Editor's Note: Below is a guest post that I thought was interesting, at least for anyone who has ever contemplated homeschooling. I was homeschooled, which some of you might recall, through most of junior high and all of high school. While it works for a lot of people, it is not for everyone, but with all the advances in technology these days, homeschooling is definitely a lot easier to coordinate and accomplish successfully than ever before.
I hope you find the post below informative, as I have.
Technology and Homeschooling
Increasing numbers of parents have decided to homeschool their children as a result of faltering school systems, uninspired lessons and a general feeling that the family's values are being ignored by the educators. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, home education is now growing at a rate of 7% to 15% per year. The majority of homeschooled students are elementary and middle-school aged students but there are also tens of thousands of high school students who learn in their home environment.
The only thing that's typical about homeschooled students is that there is no typical homeschooled student. Some students are homeschooled for their entire lives while others are homeschooled for a limited period of time. Some parents limit their children's learning to what they teach them at home while others engage in local homeschooling networks in which the children meet for playdates, take field trips together, establish joint extra-curricular art and music programs and even study together in each other's homes.
Some parents choose to homeschool their children for ideological reasons while others are concerned that the school system is unable to meet their child's needs. Special needs children and children who have been bullied are often removed from their school because their parents feel that they can provide them with the best learning environment in a supportive homeschooling framework.
Online education is playing an active role in the homeschooling community. There are online support groups for both parents and students, structured online lessons and a wide range of Internet apps which are available to enhance lessons and facilitate students' socialization as they master the coursework.
Many education providers have begun to step up to meet the needs of homeschooling families. These providers offer systematic, structured lessons that take the student through each stage of a subjects as the student progresses from unit to unit and from year to year.
There are many benefits to online learning for homeschooled students. eLearning
- Allows a student to pursue specific topics and subjects that are of particular interest,
- Enables students to find a method of learning that fits their own personal learning style,
- Facilitates more independent study and self-directed learning,
- Is interactive and engaging,
- Presents formats for students to collaborate with other students on projects and assignments,
- Offers different types of rubrics so that students can evaluate their own success as the parent/educator evaluates the student's progress. The evaluation process itself can become a learning process in online education.
There are numerous eLearning platforms available but most concentrate on a specific subject or age range. Some parents become frustrated because they want to follow an established program for all the subjects but, in the end, they find themselves using one platform for math, a second platform for language skills, another platform for the sciences and so on.
Veteran homeschooling parents offer a number of suggestions to newcomers who are looking for a free, high quality online learning platform. A good eLearning platform will provide students with high quality material and supplemental assignments that will turn them into independent learners with the knowledge and life skills that they need to move on to further their studies and enter the work force.
A good solid eLearning program for elementary, middle school and high school students should provide:
- A support-staff comprised of certified educators,
- An Individual Learning Plan for each individual student,
- Flexible pacing and individualized instruction modules,
- Structured learning that propels the student from unit to unit in an orderly progression,
- Blended learning which combines both online and offline coursework,
- Interactive apps to ensure engaging and compelling lessons,
- CDs, videos, written material and hands-on materials to ensure varied instruction methodology,
- Online tools which connect the student with other learners, including the ability to collaborate on assignments and engage in social interaction
eLearning ensures that all students, including students with various disabilities and challenges, have access to challenging and high quality material that will allow them to progress at their own speed. K12 which is subsidiary early education giant Knowledge Universe offers a number of tuition free online programs which are supervised by state Departments of Education in over half the states including the Jenison International Academy in Michigan, Hoosier Academy in Indiana, Colorado Preparatory Academy in Colorado and Miami-Dade Academy in Florida.
-- written by David Tanner