Home-schooling can be much more effective than formal education if the parent and child are both engaged in learning. We used this method of educating our child for nearly a year when our family was in a transition from one Country to another. Although our daughter is now in a very good local school, it’s a small primary school that ends at level 6 (5th grade) and she’s made it clear that she wants to go back to home-school and not secondary school (junior high)… She looked at me with tears in her eyes just this evening and said “Mom, if it wasn’t for dance and drama, I’d want to come back to home-school right now…” then she asked if we could begin home-schooling next term and I told her she should finish her last year at the primary school “…Okay, but then we’re definitely going to home-school after that right?…”
She’s keen and in a way I suppose that’s a real compliment to our little home-school that our only pupil is pushing to come back. I’ll give you an example of our home-school experience so you can judge for yourself:
History was studied by writing a time-line on a poster which is tacked onto a wall in our ‘study area’. On the poster is each century that this country has been in existence. In each century major battles that have been won and lost, as well as historically and culturally significant places are written down, then studied on-line/book-stores and library visits… then we hop into the car towing a caravan (trailer) to visit the place and inspect it through informed/interested eyes. It was fun exploring castles, buildings, beaches and fields imagining the gory battles or the riveting events that occurred in some of them. History is concrete… we tie it in with visits to significant buildings of the period of history that we’re studying and take photos/draw pictures so that we have a clear idea of exactly why an Elizabethan dwelling is different from an Edwardian house and how to tell a Georgian piece of furniture from an Queen Anne piece of furniture… We watch history programs on the BBC and often get ideas of places to visit from the shows and have frank discussions around the dinner table every evening about everything from plumbing to tools that were available prior to and after the industrial revolution. Our child is 10-years-old, it’s amazing what kids can understand and take an interest in if it’s presented in a fun, engaging manner.
Science is studied by family visits to a local aviary followed up by searching thorough a huge bird encyclopedia we found at a charity shop (thrift store). It’s also studied by visits to fields and the beach to study insects/soil and plant-life to be followed up with photos and samples taken and researched on-line/at the book-store or library. For secondary school level work, she will attend a tutoring center twice a week for two core subjects (science & math). We look for ideas on the BBC website and educational television programs, we do experiments found in these and other places, at home.
Music is practiced everyday and a private tutor is met weekly and recitals take place regularly. We’re not wealthy, it’s just that we’re the type of people that prefer to stay out of un-necessary debt and drive a 12-year-old car that’s paid for, so that we have a bit of extra cash to cover the cost of giving our children the best possible chance in life. In other words the money that would go to a new car payment, instead goes to private tutors and family camping trips to explore places and things that we read about at our home-school.
Exercise is in the form of twice daily outings no matter what the weather and/or weekly visits to the community swimming pool. For secondary school, she will join a local community dance group which meets twice weekly.
Math is a core subject that will be supervised by us, following the national curriculum with the aide of twice weekly visits to a tutoring center (qualified teaching staff meets individually or small groups)
Practical living skills include cookery (there are numerous cooking shows on television and BBC on-line), sewing (quilting) and basic auto mechanics (simple stuff like checking the oil, radiator, refilling the windscreen fluid… *dad’s contribution, but she seems to enjoy it…)
Applied Arts include experimenting with oil and water based paints, professional pencils and artist sketchbooks, on-line classes to learn new techniques in drawing and analyzing art. Also included arts and craft work by creating hand-made objects such as stuffed toys, pillows, quilts, gifts…
When she returns to home-school after next year, our goal is to expand the time she has to rehearse on her instruments while preparing her for college entrance exams in a few years. She loved being home-schooled and actually entered the local school miles ahead of the class in some areas, but we needed to do a bit more on math… This time, we’ll have a professional to help in this area.
So, the question is whether or not home-schooling is better than a formal education and the answer is ‘Yes’, but only if the parent and child both want to do it. Otherwise, if home-schooling is a chore that you resent, then you’ll vent your frustration on your kids and they’ll end up hating the experience. It’s like asking if it’s better to give birth naturally or with pain killers and the answer to that is every bit as personal and individual as the question of how your children would best be educated.
In our experience, our child loved being home-schooled where she could be safe, happy and encouraged to explore all types of learning. For us, it’s sometimes intense learning along with our child, it also means investing time, effort and attention on her. Any parent that’s not willing or able to do this should not opt for home-schooling. It’s not fair to you or your child.
Home-schooling has so many faces. You can do it all on your own, or you can use public and/or private support and tutors to augment specific areas of your child’s learning. With time, care and attention… home-schooling, in our experience has been great.