Q. If a parent is thinking of homeschoolinga child, what are the first things to consider?
A. “The best bet is to speak with other people who are doing it. Ask them what’s involved. Some people don’t realize how much they have to put into it,” says Annette Dubin, founder of the Association of Home Educators Advancing Dreams, or AHEAD-NY, an online networking and support group for homeschooling families from the New York metropolitan area, including Long Island.
Parents should also consider their children’s personalities and learning styles, she says. Are they goal-oriented and motivated to learn? Do they prefer textbooks or working online? Then try to figure out how you would structure your teaching. Some parents bring in tutors to help with certain subject areas. All homeschooling costs are borne by the parents, she says.
Homeschooling parents have to report to the school districts, Dubin says. “You have to have some accountability for what you’re doing,” she says. Once parents send a letter of intent to homeschool, they receive a packet with curriculum goals. Several times a year, they have to report back and tell of a child’s progress. “It isn’t as if they fall off the radar,” she says. “It’s very clear-cut. You have parameters you need to follow.”
That said, homeschooling offers more flexibility for kids to spend additional time exploring topics they enjoy, says Dubin, who homeschooled her son, who is now in college.
Many homeschooling groups offer social outlets, field trip opportunities and other chances to work with other homeschooling families, Dubin says. “It’s a wonderful thing to do,” she says, “if you can do it.”