Homeschooling is growing worldwide, and for centennials, this is the start of replacing the traditional 12 years of in-class learning. What age is best suited to homeschooling brings up various options for this alternative educational model that boosts child-centered learning. So, at what age should you start homeschooling?
Homeschooling can start at any age. Homeschool pundits say it even begins at birth. Kids learn the most in their first three years of life. Homeschooling drives models for continuous learning with the freedom to choose what to learn as high on the agenda. Different age groups have different needs.
Homeschooling advocates say age is secondary to the process of homeschooling. Kids have an innate interest in the world around them, ask questions, and can homeschool at any age. Homeschooling follows a child’s interest right from birth along a path of self-discovery and self-determinism. Some types of homeschooling can involve standard age-defined curricula.
What’s The Age To Start Homeschooling
Homeschooling is a progressive choice as parents push for their offspring’s future independence and a life-long way of learning. Education is being redefined with nearly 2 million homeschoolers of varying ages in the States. Kids’ innate aptitude for learning and desire to be homeschooled fuels the trend. But what age is good to start homeschooling?
Many agree that different age groups gain differently from homeschooling. So too, do the home environments and domestic circumstances influence homeschool readiness. Other parents feel more confident to shift from traditional in-classroom schooling if their kids at least have experience in conventional in-class learning and education.
Parents’ decision to move to homeschooling for their kids often is based on feelings that conventional schooling doesn’t recognize their kids’ potential. Their choices are to stick through elementary school and start at middle school or to have elementary and middle school as a basis and do high school homeschooling.
In terms of age, these formal schooling categories are:
- Elementary school (includes Kindergarten): ages 5-10 learn curriculum basics
- Middle school: ages 11-13 developed skills to time manage and learn
- High school: ages 14-18 become self-reliant
Parents often regard formal schooling as a basis for adapting to homeschooling. The above is an overview of what happens in terms of a kid’s in-class learning and achievements. For some parents who are considering homeschooling, these categories gauge their kid’s readiness to learn independently at home.
Homeschooling, in this case, is more like home-based learning and often follows the curriculum of public and private schools. In this case, parents or a tutor work with a fixed curriculum. The parents are tutor-mentors, and what they do is really school-at-home. This kind of home-based learning is different from that of homeschooling.
Some parents favor responsible homeschooling as a break from formal schooling where grades and accreditation matters. Parents feel formal schooling isn’t focused on critical life-long skills that nurture kids’ talents and interests (see below). Homeschooling allows kids to broaden their interests and parents too can grow and learn.
The child’s interests are foregrounded in a parent- or tutor-led fashion. All aspects of a standard curriculum are brought in for a full-rounded understanding of a topic that interests a child. Parents take a child-centered approach, look at their kids’ skills, and include everyday happenings to help kids think wider than just their interests.
Each child is unique in their response to this form of learning, irrespective of their age. It’s a child’s uniqueness that’s embraced in homeschooling. Homeschoolers argue that kids (of all ages) need every opportunity to learn and achieve what they’re good at.
The feeling is that mainstream schooling dampens kids’ talent with an in-house school curriculum focused on competitive grades. And often, kids just don’t fit into the authoritative school system, and many even feel they’re dumb. Some are outright bored and disinterested.
Homeschooling From Birth
Homeschooling is chosen to bring out the uniqueness of each kid. Homeschooling was born from ideological thinking on the role of public and private schools in kids’ lives (and adults, too) in the seventies.
The proponents of this early thinking on homeschooling were the Austrian philosopher and social critic Ivan Illich, educationalists John Holt, and Dorothy and Raymond Moore. Explicitly, Illich’s work on ‘deschooling’ society drew attention.
Illich agitated for a form of learning that involved the freedom to choose what to learn. His thinking was adapted to learning at home. Specifically, his emphasis on life-long learning and what was absent from public and private school curricula drew Holt and Moore’s attention.
A forty-year-long journey now is progressively reforming learning. The classroom and a fixed school curriculum are no longer the be-all and end-all of learning. Homeschooling professes to unleash children’s inner creativity. The age of the kids’ awakening isn’t as important as acknowledging that kids can be homeschooled at any age and succeed. Some even say right from birth!
Homeschooling Nurtures Individual Talents
Responsible homeschooling looks beyond age and focuses on the milieu of the homeschooling environment. All ages benefit from learning at home, not by enforcing a top-down curriculum. Homeschooling at any age is child-centered. If a child likes worms and dirt, let them dig in the garden, start a worm farm and learn about organic gardening.
What appears like a lasses-fair approach to schooling is a learning stage. Kids’ individual talents are recognized, and this affirms a belief that your child will do well, even if they’re not at a traditional school!
The age at which homeschooling is started can be rigid and in line with achieving the age-specific goals of public and private schools. But this doesn’t need to be the case.
As mentioned, the environment in which the learning happens stretches beyond age groups. A five-year-old can work with a seven or even nine-year-old and learn. And mentors can be of varying ages and ethnicities too.
Encourage Play And Socialization
Some parents’ concern with homeschooling is the fear that kids are too young to be isolated and need to socialize. They refer to the socialization that happens at conventional public and private schools. They worry that homeschooling is too insular. Also, they are concerned that their kid is too young for homeschooling.
At schools, kids are in a group environment and play, run and explore together. This aspect lets parents think twice about homeschooling, especially for kids between 5 and 10 years old.
Proponents of responsible homeschooling have a different view and feel all kids can be homeschooled. The age of a child doesn’t matter. In fact, many kids never see the inside of traditional public or private schools. The homeschoolers learn to socialize through social cooperatives and attend social activities like:
- Dance and music lessons
- Church and Sunday School
- Field trips
- Sport and Drama
The response from homeschooling parents is that there’s no need to fear that young kids aren’t fit to be homeschooled. Homeschooling doesn’t happen in isolation; even the internet is an online community resource. So, the learning of ‘social fluency’ happens naturally and isn’t absent in homeschoolers. This choice doesn’t affect the age at which a kid is homeschooled.
Homeschooling At Different Ages
No doubt, homeschooling is an educational mindset that sets up values that favor individual learning over mass-mediated and mainstream education. The influence and following of homeschooling as a counter-learning model is spreading worldwide.
At the root of homeschooling’s popularity is its focus on a child’s personal development at any age. The kids’ innate aptitude for homeschooling is seen in their motivation from really small to want to learn. They are interested and ask questions. Homeschooling looks at praise as a reward. It’s not the diplomas that boost kids’ confidence or a lack thereof that bursts confidence.
Principles based on continuous learning stand out, and for homeschooling parents, the learning process starts at birth. Homeschool age-readiness is open-ended when thinking about which age is best. This is unlike in-classroom learning that’s regulated by age from Kindergarten upwards.
However, different ages also learn differently, like:
- Play for younger kids
- Structured activities for older children
Mostly homeschooling is chosen as a ‘positive’ social experience and a ‘safe’ learning environment.
Homeschooling After Pre-school
Often kids are sent to preschool as parents have not yet considered homeschooling. The age groups 2-5 learn through play and gross-motor skill exercises. At around five years of age, kids learn to recite the alphabet and look at numbers and shapes.
The most important part of starting at a preschool is playing with other kids. This can also be the most traumatic aspect when parents decide to homeschool (see below section on ‘making the transition’).
Homeschooling After Elementary Schooling
With a grounding in preschool and Kindergarten and going on to elementary school level, the 5-11-year-olds show their independence, even at school. At this age, the option of homeschooling might be difficult too. The kid might be used to the school environment, and the decision to homeschool might be foreign.
Some aspects to take into consideration include the following:
- Level of kid’s independence
- Their independent thinking skills
- Their learning style
The above will indicate how homeschooling must be rolled-out. Also, parents need to be aware that once a kid is enrolled at a school, they must officially withdraw from the school before starting homeschooling.
Homeschooling after elementary school (from 11 to 15 years) is a bit complicated as even the authority of parents or tutors can be challenged. Parents might even start to doubt their ability to facilitate homeschooling. This is why a network of homeschooling options exists, like homeschool co-ops and other programs to enrich learning.
The 15-18-year-old homeschooler, who has been at elementary school, can also benefit from exploring their talents and learning at home without peer pressure. For many, homeschooling at this stage is a stepping stone toward encouraging life-long learning.
The move from a conventional public or private school environment to homeschooling can be unsettling, though. The decision can be parent-directed or motivated by the child. But the adjustment might not be simple. The aim, of course, is a smooth transition (see below).
Parents As Facilitators Of Homeschooling
With homeschooling, the parents are the key influencers, and homeschooling looks at family circumstances, even access to technology, but mostly kids’ needs and interests. A kid’s individual strength and talent are boosted. Homeschooling is individual and child-centered irrespective of a kid’s age. Age is less critical than nurturing a kid’s desire to want to learn.
What makes homeschooling individual (and not driven by age, for example) is the freedom to do what’s good for your kid at any age. Parents help kids and families bond – homeschooling is a mutually beneficial learning curve.
The world is your oyster, takes on multiple meanings with homeschooling. Imagine a youngster, not in a school uniform, but a tee shirt, shorts, and sneakers with arms stretched open and ready to embrace the world and fly! Homeschooling is possible, and there’s no curb on age or what to learn.
Often it’s the parents who act slowly on getting homeschooling started. This is because they might be the products of conventional schooling. It might be that their kids start off in traditional public or private schools. And that homeschooling becomes their choice only when they are dissatisfied with the system.
A parent-facilitator aims to live the basic principle of homeschooling as life-long learning. Homeschoolinbecomesme tricky when kids are already in a conventional schooling environment and taken out.
Factors That Affect A Smooth Transition To Homeschooling
Whatever the motivation to do homeschooling, as seen above, you need to be aware of where your child stands concerning their unlearning of being at school. And remember, homeschooling is an option at any age.
Kids can leave school for homeschooling and go through a process of being ‘deschooled‘ – starting a continuous learning process. This happens when a child or a parent starts to value homeschooling and wants to make this change.
Of course, there are instances in which kids don’t get enrolled in the conventional schooling system and only know homeschooling. In this case, the uniformly fixed curriculum and rigid schooling are refused, and kids’ learning follows the homeschooling model. If this is not the case, moving from a conventional school to homeschooling can be a ‘big transition’ for newbie homeschoolers.
Some of the most common sentiments that mark this unnerving moment are:
- Kid experiences grief
- Loss of school as central and familiar
- Reasons for beginning homeschooling not clear
Kids don’t always move smoothly from school to homeschooling. They can grieve for friendships and even what’s been familiar to them. Whether this is Kindergarten, elementary or mid-schooling, parents need to recognize the kid’s grief. Mostly it’s a case of finding ways to supplement the loss of a school learning environment.
Interestingly, post-pandemic homeschooling demographics (predominantly white and rural before) have shifted to see Black and Hispanic learners as the ‘fasted growing homeschool demographic’. Factors influencing this move are school safety concerns, drugs, and peer pressure. Mostly it’s parents that spearhead the movement toward homeschooling.
Homeschooling is one of the fastest-growing movements in the States and worldwide. At this stage, schools still are chosen for younger ages. But increasingly, high school learners opt for homeschooling.
Clearly, trends are rising, and the conventional schooling model has a ready competitor: homeschooling. The age at which you’ll see homeschooling start is set to change too.