Jewish homeschooling is yet another small but growing trend among parents. Like Christian and Muslim home schooling, Jewish parents who choose to homeschool their children are concerned about the quality of a public school education as well as values contrary to their beliefs being taught in schools. Many parents who live in urban areas have a choice to send their children to Jewish-run schools, but families in rural environments may find themselves with only public school as an option. These Jewish families turn to homeschooling.
The Jewish Homeschooling Choice
Jewish parents seeking to home school their children do so for many of the same reasons as their Muslim, Christian and non-religious counterparts.
Poor Quality Public Schools
For many parents, the substandard quality of education at their local public schools pushes them to seek homeschooling options. Falling standardized test scores and below-grade reading levels are often the warning signs parents fear the most. For these parents, the only solution is to take their children out of the public education system and educate them at home.
Many children benefit from the individualized curriculum tailored to their interests that a homeschooling education provides. Too many children are warehoused in classes according to age instead of ability or interest. Bored children often get into trouble, not through malicious or spiteful intent, but simply for something more interesting to do. Rather than risk turning their children off from learning altogether, many parents choose to create a flexible homeschooling curriculum to address their needs.
Getting started in Jewish homeschooling is much the same as with other types of homeschooling. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 of the states for those living in America, but certain restrictions can apply. Some states require that parents file educational plans with a state, county or local education board, while others allow the local synagogue or Jewish school to review and approve homeschooling plans. Most states have homeschooling branches of the state education department, or a county education department that provides resources to homeschooling parents.
Choosing a Curriculum
Jewish homeschooling parents often face challenges when seeking a homeschooling curriculum. Many textbooks and courses are designed for Christian home schooled children. Here are some secular homeschool programs recommended by Jewish homeschooling parents. These include:
- Calvert School provides non-religious home schooling materials for students in pre kindergarten through eigth grade. Online support is also available.
- Oak Meadow is another organization providing homeschooling curriculum with no religious theme. Online or home-based studies provide a thorough grounding in the basics for students of all abilities.
- Laurel Springs provides distance-learning and virtual classrooms for homeschooling students. Jewish homeschooling families frequently recommend this rigorous program.
Teaching Jewish Studies
Questions often arise for Jewish homeschooling families about teaching Jewish studies. Many parents tackle this subject themselves, especially if they feel they are proficient at teaching the Torah and in Hebrew. Families living near enough to a good tutor may also hire a more experienced educator to teach the Torah, or enroll their children in an afternoon Hebrew school at the synagogue, if available.
Homeschooling Resources for Jewish Families
If you'd like to explore the world of Jewish homeschooling, the following groups can help you get started.
- Jewish Homeschool Journal is a blog, but a unique blog. It includes activities, resources and ideas for homeschooling parents, all with a Jewish theme. It's well worth a visit and a bookmark.
- Jon's Homeschooling Resources site provides parents with information, links, and more. Find support groups, discussion groups on Torah-centered learning and other topics, and much more.
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