Learning is not limited to the bricks and mortar of a school building.

There are many ways to learn, and often the best place is not in a school, whether public, private, Montessori, Expeditionary Learning, Boarding school, or day treatment program.

Why are people opting out of "industrialized formal education"?

  1. Poor experiences in local schools, and lack of choice of alternatives, and exhaustion of "trying to make it work". Perhaps there are issues  truancy, suspensions, expulsions.
  2. Specialized needs not being met (due to gifted, twice exceptional, disability, neuro-diversity, medical, mental health, gender identity/transitioning or desire to meet cultural or faith based belief needs.)
  3. Scheduling- desire to maintain a year round schedule rather than the outdated agricultural calendar.
  4. Locale/ travel- perhaps the area you live in lacks good options or you want to live in different places seasonally or travel. 
  5. A desire to allow children to be children, to be active and explore their interests
  6. A need to protect children from the real inequities of school funding, institutional racism, bullying, sexism/gender identity and the school to prison pipeline. 

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If one leaves the schools, what approaches are there to explore? These are buzz words for researching.

  1. Traditional homeschooling- more structured, school at home approach. There are companies that sell curriculum in a box.
  2. Online/virtual schooling-formal school programs can be an option but quality is often an issue, often they  are oversold, and under deliver all depends
  3. Self Directed Education-imagine what would happen if, instead of sending children to conventional schools where their natural ways of learning are curtailed, we provided them with the resources that would allow their curiosity, playfulness, and other natural ways of learning to flourish. That is Self-Directed Education (SDE): education that derives from the self-chosen activities and life experiences of the learner.  https://www.self-directed.org/ 
  4. Unschooling- less structure, if any at all. There is a wide continuum of interpretation of this term. John Holt in the 1970s did a lot for this term. 
  5. Tutor/Learning Guide Supplement model- many have external support of another person part or full time. Some use a full time teacher others use tutors more hourly or one day a week.
  6. Hybrid- Likely most common: perhaps part of day is pencil and paper, part is self directed and some is in community. Or Monday is community day, with other homeschoolers, and other days are used for more structured school work (either paper/pencil or online) or skill building through volunteering. A sweet spot will eventually be found.
  7. Relaxed homeschooling- flexible model to meet family needs. There is no one way to do anything. 

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But I have a job and other life obligations, I cannot be the teacher.

Thoughts to consider:

  • You and your child may need a period called "de-schooling" to detox from a bad relationship to learning. 
  • Many people DO work and homeschool.
  • Many people have removed their children from school but are not their "teachers".
  • Many people just want to give their child a break for a semester and "see how it goes".
  • It is ok to wing it, as you go. That actually often works the best.
  • Over-planning when trying to be creative can be counter productive. 
  • It may take a year to find the "sweet spot" and that is ok, we all had years in classrooms that were less than productive.
  • It is about relationship of child to life, learning, and often rebuilding identity/confidence. It is not about test scores.

1. Research local homeschool/unschooling groups. Many have gatherings and pages to connect, support and share information.

2. Pair up with others doing same thing, can share with a Co-op to share some supervision. Many like to have other students for outings and activities.

3. Depending on age of student, look at options to build independence and work experience through local volunteering during the day.

4. Many communities have one day a week enrichment programs, often free through charter schools, as they bill the state for some funds.

5. Tutors/Mentors- consider some funds toward paid professional tutors, or pairing up with a mentor like a local retired person who shares a passion.

6. Private Teacher- many educators are leaving schools and open to creative teaching/guiding of learning. I have used the website www.care.com to locate excellent teachers. 

7. For those with disabilities, there are some options for the Home and Community Based Services Waivers through Medicaid to fund support staff and/or behavioral therapists to build skills in the community, without parents along. See details under the COLORADO SYSTEMS TAB on this website, look at Medicaid Waivers for information. 

8. Think outside the box- once you start seeing the time spent in school and how little is really accomplished, and how the blank slate of doing own program, ideas may come in your mind.

The community has so many options for learning- Think Big! Look at Program Resources under Alternatives to Schools on this website for all the ideas-  libraries, museums, government meetings, work places, Rec centers, hiking trails, parks, internships, job shadowing, and so much more! 


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What about socialization?

This is one of the top myths of homeschooling.

  • Is the type of socialization at school what you want for your student?
  • Is bullying pervasive at school?
  • Is there prejudice, of all types, experienced and learned at school?
  • Many feel the quality of socialization is much greater with a home program that is full of community based activities. 
  • The irony of homeschooling is most days they are out and about, and not just at home alone!

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