What is Homeschool / Homeschooling?
Homeschool is a progressive movement where parents take a more hands-on approach to their children’s education with higher levels of involvement by working actively with their student in selecting curriculum, courses, instructors, online programs, and by acting as an instructor in some cases. Homeschooling practices may vary from student to student, however, there are usually some common characteristics.
So, what are some of these common characteristics? Education is parent directed.
This does not mean that the parent teaches every subject, (although it might!) but that the parent is ultimately responsible to oversee the education of their child.
Education is customized to meet the child’s and the family’s needs.
Parents have the freedom to create an experience that encompasses the academic, social, and family values and schedules that fits their goals and needs.
Education can take on a broader meaning beyond “academics.”
Families can enjoy the freedom of expanding their definition of education to include shared life experiences beyond academics and book learning.
Education is primarily home based.
This doesn’t mean all learning is done at home (hence terms like unschooling, eclectic homeschooling—and even “roadschooling,” “boatschooling,” and “worldschooling”).
It does mean that homeschooling has a significant component of home involved in contrast to the choice to outsource learning primarily to others and in other environments.
Educational choices are up to the parent but must still comply with state homeschooling laws.
This is really important.
Although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, not every official is friendly to homeschooling, aware of its benefits, or familiar with the law regarding homeschooling.
Why parents choose homeschool?
Most parents and youth decide to homeschool for more than one reason. Among others, the most common reasons given for homeschooling are the following: Customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child and accomplish more academically than in schools, use approaches other than those typical in institutional schools in an effort to customize the instruction to the student’s needs.
- Enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings.
- Provide guided and reasoned social interactions with peers and adults.
- Provide differentiated and individualized instruction to students for whom the classroom environment is not conducive (e.g., students who are considered gifted, special education, or may exhibit cognitive impairment)
- Provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse, racism, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools.
- As an alternative education approach when public or private institutional schools are closed due to acute health situations such as related to disease (e.g., Covid-19, coronavirus).
- Protect children from the soft racism of low expectations for minority students (e.g., Black) (e.g., Fields-smith, 2020; mazama & lundy, 2012).
- Teach and impart a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldview to children and youth.
What is the philosophy of homeschool?
The general philisophical approach of homeschool is parents becoming the primary voice in their children’s education. Parents have often felt excluded from their children’s education.
Often parents complain that they feel powerless to influence the decisions around curriculum, instruction, or even discipline decisions. Parents frequently feel as if they are blind to decisions in schools because of a veil of bureaucracy.
Homeschooling permits parents to remove the veil and maintain a higher level of influence and involvement. Parental involvement is highly correlated to academic outcomes & success.
What is OUR philosophy of homeschool?
Clearly, academic success should be a primary goal of education efforts. We invite parental involvement in course construction and curriculum selection. We must ask why we are educating them in the first place.
At Roanoke Salem Homeschool Academy, we seek to help families educate their children to the Glory of God. Education exists to help people learn of God and know Him through Christ. Our purpose is simple.
Why do we learn to read?
So we can read the word of God and know Him.
Why do we learn maths?
So that we might count and see the blessings God has given.
Why do we learn history?
So we can see God working throughout time in His creation and not forget the good things he has done.
Why do we learn science?
Because God has hidden His wonder in plain sight that we can know and seek Him.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
John 17: 3 ESV
A word of caution:
The homeschool movement is vulnerable to indoctrinating a legalistic view of God. It is easy for homeschool families to get caught up in “what we DON’T permit or do” and take an elitist stance of superiority. This is not our stance and should be guarded against with diligence.
Is Roanoke Salem Homeschool Academy a Co-Op?
While we do share some aspects with homeschool co-ops, Roanoke Salem Homeschool Academy is not a TRUE co-op. Co-ops are generally characterized by parents “cooperativelly” instructing students at no charge. While many parents do teach, they are not required to. At The Homeschool Academy, parents pay to purchase instructional services from instructors. While the instructors MAY be other parents, they can include others from the community including pastors, friends, professionals, family members, and, yes, parents.
How does homeschool differ from other models?
Homeschool offers flexibility and transparency not afforded parents in traditional models of education. Because homeschool parents are the primary decision makers for their children’s education, efforts around homeschooling support models frequently put the parents decisions as the driving factor for their offerings. By focusing on parent and student drivers, the homeschool support systems can often customize and individualize content delivery to maximize learning and mastery of content without sacrificing quality of instruction.
How is a co-op academy different from hybrid models?
While there are similarities between homeschool co-ops and hybrid school models, many times the differences are substantial. While both offer some degree of classroom instruction, many times the hybrid models offer lackluster, online content as supplementary instruction at home. Since these online programs are usually selected by the state or municipality as a one-size-fits-all offering, even if the parents wanted the content to be changed, it is usually impossible for the parents to have any input in the curriculum selection or instructional delivery.
Hybrid models typically follow state academic calendars and state specified curiculum for all participants across all offered subjects. Also, most hybrid models are fixed to an every-other-day offering classes either on Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, or Tuesdays,Thursdays where the students are using online content and class work during their homebound days.
While homeschool co-ops & academies do offer classroom instruction and can utilize online content, the parents are encouraged to regularly communicate with the instructors to gage the effectiveness & appropriateness of the content being offered. Additionally, the co-op instructors are at liberty to individualize the content and modify the course to meet the students’ needs without being held to an arbitrary timeline.
Homeschool co-op models are typically 1-2 days per week with some offering 3-4 day options. Courses are offered a la carte and afford a great deal of flexibility in daily attendance, participation, and subject offerings.
Because homeschool co-ops rely on and require high levels of parental involvement, there is more of a shared responsibility with the parents to insure content mastery. Parental involvement and cooperative assessment, can increase the liklihood of academic success in courses offered. There is far less risk of performance drops going unnoticed.
One aspect of homeschooling is seeking progressive proficiency. Levels of mastery of a subject can differ among students based on their interest category, age, and specific academic leanings. For parents, it is often more important to build skills that will facilitate the student’s future life and career than to expect a student to achieve some level of comprehensive mastery over all subjects.
In other words, if a student has interest in being a chef, the parents and student may feel no need to get an A in physics – much less to even take the course. However, a student wishing to becoming a nuclear engineer may feel the need to take and excel at higher sciences and maths.
How do homeschool students fare compared to their peers?
Among other evidence cited, the home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is roughly the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students score 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015).
78% of peer-reviewed studies on academic achievement show homeschool students perform statistically significantly better than those in institutional schools (Ray, 2017).
How do the social aspects of homeschool compare to other models?
Research facts on homeschooling show that the home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.
87% of peer-reviewed studies on social, emotional, and psychological development show homeschool students perform statistically significantly better than those in conventional schools (Ray, 2017).
Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.
The balance of research to date suggests that homeschool students may suffer less harm (e.g., abuse, neglect, fatalities) than conventional school students.
Who are the teachers classes at The Homeschool Academy?
In most homeschool co-ops, parents make up a significant portion of the instructional staff – approximately 70–85% of teachers are parents of students. However, frequently grandparents, retired teachers, professionals, and even older students can step in to teach as long as there is a reasonable curriculum and a level of mastery of the subject. New classes and instructors may request the director to review curriculum and offer advice on how to best instruct a course.
Most of the time, teachers only offer to instruct courses where they have both an interest and a higher level of proficiency. In core academic courses, we would recommend a demonstrable proficiency (meaning a successful completion of higher level courses, professional certifications, degrees, or some level of mastery) before allowing a person to instruct a course. There is no specific legal requirement for these recommendations and The Homeschool Academy does not require these, however, it is advisable as instructors, parents, and students m may be dissatisfied with subjects that are a poor fit.
For Example: Anatomy may be instructed by someone who has a high degree of interest and knowledge in the topic who could follow a well-built curriculum, but we would not require the instructor have a medical or biology degree.
To improve instructional delivery, the director of the Homeschool Academy will offer trainings throughout the year with an initial dry-run walk through before co-op kicks off each year. Additionally, the director will make regular drop-in observations of instruction and offer helpful assessments and advice to the teachers as a way to continually improve instructional design and delivery.
How would teachers be selected, evaluated, & monitored?
Teachers are often selected based on their interest in course offerings. Sometimes, teachers offer to instruct a new class. Other times, parents ask for specific people to teach a class. As long as the parents are comfortable with the skill level and classroom management, this has shown to be an effective way of selecting instructors.
Each year, teachers will be required to attend various trainings during co-op class days where instructional observations may be brought to light as a way of helping all teachers to improve their craft. The Director (and possibly the Assistant Director) will regularly offer class observations and assessment to teachers. Additionally, teachers may be coached one-on-one to help with acute or in-the-moment issues or overcome instructional obstacles.