Homeschooling allows you to personalize your child’s educational experiences according to her needs and your goals. You can also instill a passion for learning that may not develop in a traditional classroom.
But what happens when you hit your limits in terms of your own knowledge, or when you run out of resources to provide an enriched and enriching curriculum at home?
Some parents start looking for other options when they believe they don’t know a subject well enough — for many, advanced math brings a shudder. Other parents may not have all the materials or expertise to teach a subject adequately, such as with a science lab or music class. Some parents look for help when they start feeling overwhelmed by the time and energy required by homeschooling, especially when it comes to teaching teenagers or multiple children.
So, what can you do if you are at the edge of your own knowledge and need some help?
For subjects you don’t know well, consider learning them along with your student. It sets a great example and helps put you in her shoes. You can quiz one another and get your hands dirty together as you figure it out.
Find a Community
You’re not alone in this big undertaking — find a local homeschooling group and work as a community to fill in the gaps. Even if you’re no mathematician, maybe one of the other parents is! As a team, you can pool your resources, go on group field trips, trade ideas, and share worries with other parents.
One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is the wide variety of learning materials at your fingertips. Contact experts, professionals, or professors in your community to enhance instruction or deliver regular lessons. For two-parent families, work together to divvy up the times each of you teaches your children — and reflect on how great it is to have the flexibility to work on school whenever you need to!
There is a wealth of opportunities online for homeschooling parents who want to supplement their curriculum. Sites like Kahn Academy help explain the tricky subjects, and a long list of distance learning programs offer entire courses — even advanced placement — through those magical channels of the Internet.
Public online schools have to meet state learning standards, and provide qualified teachers who are available via email or phone to answer questions. These options can alleviate some of the burden on parents, as well as provide an effective and engaging curriculum. The downside is that there will be less hands-on instruction and much more self-direction required of your student.
Many homeschooling parents decide, at some point or another, that a class or two at the local school is a good idea, whether it’s a district public school or, in some rare cases, a charter school. The brick-and-mortar institutions often have specialized equipment for conducting science experiments, instruments for student rental in band classes, and highly qualified teachers to convey the intricacies of calculus. Depending on which state you live in, your local school may be quite amenable to receiving a part-time student. For example, schools in Washington and Virginia receive federal funding even for students who only attend a class or two.
Further Reading: Help Your Homeschooler Start Public School
Talk to Your Student About It
Education is an adventure, right? You are inspiring curiosity every day in your child, so it only makes sense that accessing alternate resources would be the next step in the journey. Most kids will be excited to try something new, to experience different teachers, points of view, and modes of instruction.
If you are going the online course or public route, it can empower and motivate students to put them in charge. If your child is old enough, have a discussion with her about the options, and share your point of view honestly — while listening to hers. Ultimately, you get to make the decision about which path to pursue, but involving your student gives her ownership over the process as her education evolves.
In any case, see if you can make a trial run before committing to anything, whether it’s sitting in on high school classes a few times, or going to several homeschool support group meetings before signing on to a series of community field trips. This will help foster a positive academic experience for everybody.
There are more resources available now than ever before for kids learning at home, so every family should be able to get what they need to find academic bliss!