Parents have many reasons for choosing an online home school program. Whether it be removing their child from negative peer pressure or looking for new ways to support special learning needs, home schooling is a quickly growing education alternative. However, just like all school options, parents have certain concerns they face as they transition their child into a new home school program. Although these issues may feel very overwhelming or confusing in the beginning, work to face these issues with your child as you plan for a safe and enjoyable new semester.
"What if my child doesn't get enough social interaction?"
Healthy social interaction is a major concern for both parents as children alike. Understandably, this is often a deal-breaker for selecting new schools. Without healthy friendships and relationship growth, children of all ages struggle, socially as well as academically. Fortunately, home schooling is far from its negative stereotype. Students are not trapped indoors for hours on end. Although their class time may feel quiet and private in comparison with a traditional classroom, home schoolers still have a wide variety of social opportunities with their fellow home school classmates. Field trips, clubs, and group service learning activities are fun and positive group activities. In addition, more and more home school programs offer "chatting" and online interaction opportunities for home schoolers and teachers during class time. This makes for an enjoyable group learning experience.
"Will my child have to stop their athletic involvement?"
Because so many sports programs are directly tied to specific schools, finding organized sport opportunities may feel like a struggle for new home school parents. Sports and physical fitness offer a myriad of benefits for students of every age. From team-building skills to improved health, every child should have the opportunity for joining a new sport. Check with your child's home school program for possible activities and sports teams. Also, consider allowing them to join a gym or private athletic program such as gymnastics or swim. When your child regularly takes part in a sport or physical hobby, they gain a healthy emotional outlet to keep their mind and body in balance.
"How much control do I have of their class schedule and learning environment?"
Having a flexible class schedule is a highly-sought after benefit for new home schoolers. This is especially critical if your child has physical or mental challenges that prevent a traditional classroom experience. Even with adjustments, online home schooling is often a better alternative for students who need specific class hours and learning environments. With the flexibility of an online classroom, many home school parents and students take great comfort in knowing that they can personalize a learning environment that best fits their learning needs. Any room or environment can be easily converted in a specialized "classroom." This is critical for disabled students or those with on-going health concerns. Families that travel frequently with work also benefit from flexible home school programs. Regardless of geographical location, their children can still have access to a stable online learning atmosphere.
"Will my child adjust to the new school experience?"
Even with its benefits, some children may find it somewhat challenging to adjust to a brand new school setting. Home schooling has carried many negative stigmas in the past. Even with its increased popularity in recent years, some children are still hesitant of what it may mean for their education and future. Help put your child's fears to rest by talking to them and making yourself available for questions and discussions. Be willing to listen to their concerns before taking the final enrollment steps.
Several ways to ease their transition include:
- Allow them to help select and personalize their learning space.
- Be patient with initial challenges and learning curves as you and your child both adjust.
- Allow your child to maintain healthy friendships with past classmates.
- Give them a variety of extracurricular options.
- Encourage activities with fellow home schoolers (field trips, service learning,holiday parties, etc.).
- Being willing to spend more time with them.
- Show interest in their school work and projects.
- Always celebrate and make a big deal out of holidays and vacation time.
"What can I do to help my child stay motivated?"
Although your child's new program will have built-in "check-points" and incentives for staying caught up, every home schooler will have periods when motivation feels lacking. This is no different from what traditional classroom students experience. Help prevent boredom and poor attention by using personal motivation tools catered toward your child's age and personal interests. Some of the best home school incentives and motivation aids include:
- Create personalized progress charts and planners.
- Plan field trips geared toward your child's class subjects (libraries, robotics and computer museums, natural history museums, biology-geared nature experiences such as camping or hiking, art galleries or work shops, etc.).
- Give them access to more hobbies or extracurricular activities as incentives.
- Plan "internships" or tours of businesses or careers that interest them.
- Allow them to take "brain-breaks" throughout the day to keep them mentally fresh and de-stressed.
Whether a traditional classroom or a online home school program, every type of school has unique challenges and concerns for students and parents alike. The key to overcoming these potential issues is looking ahead and planning preemptive action to deal with the struggles before they have a chance to grow. Regardless of how long you've been home schooling, keep these 5 issues in mind as you plan for new school years. Use your summer break to begin brain-storming new ways to connect with your child and grow their motivation for the semester ahead.
If you and your child are brand new to the home schooling world, tap into trusted school experts and enrollment advisers. Voice any concerns or questions you and your family have and allow them to coach you through the transition process. Also, if possible, begin connecting with fellow home schooling families in your area. Building these new relationships is a great source for advice and encouragement. Enrolling your child in an online home schooling program is an exciting journey for you both. With the right plans and foreknowledge, you both can enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.