Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Homeschool Support - Strong, Abundant, Worthwhile

Families that homeschool enjoy the availability of enormous support from a huge network of other homeschooling families and support groups both in their state as well as nationwide. This is one of our strengths as a community.

There is a diverse array of homeschool groups, classes, field trips and activities throughout each state. Information is available on the Internet, in the libraries and in distributed publications. Each state usually has a few large statewide support groups as well as smaller groups that cater to specific interests ranging from religious to various educational beliefs. Those groups appear to be growing and flourishing.

Parents can obtain curriculum and materials from unlimited sources. There are books and guides and conferences abounding. The plethora of materials can sometimes even be overwhelming, but homeschooling families typically help each other by sharing information about various programs and resources to help separate the "wheat from the chaff".

Statewide museums and other institutions also take the time and effort to present programs designed just for homeschoolers. It's to their advantage to reach out to this specific demographic. In CT, our kids enjoy such programs as Homeschool Days at Mystic Aquarium or Old Sturbridge Village, and so on. Bookstores typically afford us educator discounts and may even help families to choose materials for home use. Businesses also allow hands on experience to our kids who wish to do internships or job-shadowing, or they just might even give a tour of their factory so kids can see how their product is produced.

Rest assured that homeschooled kids are not just sitting around the kitchen table doing lessons. They are engaged in many wonderful programs and opportunities in their respective states, and parents get a lot of support from many places. This is important, because it is beneficial for our children to get instruction from many different sources and it allows exposure to other viewpoints. There is much truth to the saying, "The World Is Our Classroom".

The homeschool community is very diverse and children come from all types of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Rich, poor, single parent households, Christians, Jews, Muslims, urban, suburban, rural... you name it and homeschoolers can be found there. What is the common bond is the desire for families to teach their own in the manner which they choose, and which accommodates their children's learning needs.

One might also note too that homeschooling parents do not need any kind of certification or credentials to teach, nor do they need a specific level of education. The variable most clearly associated with student success is the amount of parental involvement in students’ studies. That is a fact cited time after time even by the education establishment. Homeschool parents are fully involved in their children’s education and even if the parents themselves don’t have specific credentials, their children can still prosper. It is this parental involvement that allows home-educated students to flourish. Parents can learn along with their children, and for more involved subjects they can very easily obtain tutoring situations or other self-teaching materials.

It cannot be overstated that homeschool parents and children have access to abundant sources of information, to community resources, and to classes and study groups taught by experienced mentors. Homeschooled children are involved in many community volunteer activities and have many opportunities to get together with their friends.

If you haven't reached out to your state or local homeschool network, perhaps now is the time to explore that resource. If you are actively supporting and participating in a homeschool network then you are modeling to your children the importance of contributing to a community, and that is an important lesson indeed.