No Cyber School?
Many parents are considering a cyber charter school for the first time to help ensure their kids have access to a continuous education in a time of uncertainty. Unfortunately, due to unprecedented interest, almost every Pennsylvania cyber charter school is full, and with a waitlist. If you’re one of those parents who can’t get into a cyber school, however, there’s no need to panic. It’s not too late to register as a homeschooler and take charge of your child’s education this year.
Our previous posts about registering as a homeschooler, myths and facts from a former homeschooled student, homeschooling FAQs, and hybrid homeschooling will help you get started. But if you’re not sure you’re ready to take that step, here’s some advice from education expert and homeschool mom Colleen Hroncich.
You can do it!
It’s daunting to consider homeschooling your kids. It took me quite a while to decide to give it a try—and then it took a year to convince my husband to do the same.
A big relief came when I realized there’s no need to replicate a typical school schedule in the home. Schools are set up to teach on a mass scale, something that is individual by nature. That’s why schools are separated into age groups and subject periods. But in reality, people of the same age can have differing abilities and knowledge, and in real life, information and problems aren’t grouped into separate subjects. Homeschool affords you and your kids a significant amount of flexibility and a holistic approach to education. Some of the biggest benefits my family realized were:
- The ability to focus on the teaching and testing methods that work best for each child.
- If your child doesn’t retain much information from true/false exams, don’t give them. You aren’t beholden to mass schooling techniques that are ineffective for your child.
- You can incorporate multiple school subjects at once. Kids can write age-appropriate reports or do a presentation for your family. They’ll learn about the specific topics, but they can also gain valuable research, writing, and presentation skills.
- The opportunity to be flexible in how kids learn and progress.
- Homeschooling was a chance for my kids to learn to love reading. I let them choose their own books (within guidelines of what I deemed acceptable) and just read. If they didn’t like to read at the time, I wouldn’t assign a book report—I’d ask them to tell me about it when they had finished. As your kids begin to enjoy reading, you can ask them to write a book review for your family or to send it to their grandparents.
- The ability to educate kids of different ages at the same time.
- If you have multiple kids, you can cover the same general time period or science topic but have them work at their ability level. You can also ask your older children to help the younger ones. This will reinforce concepts for the older kids while and give you a break. Also, once kids are able to read well, they can work independently on many subjects. I act more as a tutor than a teacher to my kids these days, answering questions as needed.
Homeschooling on the cheap
You don’t need to be rich to have a successful homeschool. There are full curriculum options available for low or no cost. Or you can take a more eclectic approach and piece together your own learning plan that factors in your child’s interests.
- Free curriculum options:
- Khan Academy;
- Hillsdale College has a K-12 charter school curriculum and a series of videos to help parents.
- Other free resources:
- izzit.org (educational videos and discussion guides);
- Smithsonian Learning Lab (learn *almost* everything under the sun);
- Code.org (computer coding);
- Duolingo (learn a language);
- The Artful Parent (get their creative juices flowing).
- NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month challenges you to write an entire novel in the month of November. It includes guides to help you plan your story and characters.
- Look for essay, art, video, and photography contests—the prizes can be great incentives for your kids. My oldest won $1,500 and a trip to New York City through a national essay contest.
- Start a family blog.
Whatever path you choose, I encourage you to re-train your brain to put the focus of education on learning rather than checking off boxes that count as school (If this is a struggle for you, some recommend a period of “deschooling” to help parents and kids get into a learning mindset.)
One of the best things about homeschooling is the endless possibilities. Rather than take your chances with the uncertainty of in-person learning and your district’s remote learning plans this year, registering as a homeschooler will let your whole family experience a new way to learn.
An important thing to keep in mind: If you plan to return to your district school next year, be sure to stay on track with their curriculum requirements. This is especially true for high school so that your child does not have to repeat a year to make up missed graduation credits.
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