Homeschooling FAQs – these are the questions I have been asked the most over the past 19 years. I hope you’ll find them a help whether you’re someone considering homeschooling or already homeschooling. If you have a question I haven’t answered in this article, please feel free to comment the question below and I’ll do my best to answer it ASAP.
Homeschooling FAQs Answered
I talked about some of this with the guys from We Grows Ours. Check it out then move onto the FAQs.
Why do people choose to homeschool?
Well this question alone could take up an entire blog post. I think people choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons. Some because they want to have more control over the content of curriculum and lessons. Others because they want more freedom – less textbooks and desks and more literature in comfy chairs. While others take that a step further to a completely child-directed learning. It can be for religious and political preferences or wanting to be a greater influence on your child than a school and peers.
What are the benefits of homeschooling?
I touched on that in the first question with freedoms, more input on curriculum, etc. But homeschooling offers one on one teaching that can be specifically tailored to each student’s strengths and interests. Most homeschooling parents will tell you that they are homeschooling for a full life experience and not for their child to take a test. However, the majority of homeschool students do very well academically and studies are showing that they are excelling past their public and private school counterparts. Homeschooling also allows a lot of flexibility to pursue extracurriculars like music, sports, art, drama, 4h, scouting and so much more.
Additionally many homeschool families will tell you that they are a closer family unit because of their time together. And hey, you can vacation when other schools are in session and miss the crowds.
Is homeschooling legal in my state?
Homeschooling is actually legal in all 50 states. However each state has its own set of laws and regulations regarding homeschooling. I always recommend starting with Homeschool Legal Defense Association for information on a particular state’s laws. I do think joining HSLDA is a good idea too; it is a good protection for you personally and because they do a lot for the homeschooling community at large.
What if my child wants to learn something I am not able to teach?
I can say that options for subjects you don’t feel like you can teach are plentiful, depending on your area. From computer programs to coops and classes, there are many helps for the homeschool family. You might be able to find a friend, family member or a fellow homeschooling mom that is willing and able to teach topics you are not familiar with. I have found that I can learn alongside my kids in many areas…not chemistry but hey, you might be able to.
I want to homeschool but my husband/wife doesn’t. Now what?
Ok I don’t want to cause any division between the two of you. I’m not really sure what their reasoning is behind not wanting to homeschool either. But perhaps showing them some statistics, articles and information will help from a logical standpoint. Then I would say having them meet some homeschooling families would be good from a more emotional standpoint. I think seeing that stats will help with feeling like the kids can get a solid education. And meeting some families will allow them to see that the kids aren’t freaks.
How do you homeschool with little ones?
I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. You are going to have to get creative. I recommend homeschooling in blocks of time while the little ones are napping. I have also found having certain toys, books and activities that are only for when you’re homeschooling helps too. I have seen some families make up a box for each day of the week that has different activities and toys in it. They rotate the boxes to keep things fresh. But remember that homeschooling isn’t your child sitting at a desk while you are writing on a chalk board. You can even school at a park where your toddler or preschooler can play while you’re working on math. I’ve even done McDonalds…not gonna lie.
Do I need a teaching degree to homeschool?
There are some more heavily regulated states that offer options if you are a parent holding a teaching degree. But none flat out require it, to my knowledge. A teaching degree will not make you more capable of teaching your own child. In fact that can make it harder because teachers are trained to teach in a classroom. That may not work for some children and can be a hard mindset to change. But I have seen some teachers switch to homeschool coop teaching with great success.
Remember you already learned this stuff and what you don’t remember you can refresh your memory and learn alongside your children. You already have a greater love and commitment to your child or children than any school teacher could possibly have. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to dis teachers. I had some great ones in school and I have friends who are wonderful teachers who love their classes. But, a parent’s love is usually going to trump that a 1,000 times over. You have an instinct inside of you to help your children succeed. That qualifies you from the get-go.
How do I choose a curriculum?
I know the choices out there can be a bit overwhelming. But from a veteran’s point of view it is amazing that we have all these choices now.
First you’ll need to sit down with your spouse and decide what your goals are. What is your vision for homeschooling? Then decide what kind of learner your child or children are. This will give you a foundation for what you want to look for in your curriculum. Of course researching on the internet is a lot of help, talking to other homeschooling families is great too. But if you can get to a homeschool convention and talk to curriculum authors, touch the curriculums and test things outs – this will help tremendously. Just set a budget and take someone with you that will help you stick to it!
I don’t think I have the patience or that my child would listen to me. What can I do?
I hear this a lot. I even hesitated adding this in, but it is a valid statement and question.
Can I be honest? Patience is not my strong suit. I have even become frustrated when one of the kids just isn’t getting something that seems simple and that I have explained in 13 different ways. Yeah, it happens. I’m not proud of it and, as I’ve gotten older and more experienced, it has happens less. But let me ask you this, do you think teachers are always patient and never frustrated? Can you honestly say you never remember a teacher raising their voice or being impatient with you during your entire school experience? Think about that.
As far as your child not listening to you. Well this is a discipline issue and not just on the child’s side. Clearly the child in question doesn’t listen already and you’re not ready to battle homeschooling on top of the other daily battles. I feel ya. I can see this two ways. You need to get your discipline issue taken care of first and foremost. I’m not talking about punishment, I’m talking about setting boundaries and expectations for you and your kids and following through on those. Each family runs differently but yes, deal with that issue. But you can do that in your homeschooling time too. Often some of these issues are resolved when outside influences from school are removed too.
Is it expensive to homeschool?
Well it certainly can be. But it doesn’t have to be. There are so many options with homeschooling. You can buy used through your homeschooling group, curriculum sales and online through sites like Home School Classifieds. There are even sites now where you can rent curriculum like Yellow School House Book Rental. How cool is that?
There are websites, books and articles to homeschooling on a budget, shoestring or free. You set your budget and make the curriculum choices work for you. Now if you have an unlimited income source, well you can have a lot of fun shopping too!
What subjects am I required to teach?
This is something you will definitely need to check out for your home state. Each has its own requirements and they do differ some. I think it is safe to say that math and reading are generally required. Some will have a PE requirement, others don’t. Make sure to get clarification on subjects like social studies.
Is there any funding from homeschooling?
At this time I am not aware of any government funding for homeschooling. I don’t think most homeschooling parents want this because that gives the government the same sort of control or access to your school as public school. So that’s something to consider.
Now I do know that many states have a public school at home option. Programs like K12 are available in every state and most have a state funded option. So your child will be using a curriculum of their choosing and learning virtually through online classrooms and software.
Do I need to keep records?
Yes and no. One it depends again on your state’s regulations. If you don’t have specific requirements I would say keep the best examples of your children’s work in elementary and middle school. You could decide you don’t need to keep anything for those years and that’s fine if your state allows it.
Things getting a little more serious in high school and you’ll need to decide, based on your teaching and curriculum approach, what you’ll keep and how you’ll configure your transcripts.
Some states even require that you keep attendance…this puzzles me but there you go.
Will my kids need to take any standardized tests?
This will depend on your particular state’s requirement. Most don’t ask for this but it can be a handy tool that you may want to employ from time to time for your own information. But don’t be a slave to any test results. Some kids don’t test well, period.
Will my child need to take a GED to pass high school?
No. I am not aware of any state that requires a homeschooling student to take and pass the GED to be considered graduated.
Each state’s requirements are different for graduation. Some you simply issue a diploma and they are graduated. I do think that if your high schooler is planning on attending college that you need to have them take the SAT, ACT or both. These scores often weigh more greatly than your home produced transcripts.
Ok I saved this last one because it’s the humdinger of homeschooling questions…the dreaded “s” word.
How will my children get socialization?
I could go on for hours on this topic and certainly I need to have a post dedicated to this. I have to say it still concerns me that people actually think that homeschool kids have no social interaction or life. Sigh. You’d know better if you met my kids.
There are so many options for a child to make friends and have time to play and socialize. This does not necessarily need to happen during school hours. Honestly, how many times were you told that you were not at school to socialize? I remember it very well because I’m a talker by nature, and always have been.
But let’s look at a short list of options:
- Play time at the park
- Coop and Classes
- Extracurricular classes and clubs
- Team sports or clubs
- Book clubs
- Church and youth groups
- Friends, Family, Neighbors
Believe me, my kids have friends. Some of them are or were more social than the others but they had ample opportunity to socialize and make friends. Honestly, they have more of a social life than I care for sometimes.
Please do not worry about this. Unless you are a hermit that refuses to take your child outside, you’re going to be ok and so are they!
I hope these Homeschool FAQs Answered has helped you. Again, feel free to leave questions and comments!