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Homeschooling On The Web

by Joyce Camp

Whether you're a concerned parent or want to update your job skills, homeschooling and the Web are a perfect match. Homeschooling has come of age on the Web. It is easier now than it ever has been in the past to find resources for home-based learning.

Homeschoolers are not easily pigeonholed. The reasons for choosing to educate their children (and quite often themselves) at home range widely from religious reasons to freedom issues.

The best site I have found for home education information is Karl Bunday'sLearn In Freedom. His massive site contains answers to all the questions that could possibly come to mind.

Here are two questions I've been asked frequently:

1.) What about socialization? Every homeschooler has been asked this question more times than they can count. Kurtanswers this questionquite eloquently.

2.) How will the children get into college? Kurt has compiled a list of colleges that have accepted homeschooled students. Most of the Ivy League universities are on thelist, as are many other highly regarded institutions.

If you've decided to homeschool, you need to learn about the laws in your state, province or country. Protect yourself and keep a hard copy available. Make sure you understand exactly what you are required to do. All the states have their laws available online now.Eclectic Homeschoolmaintains a list of links for all the U.S. states and Puerto Rico.Homeschool Centralhas a page devoted to international homeschooling.

Your next task is to figure out what method will work best for you and your family. The types of methods in very general terms are described below.


In these families, the approach is school-at-home, sometimes complete with desks and flag. Learning is top-down. Facts are memorized; tests are administered regularly. The lessons follow a strict pattern. Subjects are taught separately. This method is most often used by families who have no problem with the basic philosophy of learning that schools use. They are often homeschooling for religious or moral reasons. It is also often used by families during the first few months of homeschooling until they and the children learn to trust themselves and their abilities. This method leads to burnout for many of the families who choose it, though some do well. If you experience burnout, the best solution, in my experience, is to take some time off and just enjoy your kids. This will help you remember why you chose to homeschool in the first place.


This is child-led learning, meaning the children's interests dictate what they learn. This philosophy comes from Rousseau's book, Emile. The late John Holt also popularized the idea in his homeschooling books. The families that choose this approach are homeschooling because they believe that traditional methods of education stifle children's creativity and zest for learning. The online interview ofSandra Doddhelps explain what unschooling can be if a parent can relax and enjoy it. I wasn't able to deal with the uncertainty myself.


In my experience, most homeschooling families eventually fall into this category. This method, if it can be called a method, is a mixture of the latter two methods. For example, in our home, we believe that it is extremely important to learn how to read, write and do math well, in order to be able to learn anything else. Therefore, we have traditional-type lessons for reading, math and writing, but we follow the children's interests for history, science and other subjects. We wait until the children ask to learn how to read before attempting to teach them, however.


The families that use this method believe that children should learn following a medieval course of study, called the Trivium. During the early years, or the Grammar stage, the emphasis is on memorization of facts. Usually ancient and modern languages are learned during this period, particularly Latin and Greek. During the middle years, the Logic stage, the student learns to question the whys and wherefores of all they are learning. The final years, the Rhetoric stage, are when the children learn to put it all together, and develop their own world view based upon their observation and debate with others. It's interesting to note that the stages seem to roughly correlate with Piaget's developmental stages. The Trivium has a lot to recommend it. It teaches children how to think for themselves, which is a valuable tool for life. Most of the resources I've found on the Web have a Christian slant, but the method is rather easily modified to fit your personal belief system.Classical Christian Educationhas an extensive site, complete with suggested book lists and links to online grammars.

Related to the Classical method, but more child-led, is the Charlotte Mason method. I like this method a great deal. Children learn through reading good literature, none of what she called "twaddle," meaning no books that cater to the lowest common denominator. The children are to keep observation notebooks. This method is very easily integrated into homeschooling.

Unit Studies

Many families (including our own) use unit studies to study a subject in great depth. Unit studies usually try to incorporate all areas of the curriculum into the unit. Here is where the Web comes into its own. There are literally thousands of free unit studiesavailable on the Web.

If you're feeling adventurous, or would like to take full advantage of the flexibility offered by homeschooling, I would recommend Amanda Bennet's Unit Study Adventures . She provides plenty of advice for people who wish to create their own unit studies.

The advantages of using the Net for homeschooling are enormous. Research is very easy now. I've learned that the usual search engines are too slow and cumbersome. Then I found Webferret, which is a program that searches all the major search engines at once. I highly recommend it. It can be found at Ferretsoft. This program will help you find resources for your lessons much more quickly.

Several schools and colleges offer lessons over the Web, which many people think is the next logical step for all education. The most well known isVirtual University. Many others exist for all the educational levels. In fact, we recently started taking advantage of some free phonics lessons offered over the Web byBill and Janae Cookseyfor our two middle children. Elementary level students can enroll in free preview lessons atE-Tutor. Discovery Channel Online offerslesson plans, TV schedules, and activities for all grade levels. Clonlara has begun offering online courses for high-school students. Mining Companyhas a great list of high-school level links. Keystone National Highschool offers a correspondence program, including driver's education! I don't know much about this school otherwise, but I have ordered their catalog. I think that it would be best suited to those families who have used correspondence schools all along.

This article only scratches the surface of the vast educational opportunities available on the Web. As you can see, there is a wealth of homeschooling information on the Web, just waiting to be discovered by you and your family!

Joyce Camp lives in the wilds of New Hampshire with her husband and four daughters. She has lived in New England all of her life.


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