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Introduction: Absolute Beginner's Guide to HomeschoolingAbsolute Beginner's Guide to HomeschoolingIntroduction
If you have heard of homeschooling, but aren't sure if it is something you want to pursue...
If you have been thinking about the possibility of homeschooling your children, but haven't yet decided that it is right for your family...
If you've decided that you want to homeschool your children, but you aren't sure where to start...
If you've just started or have been homeschooling your children for a little while, and would like some help...
...You've come to the right place.About Homeschooling
In some ways, the idea of parents being totally responsible for their children's educationwhich is the underlying theme of homeschoolingis a new and radical concept. For the past 100 years or so, the emphasis for most education has been through an institution in some form, mostly public schools with a relatively small percentage of families opting for a private school. So, it is only natural when thinking about educating children to focus on the specific schools to which you can or will send your kids. However, over the past couple of decades, many people have observed the continuing decline in both the results achieved by the traditional institutional education system and the moral and cultural climates that kids experience while they are part of that system.
The decline in results being achieved by institutional schools is as undeniable as declining standardized test scores, increasing functional illiteracy rates, alarming comparisons of math and science knowledge in the United Statescompared to other countries (such as Japan), and in other quantitative results. As the educational system moves further from the fundamentals of good education toward more cultural and sociological experimentation and various non-educational agendas, the academic capabilities of the system continue to degrade.
Along with their increasing academic ineffectiveness, the environments in many institutional schools impact the moral and social development of children negatively. And some schools are downright dangerous places to be.
For these "negative" reasons and even more positive ones, homeschooling continues to increase in popularity as an alternative to institutional, traditional education. Homeschooling offers many benefits for children and their families (which you will learn about in detail in Chapter 1, "What Is Homeschooling All About?"). Over time, homeschooling has proven to be more effective than institutional schools in academic performance. For example, homeschoolers score significantly above national averages on standardized tests. And, many colleges not only recognize the education of homeschoolers as being academically valid, but are starting to actually consider homeschooling to be an advantage. Homeschooling families benefit from greater closeness in their relationships and more flexibility in their schedules. Contrary to the stereotype, homeschooled children are actually better equipped socially than their institutionally educated counterparts.
Today, these benefits inspire many parents to again take responsibility for the education and development of their childrenwhich really isn't such a new idea after all. Prior to the public education boom, most children's educations were directly controlled by their parents. Children were tutored, taught directly by their parents, or attended very small, independent schools. All these activities were directly or closely supervised by parents, which is what homeschooling is all about.
If you've decided that you want to be part of the amazing homeschool experience, this book will be a big help in getting started. If you have just been thinking about homeschooling your kids, you can use the content in this book to help you understand what is required to homeschool effectively; hopefully, this will encourage you to give homeschooling a try. It is my hope that the information in this book will also be helpful to you even after you have been homeschooling for several years.About the Absolute Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling
The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling provides all the information you need to get started with your own homeschool. From making a decision to homeschool to understanding what you need to do and when you need to do it, this book equips you with the knowledge and understanding you need to educate your children at home effectively and to enjoy doing it.
The book is organized into four major parts:
Part I: Making the Decision to Homeschool. This part sets the stage for the rest of the book and includes chapters that explain why homeschooling is a large and growing trend, help you understand what is required of you to homeschool your kids, show you how to figure out any legal requirements relating to homeschool in your state, and defend your decision to homeschool when you need to do so.
Part II: Preparing to Homeschool. In this part, you'll find practical chapters that help you get ready to teach. Topics include how to connect with other homeschool families, what to do to prepare to teach your children, planning the subjects you'll teach and getting the materials you'll use, and creating a homeschool classroom. You'll also learn about the importance of lesson plans and how you can create them. If you have a child who is already in a traditional school, Chapter 10, "Transitioning a Child from Public or Private School to Homeschool," will give you some pointers to help that child make the transition to homeschool.
Part III: Managing a Homeschool. Part III focuses on topics that will help you run your homeschool effectively. It starts off with chapters on conducting homeschool classes and documenting the results. You'll also find chapters on how you can include field trips, music, sports, other activities, and home projects in your homeschool. From there, you'll learn how, why, and when to use tutors and outside classes. The part ends with chapters on evaluating how your homeschool is working and when, if ever, to transition your children back to a traditional school.
Part IV: Homeschool Resources. Part IV consists of appendices that contain some resources you will find useful. Appendix A lists contact information for homeschool associations and conventions in every state. Appendix B provides information about a few publishers and retailers who can supply you with teaching materials.
As you read through this book, you will see three special elements: Notes, Tips, and, only rarely, Cautions. Also, each chapter ends with a section titled "The Absolute Minimum." Explanations of each of these special elements are provided for you here.
Caution - If there is something you need to be careful or need to be on the lookout for, I will warn you in a Caution. Fortunately, you won't find many of these throughout the book, but when you do see one, you might want to take a closer look at it.
Note - Notes look like this. They are designed to provide you with information that is related to the topic at hand but not absolutely essential to it. I hope you will find the Notes interesting, even if you don't find them useful immediately.
The Absolute Minimum
Tip - Tips help you get something done more quickly and easily, or they tell you how to do a task that is related to what is being described at the moment. You might also find an explanation of an alternate way to get something done.
Finally, each chapter ends with "The Absolute Minimum" section. The contents of this section vary a bit from chapter to chapter. Examples of this content include the following:
A summary of key points of the chapter
Additional tips related to the chapter's topic
References to sources of additional information
So, now that you know all you need to about this book, it's time to go to school, homeschool that is....
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