Sunday, December 9, 2012

What is Homeschooling? defines “homeschool” as: To teach one’s children at home, instead of sending them to school.

Our homeschool co-op frequently welcomes families who have just enrolled in the school district’s school-at-home program. These families usually come to realize that, although their children are being educated at home, they are not homeschooling in the traditional sense. Our co-op meetings concerning choice of curriculum, modification of lessons, and other decision-making issues just don’t apply to them. They have no curriculum choice, they aren’t allowed to modify lessons, and the decisions are made by public school personnel.

When I decided to homeschool my youngest son, who has special needs, I was approached by an acquaintance who is a teacher. She strongly suggested that I enroll my son in public school, and tried to bolster her argument by stating that, often, the teachers and therapists will provide services for children with special needs within the child’s own home. “You would still be homeschooling!” she said. I asked her if that meant I could consider my other children public schooled, as long as they sat in the school library to do their homeschool lessons. The location isn’t the point.

Lists of celebrity homeschoolers are often found on the Internet. These kids have a tutor, either at home or on a movie set. Their parents have no idea what they are studying. Are they really homeschooled?

Although I choose my children’s curriculum, grade their work, and make modifications where necessary, I do enroll them in activities taught by others, and I consider those activities part of their school program. Is my child any less homeschooled, because I choose to provide music education through piano lessons?

The term “parent directed education” has been suggested as a replacement for “homeschool”. It’s a bit awkward, but it does more accurately describe what most of us think of when we talk about homeschooling. We may enlist someone else to teach music or art, and we might enroll our students in an online class or two, but the parent determines what classes to offer and how best to provide the instruction.

So, are families who opt for public school at home “homeschoolers”? Are celebrity children who are tutored on a movie set “homeschooled”? What’s YOUR definition of homeschooling?

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