By Dinah Whitton

Every year parents from all demographics and communities consider homeschooling their children for various reasons. Choosing options that affect the well-being of our children can seem overwhelming and daunting; but, the decision to homeschool doesn’t have to be. The W5 approach is an excellent way to ask practical questions to unveil some basic information to make an informed decision. Here are some tips using the Who-What-Where-When-Why (W5) approach as you consider homeschooling and what’s best for your family.

WHO – Children, Parents & Community

As a parent you know what’s best for your child’s development. Whether you have formal teaching experience or not, keep in mind that homeschooling is versatile and adaptable to any family. Connect with homeschoolers and support groups including co-operatives to determine what assistance is available in your community. Being a home educator does not mean you are alone. There are various ways to supplement your child’s learning in the community to address academic weaknesses. Utilizing experienced homeschoolers or finding subject specific tutors are just a few ways parents can support their child’s learning through home education.  

WHAT – Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling

It is important to understand the difference between homeschooling and public schooling and how it relates to your child. Since learning styles vary, consider which environment will allow your child to develop to their full potential. Homeschooling enables parents to customize a curriculum that works best for their children. In the public and private sectors, curriculum is based on the average ability and/or expectations of students within a grade level. As you consider your options, take advantage of homeschooling conferences to learn more about various curriculums available. Vendors from across the country typically display textbooks and parent/teacher guides to help you determine what is best for your children. Take your time reviewing curriculum online while keeping in mind your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Ask as many questions as needed before making any purchase commitments. Connecting with homeschooling communities can also provide opportunities to browse and to borrow books in addition to purchasing used books at discounted prices.

WHERE – Beyond Your Kitchen Table

Your child’s educational adventure doesn’t have to take place solely in your home. Even public schools include excursions and other outings into the curriculum. Homeschooling families have the liberty to integrate any type of excursion, including vacations, at any time to enhance the learning experience. This is another opportunity to connect with support groups and/or cooperatives to see what options best suit your family. Check in with community centres since some of them offer weekly gym programs for homeschool children. Use your child’s learning style and interests to determine where to go and what to do. Perhaps it’s as simple as reading on your front porch or weekly trips to the library. In addition, homeschooled children can be more engaged with the community through volunteering with local and foreign missions. This holistic approach to education does not restrict learning to one location.

WHEN – Beginning the Journey

Continue to keep your children’s well being at the centre of your homeschool research as you determine when to begin this journey. The requirements for each school board and province vary, but the HSLDA team can help you determine the first steps of this process. If your children are still attending school decide when would be the least disruptive to remove them. New adventures are best started on a fresh start rather than a brash entrance. Keep the communication open and flowing and determine as a family when to begin homeschooling. For some families there is an immediate need based on personal circumstances, while others prefer to start fresh in the fall. Deciding as a family is an essential first step in the homeschooling journey.

WHY – Because Your Concerns Matter

It is not unusual to be concerned about the evolving curriculum, class room sizes, or your child’s progress in school. Regardless of the trigger, your parental red flags are valid and deserve attention. Continue to keep your child’s well-being at the centre of the decision making process.  Relax and trust that your innate abilities as a parent-educator will contribute to your child’s success.

The sixth query in the W5 approach, HOW, is likely the biggest question of them all. Homeschooling is versatile and can be customized to your family’s needs. HSLDA is dedicated to empowering and encouraging current and prospective home educators. Our experienced team is available to answer your questions, and recommend helpful resources. As you continue through the decision making process, we look forward to helping your family discover the long-term benefits of homeschooling.