Sunday, June 5, 2011

An American Education {Homeschooling}

Lately, I have been asked quite a few questions about home schooling, especially in our home state of South Carolina. In this post, I would like to discuss home schooling throughout the country. Later, I will discuss the particulars of home schooling in South Carolina.
With the downslide of American education many parents are seeking different methods for educating their children. Parents want to improve the lives of their children by bringing their children back home, or at least back to their families, instead of thrusting them into the common institution of Public School. Parents are beginning to realize that there are other options to choose from.

The Public Education System:
This educational method was developed as a normal occurrence in America in the 19th Century and became the primary source for education in the decades that followed. This form of education has it’s benefits and it’s downfalls.

Benefits are that there are set hours for learning that both parents and children can rely on. This allows parents a break, as well as time for work, home duties, and community relations that would be harder to manage with children at home every day. It allows children to know exactly what to expect each day.

In public schools, children are taught from the five main subjects of Mathematics, Reading, Writing, Science and Social Studies or History each year and later they are also taught Composition and Literature. Many public schools include studies in Physical Education, Art, Music, and Foreign Language. Some schools add in even more studies but these are the general group of studies available in most American schools.

Transportation and meals are provided by the public school system for those in the community. Discounts and free materials are provided for those who have low incomes that qualify for assistance. Field Trips are often an added bonus as well as constant socialization with peers.

Downfalls are that children often get up early for school and don’t get home until late afternoon. Parents and children miss out on essential relationship time with one another and special moments are often shared with the educator instead of a child’s parents. Children are often pressed to learn concepts they are not ready to explore and forced to stay on task when they fall behind on these confusing concepts. This often leads to children not obtaining optimal scores on tests and later to them becoming more confused, making it harder to catch up to other students who are ahead of them on the learning curve. Many children never catch up at all and continue to fail throughout their lives.

Parental interaction and discipline becomes a task trusted to the child’s educator instead of the parent. Respect towards a parent tends to drop due to lack of interaction from the limited time parents and children actually have together. Educational right is signed over to the school system making the school responsible for your child in the many hours they are in the school’s possession, leaving the parent with essentially no right to their own child.

As you can tell there are many bonuses and many disappointments in American Public Schools. As a parent, we must weigh the positives and negatives against our own families beliefs, wants and goals to see if this option is right for us. For many, it is the perfect way to educate but for others there may be better ways that are being missed. I will discuss those next.

Private School:
Privately funded schools have been around much longer than Public Schools. These schools are often funded by wealthy members or large corporations. They are similar to public schools in that they provide education in a wide variety of subjects, however they often come with a high tuition and a limited entrance allowance for students.

Some schools require students to pass a entrance exam before accepting them for admission. Often these schools do not provide free meals or transportation and these things must be provided by the parent instead on top of tuition cost and educational fees. However, having less students in a classroom provides a better educational approach, sometimes providing more one-on-one time for students than Public Schools offer.

Private schools often offer music, sports, and more. Christian schools provide education in the Lord. This can be an excellent educational choice for students and families if a parent can afford tuition costs and provide the necessary essentials needed to maintain this choice.

Virtual School:
Virtual schools come in two forms: State provided and Tuition schools. Tuition paid virtual school allow much more freedom in education than those provided by the state but often home schooling parents cannot afford the cost.

Tuition paid virtual schools allow parents to pick and choose their curriculum choices, their hours, options, field trips and more. It is all up to the parent to decide what to use, what works best for their child and what is not worth the time spent to complete. This version of virtual school is often the only one supported by home school associations in America.

State provided Virtual school has recently been termed “public school at home”. Many home schooling associations throughout America no longer accept this type of schooling as home school and instead have deemed it to be public school. Statements by parents who use this method have showed that this type of education can often be much harder than that of regular public school, as it is geared to challenge a student more than normal public school does.

If your child excels at school work then this would probably be a great option for you. If your child is behind in school work then this option may put your child farther behind educationally. Only you, as the parent, can decide what is best for your child and family.

The same educational choices offered through public school are often offered with Virtual schools. Field trips, school events, etc are provided through the public school option.

Charter Schools:
Charter Schools are sort of a cross between private and public schools. They are state provided, though they have less rules than that of traditional public schools. This allows Charter Schools more freedom of choice in educational methods and materials, often allowing a better education for students.

Charter schools often have admission requirements that must be met by a student, much like Private schools. Transportation is not always provided. Outside resources sometimes provide essential money for educational provisions. However, teachers are not always certified trained educators.

The degree of freedom allowed can make up for the lacking of institutional requirements for this type of school. Children are often found to excel in this type of educational environment because the general requirements are more lenient than those of Public Schools.

Home School:
School at home is our choice of education. I cannot stress the benefits of home schooling enough. I will first mention the downfalls though.

Home schooling is tough. Parents are often with their children 24/7 with little to know break. Parents must see to their child’s every need and have no one to blame their slackness upon when things fall through. Parents must find educational methods on their own to provide interest for their children, to cure boredom and challenge children, as well as themselves. Parents are the only disciplinary figure in their child’s life. Parents must deal with medical issues that affect education with little to no help. Parents must provide educational materials, opportunities, socialization, and more with no assistance or financial help. Families often have to learn to survive on one income.

Now for the bonuses of home schooling: Children are able to learn in a private, comforting environment. Children are able to learn at their own pace, with little to no interruptions. Children are able to work for shorter periods of time, allowing more time for play. Families are able to spend large amounts of time together strengthening bonds. Families are able to take trips with one another or have park or play days when it’s convenient to them, not a state dictated schedule. Children are able to learn subjects that interest them, not those preferred by the school district they attend. Children are able to dress, eat, love things that fit their style. Parent’s are able to choose curriculum content based on their family preferences, adding biblical studies, life skills, foreign language studies and much more as they please and as early as they feel it is educationally important. Children come to enjoy their schoolwork instead of resent it because it’s tailored to their likes and needs. Families get along better because they don’t suffer from the pressures of outside tasks.

This list could go on and on but I will stop here. In the future, I will be giving more home schooling information, sharing specifics for the State of South Carolina, as well as curriculum ideas per grade level. We will share our likes and dislikes, our joys and regrets. For now, I hope this article gives you some insights on the different educational types available in comparison with one another. 

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion.  I am not a doctor or lawyer or professional and do not proclaim to be.  I am only a blogger.  The rest of my disclaimer is located at the bottom of the home page on my blog.

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