Many parents make the decision to homeschool their children, and in doing so are privy to some clear benefits. Homeschooling allows you to tailor a specific education to your child’s individual needs, something that is often lacking in the public or private school systems. Homeschooling also allows you and your child to learn together, creating not only a valuable learning experience but strengthening family bonds. Add to this the fact that it is often prohibitively expensive to send multiple children to private schools, and we can see why homeschooling has become increasingly popular.
One of the most important aspects of homeschooling your child is coming up with a clear plan and set of goals. One of the greatest aspects of homeschooling – its complete flexibility – can also be one of the most difficult if it is not approached directly. Without a clear plan, you run the risk of creating a scattershot education that puts your child out of place with his or her peers.
So when you begin homeschooling, you should come up with a clear set of general goals. Think about why you want to homeschool your children, and what you want them to get out of the experience. What, generally, do you want your child’s education to encompass? Once you have answered these general questions for yourself, begin to split your child’s education into various subject areas. For each subject area, you want to come up with a timeline and set of goals.
A good place to start in terms of a timeline would be to look at the standard curriculum for your child’s grade in a public or private school. While it is almost certainly true that one of these reasons you’ve selected to homeschool your child is to go beyond and outside this standard curriculum, you also want to make sure that your child does not fall behind his or her peers in a given subject area.
Come up with your plan by looking at the standard expectations for a given subject level and then working backwards: how do you want to achieve that level of knowledge? What are the targets for each week? By setting these targets you can establish a timeline and curriculum that allows for effective homeschooling.
Clearly, one of the points of homeschooling is its relative flexibility, and you by no means need to stick to a plan in a completely rigid manner, but don’t let this tempt you into avoiding one: although it may seem wonderful to have an entirely “organic” education for your children, this can easily go awry. If you constantly let your child’s learning be dictated exclusively by his or her interests, gaps will appear in her knowledge. Instead make a clear educational plan that allows for flexibility. Plan what your child is going to learn, but leave the “how she will learn it” some breathing room: as you begin the process of homeschooling you’ll learn how your child learns best, and can begin to incorporate this into the lessons.
By coming up with a clear educational plan you arm yourself with one of the most essential tools to effective homeschooling.
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