How to master the fundamentals of home schooling

Julie Houston home schools her three children, including her daughter Blossom, age 3. Houston chronicles the process in her blog, The Root Children Photo courtesy of Julie Houston

Pulling a child out of traditional school or deciding to home school from the start requires plenty of research. You may choose to read books on the topic or shadow a local home-school family. But there are infinite methods of teaching, and home schooling requires time and energy. One way to tackle it may be to join a local home-schooling network.

In Asheville, there are plenty of options for home schoolers. Julie Houston, home-schooling mother of three, points to organizations like Elevate Life and Art, which offers classes in music, arts, sports, science, math, language and dance. Through resources like the Asheville Homeschool Co-op, the Facebook group Asheville Homeschooling & Unschooling, and Yahoo! groups like Home-Asheville and WNC Homeschoolers, families can find classes, at-home lesson plans and educational activities for their children with a network of other home-schoolers around Western North Carolina.

Houston adds that these networks are “a huge blessing,” because without them, “it would be really isolating,” she says. “We meet once a week so the kids can sign up for classes and make and keep friends.”

Steve Hargadon, who home-schooled two of his children, says some parents may begin home schooling but later decide to place their child back in regular school. Parents fear that the child is falling behind, Hargadon says, but he asserts that this is often unfounded.

“For the most part, kids learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it,” Hargadon says. “You’re conditioned to think that you need to tell them what and when to learn. But the beauty of home schooling is the opportunity for kids to become more self-directed and follow things that they’re interested in.”

If you think home schooling is the best option for your child, the next step is to register your household with the N.C. Division of Non-Public Education. The state’s requirements include attendance records, vaccination or vaccination exemption forms and annual standardized testing. More information is available at ncdnpe.org.

While the many options may seem overwhelming for someone looking into home schooling, Hardagon says, “Most people who’ve gone the route of home schooling feel like they’ve done something really valuable for their kids, and so it’s not a time where you need to be nervous, even though that’s going to be the first inclination. It’s an exciting way of discovering that there’s another way of thinking about learning.”

Houston adds that not all home-school methods work for every child. “Everybody is on their own path,” she says. “Find where your kid feels comfortable, because that is probably where they should be.”

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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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