- How does one start a home-based education program?
- Where do I find curriculum materials?
- What about Socialization?
- Recommended Reading
- Readiness to Learn
- What is OFTP?
How does one start a home-based education program?
A person's education does not begin at junior kindergarten and end at high school, college or university. Education is a lifelong process, indeed it is an intricate part of life. It is what helps us cope, move ahead and ultimately enjoy the fullness of life. As a parent you have been intimately involved in your child's education from day one. You have already been a home educating family. Let's look at some of the principles of home learning with which you are already well acquainted.
Principle One - children are constantly learning - that is the name of the game - from initial body movement, to crawling, to walking, to talking, children have an inner motivation to learn.
Principle Two - as a parent you provide a learning environment and a model. The environment that you help create is one of safety, challenge and opportunity particularly suited and ever- changing to meet the present abilities and needs of your child.
Principle Three - a child learns when a child is ready. We all learn at different rates. Some walk before their first year, some learn to walk later ...and so on. The important thing is to respect the child's timetable. Faster is not better if the child is not ready. You cannot make a child walk - the child will walk when the child is ready.
With these three general principles it can be seen that you have already been involved intimately in home-based education. As a person grows older, the principles do not change. As the child grows older and reaches school age, the same three principles are operative.
Parents who chose to forego formal public schooling have found that the natural processes that they witnessed during the early years of development, continue to lead the child into activities such as reading, arithmetic and other areas of academic endeavour.
Where do I find curriculum materials?
First, a word about curriculum.
Curriculum is merely a tool to assist a person in learning to deal with and manipulate ideas and concepts. Curriculum needs to be flexible, there is no one-right curriculum for every child. As a home learner, you have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of alternatives, styles and learning methods.
For a traditional approach to curriculum, your Ministry of Education can provide you with grade level curriculum guidelines. These are constantly changing. There are many companies who write and sell text books in all subject areas and at all grade levels to keep pace with changing government guidelines.
For a less traditional approach, your local library has books for loan in all subject areas and at many ability levels. This is by far the least expensive and most diversified approach. Businesses such as Play and Learn teacher-type stories, offer a wide variety of both print, audio, visual and manipulative curriculum materials.
Every person, every experience that crosses someone's path is natural curriculum.
In the end, when all is said and done, the most significant force in a child's educational development, is the relationship he/she has with significant others (most often the parents) in his/her life. It is through the daily interaction between parent and child that values, beliefs, ideas and qualities of life are transferred and developed. The time spent answering a child's question, discussing events and ideas, laughing/crying, working through a spectrum of emotions/problems is the essence of home educating a child.
For more information on curriculum materials and where to get them, visit the OFTP website.
Frequently Asked Questions
"What about socialization? Is my child going to miss socialization experiences if he/she does not attend regular school?"
Yes. If you keep your child at home he/she will miss the socializing experience of having to keep his/her young, growing, active body sitting at a desk for extended periods of time. She will miss having to remain quiet and involved in tasks which allow an increasingly overloaded teaching staff to deal with some of the rest of the needs of the children in the classroom. Your child will miss looking down on those younger than himself and looking up to those older than himself. She will not learn to interrupt her interesting activities in order to follow the routines of the school and the agenda of others.
At home your child will be able to move freely, follow the family's timetable, meet people in different walks of life, visit interesting places, play with other home learners and have the time to work out and understand how people live and behave in the real world. Most importantly, she will more easily find out who she is and what her particular interests and roles in life are.
"Can you recommend some books to read?"
There is a proliferation of material available today on the subject of home-based education. A popular series from a few years ago was written by teacher and author John Holt. A few current names are:
- Dumbing Us Down, by John Taylor Gatto
- Teenage Liberation Handbook, by Grace Llewellyn
- Homeschooling For Excellence, by David and Micki Colfax
- If Learning Is So Natural Why Am I Going To School? by Andrew Nikiforuk
- How To Write A Low-Cost/No-Cost Curriculum For Your Home-school Child, by Borg Hendrickson
- The Relaxed Home School, by Mary Hood
- I Learn Better By Teaching Myself, by Agnes Leistico
We would also recommend anything by the late John Holt, author and former teacher, such as Teach Your Own, How Children Learn, Learning All The Time, Freedom & Beyond and other books. Many books have also been written about homeschooling by Dorothy and Raymond Moore.
"What about readiness to learn? Could this explain why my child is having trouble in school?"
Everyone is different. When a school system attempts to grade learning into levels, there are bound to be people who do not fit it. It is well known among home learners that one child will teach herself to read at age three with no one in particular helping her while her brother will not show any interest in reading until age nine, ten or later. Child psychologists tell us that as children we move through stages of readiness - for example, performing abstract math problems is best left until puberty. Before then, manipulative are what makes the most sense - the child can see that 1/8 of the pie is the same as ½ of ¼.
"What is the legal status of home education in Ontario?"
Home learning is a legal alternative to public schooling. Perhaps it is better stated that public schooling has in the last one hundred years become the alternative to home learning. OFTP has spent countless hours of volunteer time during the last fifteen years dealing with misunderstandings between school board officials and home learners. We continue to stress the support that the Education Act gives to parents to choose the education model for their children.
More in-depth information and discussion on the legalities of homeschooling is available on our website.
"What is the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents and why should I join?"
If you believe in the values and principles of home education , give your support to the movement in Ontario by joining us. We are a willing resource of people who try to help members and, to some extent, the general public, with answers to their questions, support for their programs and advice in their interaction with government officials.
The print version of the Special Edition also included the OFTP's Mission Statement, a brief history of OFTP, a list of OFTP accomplishments and initiatives, and a list of benefits of membership.
The webpage version included the following invitation:
We are all volunteers. Join us to give to others what you have been given by way of information from this web site and other OFTP publications and programs.