Have you ever tried to define homeschooling? A homeschool is where parents teach their children at home instead of sending them to public or private school. You have probably heard this popular definition and it is also my favorite definition. I regularly plead with parents to carefully raise and educate their precious children at home. I know it seems like your children will be with you forever, but you will only have them for a very short time. The time that you have to raise and educate your children will fly away, quickly and certainly.
While a teenager, daydreaming in my high school geometry class, I dreamt of a better way of learning. I thought about learning the way learning should be; stripped of the institution, the inept teachers, the dreary textbooks, the endless paperwork, the standing in lines and the long, long bus rides…just learning — a lifestyle of learning. For more than thirty-five years, now, I have seen that dream come true, not only for my family, but for millions worldwide. Education has permanently changed. Amazingly, even the government school system is now scurrying to find new ways to “homeschool” their government funded students. But in all my dreams, I never thought that homeschool would be done solely by parents in their homes. In my mind, homeschooling is so cool that everyone should want to do it; children, parents, teachers — everyone. In my mind, homeschooling isn’t so much about “Home”schooling; but, it is really about “Freedom”schooling. Parents are the God ordained educational authorities in a child’s life and have the freedom and responsibility for deciding how and what their children should learn.
Homeschooling has now spread to millions of parents worldwide who are looking for that better way of learning. Parents are realizing that they have the unique power and responsibility to determine what their children are taught and by whom. Parents can delegate the authority to a teacher but will never be able to delegate the responsibility for how and what their children learn. Ultimately, the parents are responsible.
Because of the amazing success of homeschooling, there are now thousands of people who want to provide services to you and your children. Now, all kinds of people want to teach your children Math, Spanish, Writing, Band, Chorus, Taekwondo, and on, and on, and on. Everywhere, teachers are discovering that homeschooling is exciting for them, too. They can teach children using their teaching gifts without being encumbered by politically correct educational technocrats and endless paperwork that steals time away from the kids. But, parents BEWARE! Once again, you are ultimately responsible for everyone who teaches your child. Don’t assume that any person who is around homeschoolers is automatically safe to be around your child. And don’t assume that just anyone should be allowed to teach your child. Be very, very careful. Here are a few questions you might want to ask when interviewing prospective service providers.
- Ask to attend the class with your child.
- Ask about the teacher’s teaching style and religious, political, and educational philosophies.
- Ask for references of other parents whose children have been taught by the teacher. Call the references!
- Ask those parents to describe both the good and the bad aspects of that particular setting. Ask about the teacher’s experience, grading policy, and what books will be used.
Consider doing background checks; they are easy and inexpensive online. As homeschooling continues to grow, parents must make sure that their children are safe and not assume that just because someone works with homeschoolers, they have good morals.
As homeschooling opportunities continue to expand, never forget your parental role. Although you can delegate the opportunity of teaching your child to another teacher, you will never be able to delegate the responsibility for teaching your child – that will always belong to you.
Randi St. Denis is an educator, popular homeschool speaker, and a seasoned homeschooling mom. Randi works as a consultant to public, private, and homeschool families; providing teaching expertise and assistance for all types of children. You can visit her website at ChicagoHomeschoolExpo.com.