Do you have questions about how to start homeschooling? Not sure what the first step as a new homeschooler might be?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here for you, and we want to help you get started on your homeschool journey!
Q: What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is the most flexible and diverse educational option available today. The variety of homeschooling styles reflects the diversity of the people who choose this method. Some families organize their homeschool the same as a traditional school with the children studying the same subjects the same way as public school students. Some families use the opposite approach and “unschool” their children – a far less structured approach where the children’s schedule is determined by their interests and readiness.
Most homeschoolers, however, use an eclectic approach that is partly structured and partly interest-based. This method allows parents to pick and choose the classes and materials that meet their children’s needs. These may be college or co-op classes, pool teaching, charter schools, independent study programs, apprenticeships, volunteering, and a host of options. Homeschooling is as unique as you are.
If you’re not sure which curriculum to choose, Time4Learning offers no risk to start with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Q: What do the different types of homeschooling families look like?
Although homeschoolers are often stereotyped as hippies or religious fanatics, most homeschoolers are just normal parents who have decided to take charge of their children’s education. Homeschoolers are everywhere and come from all walks of life.
They live in cities, in the suburbs, and in the country. They are doctors and janitors and public school teachers. Some homeschoolers have strong religious beliefs and some are nonbelievers. Homeschoolers are just like you.
Q: Is homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states and throughout Canada. Homeschooling is also becoming increasingly popular in Australia and New Zealand. However, every state and province has its own laws regarding homeschooling and some are more “friendly” than others. Some homeschooling laws merely require you to let your local school district know that you will be homeschooling your children.
Some laws require you to fill out paperwork as if you were a private school. If you are considering homeschooling, you will need to get information on the current laws in your area. State or local homeschool groups are often the best source of information. A member of a support group in your state can advise you on how to register as a homeschooler in your state.
Q: Do I need to be a certified teacher?
This is a valid concern for many homeschooling parents when researching how to homeschool. In most cases, the answer is “no.” However, there are one or two states that require homeschooling parents to hold a college degree or teacher certificate. The best way to determine the required parent qualifications is by visiting your state’s Department of Education page. Fortunately, the majority of states do not expect parents to hold a bachelor’s degree or teaching certification. Even so, it is important to note that there are a few states requiring homeschool parents to have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
In lieu of a teaching certificate, certain states may require submitted curriculum plans or may assign a certified teacher to assess your homeschool for the first couple of years. Numerous states require at least some kind of end-of-year progress assessment, whether by standardized testing, portfolio review, or student assessment by a certified instructor. If you want to homeschool your children, one of the most important first steps is reviewing your state’s homeschooling laws.
Q: How does homeschooling work?
The process of homeschooling looks different for each family. However, following state requirements is a universal first step for everyone. Before families can begin to choose curriculum or find resources, they must research their state laws. States may only require families to file an intent to homeschool affidavit, or they may need a copy of your plan for the year in addition to yearly testing. Either way, it’s important to know what your state requires of your family before making any homeschooling decisions.
Once you have a plan in place to fulfill your state laws, you are free to look for a curriculum according to your student’s learning styles or the methods that best fit your family. Homeschooling for some families may look like a fully online curriculum for core subjects, or it may involve textbooks combined with homeschool co-ops classes, and everything in-between. Homeschooling can work by mixing curricula for various subjects of study, by using one homeschool program for every class, or even a free virtual academy in a school-at-home method thanks to public school systems.
To answer your questions about homeschooling, we have to first start with determining what your family needs and your lifestyle preferences. Homeschooling works by meeting the students where they are and letting them learn at their own pace. Homeschooling for your family could be with an entirely online curriculum, or with only books, or a mix of both. In the end, homeschooling works by meeting your child’s best learning style and consequently, helping them excel.
Q: How much does homeschooling cost?
Depending on the choices you make, homeschooling can cost either a little or a lot. Generally, you can assume that homeschooling costs more than a public school education and less than a private school. If you had to, you could homeschool practically for free using public resources like libraries, PBS shows, museums, the internet, and hand-me-down educational supplies.
In general, homeschooling costs more if you use a complete boxed curriculum (like Alpha Omega or Abeka) or sign up with an independent study school (like Laurel Springs or Keystone). There are very affordable all-in-one online curriculum services (like Time4Learning) that may just need to be supplemented with electives or Bible. Also, homeschooling costs tend to be higher for teenagers than for elementary school students. Since many homeschool teens also take college classes, you will have to factor that into your educational budget.
You will also want to budget additional funding for extracurricular activities such as soccer, gymnastics, martial arts, piano lessons, and the like. Since homeschooled children have more time, they tend to participate in more of these activities.
The bottom line is that: (1) you have complete control over how much homeschooling will cost and (2) you can give your child a quality education no matter how much or how little money you have. Check out the depth of resources available in our Resource Guide, which offers search functions to help you find exactly what you need.
Q: What are some homeschooling pros and cons?
Pros: For many homeschoolers, one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the strengthening of family bonds. Homeschooling families spend lots of time learning and playing together and this naturally creates close ties between brothers and sisters and between children and parents.
Homeschoolers also have a great deal of flexibility in how and what they learn, allowing them to learn about the “real world” by being part of it. These advantages allow homeschooled children to receive a superior education that is attuned specifically to their own needs, learning style, personality, and interests.
Cons: According to homeschoolers’ feedback on Homeschool.com, the biggest disadvantage facing the homeschooling family is the loss of income. Someone must be home, at least part-time, to facilitate the children’s learning. At a time when it can often be difficult to get by on two incomes, it can be a real challenge to get by on just one.
Some of the other difficulties facing homeschooling parents include lack of confidence in their own and their children’s abilities, public and/or family criticism, and adjusting career goals and work schedules to accommodate the needs of the family. One last challenge humorously cited by homeschoolers is that of housekeeping. When you use your home full-time for homeschooling (and in some cases even for work), things can get a bit messy. But don’t worry, those books piled high on the coffee table, the science experiment on the table and the art project in the patio are all signs that your child is learning.
Q: What about homeschool socialization?
It used to be that if you announced that you were going to homeschool your children people would ask you, “How will your children learn anything?” Now that fears have been put to rest regarding homeschoolers’ academic achievement, the most commonly asked question is, “But what about socialization?” The assumption is that children will not learn to get along with others and will not develop good social skills unless they go to school. However, several studies have been conducted over the years that show that homeschooled children are more self-confident and less peer dependent than traditionally schooled students.
Many people believe that homeschoolers spend all their time around the kitchen table, but that simply is not the case. Since homeschooled students do not spend six hours a day in a classroom sitting behind a desk, they have more time to participate in activities outside the home like music, sports, and Scouts. Also, whereas schoolchildren rarely have the opportunity to interact with children who are not the same age, homeschooled children interact with and learn from people of all ages, genders, and interests.
Q: How does homeschooling affect college admissions?
Homeschoolers are accepted and recruited by some of the top universities in the country because of their maturity, independent thinking skills, creativity, and strong academic preparation. As was previously mentioned, homeschoolers perform above average on the ACT. Success on the ACT test reveals that the courses taken by high school students to prepare for college have been effective. Homeschoolers also placed highest on the SAT college entrance exams, higher than private and public school students.
In addition to academic success, homeschoolers have had athletic success in college. Coaches are recruiting homeschooled athletes. The NCAA is happy to admit homeschooled students, though they do have a strict set of guidelines for acceptance. However, these admissions hurdles are just as tough for all students, not exclusively for homeschoolers. To begin, students must legally qualify under the homeschool statute of their state, rather than utilizing school-at-home options via public- or private school entities. Additionally, students must have complete high school transcript information beginning from ninth grade. For specific steps and further details on how to apply, your best option is to follow the guidelines on the NCAA website itself. Good luck!
Q: Will my homeschooled children be able to succeed in the “real world”?
Those exploring homeschooling for the first time sometimes worry that their child will not be able to function in the “real world” if they don’t attend school and have the same social experiences as schooled children. But what do schools really do? They separate kids by age and ability, reinforce class and gender stereotypes, and limit children’s interactions to short recess periods. Schoolchildren are forced to socialize with children only their own age and are trapped in a room six to seven hours a day, allowed to view the outside world only through a textbook. Where in the real world are adults forced to socialize with only someone their own age? Competition, bullying, consumerism, and cruel teasing are often the social values children learn at school. Homeschooled children are more likely to base their decisions on values they learn from their parents instead of feeling compelled to go along with the crowd and accept the behavior of what other children are displaying as the “norm.”
The bottom line is this: homeschoolers already live in the real world. The idea of “entering the real world” really only applies to schoolchildren who have been isolated from the real world for 12-13 years. Because homeschoolers spend so much time in the real world, they are able to communicate well and get along with both adults and children. They even get along with their siblings, and it is common for homeschooling families to receive positive comments about their children’s strong, warm sibling relationships.
Q: Can I homeschool overseas?
Homeschooling is growing in popularity around the world, particularly in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Still, homeschooling originated in the United States, and because of that there are more homeschooling resources and opportunities available in America than anywhere else.
If you are an American living overseas, you can use an American independent study program to help you while you are away. If you plan on living overseas for an extended period of time and your child is in high school, you may want to consider participating in the international baccalaureate program, which gives your child an international diploma that he can use for admittance to some of the finest universities in the world.
Q: How Can I Prevent Summer Slide?
Summer is the perfect way to use out of the box ideas to keep your kid’s minds fresh! As you develop your summer learning road map, always keep these fundamental points in mind:
- Keep it fun!
- Create innovative environments and schedules that inspire learning and creativity.
- Let your kids be the primary architects of their own summer learning plan.
- Establish goals for the months ahead, but be open to the possibilities that they may evolve along the way.
- Develop individualized learning plans that best suit your child’s learning style and interests.
- Have many resources on hand.
- Get outside—often!
- Get organized. Identify tools and systems that work best for your family and use them.
- See new things.
- Meet new people.
- Make the world a better place by broadening your child’s mind and exposing her to important issues and volunteering opportunities.
- Be realistic and creative when considering how to finance summer opportunities.
- Seek out natural, fun ways of incorporating reading, writing, math and science into your regular routines.
- Avoid trying to do too much. Focus on the specific needs and desires of your family. Throw out the have to’s and focus on the WANT TO’s!
Making fun a priority… even though learning is fundamentally part of what you’re doing. If you have more questions on how to start homeschooling, we love the free “Welcome to Homeschooling Guide” eBook from Time4Learning.