The last couple weeks the local public school has had 5 bomb threats. Four of them were at the high school and one was at the middle school. Two students were found to be the culprits and were sentenced to 45 days in juvenile detention. These type of violent threats mixed with the school shootings, the poor education standards, and increased standardized testing is causing many parents to consider homeschooling.

In my local community, my wife and I are known as the homeschool family and known for having resources. My wife and I both have degrees in education. We were also homeschooled for several years and are homeschooling our two children.

Homeschooling is a great step towards enriching your child’s education. Even if you are planning on homeschooling for a few years, the lessons that the child will learn over those years will stick with them for the rest of their lives. They will learn to teach themselves. Homeschooling tends to increase a child’s curiosity and stimulate their desire to learn. It also has the capability of teaching children skills that are not currently being taught in public or even private schools.

That being said the step to homeschooling is a large one with many stressful hurdles. It can be overwhelming, especially for someone not educated in education, but you can overcome!

Your first step should be to look into which type of homeschooling you would like to do. Homeschooling ranges primarily on who is schooling the child; the state, the parent, or the child. For parents who want to homeschool to keep their children safe from drugs and violence, this is a good beginning choice. The state will provide you a computer and internet. They have live teachers who plan the courses and grade your child’s work. Your job as the parent is no different then when they were in school except that the child is home all day.

If you are opposed to the state educating your child, but still agree with traditional education there are thousands of different types of curriculum online. The price for these curriculums can cost anywhere from being free to thousands of dollars per year. These curriculums can have a religious base, political base, high standards base or a mixture of them.

At this point, I think that parents should know that teachers look online for free resources to teach your children all the time. Sometimes they do not even modify these documents. This is not a bad style of teaching, the internet has many great resources, but just remember professional teachers are looking at these same resources so do not be afraid.

For those that do not like to be tied down to a particular curriculum, there is a sort of a la carte form of homeschooling. You pick and choose what your child learns. This type of schooling can even incorporate hybrid schooling, where you student might go to school for 1-3 classes a week. Parents research and find the best style of lessons for each subject.

All of these types of homeschooling are a form of traditional schooling. When I use the term traditional schooling, I am referring a top-down approach to education. The teachers/parents have all the knowledge and the student is an empty vessel to be filled with lessons. These next approaches have been around for millennia and used in many different cultures. They are becoming more popular with the influx of homeschoolers in the United States.

The first way is having such success in homeschooling, that public schools are taking it and trying to distort it to teach their standards. This method is called inquiry-based learning. The student is given room to inquire about a subject or content. Then the teacher/parent will facilitate learning when they are needed to encourage the learning. For example, a child is interested in video games and wants to know how to make their own games. The parent might give the student access to Codecademy, which is a free resource to learn how to code in several different languages. The student is choosing what they study, but the parent helps provide assistance and materials to help the child learn.

If we jump a little further to giving the child full authority to their education, we get unschooling. This is the type of schooling that my wife and I do with our children. We do not have a curriculum or lesson plans. There are not an agenda or benchmarks that we are following. The children are allowed to be children and are not forced to do any sort of formal education.

There are fears with this form of education that children will get behind or not learn material that they are supposed to know. As unschooling becomes more popular, we are seeing that this type of education is having a great amount of success. Many children come out of this lifestyle becoming entrepreneurs, doctors, and lawyers.  They are self-driven and know what they want. The Smithsonian actually did a great short documentary on Unschoolers in college.

Whatever type of homeschooling you do, you should know that it is hard to fail a child. They are resilient beings that crave to learn about the world around them. The worst thing you could do for a child is to beat that curiosity out of them. If your child is doing great on an internet public school system, then go for it! Don’t let anyone judge you or your child. If your child needs more freedom in their education, then as a caring parent you should provide that freedom to them. The important part to remember about homeschooling is that you are doing what is in the best interest of your child.