Q: How do I get started with homeschooling and who do I contact to inform of my decision?
A: Depending on the city or county you live in, the rules will be different. In many states, you will need to inform the school district, usually at their main office. In a few states, such as Texas, homeschooling is considered to be a private school and you need not inform anyone. In Texas, if your child attended traditional school before your choice to homeschool, you should inform the child's school that the child will now be homeschooled, so they can update their records and your child will not be considered truant. Nothing else is needed. Texas is often considered the best place to homeschool because of homeschools being considered private school.
For more information on what to do in your state, please click here.
Q: Is homeschooling legal?
A: Yes. Homeschooling is perfectly legal, in the United States. However, some restrictions and regulations apply and the laws are always changing, so be sure to check the law for your specific state.
Q: What is required for instruction?
A: All states have different subject and hour requirements, but most will include math, history, science, character development, reading and language, and US Government or Constitution. Check your state's requirements.
Q: What is the best curriculum?
A: The best curriculum will actually depend on the individual child.Research should be done to determine which curriculum is appropriate according to each child's individual needs as well as instructional needs. Remember to have a good balance between what your child enjoys, what is required to be learned at his or her age, as well as what will cater to any disabilities or constraints, such as ADHD or low attention span.
Also remember to cater to a variety of learning methods. A well-rounded lesson should include oral instruction, hands-on instruction, verbal practice, and visual stimulation. In other words, the child needs to hear it, see it, do it, speak it, and write it. For children weak in any of those areas, this will strengthen those weaknesses, as well as form a better understanding. All children will respond to at least one of the methods, but rather than focusing on only the method the child responds well to, it is best to give the child practice at all of them.
Q: What about socialization?
A: Socialization is often a great misconception. As with in traditional school, homeschoolers still have plenty of opportunities to socialize. There are often more opportunities to socialize in homeschool than traditional school. Many homeschoolers encourage social interaction more than a parent of a traditionally-schooled child simply because of the (often) false concern surrounding homeschool and socialization.
More On Socialization:
Homeschool Myths: Kids Who Homeschool Have Poor Social Skills
Homeschooling to Get Positive Social Interaction?
Q: What if I want to write/customize my own curriculum to each child, but don't know what is required for each subject and grade level?
A: You can check the website for the Department of Education in your state. Every state lists the requirements this way. Each state has different requirements, so be sure to check the correct state.
Q: Is homeschooling the best method?
A: The best method will vary for each student and parent. While homeschooling may be ideal for one family, another family may get better results in a public or private school. Things to consider are time, expenses, willingness of parent to teach effectively and efficiently, willingness of student to cooperate with parent during lessons, willingness of parent to provide socialization opportunities, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, dedication to study (by parent as well as child), ability to provide proper instruction and materials, and many more things.
Write down everything you will need for homeschooling, along with all of your child's special needs and the requirements for his or her grade level. If you can meet all those challenges, your family is ready for homeschool. Even if you have only met a few, if you know that it is possible for your family to fill in the other spots, you are still ready. However, if there are problems with any areas, you may want to consider private tutoring, private school, or public school. While homeschooling provides a great opportunity, if it is not taken seriously, any opportunity it would have provided is lost.
See also: Homeschool: Are You the Right Parent for the Job?
Q: Are homeschooled children allowed to participate in team sports?
A: Yes. There are many teen sports that are especially for homeschooled children. However, if you would like your children to participate with kids in all types of school environments, try having them join sports teams offered by the local YMCA or Parks & Recreational Department. Another option that is sometimes allowed is for homeschooled children to join the sports team of the school they would normally attend if they were in public school. Some schools allow this and some do not. Check with your local school for this information and for tryout information, should they approve of a homeschooler joining their leagues.
Q: My child is in middle or high school. What about proms, diplomas, and graduation requirements?
A: In some states, homeschooled children will graduate and attend proms and other events right along with traditionally high schooled children. However, there are other options such as homeschool group graduations, proms, and events. It is up to the parent to decide what is best for the child and what works for the family. A homeschool diploma can also be made on your home computer, but be careful to also create transcripts. If this part will be too difficult for you, consider using a service that caters to homeschoolers. These services make transcripts and diplomas for you. One such service is VDM Educator Services. This is a website with diploma and transcript templates for the parent to easily fill out and print.
Also, a homeschooled child still must take and pass ACT and SAT tests in high school in order to graduate.
Q: What standardized tests must my child take every year?
A: Depending on your state, this will vary. But, usually beginning in grade 3 a child would take the state standardized test required of all students, This test would be taken each year thereafter. (In Texas, this is likely the TAKS or TEKS. In Colorado, it will likely be the CSAP.) Contact your state's Department of Education for dates and times for homeschooled children to be tested and for information on whether it is required or not. If it is not a requirement, it is still a good idea to have your child/ren take the test. It will be a good indicator for you as to whether your child is getting proper instruction or not.
Disclaimer: While the author believes the above answers to be true and correct, neither the author, nor the website where this is published claims responsibility for the information provided. It is the parent's responsibility to properly research this information when deciding to homeschool. This article serves only as a starting point for parents considering homeschool. Everything contained herein, as well as any other concerns and questions a party may have about homeschool should be properly researched with the appropriate entities.
Ask Lyn about other homeschool concerns.
*This author welcomes feedback and discussion in the comments below.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network