December 16, 2016 — Through my work with EdTech Specialists, I have become well acquainted with homeschool advocates and families. I have grown to understand why many families choose homeschooling and recently found myself asking the question: Would I have homeschooled my own children if they were currently of school age? Next question: Is this a “No Brainer?”
My initial response startled me in that I thought, YES, this is a “No Brainer.” I would definitely homeschool all three of them. As a retired teacher, I thought that I should step back for a moment and revisit that question with this additional question: If the answer is “yes,” why would I make that choice?
When my kids were in school, each district, school, and classroom pretty much looked the same. That, fortunately, is no longer the case. We now have the technology and accompanying experience and expertise to customize learning in the traditional setting, virtually, or a combination of the two. Students can now work from anywhere at their own pace and not “move forward” on a topic or concept until they have mastered each objective attached to that learning experience. Learning styles can be addressed individually as well. Knowing this, my first step would not necessarily be to homeschool my children but rather to research districts within my “Schools of Choice” area to determine what options they would have that would allow for an individualized learning experience, preferably in the brick and mortar setting.
If we lived in an area where those options did not exist, then I would look at the homeschool option more carefully. Why? Because we no longer need to use the “factory” model for teaching our kids. We can use customizable courseware that allows the student and the teacher to view student understanding and progress at any given moment. The learning can take place anywhere there is an internet connection and at any time that best suits the student. I’d still encourage my kids to have some of their learning take place in a traditional setting where they can interact with other learners and socialize seamlessly. I would also encourage them to enroll in community based/independent study learning options so they can have real life learning experiences while also discovering their interests and passions for their future vocation. And then there is Project Based Learning and Game Based Learning and on and on and on.
I guess what I would do is look for a district that creates a program for each of my children as opposed to slotting them into a pre-existing program. Is that possible? Yes! Is it happening in districts today? Absolutely! Are there options like these available everywhere so that students have choices? No, unfortunately, the districts with customizable learning down to the student level are few and far between. That said, I hear about more and more on a daily basis. We’ll get there! The sooner the better!
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