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Finding the perfect homeschooling curriculum for a working mom is a difficult task. It’s hard enough to choose a homeschool curriculum for all moms, but working moms often make the decision to homeschool because of an urgent need to remove their child from the public-school system. Parents who are feeling desperate to help their child don’t feel like they have time to waste. There are a lot of reasons why parents turn to online virtual public school, or other online options. Those options seem easy, but they can be completely ill-suited for certain working parents.
Important Questions to Consider Before Choosing Online Homeschool
Online homeschool, which is sometimes called virtual school, is often the first thing parents think of as new homeschoolers. Will your online school work for your child? Will virtual school work for your family? Do you want public school done at home, or do you want an independent virtual homeschool (that doesn’t follow public school)?
How old are your kids? There are strong warnings against too much screen time for young kids (or all kids, if we’re being honest).
Can your kids read-to-learn, or are they still learning to read? Language is social. Our tradition of literacy has been passed from person to person. Suddenly, online options promise that literacy will be passed from screen to person? There are numerous toys, gadgets, and video games designed to teach literacy, but they aren’t a replacement for an actual human reading with a child.
Do your kids like to read? Do you want them to develop a love of reading? Online options do not leave a lot of extra time for reading novels and picture books. How can a child learn to love reading if the child isn’t experiencing real books?
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How many hours do you work? Online school is not a babysitter. Online school is not a substitute for adult supervision. If you work a lot of hours, you might be better off finding a caretaker for your child while you work. Your child can do a lot of schoolwork independently while with the caretaker, and then you can finish the rest together when you get home from work.
Do your kids have an independent personality? This can go both ways. On the one hand, an independent child might do well without as much supervision. On the other hand, online school can have rigid expectations that might chafe an independent child’s drive to learn, well, independently.
Do your kids have special needs? When we’re alike, we’re alike in the same ways. But when we’re different, we’re different in as many ways as there are people. Online school might work from some special needs, but be a no-go for others.
How many hours per week do your kids spend on outside-the-house extracurricular activities such as dance, music, gymnastics, etc? Online school can have inflexible requirements that you will need to follow, regardless of other things that might be going on in your lives. You can’t just take a field trip or leave early for a competition whenever you feel like it.
What is your curriculum budget? Our society is conditioned to expect “free” school. There are many good, free alternatives to online school. There are also paid options that fit small to large budgets.
Does your work schedule have regular hours, or do you work more during some weeks and less during others? If your workload varies, how will you handle your heavy load week if your child is also having a difficult week in virtual school? Some online options are not flexible from week to week.
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Do you, in your busy schedule, have time to accommodate all, most, or any of your children’s educational wishes? Online school is not something that you can use to create a tailored course of study for your child. For some very busy parents, that means your homeschool teacher job is simple: Help your child get through their assigned work. You don’t need to think about what to assign to your child because that’s all done for you. That can be a big relief for a working parent with limited time. The downside is that if you hate it, or your child hates it, it’s too hard, or it’s too easy, you have to do it anyway. If you find that you’re spending extra time struggling through hated work, consider whether it would be more efficient in the long run to plan a more flexible course of study.
It’s going to take a lot of research, thought, and trial-and-error before you find what really fits your groove. Taking your time and knowing your options is better than choosing too quickly and ending up with a disastrous start. If you find that you make a mistake in your curriculum choice, don’t be afraid to try something else. Don’t be afraid to change from year to year, either. As circumstances change, your schooling can change, too.
Lisa Yankey is a regular contributing writer for HomeschoolSuperFreak.com and the author of the upcoming book, “The Homeschool Path to Foreign Language.” You can find her at www.highenergyhomeschool.com, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on YouTube.
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