Homeschoolers Living Well

Your Homeschooling Questions Answered

Your Homeschooling Questions Answered

Do you have questions about homeschooling? This is the place to find answers! Our most frequently asked homeschooling questions are featured below in no particular order.

If you have a homeschooling question not answered below, you may submit it to us by clicking here. We will provide you with a response via email and also post the question and the answer here on this page in an effort to help others who may have the same question. (No names will be mentioned.) If you don't want your question posted, let us know and all information provided will remain confidential.

What exactly is homeschooling, and what do you do all day?

Homeschooling is the practice of educating children at home rather than allowing a public, private, or charter school system to provide education. In most cases, parents take the role of teacher and provide lessons, activities, field trips, and other resources for their children. In some cases, other family members may be entrusted with the education of children. The home essentially becomes a school, and parents are required to ensure each child meets state guidelines in terms of what children are required to learn.

When parents decide to homeschool their children, they take on the responsibility to ensure their children are well educated and ready for the world beyond high school. They also take on the freedom to teach their children in a more loving, supportive manner that takes into account each child’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, and learning style. Parents also ensure that the lessons presented to their children are in line with the family’s religious views. Children still receive a well rounded, comprehensive education no matter what religious views they may hold.

Each homeschool family will establish their own schedule, but children learn throughout the day just as they would in school. A homeschooling child will go on field trips, complete lessons independently, listen to lessons presented by a parent or another adult, and work on projects. They complete research, read books, and complete projects just like children who attend school outside of the home.

Homeschool children may have more time to spend on music, artistic expression, sports and other passions. They can be just as active as children attending public, private, and charter schools. In many cases, they are more accomplished in their artistic and athletic pursuits than children who attend school outside of the home.

Is homeschooling expensive?

Homeschooling can be expensive, but it does not have to be. Parents have a wide selection of curriculum options, and many projects can be completed from inexpensive supplies from the dollar store or a craft store. Knowledgeable parents can put together their own lessons, while other parents may go with comprehensive curriculum packages that come with parent guides to ensure children learn what they should each year.

If you decide to homeschool your children, you will decide how much you want to spend on the education of your child. You may choose to do more of the lesson planning and activity planning on your own in order to spend more money on field trips and out-of-the-home learning adventures. You may also decide to spend more on your child’s curriculum to ensure they have a comprehensive package that will cover all necessary lessons for their grade.

You can reuse books and some other materials with multiple children, but you will want to make sure materials are updated as necessary. There are many free or low cost online resources that can be used to supplement a child’s basic curriculum. There are also ways to create learning tools from items already in the household. For example, dry beans and macaroni are perfect for manipulative tools for early mathematic lessons.

You can even coordinate with other homeschooling families to share materials that are not consumed by one child. Purchasing used books from other homeschooling families is another option, and you can earn back some money by selling your used materials at the end of each year.

What if my child wants to learn something I cannot teach?

You do not have to be a master of all trades to homeschool your children successfully. When a subject that you do not know well fascinates your child, the best thing you can do is learn along with them. Find high quality books, websites, and magazines dedicated to the subject. Go on related field trips and ask a lot of questions while you have the attention of professionals.

For younger children, you can learn about the subject first and then create lessons to present to your child. For older children, include them in finding resources and reading through materials so you guide one another in understanding the subject.

You may also think about finding community college courses, internships, volunteer opportunities, and online courses related to the subject your child wants to learn. You can even hire a tutor if your child wants to learn something that is well beyond your interest or capability. College students are always looking for side jobs to earn some extra cash.

Is homeschooling legal?

Homeschooling is legal in the United States, but you have to follow all procedures dictated by your state. Each state has its own guidelines as to what parents must do to register as a homeschool and teach their children at home. Each state also presents guidelines on what parents much teach their kids at each grade level and what type of documentation and tracking is required to prove children are completing their work and learning as required by the state.

Some states are more intrusive than others when it comes to dictating what parents must teach their children. Some states are also stricter than others when it comes to requiring paperwork and documentation of grades and testing. You have to check with your state to make sure you are properly registered as a homeschool and are covering all of the state guidelines when creating lesson plans.

The good news is you are not limited to state guidelines when it comes to deciding what you teach your children while homeschooling. You can go far beyond the basic requirements and allow your children to learn more in the subjects they find interesting or fascinating. For example, your state may only require you to teach one foreign language in high school, but you may introduce several languages to your child if they find language interesting.

As long as you know your state’s guidelines and stick to them, you should have no legal problems homeschooling your child. It is always a good idea to consult with other homeschooling families in your state and local area if you have further questions.

Will homeschooling help my learning disabled child?

The answer to this question depends on all of the following factors:

1. Your child’s exact diagnosis and the type of learning disabilities they are struggling with.

2. Your ability and willingness to get involved and help your child learn successfully in your homeschool. Children suffering with learning disabilities often require more assistance than other children, and you may need to complete more detailed lesson plans to ensure lessons are presented in a manner that your child can absorb them.

3. Your understanding of your child’s learning disorders. You will need to understand what makes learning more difficult for them and what you can do to make it easier. This is knowledge you can obtain by reading about your child’s diagnosed condition and talking to medical professionals for advice.

In most cases, teachers are no better prepared to handle a learning disabled child than the child’s parents. You are more likely to show the patience and kindness that your child needs to learn, and you can definitely give your child more individual attention than they would receive in the classroom. You probably have a deeper understanding of your child’s learning disorders than most teachers, and you have a deeper desire to see your child succeed than any teacher could ever develop.

Homeschooling can be challenging at times, and it isn’t any easier when your child struggles with disorders of any variety. Yet, a well-planned homeschool environment can be the perfect setting for a child with learning disabilities of any type. Your home environment can be less stressful and more exciting than the classroom environment in a public school. Homeschooling is also far more affordable than paying for a private school dedicated to teaching children with learning disorders.

You are the most qualified teacher for your child regardless of their learning struggles, but there are some things you should do in preparation of taking on the homeschooling challenge:

1. Let your child’s medical professionals know that you may homeschool your child. Ask them what you can do to set up a successful learning environment that caters to the special needs of your child. Ask therapists, counselors, and other professionals if they can play a role in helping your child adjust to the homeschooling experience if required.

2. Research your child’s condition so you fully understand what obstacles they face and what you can do to help your child overcome those obstacles. Use this information when you determine the format of lessons, the setting for testing, and the type of field trips you set up.

3. Talk to your child about the homeschooling option, and ask them what the most difficult parts of school are for them. You should aim to fix the problems your child faces in public school through your homeschool.

4. Thoroughly research curriculum options for every subject, and include subjects that fascinate your child. Get creative when coming up with lessons that will get through to your child.

How will I know if my children are learning?

There are two ways to determine whether a child is learning:

1. Testing

2. Real world observation

When your child attends school outside of the home, they are typically only judged according to their performance on tests, projects, and homework assignments. Whether your child actually retains the information beyond the test is not known in most cases. It doesn’t have to be this way when you homeschool.

You will know that your child is learning because you will observe their growth on a daily basis. You will discuss what they are learning openly, and their level of knowledge will become apparent through those conversations. You will take them on field trips and listen as they rattle off information they already know while absorbing even more information. You will also test them in more official ways in order to document their learning growth.

The best way to judge your understanding of a subject is to teach someone else about it. Reverse roles before you move on to a new lesson, and ask your child to teach the lesson they just mastered to you. This can be a lot of fun, but it also shows you how much your child has really learned.

What are some of the benefits of homeschooling?

Every family will find benefits of homeschooling that are particular to their family, but there are some standard benefits that apply to all. Some universal benefits that apply to parents include:

  • Peace of mind. You always know where your children are and what they are learning.
  • Environment control. You are in charge of your child’s surroundings at all times.
  • You have direct control over the material presented to your child, so you know they are not learning things not in agreement with your values and/or religious views.
  • You can control who your child comes in contact with, so they are not learning bad behaviors and thought patterns from children who would be a bad influence.
  • If your child has special needs, you do not have to worry about IEP meetings and fighting for special accommodations at school. You know what is best for your child and work directly with their doctors, so you can do what is best for their learning.

Some universal homeschool benefits that apply to children include:

  • Unless you have a very large family, your children will not have to share their teacher with a class of 20 other students. They will receive more individual attention, which will translate into faster comprehension of material.
  • Lessons can be tailored to each child’s individual learning style.
  • Children learn from the comfort of their own homes without the distraction of other children, and without bullying and other problems associated with public schools.
  • Children can progress at their own pace, so they are not forced to repeat grades if they do not keep up with the rest of the class. This also means they are not forced to sit through lessons they have already mastered.
  • Children can have a voice in what they learn, and lessons can be tailored to their interests.
  • Lessons for older children can be focused directly on future career ambitions. Once your child determines what they want to do with their life, much of their schooling can be focused on ensuring they are prepared for college and that future career.
  • Children with special needs can be accommodated in the homeschool environment in ways that could never be considered in a public or private school.

Depending on whether your children currently attend public or private school, there could be financial benefits to homeschooling as well.

How do I know which materials and resources to use?

There are a lot of curriculum options on the market for homeschool families, and there are even more apps and websites that can be used as supplement material. The only way you will know what materials and resources are right for your children is to do your research. Read websites and blogs that give real parent reviews of various materials. Take advantage of free trials for Internet-based resources. Find used materials to see what you think of a program before you buy into it.

As you research materials, pay attention to all of the following:

  • Format. Examples: Internet, software, consumables, textbooks, etc.
  • Expense
  • Potential to Reuse
  • Grade Level

Some programs can be used for multiple years, allowing your child to get comfortable with the format and move seamlessly through different grade levels. If your child is not doing well with one program, assess what the problem may be and find something new that will solve that problem.

How will my child get along in the real world if he doesn’t go to school?

Opponents of homeschooling often point this out as a potential problem, as if homeschool kids are hidden under rocks without any real world experience. The fact is, your child is living in the real world whether they are homeschooled or not. You just have greater control over what their real world experience is when you keep them at home and teach them in this more sheltered environment.

You still have the responsibility to expose your child to a variety of life experiences, and that includes social experiences. Children who enjoy homeschooling typically go outside to play with neighborhood kids, swim at the local pool, and hang out at the mall with friends just like any other child. They learn at home, but they still have lives beyond the home. They go through the ups and downs of childhood and the teenage years just like anyone else.

In many ways, a homeschooled child can be more ready for the real world than other children when it comes to applying for college or making an entrance to the professional world. Since homeschooling allows their educational pursuits to be tailored to their learning style and their future ambitions, they are often better prepared for the next steps in life than other children. They may not have the negative experiences that other children endure in public schools, but they are more than prepared for the trials to come their way as they move into adulthood.

It is true that some homeschool families shelter their children to the point they have no life or experiences outside of the home, but those are rare situations. Most homeschooling families take the responsibility to socialize their children seriously. They give them the opportunity to associate with other children and have real world experiences, even if they are more supervised and protected than the average child.

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