I recently wrote an article for Principal Matters, an Australian school leaders’ magazine. In it, I proposed a challenge to the homeschool/school divide. I proposed a challenge to that divide because it’s not as simple as a binary implies. For example, studies argue that many homeschool students transition between mainstream and home school. This move is in spite of the main reasons to homeschool being either ideological (for example, Christians who seek out homeschool in order to control the curricular content to which their children are exposed) or pedagogical (for example those parents concerned with the structure and form of instruction who may be attracted to unschooling or natural learning). Van Galen (paywall) (1991) also argued that there were three broad camps of homeschoolers, those who believe it strenghtens families, those who believe schools teach values that are inconsistent with family values and those parents who believe they have a unique insight into their children’s educational needs.
However, as students tend to transition between the two, I argued for a range of changes to the ways that mainstream schools view homeschoolers. I advocate:
- The sharing of curriculum resources with parents who choose to follow a traditional school at home route could be useful. By providing these resources, schools could also show parents who have made the choice to homeschool that they are supportive, willing to engage in a dialogue and are not nefarious institutions who wish to control their children.
- Schools utilising their infrastructure resources to assist homeschool families. For example, the use of specialised Hospitality kitchens, Industrial work sheds and Art studios could be opened up to homeschool families. Again, opening up of the resources would assist homeschool families to feel more comfortable within the space of a traditional school.
- Activities that allow socialisation between home and traditionally schooled students could be implemented. Many homeschool families report that questions about socialisation are dreaded but common among families who traditionally school (cf. Fedele, 2010; Schildbach, 2009).
- Accepting the knowledge that homeschool families have about their children and using that to advance teaching.
These are just four ideas to advance the links between schools and homeschools, do you have any others?