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Parents that undertake a homeschool program have an educational goal in mind for their children. It is the children that motivate the decision to leave an occupation and begin school again, through the homeschool curriculum. As you begin to seek out a homeschool program, it is important to determine whether your educational objective is a teacher-centered or student-centered environment.
Many families begin homeschooling because they are interested in supporting their child's personal academic growth through their own unique perspective and interests. In this case, the curriculum used in the homeschool classroom would be student-centered -- an academic program that is led by the student and scaffolded by the teacher. This is an environment that encourages free exploration, curiosity, independent thinking and personal growth. It is a classroom in which the teacher does not do tasks in which the student is capable of doing.
The child-centered curriculum is built upon supporting the independent thinking of the learner, often called “unschooling.” In the student-centered learning programs, the teacher becomes a co-learner if the child's interest extends beyond the teacher/parent's own knowledge. A child benefits from observing his or her teacher/parent involved in the learning process, as this proves that life provides an ongoing education for everyone.
In the teacher-centered or teacher-directed classroom, the teacher has an established curriculum that must be followed in order to meet standardized benchmarks for each learner. The pace is continuous and does not slow down for those that fall behind. If a student asks a question that is not in line with the current academic goals, the question is dismissed politely and the educational topic continues on track. There are many that prefer this type of educational environment for their children, but most homeschool parents do not want to participate in a teacher-directed learning environment. As you preview and visit different co-ops, make sure to identify which teaching style is used in the classroom.