The brain science behind helping your children thrive in home education.
The COVID-19 pandemic kept everyone home for a while in 2020 and 2021. However, many parents still balk at the idea of full-time home education for their children. Helping kids thrive outside typical public or private classrooms might seem challenging, but it isn’t insurmountable. Here’s how to help them do well in a home education environment.
Don’t worry about your education
Parents’ most common arguments against home education concern their education — or lack thereof. However, formal education is not needed for homeschooling. Students in home education programs score consistently higher on academic standardized tests than their public-school peers, regardless of the parent’s educational level or certifications.
Create an inquiry-based learning environment
Asking questions isn’t strictly discouraged in a public school environment, but there is little to no wiggle room for following those lines of inquiry or the interest they provoke. Traditional lesson plans are designed linearly, with everyone moving from point A to point B at more or less the same speed.
Some parents may stick to a standard curriculum, but there is no reason to restrict yourself or your children to those boundaries. Nothing is stopping you from chasing those interests and, in doing so, creating a life-long love of learning. This happens because curiosity causes an increase in activity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for creating memories. You encourage your children to follow their passions and learn things they’re interested in, and you’re also employing a biological hack to ensure they remember those lessons.
Cater to different learning styles
Most public education relies on a reading and writing learning style, and as studies have repeatedly shown throughout the last few decades, those aren’t the only ways people learn. There are four primary types of learning styles and four others that have begun to gain some momentum in recent years. The first is:
- Visual: These learners do best when they take in new information visually, through maps, graphs, diagrams, charts, etc.
- Auditory: These learners do best when the information is heard or spoken. They thrive in lecture halls and learn well from audiobooks.
- Reading and writing: These learners do best when they can read or write the information.
- Kinesthetic: These learners do best when they can be hands-on.
Other types of learning styles include:
- Logical or analytical learners
- Social or linguistic learners
- Solitary learners
- Nature learners
Some studies suggest that there could be as many as 170 learning styles. Home education allows you to better understand your child’s abilities and help them thrive by catering to them.
Help children with special needs
Traditional public schools have to provide an education to everyone, but that doesn’t mean they’re prepared or equipped to meet every student’s needs. A child who uses a wheelchair or other mobility aid may not be able to easily navigate the campus on their own. Kids with ADHD may be brilliant but unable to sit still long enough to focus on the lesson, so they get labeled as a problem.
Home education is ideal in these situations. It’s much easier to create an educational plan that caters to each child’s needs than to fight with a public school system to get an IEP or 504 and then struggle every step of the way to get needed accommodations.
Focus on socialization
Socialization is one of the most significant talking points regarding home education, but it is rarely a problem. Besides, how often were you told to stop talking in public school or that you weren’t there to socialize?
Home education programs are perfect avenues for ensuring your children are well-socialized with people of all ages rather than just those in their age bracket. Studies show they often have better social, emotional, and psychological development skills than their traditionally educated peers.
If you’re concerned about your home-educated child’s social skills, one easy solution is to get out of the house more often. Look into field trips in your area. These don’t always have to require spending money.
You may also find that typical tourist attractions like trampoline parks or outdoor adventure activities will have homeschool days during the school year. These may be gimmicks to bring in business during what would otherwise be an off-peak season. However, they can also be excellent opportunities to improve your child’s socialization skills and get out of the house during the day.
Roughly 2 million parents home-educated their children before the pandemic. In the 2020-2021 school year, that number jumped to 3.7 million. Home education is one of the educational options available for parents in the U.S. and worldwide, so you should embrace it if it works for you and your kids.