Monday, May 01, 2006

Do you have Time to Home School?

You just spent eight hours making reports, filing papers, fielding phone calls, and placating your boss at the office. So, when you get home, do you rest?

Not really.

There’s a dinner to prepare, stories to share with your husband, and doing homework with the kids.

Such a scenario is — and will still be — typical among working mothers, who balance the countless demands of career and home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The problem with this is that the children are the ones who are always at the losing end.


Because parents - especially mothers - who are always busy with their work, tend to take for granted that the institutional school will provide the best education for their children. Sometimes they don't realize their children are falling through the cracks, or being bullied, or are being taught subjects that are in direct opposition to their religious faith.

However, in today’s changing world, some parents realize that sending their children to school is no longer necessarily the best way of providing the education that their children need. That’s why they have opted for home schooling, in order to provide the kind of learning that they want for their children, in the kind of values-laden environment they wish to promote.

In home schooling, most parents devote their time and try to provide their children the best education at home. They know that they are the ones who can provide the most appropriate teaching approach for their children because they know their children best.

However, it does not necessarily mean that parents have to devote more time to home schooling than they would to their other chores at home.

It is true that home schooling requires time to come up with the teaching approach that your children need. It is also through a committed schedule that you can identify the methods you need to employ in order to teach your children well. But it does not mean that you have to give your whole life over to teaching your children through home schooling programs.

Because home schooling uses the “one-to-one” teaching method; hence, it needs less teaching time than the typical classroom setting. You do not have to teach to the broad middle ground of a classroom, which usually leaves behind the slow ones and bores the bright ones. You can tailor the amount of material and its difficulty to the exact level of your child's ability.

So, the amount of time to be allotted in home schooling will still vary depending on the many factors that may affect the progress of the teaching process.

Here is a list of some factors that should be considered in order to decide what is the proper amount of time needed in home schooling:

1. Learning style of the children

There are instances wherein the children’s learning style might affect the time requirement in home schooling. For instance, if your child is a visual learner, he may be able to grasp concepts more quickly. An auditory learner can benefit from tapes that can be played over and over without you having to be there repeating the lesson. You may require more time on the front end setting up a project or other object lesson that will engage your kinesthetic learner - and then find that he learns fastest of all and retains more of what is taught.

However, if your child needs more time to grasp things that are being taught to him, then you have to devote more time in explaining to him or her the concept of the subject matter you are teaching. The good news, of course, is that you can take all the time you need without holding up the rest of the class.

2. The type of methods used

There are various teaching methods available for home schooling. Each has its own teaching approach. Many parents have chosen computer based curriculum or online academies to reduce the amount of preparation time and administrative tasks required. Others spend more time doing a unit study, which is a program that integrates a topic across all disciplines. There are unit studies that are already prepared for you including lesson plans, and then there are unit studies you can build yourself. They require much more preparation time on the part of the teacher, but for certain types of students they are far and away the best method, enabling far greater retention of the subject matter.

3. The number of children within the family

If you have several children who are at different grade levels, this is another area where a unit study can help you, because you can present the same material to several children at different grade levels and use it to achieve various objectives. It is NOT true necessarily that you must spend longer hours teaching a larger group of students. The older children can solidify their knowledge of the topic by reading aloud or teaching the younger children. They can even be trusted with small administrative tasks as they become more responsible.

I think it is actually easier to have several children just a few years apart than it is to have only two who are many years apart. It is taxing to try to teach a young child to read AND an older one algebra. When you have a high schooler and a preschooler you are working with completely different types of courses of study.

4. The age of the child

Younger children need more teacher interaction than older children, but you can also work with them in short bursts rather than trying to make them sit for hours on end. Some young children grasp concepts quickly, others are daydreamers who need to be carefully monitored. There really is no hard and fast rule about how the age of your child affects the amount of time you need. By the time you children are older, if you have been home schooling any length of time, you have already taught them time management skills and shifted into the role of a coach who doesn't have to be sitting with them all day.

It is fair to say that even a mom who works outside the home can do some home teaching with an older child, but justice will probably not be done to either work or school unless your child is a self-starter. But you CAN work and home school if you are willing to consider working at home - either via telecommuting, or having your own home business.

Next time we will look at some work-at-home options.

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