Do you struggle to get your children to school in the mornings? Do you long to spend more time together, and feel that life is out of balance? Do you often move and find it disruptive to your child’s education? Home-schooling is a lifestyle choice, which can have profound benefits on physical, mental and emotional health. And the good news is, you don’t have to be a qualified educator to conduct it.
Sitting inside at a desk goes against a child’s desire to run, leap, climb and explore. By learning from home, the backyard, playground, local park and beach can all become a classroom. Exercise is part of daily life, which sets up long-lasting habits. Parents too, may find home-schooling inspires a more active lifestyle, with extra time to play and explore.
Sleep when the sun has set
Without the pressure of strict routines, children can tune into their own natural rhythms. They will have time to observe nature, notice the seasons as they change, and learn mindfulness as a way of life. When parents are relaxed, so too are their children. Learning can occur at any time of the day or night, because you set the routine that suits your family best.
The world is amazing
As your child’s educator, you can set a curriculum that ties in with their interests. When children are encouraged to follow what excites them, learning suddenly becomes a natural and easy pleasure. This child-centred approach teaches them that learning is a joy and a lifelong activity. Home-schooling inspires children to be curious about the world and take a positive attitude to study. Projects at home can incorporate different subjects and may not even feel like “work” at all.
The power of self-discipline
Children who learn from home often take greater responsibility for their own learning. They’ll likely develop organisational skills, self-control and self-discipline. When children are empowered to take control of their own learning, they suddenly want to learn, and that’s the vital ingredient. Motivated learners are high achievers.
Families who play together…
By devoting time and energy to home education, children learn they are important. Healthy self-esteem and a strong bond with family is a powerful gift, which will stay with your child throughout their adult life. Home-schooling families also have the freedom to relocate or travel without disrupting their children’s education—something that can promote stability and certainty.
You may have bad days
Of course, it is important to consider that for some families, home-schooling can increase instead of decrease stress. Parents are suddenly responsible for creating lesson plans and effective methods of teaching, as well as routine parental duties. Alternatively, there’s the potential stress of finding an educator to do it instead.
Taking direct responsibility for your children’s education is an enormous commitment and will not always be easy. Some days your children may fight or refuse to participate in your plans. Other days you may feel socially isolated and overwhelmed. You may find others judge and criticise your decision to home-school your child, usually from a lack of understanding. But all home-schooling families can relate to these challenges and have developed strategies to cope, so you can too.
It is a common misconception that all home-schooled children suffer social isolation, however this can occur if parents do not actively seek out social groups and situations outside the home. When choosing to home-school, families need to explore other avenues for socialisation, to avoid missing out on these critical developments. Sporting clubs, community centres, theatre groups, libraries and home-schooling groups are great places to meet and interact regularly with other children and community members.
Judgements and criticism
Like all minority groups, home-schoolers can be subjected to stereotyping and criticism. You may suddenly find everyone has an opinion on the best way to educate your child. Being part of a network of home educators, either by attending a group in your local area or communicating online, will help. Similar families can support each other and share strategies for staying confident and strong.
It can be exhausting
Home-schooling is more than a full-time job. Some parents may become burnt out educating and caring for their children. Before deciding whether this avenue is the right one for you and your family, consider what options are available to give you some regular timeout. Could a friend or family member help one afternoon a week? Is there an OSHC (out of school hours care) available at a local school that the children could attend? It’s not selfish to take some time for yourself and it could make all the difference to your success as a home educator.
There are pros and cons to all styles of education, and the decision to become a home-educating family needs careful consideration. It takes courage, but if you remain passionate and positive, it may be just the right journey for your family.
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