Did you know that up to 4% of school-aged children in the United States are homeschooled? A student is considered to be homeschooled if they receive all or part of their formal education at home, with part-time school attendance not exceeding 25 hours per week.
As a parent, you may be wondering if there’s a suitable homeschooling age you can help your child make the transition, or whether you should start your child’s formal education journey at home. We share more with you in this guide!
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Benefits of Homeschooling Over Traditional Schooling
There are many reasons why parents like yourself may choose to go down the homeschooling route, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools shut down for a period of time, many parents had to take on the role of teacher as well, and this may have led you to reconsider your options.
While traditional schooling follows a curriculum laid out by the government, you get greater input to customize what your child learns with homeschooling. This will allow you to focus on their strengths and develop their interests in various areas, and your child will not be struggling to keep up with classmates. With the individual attention they receive, children are better able to thrive and learn at their own pace.
Another area you have greater flexibility in with homeschooling is the way your child learns. We all have our own unique learning styles, whether you are more of an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner. You can customize activities to suit your child and perk their interest, and the classroom can be anywhere you want it to be!
Is There a Right Age to Start Homeschooling?
Now that you have decided you want to homeschool your children, you may be wondering when the most suitable age to start is. If you have two or more children, the best age for each of them can differ based on their unique needs and personalities. Before taking the plunge, it’s important to do some research into state requirements. This means that you will need to keep a record of your child’s education that includes logging in hours and reporting them when necessary.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer on when you should start homeschooling, and this will depend on factors such as:
- Your child’s temperament
- Your own temperament
- Personal experiences
- Hopes for your child
- Your child’s learning styles and interests
- Whether you are homeschooling more than one child
- Your teaching skills
- … and more!
Is it Better to Start Early?
If you are already homeschooling an older child, you may find that your younger children express an interest to be involved in the school day. Even if you didn’t start your older child with homeschooling this early on, starting your other children at a younger age can benefit them. At each stage of childhood, children go through cognitive and developmental stages, and a lot of this takes place naturally.
Learning takes place in a more informal manner before the age of seven, and this is often achieved through play and fun activities. With homeschool kindergarten, you can support your child’s learning at their own pace and make sure that they are not pushed into tackling skills they aren’t ready to master. At this stage of early childhood education, you are building your child’s foundation for the skills and knowledge they will have to acquire in future.
With younger children, the best approach is to keep any formal learning session short and sweet, instead focusing on turning everyday experiences into teachable opportunities. As children get older and are more ready to take on formal education, you may wish to make the switch to traditional schooling then or continue with homeschooling. It’s all up to your child’s needs.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
You may already be paying attention to signs that your child is ready for school even before they have hit the minimum state-required age. Below are some signs to watch out for when considering whether your child is ready for homeschooling:
- Does your child pretend to read or show a keen interest in letters and words?
- Do they show excitement and enthusiasm for completing tasks?
- Are they able to follow a string of instructions successfully?
- Can they focus on a task?
There’s no one right age to start homeschooling, but your child may be giving you signs that they are ready to start acquiring skills that are often seen as the job of formal education to impart. When that’s the case, there’s no harm in following your child’s lead and seeing where it takes you!
Starting Homeschooling for Older Children
If your child didn’t start out their formal education journey with homeschooling, it’s never too late to make the transition, as many parents would have discovered at the peak of COVID-19. If you are new to taking on the role of house teacher, there are training programs available to help you navigate your new responsibilities and answer all your questions.
However, it’s important to note that homeschooling older children will be a vastly different experience from homeschooling young children, and you will have to be equipped to face these challenges. For one thing, books and materials will be costlier, and it’s not uncommon for teenagers and parents to butt heads on numerous issues.
When homeschooling older children, always sit down and include them in the planning. That way, they will feel more invested in their learning, and this gives them a chance to let you know about their goals. It could also be the time where your child starts taking an interest in their future career plans, and here is where you can discuss and incorporate what’s necessary to help them achieve their goal. If your older child is undecided, that’s also fine. Simply giving them the freedom to participate in different activities is crucial to helping them develop a direction during this developmental stage!