Home Schooling Nine to Twelve Year Olds and Socialization

When home schooling a child between nine and twelve years old, there is a lot of pressure for peer pressure. Keep in mind that not all children undergo this pressure to be with and like their peers, while distancing themselves from their parents. These preteens still need plenty of attention, eye contact, positive reinforcement and praise, personal communication, and good interaction with their parents. Believe it or not, children at this age do still enjoy being read to. Keep having positive attitudes toward learning; focus on making learning interesting and engaging. Make sure you use positive constructive criticism with the least amount of academic pressure possible. Focus on providing a safe, secure learning environment that encourages love, acceptance and reassurance. This will, in time, raise their feelings of self worth and help them understand where their values lie.

At this tender age of hormones, mixed emotions, changing feelings, group planning in curriculum is suggested. Preteens prefer learning skills that have a reason or purpose in real life. For instance, instead of offering busy work in language arts, ask your child to write a letter to a manufacturing company in regards to a defective household product for you. Not only would this make the child feel important but the learning task would be a skill much needed in real life. When learning math, use real life examples with money and budgeting, perhaps even balancing a checkbook. Use graphs and charts to set goals with earned money and savings. Reading about science from a textbook is one way to learn the subject, but performing experiments or identifying specimens in nature is much more engaging. Daily and weekly chores are necessary to learn responsibility and accountability as an integral part of the family.

Remember to always model what you want to teach. Learn new topics together. Dissect a grasshopper for science, work on the family budget together, etc. Homeschooling allows parents to design a curriculum that benefits their children. Find out where your preteen has strengths and weaknesses and plan your curriculum around that.

Homeschooling and Socialization:

When parents talk about home schooling their children, the most common concern is regarding socialization. Parents are concerned that their children will not learn how to adapt to social situations. Unless the homeschooling parent decides to isolate their children completely from the outside world, this is impossible. In fact, children who are home schooled have more interaction with people of all ages, not just their age group. The average home schooled child attends more educational field trips during the year than the non home schooled child. In addition, home schooled children have more opportunities for after school activities, such as music lessons, sports, and hobbies.

Children who home school feel equally comfortable with younger children, peers, and adults of all ages. Children who home school have daily social interactions with the family, neighborhood and the community. Because of this, studies have shown that children who home school have higher self esteem. Children who attend school do not experience real world situations, while home schoolers are definitely more prepared for the real world.

The type of socialization that is experienced in schools is often negative. Large school settings harbor conformity, teasing, bullying, defiant behavior, popularity contests, and competition. No wonder home schooled children have higher self esteem; children at home are learning kindness, patience, sharing, respect, and understanding. These home schooled children are not exposed to peer influences which foster peer dependency. Peer dependent children show diminished positive socialization, such as self-worth, confidence, reverence for their parents, and trust in peers. Although home school children may play with other children in the neighborhood and experience this peer dependence, strong morals and values are being taught at home that override these negative experiences.

Home schooled children learn to listen to their own instincts and let that guide them to make their own decisions. Conforming to a peer social group that does not value individuality does not foster independent thinking, which is necessary for a successful life.

Home Schooling Doctors

Dedicated to my mother for devoting her love and time to homeschooling my three siblings and me. Your patience and love is without bounds.

Homeschooling with Ultimate Freedom

Homeschoolers have freedom without parallel. To mimic a public or private school curriculum is a waste of this freedom. This guide takes advantage of our freedom and outlines the exact academic curriculum for a homeschool student to get accepted into medical school. It tells the key to reading at age three, achieving near perfect SAT scores, taking college classes at age fourteen and acquiring acceptance letters to Ivy League colleges. Believe it or not, this is not that difficult. It does not require studying eight hours a day. It requires less. I had much more free time than my public school friends. My three younger siblings also had more free time. I am now a medical student at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. My siblings and I all read at age three, scored in the top percentiles on the SAT and received near perfect grades in college. We were all students of the same homeschool curriculum and strategy. This guide contains the key strategies, curricula and timelines for any homeschool student to achieve academic superiority.

Below is the most basic timeline of your student’s major academic achievements. Although I begin at age three, a student can hop on board at any age. The same overall strategy applies-just the timeline will probably be different.

Age (yrs) Milestone

3 Reading

9 Algebra

14 Enroll in college classes

15 Score above 98th percentile on SAT I; Score above 700 on SAT IIs; Calculus

16 – 17 Acceptance to “Most Competitive” College

22 Acceptance to Ivy League medical school (if you want)

Insight #1: “Give Your Child a Superior Mind”

This is the title of a book by the author Siegfried Engelmann. Get it. The book is no longer in print, but used copies can be found on Amazon.com. It is a real gem with timeless teachings. Use this book as a guide to begin educating your child at age three.

To teach your child how to read, use the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Your child will be reading before his or her fourth birthday.

Bottom Line: Beginning at age three, teach the following books to your young prodigy.

Title: Give Your Child a Superior Mind

Authors: Siegfried and Therese Engelmann

Pub Date: 1981

Title: Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Authors: Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, Elaine Bruner

Pub Date: 1986

Insight #2: Reading and Arithmetic (that’s it)

Reading and arithmetic should consume 80% of your student’s education from age three to thirteen. Wait! But what about history, political science, biology, chemistry and the other subjects? Surely these subjects MUST be important because they make up most of a public or private school curriculum. Wrong! Not to say that these subjects are unimportant, but, rather, a student with a strong reading comprehension and math background can learn them very quickly. In other words, it is very easy to “catch up” in these subjects.

Strong reading comprehension = 3.91 college GPA in history, philosophy and literature

I enrolled at Providence College with almost no history background. I knew some details about the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World Wars, but that was about it. One of the cornerstone courses at Providence College is the Development of Western Civilization (“Civ”). It is a five-credit course that is taken every semester during freshman and sophomore year. The course covers history, philosophy, literature and religion from the Ancient Greeks to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With virtually no background in Civ, I finished the Honors course series with all A’s. I am not bragging and am not gifted. It just turns out that studying these “fluff” subjects all throughout childhood is a waste of time. Of course, if your student finds these subjects interesting, then encourage further study! Especially, since it still involves reading. My youngest brother loves reading history and would spend hours reading the encyclopedia. However, it was crucial that this passion did not detract from his math studies. It didn’t and he scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT I.

Strong math background = 4.00 college GPA in physics, chemistry and calculus

Just as reading is key for success in the fluff subjects, math is essential for success in chemistry, physics and, well, more math. I have seen hundreds of pre-med students get poor grades in chemistry, physics and calculus because of bad math backgrounds. Math is the backbone of these problem-solving subjects.

While a strong reader can stroll into her first college history class with almost no background knowledge and ace the course, she probably could NOT do the same in the pre-medical courses. Stay with me though, because she will catch up and be a superstar in the sciences by age sixteen (this will be addressed in Part II, Insight #8). With this strategy, I graduated from Providence College with a 4.0 GPA in the pre-medical sciences. Similarly, all of my siblings have won awards for consistently stellar performances in the sciences.

Bottom Line: From age three to thirteen, 80% of your student’s education should be focused on reading and math. The remaining 20% can be spent studying other subjects with a bias toward the sciences.

Insight #3: Math… Math… and more Math

I cannot stress enough the importance of a strong math background. The following books are what I used for my math education and are highly recommended. The Saxon math books are very challenging and repetitive. This is a bear to many students, but it engrains a math foundation surpassed by few. Below is a timeline of what math books to use at different ages:

Age (yrs) Math Level Book Series, Author

4-8 Math Workbooks 1 – 16 Developmental Math Workbooks, George Saad, PhD

8 Math 76 Saxon Publishers, John Saxon

9 Algebra ½

10 – 11 Algebra 1

12 Algebra 2

13 – 14 Advanced Mathematics

15 – 16 Calculus

Developmental Math Workbooks: Completion of these books will require active participation of the homeschooling parent. They are merely workbooks, so you must teach the student how to perform the basic math functions (i.e. adding, division, fractions, decimals).

Saxon Math books: Each lesson in the Saxon Math books teaches the math function that is applied in the respective problem set. With the exception of Math 76 (which should be studied at an accelerated pace), the student should complete at least one lesson a day. As the student progresses through Algebra ½, she should require less and less of the homeschooling parent’s time. By the time the student completes Algebra ½, she should be learning most of the lessons herself with only occasional help.

Bottom Line: Math is probably the most important subject in the student’s education and should be the primary focus every school day.

Insight #4: Reading (lots of it)

A strong reading background is just as important as a strong math background. The books that I previously mentioned in Insight #1 by the author Siegfried Engelmann are highly recommended by my parents. However, my parents believe that the reading program that we used subsequently was not very good. The program we used from ages five to eight years old was Total Reading. Although this program worked okay for us, I am not going to fully endorse it as I do the other books/programs. I recommend doing some online research and finding a reading program that is better.

When the student is about ten years old, I recommend starting the book series Vocabulary from Classical Roots, by Nancy and Norma Fifer. This program teaches vocabulary by focusing on the Latin and Greek roots common to many words. It is key to know these roots for the SAT I verbal section. The SAT I verbal section includes an enormous variety of obscure and difficult words. To memorize the dictionary in order to do well in this section of the SAT I is unnecessary (and not worth your time). When I took the SAT, vocabulary was tested in sentence completions and analogies. Out of about forty vocabulary questions on the SAT, I only got one wrong. The SAT does not require the student to know the exact definition of each word; rather, he only needs to have a basic understanding of each word’s meaning. Vocabulary from Classical Roots gave me the ability to deduce the meanings of words that I had never seen before and, in turn, do well on the SAT verbal section.

In addition to the above reading curricula, the student should continually read, read, read. Reading difficult material will be immensely helpful for improving his reading comprehension. Throughout my youth, I read many classical books (i.e. Odyssey, War and Peace, Treasure Island).

Bottom Line: Your student should read as much as possible (both leisurely and as part of a program). Total Reading is the reading program that my family used from ages five to eight; however, I recommend researching another reading program that will give even better results. At around age ten, the student should begin learning vocabulary from Vocabulary from Classical Roots. Below is the info on the aforementioned books.

Title: Total Reading

Author: Total Reading, Inc.

Pub. Date: New editions available

Title: Vocabulary from Classical Roots

Author: Nancy Fifer and Norma Fifer

Pub. Date: 1998

Insight #5: A strong reader can quickly become a great writer

Until I took a college writing class at age sixteen, I had never written a paper longer than two double spaced pages. My first writing composition class was a freshman writing seminar at Kalamazoo College. I received an A- in the class, but it was probably the most challenging college class I ever took. In addition to my reading program, one of the only other parts of my homeschool curriculum that I would recommend changing is the writing component. There is no need for your student to write papers every day, but he probably should have written at least a dozen research papers before college. So, he should start writing papers periodically at age fourteen and will then easily obtain A’s in college writing classes. By the time I was a sophomore at Providence College, my research, creative writing and philosophy papers were used as examples in the class. My siblings all received A’s in their college writing classes as well.

While writing becomes a large part of the student’s curriculum at age fourteen, the mechanics of writing (i.e. grammar) should be learned before then. Starting at age eleven, I used the Easy Grammar 56 Workbook to learn advanced grammar. At age twelve, I began studying the next book in the series, Easy Grammar Plus Workbook.

Bottom Line: A strong reader has the potential to be a great writer. The student should start writing papers on a regular basis at age fourteen. To learn the mechanics of writing, he should study the following workbooks starting at age eleven and finishing by age fourteen.

Title: Easy Grammar Workbook 56

Author: Wanda Phillips

Pub. Date: 1994

Title: Easy Grammar Plus Workbook

Author: Wanda Phillips

Pub. Date: 2007

Insight #6: Age fourteen: Major curricula change

If you paid attention to the ages in the previous insights, it would seem that there is a ton of “catching up” to do beginning at age fourteen. It may seem like your student doesn’t have enough hours in a day to do it all. This is not true. Between ages thirteen and fourteen, the student’s homeschool curriculum changes drastically. For example, no longer is math the primary focus. Actually, only about 10% of the student’s time should be spent on Saxon math. By age thirteen, the student should already have a math background that will guarantee a near perfect math SAT score and easy A’s in college calculus. So, the majority of time that was previously spent on math will now be used for SAT preparation. Similarly, the time previously spent reading will now be converted to the study of chemistry. Finally, the amount of writing will more than double at this age. Below is an approximate schedule showing this curricula re-focus.

Age (yrs) Subject Study Time Allotment (%)

3-13 Math 40

Reading 40

Physical and natural sciences 10

Writing 5

History, geography, etc. 5

14 Math (Saxon) 10

Reading Comprehension 10

Chemistry 35

Writing 15

SAT Prep 30

Bottom Line: The intensity of your student’s study will increase a little bit at age fourteen. However, your student’s new studies (i.e. SAT prep, college chemistry, writing) should all come easy with his superior math and reading skills.

Insight #7: SAT, 99th percentile at age fifteen

So your homeschool student is now fourteen years old and will be applying to college in a couple of years. Public and private school students will go to their counselor’s office and request a copy of their official high school transcripts mailed to Harvard, MIT, etc. They will have the school seal on the envelope and counselor’s signature on the transcript. On the other hand, you will go to your word processor program on the family computer, write what you think resembles a high school transcript and then sign it as the student’s counselor. No doubt, Harvard might weigh your student’s 4.0 GPA transcript a bit differently than his private or public school peers. So, acing the SAT is probably the biggest step toward validating your student’s home education. I challenge any admissions committee member to look at your student’s 2200 (~99th percentile) score on the SAT I and say that his home education was inferior. On the other hand, if you submit his 4.0 GPA transcripts alongside a 1700 SAT score, admission committees are probably not going to be impressed.

So, the SAT is a really big deal. How and when does the student start preparing for it? He should take a couple of SAT I practice tests at age twelve. Then, tailor the studies a bit based on the results. If his reading comprehension score is below 550, start buying reading comprehension books. If his math score is low, well I’m actually not sure what to do. It is very hard to catch up in math. That’s why it is extremely important to primarily focus on math up to this age. I guarantee if you follow this guide, you will be impressed with your student’s math SAT score. All three of my siblings and myself scored above 700 on this section (actually, we have a combined average score of 760, which is about two wrong on the whole math section).

The student should plan on taking the SAT I at age fifteen. This means start preparing at age fourteen. It may take up to a year of SAT preparation before the student is ready to ace the test. Don’t worry though. This studying is not useless once the test is over. Rather, it will just further hone his math, reading and writing skills.

Regarding the mechanics of studying for the SAT, make WRITTEN goals. Write out a timeline leading up to your test date and set goals along the way. Below is an example goal chart started six months before the test date. Take note how it is front-loaded (greater score increases early on) because it is harder to gain extra points as your score climbs.

Date Math Section Verbal Section Writing Section

01/01/2011 660 620 640

02/01/2011 700 660 680

03/01/2011 730 690 710

04/01/2011 750 710 730

05/01/2011 770 720 740

06/01/2011 790 730 750

06/03/2011 *Test Date

SAT Prep Books: Kaplan and Princeton’s SAT preparation books are solid. Also, CollegeBoard’s SAT guide is crucial. This book contains actual SAT I exams from past test dates and are perfect for measuring your progress. However, don’t take too many of these valuable tests too soon. Otherwise, the student will run out of official practice tests months before the test date.

Bottom Line: The student’s strong math and reading background will enable her to achieve a SAT I score in the 98th to 99th Percentile at age fifteen (two years before your peers will take the test). Set written goals and milestones for the SAT I dating at least four to six months before the test date. Buy the following SAT prep books:

• Most recent editions of Kaplan SAT Math, Verbal and Writing workbooks

• Most recent editions of Princeton Review SAT Math, Verbal and Writing workbooks

• Most recent edition of CollegeBoard’s SAT study guide

Insight #8: SAT IIs (required for most of the Ivies)

The SAT IIs are required for admission into most of the top colleges, especially for homeschool applicants. Again, these tests validate your student’s homeschool education. Most of the top schools require about three SAT IIs. There are close to a dozen different SAT II subject tests ranging from math and chemistry to foreign languages and history. Of course, pick the subject tests that are your student’s strengths. If you followed this guide, then her most favorable SAT II subject tests are probably Math (IC or IIC), Chemistry and Literature. Reading and math are her strengths, so the math and literature subject tests should be easy. Chemistry should also be easy. She will have taken two college chemistry classes before taking the chemistry subject test (to be discussed in Insight #9). Since the literature and math SAT IIs are similar to the verbal and math sections of the SAT I, she should probably take the SAT IIs within three months of taking the SAT I.

Bottom Line: The student should take the SAT IIs that will show her strengths. Unless your student was a history buff, or studied a foreign language, she will probably do best on the Math, Literature and Chemistry subject tests. By age sixteen, she should be armed with SAT I and SAT II scores that are well above 700 in each respective section.

Insight #9: College classes at age fourteen

No matter the college, one of the most daunting pre-medical “screener” classes is chemistry. I’ve seen hundreds of bushytailed pre-medical students have their medical professional dreams crushed in college chemistry. More often than not, these students take general chemistry for the first time while juggling other difficult classes such as general biology and calculus. Additionally, these students are still making the psychological adjustment from high school to college. No doubt they struggle in general chemistry! For homeschool students, it is incredibly easy to avoid this unforgiving situation. Your student should simply take general chemistry at a local college while still homeschooling (commonly called “dual enrollment”). Firstly, the student will have a smooth transition to the college atmosphere. Secondly, the student will only have one college class to focus on instead of four to five classes. Thirdly, he can re-take these classes for easy A’s at his Ivy League university.

Let me talk for a couple minutes about this last strategic step-re-taking classes. My family’s approach was to take the difficult pre-medical science classes (General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Biology and General Physics) at a local college that was only ranked “competitive” according to Barron’s Guide to Colleges. We called this college our “high school college.” Then, we would apply as freshman to higher-powered colleges, which we called our “real college.” In other words, our high school college served the same purpose as AP classes for public school students. We would then re-take these pre-medical science classes at our real college to achieve easy A’s. It is important to note that the grades at our high school college still count when applying to medical school. Medical schools factor every college class the applicant ever takes into his college GPA. Also, the grades from your student’s high school college will be sent to his real college when he applies. So, it is important to pick a high school college that isn’t too challenging. You want him to get A’s in these classes.

In addition to general chemistry, before enrolling in your real college, you should also take college biology, physics, organic chemistry and a writing class. (To save money on these classes, apply to your high school college to become a full time student. By age fifteen, you will already have stellar SAT scores and should get a scholarship.) By age sixteen to seventeen, your student will be ready to ace any pre-medical science class that Harvard or MIT has to offer.

Below is the following timeline of the classes I took:

Age (yrs) Semester Classes

14 Fall Introductory Chemistry

15 Winter General Chemistry I

15 Fall Organic Chemistry I

16 Winter General Chemistry II

16 Fall General Biology I, Freshman Writing Seminar

17 Winter General Physics II, General Biology II

Bottom Line: Starting at age fourteen, begin taking college classes. For the first year, until the SATs are completed, take one class a semester, preferably the general chemistries (so that you can take organic chemistry the next semester). Then, complete at least the first semester of the other pre-medical sciences and a writing class by age seventeen.

Insight #10: Applying to the Ivies

You will apply to the top school of your choice one year early and your application should look something like this:

• 2200 on SAT I

• 790 on SAT II Chemistry

• 740 on SAT II Math

• 720 on SAT II Literature

• 4.0 GPA in General Chemistry I and II, Organic Chemistry I,

General Biology I and II, General Physics I

• Extracurriculars (following this guide, you should have plenty of time to play

sports, enter spelling bees, volunteer in the community, etc.)

Good Luck!

Home Schooling in High School: Planning A Course

You have done your overall planning for the four years and you know which classes your student needs for this year. Now what? There are a number of alternatives for teaching the different subjects.

1. Many purchase textbooks for each class and have the student work through the texts, answering the questions and taking the tests. This can be an easy way with at least some assurance that you are covering all the bases. For a student who works well independently, this could work. It would give that student a starting and finishing point. Skills developed using this method may include reading comprehension, some writing skills and some time management skills. On the other hand, for a student who struggles with reading and writing, or needs more interaction with others, it may not be the best way. Also, it may be boring for some students. While those unfamiliar with the subject matter, using a textbook can help, but remember that no textbook perfectly covers every aspect of the topic that you may consider important for your child to learn.

2. Others choose to delegate one or more of the courses to specialists in those fields. This can be in the form of a local class (home school co-op, community college classes, enrollment in a private school that works with home schoolers) or online.

3. Perhaps you grew to enjoy unit studies in the earlier grades or your student gets bored with the textbook / class choice. You can integrate different subjects into a unit study or just apply the unit study approach to individual classes. At the high school level, you can actually get much more input from your children and allow them to do much more of the planning. Here are some possible steps:
· Find a scope and sequence online for the subject or a grade level textbook (borrow or find at Goodwill or library sale). Using a scope and sequence or table of contents in a book provides an outline or list of concepts usually covered for that subject. You have the option of excluding or including different parts, but this provides a guide.
Brainstorm – make a Mind Map of all the ideas that come to mind. To make a mind map, begin by writing the large topic in the center of a blank sheet of paper. Branch out adding more to this web of ideas and groups of ideas. Write anything that comes to mind. Later you can rewrite using only the ideas that you want to use.
· Brainstorm or make additional entries for each of the ideas on your mind map.
· Enter the activities and resources on the course plan in your planner where they can be checked off as completed.

4. With a little more planning, you can combine subjects like History and English. As you brainstorm you would use the scope and sequences for both of these subjects. By doing this, you can include a number of types of assignments that develop a wide variety of skills including research, hands-on-projects as well as reading and writing. I am not suggesting you double count work done in an integrated class. This can allow for more in-depth coverage of an area.

If the unit study approach sounds interesting, but hard to implement, try it first with one class. As you become more experienced, you can expand to other courses. You may also benefit from working with a home school consultant in this area. As a home schooling parent, you are in the driver's seat of your child's education, and you have many choices.

Home Schooling – Why Do It?

Many people look at home schoolers and wonder how and why they do it. Some people think home schooling is a hassle and think "why don't you just send your kids to school so they can be taught by a professional?" It all depends on your world view.

If you believe that you don't have as much to offer your child as a teacher does, then you will think that home schooling is not for you. Actually home schooling can be a positive experience for both parent and child. The parent gets to do some soul searching deciding to take on this endeavor and the student has the benefits of individualized attention and curriculum.

Homeschooling is legal in most states and can be done without fear of doing something illegal as it was at the beginning of the home school movement or in many countries today. We have a tremendous privilege to be able to choose how and what our child learns. There are many people in other countries who would love to home school their children, but are just not allowed to.

Choosing how and what your child learns can be seen as a huge burden and responsibility, but actually can be very rewarding. When you pay attention to what your child likes and how he learns best and then you find a system of learning that you both can live with, true learning takes place. Most school classrooms can't offer the individualized curriculum that home schooling offers. You can't just take your children out of school and let them play, but playing games and creating projects can teach your child many valuable skills.

When you examine what you truly believe about education and learning and trust the fact that this child was given to you to teach and enjoy, then you can move towards home schooling with confidence.

Home Schooling in High School: Making a Four-Year Plan

Before you begin home schooling your ninth grader, you and your child should sit down and plan out, in general, what you will cover over the next four years. If you have already begun high school, making this plan should be a priority. In the state of Washington, an independent home schooling family must complete courses that approximate the courses that the public school students in their school district must complete before graduation. If you are home schooling through a private extension program, you are responsible to fulfill the graduation requirements of that private school. Other states will have other guidelines, but they should be similar. Be sure and learn about those guidelines from your statewide home school organization. They often have that information on their website.

Most states would have similar graduation requirements. This can also vary depending on what the student plans to do after graduation. First, find out your state's the minimum requirements for graduation. Second, find out what students planning on attending community college should do. Finally, find out the requirements for students who plan to begin at a four-year college.

Another variable is how credits are counted. Traditionally, a one-credit class in high school meets for 50 minutes for 180 days. These credits count 150 clock hours as one credit which is the equivalent of 50 minutes times 180. Schools have diversified this standard, so be sure you know how they will be counted in your state or school district. For the purpose of this article we will assume one credit as 150 clock hours. College-bound students should earn approximately six credits each of the four years of high school, or three each semester. Most classes are one credit, but some are one-half.

Generally, students are required to earn 3-4 credits (or years) of English and Math. History or related classes comprise 2.5 – 3 years, including State History (if not studied in Junior High or Middle School), American History, and World History (and / or geography, government, economics). Lab Science and math-based science is essential for those going into a related area in college. Students need two-three years of science. Other requirements or electives include physical education, health, occupations, world languages, and fine arts.

Other important considerations include:

  • "What does the student plan on doing beyond high school?"
  • If going to college, "What does the college requirements for admittance?"
  • Whether going to college or not, "What job skills can the student learn to gain job experience and a means to help pay for college expenses?

Home school families may get help on these steps with variations of these two:

1. Find a consultant that will help you in your initial planning and anytime you need help.

2. Find a private school extension program to plan with you and provide a constant guidance and possibly accredited diplomas.

For general information, including your state laws, statewide home school organizations and resources visit: http://www.hslda.org

Home Schooling and Down Syndrome

Making the decision to home school any child is difficult – if not daunting – for any parent, and especially those that have children with special needs, such as Down syndrome.

Do the benefits of educating a child at home outweigh those of an education within the public sector? How can one be sure that homeschooling is appropriate for their child? These questions can only be answered by each individual considering the option. However, once the decision for home schooling has been made, there are several things that should be done that will help your child reach their maximum potential in this educational arena.

First and foremost are the child's individual needs and their learning process. What spectrum, or how severe, is their learning disability? How are their interaction skills with others? What goals are sought and how do you get there? Because each child is different, an individualized plan is critical.

The Individualized Education Program, also known as the IEP, is required for all children that attend a public school. This assessment is also essential for children being home schooled. The IEP analyzes the child's specific needs and helps to identify a specific program with goals and effective strategies for learning as well as teaching. The plan allows for flexibility so that the child can learn at their own pace and their success can be measured more effectively.

There are several steps involved for the IEP, as well as measurement and re-evaluations, but this highly effective tool is beneficial for students, parents and caregivers alike. Information on the IEP, the steps involved and what can be expected can be found at the below website (1)

The second strategy for creating a successful and positive home schooling education is the environment in which the child will be learning. Having a separate area in the home is essential to the homeschooled student. This area should be used only during the educational process, and at no other time. This area helps to establish the mindset of learning time, just as being at a school or in the library, helps a child to make the correlation between quiet and reading time versus the cafeteria at lunch. The room should be filled with the required learning tools and materials. Some parents also include items that can be used as rewards once a child has successfully completed a given task, or the learning session. The National Home Education Network (NHEN) has excellent resources, links and information for home schooling along with forums, support and help for those just beginning the process or those that have been homeschooling for years. (2)

Structuring the learning times in homeschooling is also vital, while leaving room for flexibility. Many families home school during specific hours, while others find breaking the education times up allow the children time to absorb what they have learned within a short period, before either reinforcing that same material in a different manner or starting on new goals. Again, this is a matter of personal preference and what works best for your child. Karen, a parent in Ohio, has found that short breaks between learning sessions with her son, Tom, allows much needed mental breaks when the material seems excessively difficult for him, but has found that he has exceeded goals that they never believed he could accomplish in the beginning. Her schedule is flexible, with the attitude, "If he is doing well, and completing tasks, we keep going!"

Finally, homeschooling should be both fun and educational. The limits of teaching and learning are boundless. Children excel in rewarding learning environments and most often exceed goals and expectations when given an exciting and fun curriculum. Nearly everything can be made into a fun learning activity, limited only by our imagination. And, for those who may struggle with that portion of teaching, hitting the local library has excellent sources to help boost that fun and creative side we may have buried.

The decision to home school is both rewarding and challenging, but by assessing your child's needs and creating a workable program with an IEP, setting up the environment with the tools necessary to get the job done, having a workable schedule and an exciting and rewarding atmosphere for your child to learn, excel and grow in, you will find that both you and your child will flourish beyond expectations. So, get out those bubbles, tickle fingers and silly faces and enjoy the entire process!