Despite the wide availability of public and private K-12 education, many parents and children prefer to learn at home – at their own pace, using the curriculum of their choice and, in many cases, the resources available in public libraries.
Many parents were homeschooled before the health emergency, when a pandemic was the last thing on their mind. Will homeschooling become more prevalent in the decades to come?
Some faiths believe that public school curricula include content (eg, sex education) that they see as their domain, and not that of a school system that serves many different beliefs and value systems. Thus, pre-planned, faith-based curricula became available decades ago, allowing parents to select learning plans that support their values and beliefs.
A greater parenting role
For some families, home schooling offers a richer and more flexible opportunity to play a key role in the education of their children. For example, they might want to incorporate impromptu field trips, athletics, hands-on experiences, talks with grandparents, or other spontaneous and innovative learning activities to complement and enhance more traditional lessons.
Adapt to parents’ work situations
Many working parents travel for work, from a few days to a few months or even years. But, instead of being away from their families, they want their children and spouses to benefit from the experience as well. It could mean learning on a week-long trip to another city or studying other cultures while living abroad.
The role of public libraries
Many parents interested in home schooling, whether out of desire or necessity, start out nervous, not always knowing where to start or where to find help. That is why public libraries go to great lengths to reach out to parents, local groups and organizations that teach at home. They even organize events at the library to familiarize homeschooled families with the resources available.
Hands-on activities, engaging displays, and take-home learning kits prepared or led by librarians are especially popular with homeschooled children. Parents have a break from developing lessons while watching their “students” enjoy the discovery process. Plus, all these resources don’t cost them anything!
The roles of librarians go beyond that too. As house students mature and develop intellectually, they want to explore more adult resources, like the online library catalog and various databases, to an extent that their parents might not be familiar with. Imagine the confidence a child will gain by having new knowledge and skills to share with mom or dad!
We would like to emphasize that families can explore libraries to use the resources on the shelves and (especially in urban libraries) see and interact with unfamiliar people representing various cultures. We must remind you that public libraries are among the most democratic institutions in our country. What better place to learn?
Home education resources
In the 21st century, public libraries offer an endless array of learning resources. These include:
Their own assets.
Physical objects shared through library networks (books and other objects).
Digital resources accessible to anyone with a computer, Internet access and a local or regional public library card.
Many public events.
If you’re looking for Kindergarten to Grade 12 or college textbooks to augment your home schooling efforts, check out the library catalog to see what’s available. If you can’t find what you need, ask a librarian to help you dig deeper by looking through the stacks or locating it in another library and using Interlibrary Loan (ILL) to borrow it.
“Regular library books” are often not that simple, especially when it comes to collections for children and adolescents. Many age-appropriate volumes cover one or more aspects of familiar school subjects such as science or history. Plus, many have illustrations, diagrams, and other fascinating features that are sure to grab a child’s attention.
The most engaging learning experience for kids might be a library learning kit, as mentioned above. They offer hands-on activities ranging from science experiments and musical instrument lessons to arts and crafts projects. Most include the necessary materials, tools and instruments.
Also enjoy exhibitions, presentations, workshops, films, storytelling hours, reading groups or any other age-appropriate activity of your library. And don’t forget to discuss these events with your children during the activity or afterwards to share what you have enjoyed and learned.
Did you know that libraries often hand out passes to museums, zoos, planetariums and other local attractions where kids can learn while having fun?
By integrating home and school, home schooling can give children a sense of independence, creativity, and even maturity that they might not get when moving from home to a more structured school environment. Some say homeschoolers sacrifice socialization. But nothing prevents parents from encouraging non-school socialization outside the home.
Technically, libraries are not schools and many librarians are not certified teachers. Nonetheless, they educate the public and offer a lot to guide families to great experiential learning opportunities. And parents are supported to achieve their goals, which include using their preferred curriculum and teaching their children as they see fit.
Information provided by EveryLibrary, a 501 © 4 organization that helps libraries in their missions. More information on everyli brary.org ..