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What is Homeschooling? A Guide for Christian Parents and Students

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Homeschooling, or elective home education, is where parents manage their children’s education themselves in the home environment. Teaching can be delivered either by a parent or an online teacher and homeschooled students learn at their own pace. 

Homeschooling isn't the same as distance learning, where children learn virtually alongside their classroom-based peers. 

Homeschooling has been increasing in popularity over the past few decades, and many parents prefer to homeschool their kids rather than sending them to public school. 

This article considers how you can get started with homeschooling, reviews some of the Christian teaching materials available, and examines the pros and cons of homeschooling.

Elementary school girl learning from home

What is homeschooling?

In the 1970s, homeschooling was presented as an alternative educational approach to traditional in-school models of learning. It was popularized by educators such as John Holt and Dorothy and Raymond Moore, who wrote about educational reforms including “unschooling”. 

The term “unschooling” refers to informal learning methods where education is based around children’s natural life experiences, including play, household duties, personal interests, and satisfying natural curiosity. 

It's also known as interest-led or child-centered learning, where there's no coercion by a teacher or a parent in the learning process. In “unschooling” adults don’t direct or dictate the child’s education. 

The modern homeschooling movement is partly based on the works of 19th-century British educational reformer Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy focused on using high-quality literature to educate students, including a study of nature and narrative. 

The movement was also influenced by the works of Rudolph Steiner (famous for Steiner schools) and Maria Montessori (an Italian doctor), who developed a teaching philosophy in the early 20th century.

Educating at home can provide a more natural setting for parents to deliver an individualized method of teaching, which is better suited to their child’s particular interests, abilities, and learning styles. 

Why do people homeschool?

Parents may decide to remove their children from the formal school system due to concerns about the appropriateness of school environments or dissatisfaction with the quality of academic instruction provided on school campuses. 

Children with special needs may also benefit from homeschooling.

Homeschooling is here to stay, despite criticisms that children miss out on vital socialization experiences when they're educated at home, away from their peers. 

The legal requirements for home schools vary from state to state. Before deciding to take your kids out of school, you need to research the criteria you need to meet, including standardized testing or portfolio submissions.

Boy completing school assignment at home
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How do Christians start homeschooling?

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Christian homeschooling parents will want to include a Christian worldview when teaching from home. Faith-based homeschool students will prefer curriculum materials that reflect and support the Christian perspective. 

There are many faith-based educational resources available online for parents wanting to transition their kids out of their local school.

Before getting started, consider listening to this simple meditative prayer on Great Parenting, which may help you connect with what feels right for your children. You may also want to pray as a family about your decision to transition kids from their local school to school at home. 

Tips for Christian parents designing a homeschooling schedule

For the best results, you should design your homeschool curriculum around your child’s energy levels, interests, and abilities. 

Homeschooling families who live in a close-knit Christian community may want to set up their own Christian-homeschool educational co-op. This is where you work with other parents to share educational resources and even team-teach classes.

Homeschooling co-ops can be an opportunity for homeschooling parents to design field trips for groups of children. Homeschool co-ops can also host traditional school events like prom and graduation to make the homeschooling experience feel more authentic for students.

Five Possible Curriculum choices

Christian families seeking to homeschool their kids may want to consider any one of the following five choices:

  • The Good and the Beautiful focuses on family, God, nature, and Christian-based wholesome literature requiring no significant preparation. Teaching materials are family-focused workbooks based across a range of subjects and include an excellent phonics and reading program.
  • Oak Meadow has educational materials from preschool to high school and uses innovative, child-centered methods focusing on the creative arts, including drawing, painting, and music.
  • Apologia is a Christ-centered, award-winning homeschool curriculum provider offering both print and digital curriculum materials and online classes.
  • My Father's World is modeled on the work of Charlotte Mason. It mixes classical education with a globally focused, biblical worldview.
  • Sonlight user-friendly educational packages are historically themed and run from preschool all the way to high school.

You can mix and match any of these curriculum packages to create the best learning environment for your children. 

A great way to start each homeschooling day could be by praying together as a family using these Prayers for School.

What are the pros and cons of homeschooling?

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The advantages of homeschooling include greater flexibility in curriculum design. 

Many homeschooled children have proven academic success, particularly where parents were dedicated to the process and used high-quality curriculum materials. 

Homeschooled students are just as likely to succeed in the workforce or be accepted into Colleges and Ivy League universities as their peers in private schools. 

Homeschooling parents are more invested in their child’s education, which can help strengthen family relationships. Some studies show homeschoolers may have higher self-esteem, deeper friendships, better relationships with adults, and are less susceptible to peer pressure.

A 2016 study found that generally positive outcomes are associated with homeschooling in the United States. Special-needs kids also can flourish in the right homeschooling environment.

Critics argue that homeschooled children have less social contact than their peers in the public school system and poorer social skills. 

There have also been concerns that homeschooled students fail to receive a comprehensive and state-sanctioned neutral education or that parents are ill-equipped to deliver a high-quality education.

However, Christian parents committed to providing a high-quality education for their kids can easily deliver a high-quality homeschooling curriculum for children from preschool to completing their high school diplomas.

Boy attending virtual class from home

Wisdom is better than silver or gold

Homeschooling which follows a Christian model, allows parents to structure their children’s education around a Christian worldview. 

Homeschooling offers flexibility for parents who can choose to homeschool their kids when it suits them and transition back to mainstream in-school learning at other times.

The homeschooling movement has been around for a long time, and online learning can offer a broader choice for parents and students alike. 

Remember the words of Proverbs 22:6 tells us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

If you want to learn more about living your best life as a Christian, download the app — for daily prayer, bedtime Bible stories, and more — in the Google Play and Apple Store.

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