeschooled child:

* The proof is in the pudding: Choose a school that shares many of your beliefs and ideas about education. Many schools have a philosophy and/or mission statement. Make sure that the school is living what it professes in writing.
* People say the darndest things: Talk to parents, students, and community members of the prospective school to make sure that the school does what it claims to do. Try to understand the agenda or bias of a particular person or group who either love or berate a school. Their negative take may not be the same for everyone.

* Do your homework: Don't just look at test scores and the cars in the pick-up queue. Also, examine where the kids go after they leave the school. Are those students and parents happy with the experience they are walking away with? How would your kid do in such an environment?

* Visit: Don't just stand there, do something that will give you and your child a feel for the school. Are the teachers interacting with the students? Is there genuine respect and admiration going from student to teacher that is honest and not forced? Are the teachers present in the playground or at sporting events? Can you talk with the teacher or the principal? Will those people be interested in talking with you if there is a problem, within reason, that must be addressed? Collect some data.

* Let's huddle on this one: Finally, discuss the decision to apply or send your child to a particular school with them. They probably shouldn't have the final decision, but they definitely should be consulted.

Remember that any move for a child or family can be a major stressor, honor the reason why you chose to homeschool in the first place and keep those ideals paramount in your mind when considering a new school for your child. After all, it does make a huge difference in determining the rest of their lives.

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parents thoughts on the home school decision