The decision about whether to homeschool can be a difficult one for many parents, as Marianne Vanderkolk knows. At her website www.design-your-homeschool.com, she shares her experience and her knowledge, and has created a resource for current and future homeschooling parents.
As a homeschooling parent, you had to invest in educational tools yourself, from simple things like pencils and paper to larger items such as computers and printers. How did you fit this into the family budget?
We were aware, as all parents are, that educating our children will cost money. However, since we were not paying for school fees, we were able to channel those funds directly into learning resources in our home. We always set aside money for those expenses and the beauty of homeschooling was that whatever books or materials including programs, computers and printers – they would be beneficial to our whole family.
Is it important to keep up with changes in educational technology if you’re following a homeschool curriculum?
I am sure that children can be educated easily with excellent books, pen and paper. However, I love the opportunity that technology has opened for our children. There are so many wonderful online programs, courses, webinars, podcasts and instructional materials out there. In fact, it becomes a challenge to work out what you might choose as the options are amazing for online learning and more wonderful tools are being developed all the time!
In public schools, many students are required to use computers in the classroom by the time they’re 12 years old, and many schools are adding keyboarding classes to their requirements. How did you teach your children to type?
I think touch typing is an important skill for children to learn and we used typing courses which were interactive and fun to do as they taught skills in accuracy, speed and correct placement. I believe Typsey is a wonderful tool that many homeschooling families would love to use. Each child can work through the courses, video lessons to become excellent typists and increase their own skill level on the computer. Personally what I think is amazing that you can import documents or use webpages as materials to build your own typing skills. Homeschooling families recognize the benefits of dictation and modeling great literature, so this is an excellent way to combine literature with improving touch typing skills. It is a fantastic individualized program for the whole family!
Every family is different, and therefore so is every course of study. One great resource of your site is a set of tools that help parents design the curriculum that works for their children. Can you talk more about how this works?
My site has been developed as a guide for families to use. Since each family is unique, my aim is to help families work out their own goals in home educating their children, view their children as individuals with different talents and gifts and then work out materials that may suit them and their own particular home environment. My hope is that my site will give families the courage to create their own style and enjoy the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling gives. It takes courage to step out and be different and parents also need to be reminded of what John Holt says, “children learn from anything and everything they see.”
I hope parents are encouraged to share the wonderful journey of home education, teaching, walking beside, cheerleading and enabling their children to become self-directed learners.
You live in Australia, which may have different regulations about education that homeschooling parents have to follow. What is your advice for parents who need to find out what rules apply where they live?
As each state varies in requirements, it is important that those who are looking to register their child for home education should contact the correct body in their own state.
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