According to the National Home Education Research Institute 2016 analysis, “[Homeschooling] may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. Home-based education has also been growing around the world in many other nations (e.g., Australia, Canada, France, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, Russia, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom)” (Nheri.org, 2017). It’s important for me to define what I mean by home school. When we talk about home school on Cleverly Changing we are referring to parents who are the primary educators of their children outside of a traditional public or private school school model. Although, homeschooling is gaining popularity, it’s important that parents who decide to home school find proper support. Adequate support will help their child’s educational experience be as successful as possible. Also, I believe parents who choose a co-op or home school support group will be able to home school longer and feel more confident about their decision.
Action Steps for Home school Parents
Remember, before you make the decision to choose a home school group or a cooperative (a.k.a. co-op) ask yourself what do you want your child to gain from the experience. Next, ask what do you need to receive from a home school group to view the experience as a success. As you begin your journey to home school, you will quickly see that being with your child 80 to 90% of your day can be overwhelming. Decide early on what you will do for self-care outside of educating your little one. Therefore, once these questions are answered on your own, you can then find a group that will fulfill your needs. While groups are great, none are perfect. When finalizing your decision, keep in mind that the group may not provide 100% of what you need. However, if it can provide at least 80% of your needs then you should strongly consider that group.
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Additionally, if homeschooling is important to you, consider researching local meetups or co-ops. These home school groups may offer classes, get-together events, field trips, or other activities for home school families. As a home school parent myself, I would also advise parents to vet the group prior to investing any of your precious time and energy into them. The home educator should ask the following questions, to help them find a group that is right for the needs of his or her family.
10 questions to ask before committing to a home school group
- First, ask whether you can attend at least one or two gatherings without commitment? Participating first-hand will give you the best opportunity to decide if the group will work for you or your family.
- Inquire about the experiences of other families. While their experience may not be the same as yours, you should be able to gauge whether members are satisfied with their experiences overall.
- Find out how often the group meets. Do parents always have to be present or will there be occasions for drop-off activities?
- Ask if you can review the schedule for the upcoming year/semester?
- Make sure you have a clear understanding about what the exceptions are for parents and/or the child(ren).
- What is the mission or goal of the group, and how does the group go about fulfilling their goals?
- Is the group Christian or secular?
- Ask if there are age requirements for participation among children, and if you have children outside of the required ages if that would hinder your ability to be involved?
- If diversity is important to you, ask what makes the group diverse? In my opinion, if my family’s participation suddenly makes the group diverse, then it isn’t, more families are needed to ensure a diverse environment.
- Inquire about fees/dues, the pay schedule, and what the fees and dues cover throughout the year?
Co-ops, Support Groups, and Regional Groups defined
Typically, co-ops often provide academic support to families who home school. So, support groups often provide social interaction for homeschoolers. While regional groups generally are larger groups that may provide practical education involvement such as:
- science fairs
- graduation services
- academic tournaments like spelling bees, book clubs, etc.
- large field trips with unique opportunities
- conference and conventions
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(1). Nheri.org. (2017). Research Facts on Homeschooling | Research. [online] Available at: https://www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html [Accessed 11 Dec. 2017].