The public school system works for many, many people, but it's not the only model of education. Learning at home can be just as effective, because of the flexibility in where students learn and what they learn.
How students learn can be very different too. In classes with large numbers of students, teachers must focus time and energy on classroom management, and individual students can become lost. At home, parents can work with kids one-on-one and take their family's goals and interests into account.
Here's a look at how homeschooling lends itself to different teaching methods and ways of organizing the year.
1. Every child gets an "individualized education plan."In public school, a special needs child is entitled by law to an Individualized Educational Plan, or IEP. It lays out the student's strengths and weaknesses and proposes ways to help the student accomplish the necessary tasks. A parent once told me she wished every student could have an IEP, a plan designed around their specific needs. When you homeschool, they can.
2. Parents can set their own school year schedule.While it varies by state, many homeschoolers are able to devise their own schedules. That means school can take place in the evenings, on the weekends, or over the summer. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to take time off for a trip or a family emergency without the fear of missing anything.
3. Younger kids are not forced to sit quietly all day.
Schools sometimes seem like they weren't designed for real-life children. Little ones fidget, they get distracted, they need to run and sing and jump around. Yet schools expect even kindergartners to sit still and work
. At home, learning can be an unstructured, active experience. Desk work can be saved until an age when kids are ready for it. And tasks that requires quiet concentration can be scheduled around the child's most receptive time, leaving the rest of the day for more energetic activities.
4. Kids can get hands-on experiences.Learn engineering from an engineer, or weaving from a weaver? Study biology in the field, go on a fossil expedition and get credit for it? Devote yourself to putting together your own car, or building your own robot? Sure, if you're homeschooling. School children can do these things during their time off, but homeschoolers can make them part of their everyday learning.
5. Great teachers don't need a license.People who are passionate about their work or hobby often make the best educators. But if you're in school, even a highly-skilled professional or experienced artisan needs to pick up a teaching certificate first. Being able to learn from great teachers wherever you find them is one of the best parts of homeschooling.