According to the National Home Education Research Institute, approximately 2 million students are currently home-schooled, and that number has recently been growing at roughly 2 to 8 percent annually. The institute's research indicates that parents’ level of formal education, income, or whether they were ever certified as teachers is not related to student achievement. The growing popularity of home schooling creates an excellent opportunity for the knowledgeable home-school consultant. If you choose this profession, you will become a lifelong learner.
Understand the Context
Inform yourself fully about any home-school guidelines in the state where you want to work. Each state regulates education within its borders. Laws surrounding home schooling are state laws that vary in what they require of home-schooling families. Some states, like Illinois, require nothing from home-schooling parents; others, like Texas, require an official notification that the family will be home-schooling its children. The most stringent states, such as New York and Pennsylvania, require submission of achievement test scores and sometimes impose additional requirements such as approval of a curriculum, teaching qualifications of parents and even home visits by state officials.
Know Subject Matter Resources
Home-school consulting is currently unregulated. A would-be home-school consultant needs only hang out a shingle and attract clients to be in business. But you have to do your homework in state curricula, resources and high school graduation requirements. Your success as a home-school consultant depends on your ability to obtain clients and provide quality service. Providing assistance with relevant subject matter is an important way to render that service. For example, when you meet with a potential client, take along a copy of the state's curriculum guidelines and be familiar with websites and texts that are relevant to the grade level of the student to be home-schooled.
Help with Decision Making
Home schooling creates many educational opportunities in a variety of subject areas for home-schooling parents and children. The home-school consultant should be able to help parents discover and utilize options that can make learning fun and interesting. Language arts opportunities abound. For example, the parent might encourage the child to read signs at a zoo or museum as a way to motivate reading. Sounding out words on other real-world signs adds another dimension to learning English. Grocery shopping, playing store, filling up the gas tank or depositing money in the bank can enhance math skills. Interactive online resources, such as HippoCampus.org, the Smithsonian Institution Ocean Portal and Scholastic Student Activities cover numerous subjects for children of various grade levels. Ineedpencil.com provides free SAT test prep. Short courses and special learning opportunities at area libraries, museums and parks are also available in many areas of the country. Part of your job as home-school consultant is to raise parents' awareness of these opportunities in their communities.
Know Organizational Resources
Network. Network. Network. Home-schooling organizations such as Illinois' Home Oriented Unique Schooling Experience (HOUSE) are important sources of information and comradeship for home-schooling families. Local groups are also good places to network in order to find people who may be looking for a consultant’s assistance. Some libraries have special resources for home-schoolers such as textbooks for the different grades within the district. Many public schools permit a home-schooled student to attend selected classes, such as foreign language, or to play on sports teams. Groups of home-schoolers sometimes pool resources to hire tutors to teach special subjects, such as biology or music, to groups of children. As a home-school consultant, you need to be aware of all of them.