Homeschooling is growing in popularity throughout the country but it’s important to ensure that your family is choosing this option for the right reasons and have a comprehensive understanding of the commitment this process requires. There are many homeschool platforms to choose from on the Internet so the first step is finding the right one that is accredited, serves K-12th grade students, has a reputable curriculum with college prep courses and a positive reputation for helping students and families. Teaching kids at home can be more of a challenge when parents are constantly having to deal with program issues, documentation errors and portal problems. Ask to walk through a demo of a school lesson, review the curriculum offered in the grades and speak to a teacher to find out how they work with the students, communication routines and any other information you need as a parent to feel comfortable with the decision.
Once you have chosen the best online homeschool for your kids, the next step is to create a home environment that is conducive and supportive of their education. This will look different for each family based on their lifestyle, schedules, student ages/grades and habits. For some, a structured schedule that is the same format every day is the ideal solution, while others prefer the flexibility that homeschooling offers and will have a more fluid approach for each day and week. The home is the primary location for school so decide whether there is a certain room that everyone will work in, utilize desks in each of the bedrooms for privacy or transform the kitchen table as the focal point of schoolwork so all kids are together and the parent is easily accessible for questions. Regardless of what works for the family, it is best to have a central location for supplies, schoolbooks, and devices to keep track of everything and maintain the good condition of the resources.
Thirdly, after setting up the physical environment, it is just as important to have a positive mental and emotional support system in place. Every student is unique in their study habits, strengths and weaknesses in the different subjects and how they progress through the lessons. Even within the same family, children will develop, grow and learn in various stages and ways so parents should have regular communication to understand their needs and any issues that come up. The best online homeschool programs provide options for parents to act as part or full-time teachers especially in the lower to middle school grades with a transition to online instruction only in high school. No matter which method parents choose, their role should always be supportive and encouraging so students feel comfortable talking about issues, whether they are struggling and if they are having a bad day.
Online homeschooling needs a reliable Internet connection to ensure that electronic devices are adequately able to display classwork and process the student’s submissions. If families have several children being homeschooled, be with the utility company to determine the right internet speed for the number of connections and data usage. You will also need to work with the program to confirm software and hardware compatibility for each grade level and accessing resources. Keep in mind that high school students will typically have more requirements than younger grades so changes may be required which is why it is necessary to talk with the school to understand what these are. One of the easiest ways to discourage and frustrate students who are trying to work is to constantly have network issues where they have to redo work, the system is slow so it takes them longer to complete or they can’t even login and so get behind in their planner.
The last feature for a successful homeschool experience is to remember that home is for family first and school second so parents and children need to be able to work with the different roles. For some households, there is little to no distinction, while other families choose to have clear ‘school’ hours so the relationships stay separate and kids don’t always feel like they are being instructed or managed by a ‘teacher’. This environment is best determined through discussion and being willing to change or modify until everyone is comfortable with the process and the best solution is reached.
A child’s education is fluid whether they are in a traditional classroom or taught at home for their entire 12 years because kids are constantly growing, changing, and evolving with their personalities. Homeschooling will have challenges and bumps along the way but with the above features in place, these can be worked through by parents, students, and the program. In this way, the process keeps moving forward so students can receive the best education possible and achieve the goals and dreams they have for the future.