Homeschooling, everywhere, September 2000-present

This is a brief, general post on homeschooling since people in China had so many questions. There are many resources online; I have included some links, good luck! Feel free to contact me, as well.

Why? There are many reasons. In the US, the biggest reason is religion, but that is not why we homeschool. My family decided to homeschool after meeting and being impressed by homeschool families we met when our first child was born. We were living in a major east coast city with many problems in its public schools, in fact I taught in a poor-performing high school there before having our first child. I began reading about education and I was impressed by the ideas of John Holt, A.S. Niel and Summerhill School, the Albany Free School, John Taylor Gatto, and some other authors I can’t remember at the moment. 

How? There are many ways to homeschool. Some, often called “school-at-home” look like traditional school. There are online schools where the child has teachers and activities similar to traditional school, some parents mimic school structures and use typical textbooks, and some use a mix of tutors and community groups. At the other extreme is “unschooling“, where parents act as guides or facilitators to children following their interests and often learning in non-traditional ways such as building things, independent research at libraries and museums, travel, or volunteering at community institutions. Personally, I loved the ideas of homeschooling, but in practice I don’t think that it would work in our family if it wasn’t for my husband, a very patient and knowledgable teacher. Also, our children have done well in this style of learning. Outside of our family, we have found homeschool groups in the two places we have lived since beginning this journey. We prefer to work with other families for classes, projects, field trips, and resource-sharing. 

State requirements: These are different for different states. In Pennsylvania, where we live, we are required annually to submit forms for physical health, an intention to homeschool, a portfolio of the previous year’s work, and a proposed plan for next year. We are lucky that a homeschool mom has a website detailing the legal requirements for our state. We get our forms and much information from her site. We also must submit standardized test scores for grades 3, 5, and 8. For this requirement, we order tests through the mail (they cost about $40 each), send them to be scored, and receive scores in the mail. To follow the rules, we give the tests to our friends’ kids and they return the favor. This can also be done online instead of on paper. Here is an example of a company that makes and scores tests. 

Who? In some countries, like Germany, homeschooling is not legal. About 3-4% of American students, or 1.5 million children in the US, are homeschooled, according to a quick internet search. In China, the Internet says it is less than 1%, 18,000 children. In China, it appears to be unregulated, and may be illegal. Here is an article from 2013 about homeschooling in China. 

I hope this answers some of the questions people have about homeschooling!

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