By: Andrea Dillon
Are you thinking about homeschooling? Well, you’re not alone. As of 2019, more than 4% of families in the US are homeschoolers. But with any new start comes questions. Before you get started, there are homeschooling particulars to be aware of — read on and learn what you need to know about homeschooling.
Below are some of the most common questions I get asked about homeschooling. These are often questions that most homeschoolers will get asked at some point along their homeschooling journey. So get comfy and let’s look at some discussion questions about homeschooling.
Scroll down to see all the questions and answers or click a question below to jump straight to that answer.
1. Is homeschooling legal?
Yes! Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and many other places worldwide. Homeschooling is rising in popularity, and many families are looking at homeschooling as an educational alternative. While homeschooling is legal, you need to know that laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Some locations require minimal work to get started and homeschool, while others have extensive requirements. We recommend that all homeschoolers and those considering homeschooling familiarize themselves with their state’s homeschool requirements.
2. What is homeschooling, and how does it work?
Homeschool is educating children at home and is a very customizable way for children to learn. Following homeschool laws, the child learns using methods, programs, and support from the homeschooling community. Homeschooling looks different for each homeschooling family and can vary from child to child, depending on each child’s needs. Some families like to schedule every second of their daily learning, and others let the children take the lead on what they want to learn and how they will learn it. Most homeschooling families fit somewhere in between those with a relaxed but scheduled approach to education.
3. What do you need to know to get started homeschooling?
So you have decided to homeschool! Congratulations! But, now what? Before you start, you should know your local homeschool laws. Those are your guidelines for what you need to do to exempt your children from public school legally. Your homeschool laws will tell you how and to who you need to send your notification to homeschool. Your homeschool law will also contain information on subjects that are required, assessment options, and how/when to report end of year information.
Homeschool laws can be confusing with legal jargon. To make starting to homeschool more manageable, I suggest that you reach out to local homeschoolers. Your current local homeschoolers can help you make sense of the homeschool law, talk you through the notification process, and point you to local resources. You can contact local homeschoolers through homeschool groups.
4. How much does homeschooling cost?
Homeschooling costs vary from family to family and are determined by how you want and need to homeschool. The curriculum is the bulk of many family’s homeschooling costs. All-in-one boxed curriculum or online schools tend to be the most expensive options of homeschooling curriculum. However, you can find more reasonably priced online all-in-one options like Time4Learning to meet your needs.
100% free homeschooling is close to impossible. However, there are ways to homeschool relatively inexpensively if you are okay with piecing together subjects. Pulling from online resources, free resources, local resources (co-ops/library), and various used curriculum materials can keep costs down but will require more work than all-in-one options.
5. Is homeschooling flexible?
Yes! One of the biggest perks to homeschooling is the flexibility to homeschool how, when, and where you want. The amount of flexibility you have will depend on your homeschool laws. However, homeschooling can still be very flexible! As a homeschooling family, you have your choice of when to school (the public school calendar or your own), the hours you want to school, the methods you want to use, the curriculum you want to use, and the activities you want to include in your homeschooling. In addition to that, homeschoolers have the flexibility to change anything if it isn’t working for any reason.
6. Can I really teach my child?
This is one of the most often asked questions, and my answer is always a resounding, of course! You have been teaching your child since birth. As long as you meet the legal requirement for your state, you can absolutely teach your child by homeschooling!
7. What if I don’t feel comfortable teaching a subject?
Homeschooling doesn’t mean that you are stuck at home with your child. You aren’t going to be doing this alone. There are many great resources to help you teach your children about the topics and subjects required and then some! You can outsource subjects as well! If you aren’t comfortable teaching math (or any topic), find a family member, co-op, online curriculum, or class to help.
8. What subjects are required for homeschooling?
Some states have strict requirements on subjects taught, so make sure to check your homeschooling laws. In general, homeschoolers are expected to cover Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Art, and Physical Education. Many homeschools add in electives and child lead interests like music and coding as well.
9. Can I homeschool multiple children in different grades?
Yes! Many families with multiple children homeschool! It may take some extra planning and some creativity, but you can do it! Working out a schedule, curriculum, and finding ways to learn together can help. Many homeschooling families with multiples include unit studies and gameschooling in their curriculum to help make the process easier.
10. What’s the best homeschooling program?
There isn’t one! That’s right; there isn’t one program that is best for everyone. I know that isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but every child and homeschooling family is different. What is best for one isn’t best for all. However, there are some that work for a multitude of homeschoolers. We recommend giving online programs like Time4learning, Calvert Homeschool, and Power Homeschool a try. These programs are not best for all but tend to work for most homeschoolers, particularly if you’re just getting started.
11. Do homeschoolers have to test?
Maybe. This is another answer where you need to consult your state’s homeschool laws. Many states require some form of reporting such as testing or portfolios, but not all. However, even if your state doesn’t require you to test, you may consider it for other reasons.
12. Are all homeschoolers religious?
No! There is a wonderful mix of all different worldviews within the homeschooling community. You can find homeschool support no matter what your religion or culture you are!
13. Can homeschoolers go to college?
Absolutely! Homeschoolers attend some of the top universities in the country because of their independence, maturity, creativity, and academic foundation. Harvard even has a history of accepting homeschoolers! There are many homeschool-friendly colleges to help, as well.
14. What about socialization?
Ah, this is one everyone homeschool will hear at some point. Many television shows, movies, and strangers in the grocery store depict homeschoolers as unsocialized and awkward. Are they? No more than anyone else. Homeschoolers tend to socialize with multiple age groups in various settings because they have extra time not stuck inside the classroom. Homeschooling also gives families the ability to help their children socialize with diverse groups of people by seeking out other cultures, ideologies, and activities to expand their worldview from the limited group of a single classroom or school building.
15. Can you homeschool a child with special needs?
Yes, you can, and there are advantages to homeschooling your child with special needs! Homeschooling can allow you to use the best hours of each day to be with your child and create beautiful learning moments. It can also offer you the flexibility to meet your child where they are academically and make the changes needed as they learn more things!
16. Can I send my children back to public school after homeschooling?
You can! Whether you were homeschooling temporarily or you just want to try something different, you can re-enroll your children into the school system. Each state has different requirements for this, so make sure you check your homeschooling laws and support groups for what you need to do. Remember, you also have the power to come back to homeschooling after public schooling if needed!
17. Can I work and homeschool?
Many families have one or both parents working while also homeschooling. The trick is to find a schedule that works for your family. Some working and homeschooling families choose to have the children school in the evenings or even later at night while others use early morning or even just weekends. The choice is up to you and the time you have available. Remember that not all schooling has to be complete by the parent either. If the kids are staying with family or friends while the parents are at work those adults can help with the home education as well.
18. Can single parents homeschool?
Yes! It might be a little more difficult but, as with the working parents above, you have to figure out your available time and ways to educate. Many single-parent homeschoolers tend to try to work from home to mitigate some of the childcare costs that would come from working outside the home.
19. Can homeschoolers play public school sports?
Many states have laws in place that allow homeschool students to join public school sports teams if they meet certain requirements. You will need to check your homeschool laws to see if your state allows for this. If your state doesn’t there are still options available for your child to be involved in sports. Take a look at homeschool based sports programs and teams in your state.
20. Will my child be ready for the real world if I homeschool?
I would pose that your child will be better prepared for the “real world” from homeschooling than public schooling. Homeschoolers tend to see adults in their everyday life. They see their parents go to the store, pay the bills, deal with home improvements, have tough conversations, and so much more. These micro-lessons and observations are things that most children who are in a classroom for 8 hours don’t get to see or ask questions about. Homeschoolers also tend to be answer seekers. If they see something they don’t understand they aren’t quiet about it. They ask the parent, librarian, cashier, plumber, and so on about it. This quest for knowledge helps them navigate the world around them and create better connections and understanding about the “real world” they live in.
Do you have questions about homeschooling I haven’t answered above? Send me an email or leave me a comment below and I will gladly answer!