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Rabu, 18 Agustus 2010

Homeschooling teenagers

People homeschool their children for a variety of reasons. It may be that their child is experiencing bullying at school, that the parents perceive the public schools in their area to be substandard, or that the schools do not teach the values that the parents wish to have instilled in their children. Parents of gifted children and children with special needs may also decide to homeschool their children so that they can better meet their children’s individual needs.

Many homeschoolers have always taught their children at home. There are others, however, who decide to homeschool “midstream.” For these parents, homeschooling can be a new and sometimes intimidating venture. If you have decided to homeschool your teenager after he has been in years of public or private school, here are some things that you need to know.

1. Check your state regulations regarding homeschooling. While you have the right to teach your teen at home, some states have more stringent regulations than others. For example, in Texas, there is no record keeping required, and no minimum educational requirements for the parents. However, in North Dakota, a certified teacher must supervise homeschooling parents, and students must take standardized tests. Look at the information offered online by the Home School Legal Defense Association. You can find out what the specific requirements are in your state, and also keep track of legislative developments.

2. Homeschooling can be an opportunity for your teen to take responsibility for his or her own learning. Homeschoolers can do volunteer work, apprenticeships and internships in their area of interest, which is hands-on learning of the very best kind. Also, your teen can pursue an interest for as long as he likes. For example, if he is interested in medieval history, he can read novels and historical books about it until he has exhausted his interest in the subject. With homeschooling, you generally have the freedom to focus intensively on one or two subjects at a time.

3. Field trips can be a large part of your curriculum. Do things together that interest your teen. Going to museums can count as history, going to see plays falls under literature, and going to the zoo can be a scientific endeavor. Homeschooling does not mean that you must purchase a curriculum and stick to a chapter out of each book everyday.

4. Homeschooling is possible even if you work outside of the home. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you can go to the library on the weekends, the bookstore is open until late in the evening and videos can be watched anytime. While you are at work, your teen can also work, volunteer to work with younger children at your local homeschool cooperative, or if mature enough, stay at home and self-study.

5. Check with your community college to see what age homeschoolers are eligible to begin classes. Your teen may wish to audit a course, or you may even want to enroll your teen in a community college when he is old enough. Community colleges are generally more challenging than high school, and many homeschoolers do very well.

6. Whether your state requires it or not, if your homeschooler will be going to college, it is a good idea to keep records, so that you can make an accurate transcript and even have a portfolio to show admissions officers. You will want to work with your teen to make sure that he is capable of doing well on the SAT, as this will also be a factor in college acceptance. Almost all colleges and universities accept homeschoolers, including Johns Hopkins, Harvard, MIT, Perdue and Princeton.

7. Think about what sort of homeschooling you want to do. Some teens do better with a more structured curriculum, such as those that are offered through educational publishers or online programs available through universities such as Texas Tech. Other teens are very self-motivated, and can create a study plan of their own with your guidance. There is a school of thought called “unschooling,” in which the student unlearns years of public school conditioning. For example, a student would go from switching from one task to another unrelated task when a bell rings, teacher-directed learning and using maladaptive learning behaviors to discovering how to become life-long learners by following their own interests. Think about the difference between the seminar you were forced to attend at work and the reading material that you choose in your free time. Which do you learn more from? What do you remember the most?

8. Join a homeschooling group. Most states and large cities have homeschooling organizations for professional development, community and support. It is highly recommended that you find one of these groups, as its members will have accumulated invaluable knowledge about the subject, and know of community resources that are available to you and your teen. This is where you can find social events that homeschooling teens participate in. There is no need to worry about a lack of socialization; most homeschoolers are comfortable around people of all ages and do not lack for friends.

9. Don’t buy into homeschooling stereotypes. While some homeschoolers do so for religious reasons, others do it for secular ones. Homeschoolers are not “nerdy” or lacking in social skills. When you get involved in the homeschooling community, you will find that fellow homeschoolers come from all walks of life.

10. Don’t expect that you can teach every subject. If your child wants to learn chemistry, and you are not qualified, don’t worry. You can barter with another homeschooling family or hire a tutor. Often, when you hire a tutor, you can find other families who are interested in splitting the cost.

The sky is the limit with homeschooling. By choosing to homeschool, you have opened the door to the enormous creative potential that exists in your teen.

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