Brangelina kids to hit the books from home

When Angelina Jolie graced the silver screen as a sultry robot assassin in Cyborg 2, no one in the Academy took notice. Nevertheless her (and hubby Brad's) view on education has garnered support from leading academics. Hollywood's red-carpet couple recently pulled its six children out of traditional schools in favor of homeschooling.

Homeschooling on the rise

Instead of dropping them off at school every morning, Brangelina opts to visit museums, read books and play instruments with their children. "I do think we live in a different age where the education system hasn't caught up with our children and our way of life," Angelina recently told The Independent.

Is the Pitt family's take on education catching on? In 2010, more than 2 million students received their educations at home, the National Home Education Research Institute reports, an approximate 500,000 student increase from 2007. Reasons such as dissatisfaction with the current education system and the desire to provide moral or religious instruction to their children are often cited as parents' primary motivations.

Understanding homeschool options

In its 2010 homeschooling bulletin, Alberta Education broke home-centered education into three distinct groups:

  1. School authority programs: Parents give all responsibility to the school authority for education, including curriculum development, lesson delivery and resource acquisition
  2. Home education programs: Parents take all responsibility, using pre-developed or parent-developed programs at home
  3. Blended programs: The school and the parent share responsibility for courses. Education could occur fully at home--online and offline--or between home and a traditional school.

Facilitating these homeschool options, new learning modes and technological advancements are giving parents and their children even more educational flexibility.

Online learning and homeschooling

While not all moms and dads have the travel schedules of Brad and Ange, online education and its various components are making homeschooling far more convenient for parents and children alike. Real-time Web chats, for example, allow students to converse with teachers and peers about schoolwork, homework and even recreational opportunities. Furthermore, enhancements to and increased availability of video conferencing can bring homeschoolers face-to-face with instructors and fellow students either ad hoc or at set times.

Although distance learning can benefit many different types of students, some stand out a prime candidates. Rural students, who might otherwise have a hard time commuting to school, can participate from anywhere with an Internet connection. And families who must travel for work, or who simply like to hit the road at times, don't need to worry about returning in time for the next semester to begin.

Resources for K-12 online learning programs

In a June 2010 report of existing studies, the Offices of Research and Education Accountability noted that "When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more." Monitoring a child's self-motivation, checking their online progress and communicating with the child's teachers can all support student success.

Use the following links to learn more about homeschooling and blended learning programs:

  1. The Minnesota Department of Education offers more tips for supporting student success, including a checklist challenging parents to familiarize themselves with the curriculum, give positive feedback and contact teachers and administrators if they have questions.
  2. The Northwest Educational Technology Consortium provides a helpful parent/student checklist that can help prospective online students learn more about their potential as a distance learner.
  3. The U.S. Department of State offers a number of resources for blended and parent-developed homeschooling programs, including an independent study catalog, links to homeschooling sites and free teacher resources.
  4. Home Education Magazine is a regular publication with education tips, trends and resources for parents and guardians.

Choosing a high-quality education provider can take the stress out of homeschooling children of all ages. If homeschooling is good enough for Brangelina, it could signify the start of a major trend.