How would you like it if the classroom were the dining room or the living room of the student’s home? If the recreation area was the garden of a residence or the nearest park? Or if his study peers were his own siblings?
That is the reality that many children live: a beneficial option for those who cannot attend school due to illness, disability or continuous travel. However, other children who do not have any of those situations are also receiving classes in their homes.
Why have their parents decided to be the teachers of their own children? Many parents prefer to distance their children from the classroom academic rigor. For them to learn at their own pace without competitiveness or to satisfy their curiosity by reading, exploring a museum or mother nature.
The National Center for Education Statistics in the United States (NCES) found that 91% of parents who homeschooled their children expressed concern about the public schools’ environment, 77% talked about teaching values, 74% showed their desire to offer quality academic education, and 44% wanted an alternative way of learning for their children.
“I do not understand how a child spends six hours at a desk and then he is bombarded with homework and has to spend a few more hours sitting in the house,” says Susana Taylor, who wanted to try home schooling for a year to see how it was. Her eldest daughter, Sara, was five-years old and her son Tomas was three-years old. Eight years later, we are still doing it,” she says proudly.
This way of educating children is known as home schooling. It is nowadays permitted and legal in all 50 states of the United States of America (U.S.A). Per data published by NCES, between 2003 and 2012, the number of American children ages 5 to 17 who were being home schooled increased by 61.8%.
“I get up early and at 9 a.m. We have breakfast, get dressed, make the beds, and brush our teeth. We go to the garden to do stretching exercises and then each child starts working on whatever inspires him or her at that moment. In other words, we do not have classes by subjects. Instead, children follow their own interests and they progress at their own pace,” says Susana.
“For example, Sara, who is now 13 years old, is a consummate reader and has devoured novels for many years. It is through books that I have managed to work many subjects with her. Studying literature is an excuse to talk about history, philosophy, language, and even physics. In the meantime, 11-year-old Tomas is passionate about construction and dedicates the mornings to his projects, creating all kinds of machines and artifacts made of cardboard and other recyclable materials. He is always with his silicone gun at hand. Three afternoons a week, we have extracurricular activities, which consist of various sports and painting.”
Home schooling legislation varies by state: some require periodic examinations to check if the child is at his academic level; in others, a report from a tutor would be sufficient. In Washington State and Iowa, the first two resource centers have opened for parents who teach their children at home.
When it comes to home schooling, the U.S.A., Canada and Australia are at the forefront and Britain is the leading country in Europe. That shows that this learning alternative is gaining ground. So much that Harvard University has been the first to open a department to provide access to those who study at home.
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