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Homeschooling Basics: How Tutors Can Help

More parents are choosing to home school their children. Julia Lawrence, writing for educationnews.org, notes that the number of home-schooled children has risen by 75% since 1999 and that 4% of students in the United States are being home schooled (see http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/number-of-homeschoolers-growing-nationwide/). Many famous people, such as author C.S. Lewis and architect Frank Lloyd Wright, were home-schooled for all or part of their educations. This article will help you understand home schooling and four ways tutors can help.

Home-Schooling Basics

Parents need to understand their responsibilities as their child’s teacher before choosing to home-school them. Each state lists grade level academic standards on their Department of Education website. These standards list the content students must know by the time they finish each grade. For example, Indiana 6th graders need to be able to “identify rights that people have and identify the responsibilities that accompany these rights.” Parents should locate their state’s standards, read them, and begin thinking about how to teach them to their children.

State Departments of Education also require new home schools to complete home school registration forms. In Indiana, this form is called a Home School Enrollment Report Form (follow this link to view the online form: http://dc.doe.state.in.us/DOEOnline/HomeSchool/entry.aspx). These forms must be completed, filed, and approved before your children can begin home schooling. In Indiana, the Department of Education gives each approved home school an identification number to use when submitting attendance and other required information.

Teaching materials and instructional methods are other considerations. Most states do not require home schooling parents to use particular textbooks or materials, nor will they pay for them. The decision is entirely up to parents. Bookstores, teaching supply stores, and online book warehouse websites are great places to find textbooks and other materials. You’ll need to purchase these materials before your children start home-schooling.

Visit your state’s Department of Education website to learn about home-schooling laws and regulations. This will help you understand your teaching responsibilities and inform you of opportunities your children have available to them. For instance, if you want your children to take standardized tests with public school students, in Indiana they must attend a public school for one period during the day. School administrators must also approve this. Talk to administrators to see if this is possible, decide what public school class (or classes) students will take, and how transportation will be handled.

How Tutors Can Help

1. Daily Teaching. Tutors can help cover some of the daily teaching responsibilities. Parents may feel uncomfortable teaching certain subjects. For example, parents may not feel comfortable teaching tougher subjects like Algebra, Geometry, or certain sciences – especially at the high school level. Tutors can teach these subjects, leaving parents to handle the rest.

2. Giving Tests. Tutors can also help by administering and grading all tests. Some parents have told me (as a former classroom teacher) that they thought about home schooling their children, but were afraid they would “take it easy on them”. Parents can work with tutors to summarize what they’ve taught and leave the tutor to write, administer, and grade tests. Another option is for parents to write the tests and have their tutor administer and grade them.

3. Handling Physical Education. One common question new home-school parents ask is, “What do I do about P.E.? Will my children have to have P.E.?” My answer is that it depends on state education law. Indiana law does not require home-school students to take P.E. or pass any physical education tests. However, parents should consider the important role daily exercise plays in a child’s physical and emotional development. Tutors with coaching experience or someone who is teaching P.E. at a local school part time are good choices. This will help ensure your children get regular exercise.

4. Consulting and Curriculum Management. Creating a home school curriculum is a daunting task! Parents will need to divide all material they will teach during the school year into manageable pieces and spread it evenly across the calendar so it is taught by the end of their school year. How do you organize lessons for each subject, pace them so your child learns all content by the end of the school year, and plan for labs and field trips to give your child hands on learning experiences?

Tutors can help you plan and/ or write lesson plans, create labs, and plan a reasonable pacing schedule. In public schools, district level administrators work together to create curriculum/ pacing guides for teacher to use. They review the schedule, consider the required textbooks and workbooks students use, and create unit and lesson plans. School districts typically limit the number of new curriculum guides they will write to two when revising or creating new class offerings! Consider hiring a tutor with classroom teaching experience to visit once or twice a week to help with curriculum planning and pacing.

Summary

Parents should visit their state’s Department of Education website to learn home-school laws and regulations and complete any needed forms to register their school. They may also need to meet with public school officials to determine their child’s eligibility for annual tests, school sponsored athletics, and driver’s education before getting started. Tutors can help by handling some of the daily teaching responsibilities, creating and administering tests, teaching physical education, and/ or helping to create curriculum pacing guides. This will help ensure that students get a well - rounded education that meets both parent and state academic expectations.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of my blog page. If you have questions about whether a tutor is right for you or if you would like advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my Wyzant tutor home page. I’m happy to help!

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