Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Homeschooling: A Parent's Choice

Homeschooling is a widely popular form of education for millions of children all over the country. According to USA Today in 2007 an estimated 1.5 million children are homeschooled rather than go to traditional public and private schools which is a 1.7% increase since 1999. Today, homeschooling is becoming a more common and accepted method of teaching than it was several years ago. I was a homeschooled child for several years during my childhood and although I thoroughly enjoyed it, there was definitely negative viewpoints from others. Back then, most of the criticism that was received was people's lack of information. Many people would jump to conclusions and decide that since it wasn't a traditional school it wasn't a 'real' form of education. If someone were to ask you "Why aren't you in school?" and you replied "I'm homeschooled" you generally got the look and comment "Oh, you're one of THOSE kids." Thankfully, today people are much more educated and informed that homeschooling is a personal choice but that children are held to the same standards as children in traditional schools.

Every state has their own laws regarding homeschooling and I am no expert by any means but in Virginia it is a rather simple process to begin homeschooling your child.Parents have a variety of reasons why they decide to homeschool rather than go with traditional schools. Some reasons include a desire to be more involved with their children's education, while others want more freedom to decide what their child will be taught. Many parents find that homeschooling is an ideal choice for them as it lets them have more control over the topics that their children are learning and their child can learn at their own pace.

This will be our first year homeschooling our children so we are learning as we go. We have three children, two of which are school-aged, Tyler who is entering third grade and Benjamin who is entering first grade. In Virginia, we had to file a letter of intent with our local school board and then submit a summary of the curriculum we would be using for each child. It was relatively easy, and we were approved right away! In the Hampton Roads area I have found a great homeschooling store that sells homeschooling curriculum and other resources. Moore Expressions Inc. in Virginia Beach has proved to be a wonderful place to buy all the textbooks and activities that we need, plus they have tons of information on different activities for homeschooled children such as field trips, sports, co-ops, and even support groups. Moore Expressions also purchases textbooks so at the end of the year you can bring your books in and receive credit to the purchase of new items. One of the best resources that I have found is the Home Educators Association of Virginia or HEAV for short. Their website is a wealth of information from everything to Virginia law concerning homeschooling to state testing, upcoming events, support, and even an online store. Another great online resource is The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. They offer many articles concerning homeschooling and have information on upcoming homeschooling conferences in your area.

If you decide that homeschooling may be right for your family I urge you to look up homeschooling co-ops and support groups in your area. Chances are your community is made up with many homeschooling families that will embrace you and help you on your journey!

Be sure to check back on my blog to get updates on how we are doing our first year of homeschooling and find new things that might work out for you!

Happy Learning!

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