Why does anyone homeschool anyway? There are millions of reasons people choose to homeschool. Most do so for some educational aspect and some do so for religious purposes. Though the reasons generally run deeper than that. I can't tell you why everyone else homeschools, but I can tell you about our decision to homeschool and why we thought it was the best choice for our family.
There Are Usually Multiple Reasons
When we made the choice to homeschool, there were several reasons. Let's start from the beginning, before homeschooling. Two of my daughters, then in kindergarten and second grade, were attending public school. Everything was fantastic. We had a great school and the kids were doing very well. In fact, they were ahead of their peers in most areas. But, then things changed and we ended up moving to a new neighborhood. That meant a new school for the kids.
Things Going Downhill at Traditional School
At first, things seemed fine, but then my exceptionally bright girls started going downhill in school. I didn't understand because they knew the facts. In fact, they were ahead. Then, after my visit to the school, I understood. This school was far behind according to state standards and rather than catching the children up to the correct levels, they were just working with them at the low levels.
The school's strategy was not helpful for my kids. This may have worked for the majority in that area. They were used to this and may have needed this. My children did not fit into this equation. They had come from a school that was above state standards. The things that were being taught at this school were things my children had learned already 1 or 2 years prior. They were getting bored. After fruitlessly asking the school to at least place them in a class that was comparable to their level, I grew weary.
At first, I decided to just work on new things with them every day after school and on the weekends. We began using textbooks for their correct levels that I had to purchase myself. We frequented libraries, museums, and other places that taught them interesting things. By the end of the school year, most of what they learned having come from me, I was fed up.
Making Difficult School-Related Decisions
I decided to do homeschool, but something else happened first. The good school the kids went to before said they could return in the fall for the new school year. I was so happy and the kids were excited. Things went well for a while. In fact, they were great. The youngest was in first grade, but had to attend second grade for literacy and math because she was so far ahead. It was still easy for her, but what else could they do? She didn't get into the gifted classes (missed by one point), so they did what they could and they did an awesome job, considering.
With kids who didn't align with the averages, area schools did not seem to have an answer. The oldest was way ahead in reading, but had gotten a touch behind in math. The teachers tried their hardest to do what they could, but it just wasn't feasible what with so many other students to worry about. So, pondering over the issues at hand, I again considered homeschooling. This time we went with it. I informed the district, bought tons of materials, and awaited the day. I chose to let the kids complete the first semester and stay long enough to do the upcoming music concert. So, we started homeschool a couple weeks into the second semester.
A Need For Better Social Skills
Another contributing factor was social skills. In so many public schools, including the ones our children attended, children are not allowed to work together or communicate during assignments. In fact, they are punished for talking to one another. I find this appalling. When they get out into the working world, most companies need their employees to work together. If they don't learn this concept in school, where will they learn it?
Perhaps this is one of the reasons many employees don't get along. They were never taught this in school, so when they get to the workplace, they just have to learn by trial and error. I would prefer my child already had these skills, so it would be easier to adapt. When we do our lessons, all of the children work together. Sometimes I give the instructions. Sometimes it is an instructor at a museum, art class, study program, or special class instructor.
Whatever format we use, I make sure that children are encouraged to work together and to think about why and how to solve a problem, not just told to do it and do it quietly. To further enhance social skills, we are in public often. I am in no way insulting those who choose to use public school. It works for some people. It's just not right for us. As with any form of schooling, there are good schools and bad schools, good teachers and bad teachers, and ups and downs.
Freedom to Learn More and Use a Variety of Methods
Another factor that weighed in on us homeschooling was the freedom my children would have in learning new things. My children love to learn, so they needed an environment where they would not be held back when they wanted to press forward. It seems as though the more knowledge they get, the more they want, so I wanted them to be able to get all the information they wanted. I believe children should be allowed to move ahead, rather than have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. Sometimes my kids learn at the same pace as each other. Sometimes they don't. I assess each one individually and come up with a plan that works with that child.
I use a combination of state standards (which we're usually ahead of) and my child's interests and levels to come up with the appropriate lesson plans. I believe that all schools should use this plan. Teaching a child works much more effectively when they are encouraged to thrive, rather than restricted to a plan that caters to an "average" person based on statistics. No one should be looked at as average. We are all special in our own ways. When you place people in categories, it only feeds into stereotypical setbacks. If a child is ready to advance, that child should never be discouraged from doing so.
School should be a place where a child gets the maximum education that he/she needs with no limits to what can be accomplished. The setting will be different for everyone, but the most important thing is that the child gets a good education.
When you make the choice to homeschool your children, there are many things to consider. As a mom who has homeschooled, I’ve experienced the possible answers to many of the questions you may have on your mind. Below, you will see the questions, along with what I feel are the best answers, based on our experiences. In addition to being a mother of homeschoolers, I have also studied extensively on the subject and feel confident in the answers I have provided below.
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
Back to school time! The fall season brings on new challenges for homeschooled kids, as well as those in a more traditional school setting. It's your family's first year homeschooling and you need to establish a routine. Having experienced the beginning-of-the-year dread several times over, I've learned a thing or two. When you have a basic plan, most things just fall into place as they come. Establishing a routine from the beginning makes each homeschool day much less stressful. If your children learn throughout the summer, like mine often do, then you may already have a taste of what the school year will be like.
Consider your existing family schedule. Do the kids participate in dance, karate, basketball, piano, or other extracurricular activities? If so, then you'll need to remember to work that schedule into your homeschool schedule. Prioritize all of the existing activities, chores, and jobs. Is there anything in the existing schedule that can be rearranged or eliminated if necessary? I find it helpful to number each schedule item in order of importance. That way, if something needs to be changed, I can easily see what to start rotating or eliminating first.
Have a family meeting. This is an absolute must to get everyone on the same page. Establish the routine by discussing goals, expectations, scheduling, and more. Give everyone a chance to speak and ask questions so that nothing is left unsaid. It's easier to establish your homeschool routine when it's clear what everyone wants and needs. Take everyone's thoughts into consideration before finalizing anything. While you may not be able to give Johnny that wish of 169 recess days and one school day for the year, you can probably make sure he gets to ride his bike for recess a few times per week.
Make a schedule. It's important to do this during the family meeting so that everyone has input, as far as what's scheduled. It's also essential establishing a routine. If everyone knows how things will be from the beginning, the day to day process will run more smoothly. Be sure to allow time for getting to any destinations outside the home when creating the schedule. For instance, if one child needs to be at soccer practice at 2 p.m, be sure to allow time in between the previous class and getting to the soccer field. Remember that your schedule can be more flexible than in a traditional classroom. If necessary, schoolwork can resume after the soccer practice.
Be clear and consistent about what's expected. Talk about how the schedule will work, as well as what each person is expected to do. Every family member should know the overall learning style and methods being implemented. It should be clear that if you choose unschooling the eclectic way, everyone should stick to that. Unschooling is a bit more flexible, as far as establishing a routine. But rules do need to be laid out, such as the fact that even if the operational mood is relaxed, learning should still be taking place.
LAST UPDATED 8/24/2022
* I originally published this content via Yahoo Contributor Network: http://web.archive.org/web/20140806195145/http://shine.yahoo.com/back-homeschool-establishing-routine-190300503.html
If you're thinking about or have decided to homeschool, you likely are wondering about homeschool laws. What are the legalities and where can information be found? Each state in the US has a different set of rules. The following information should help guide you toward the most current information.
One place to learn about homeschool laws is through your state's education department. When people think of the Department of Education, they may not necessarily be thinking about homeschool. But this agency should have access to the most current information regarding homeschool.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also can be extremely helpful when it comes to learning about homeschool laws. They even have a state by state breakdown of the legal options. In addition, they also can be very supportive to homeschool families who have been legally wronged.
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