Are you overwhelmed by all the questions and concerns regarding deciding to homeschool your children? Don’t worry! Here, we have gathered answers to your most pressing homeschooling questions to help make your transition a bit easier.
What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling involves parents taking a hands-on role in a child’s educational experience. Through a combination of online resources, textbooks, field trips, and other activities, parents can design their own curriculum tailored to the unique needs of each student and family situation.
Homeschoolers often have greater flexibility when it comes to setting schedules and determining which topics they want to focus on or skip over entirely. Homeschooled students also benefit from personalized instruction that not only meets academic goals but also encourages self-confidence and independence.
What are the benefits of homeschooling and why do parents homeschool their kids?
The benefits of homeschooling are numerous. Here are a few common benefits:
- Parent Influence: Parents have complete control over the schedule and curriculum, allowing them to tailor their instruction to fit the specific needs of each student.
- Better academic performance: According to the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschooled students consistently score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized achievement tests.
- Parent Involvement: Parents have a greater sense of involvement and influence in their children’s life and education. This gives them a chance to observe their progress firsthand.
- Support from parents: Homeschooling families have the time to create a supportive, safe, and nurturing learning environment.
- Rich Socialization: Homeschooling is also a great way to introduce socialization at an earlier age through play/homeschool groups and offers a more diverse exposure to many types of people and cultures. One significant difference between public and homeschool socialization is parents have more of an influence on who their children socialize with.
- Teach Independence: It’s a great way to teach children the value of independence. Over time, a lot of homeschoolers learn to complete their work with little assistance and become motivated to pursue their interests.
- Flexible Schedule: Parents and students have the freedom to learn any time of the year. This gives them the freedom to take breaks, vacations, or travel when public school students are in class – Disneyland here we come! You can also learn any day/hour of the week – giving flexibility to single and working parents who need to homeschool around busy schedules.
- Personalized Instructions: Homeschooling gives students the freedom to study their own way, in their own time. Customized learning can effectively meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of any student. It is also ideal for struggling students, students with disabilities, or excelling students who learn at different paces than the average student.
- More Opportunities: Homeschooling learning experiences are not bound to one classroom, one teacher, and the same 30 students year-round as many public/private schools are. Homeschooling opportunities are only limited to the homeschool family’s imagination, research, and execution. Field trips, homeschool co-ops/support groups, outdoor learning, involvement in the community, interest-based groups (sports, art, and music) teams and clubs, college dual immersion, and a large variety of teaching methods are just a few opportunities that are easily accessible for homeschooled students.
How do I decide if homeschooling is right for my family?
The answer to this question is different for each person and family.
The first thing to do is do your research. Contact a local homeschool support group, search for homeschool Facebook groups in your area to ask questions or even sign up for a co-op group, search online for various articles and books that talk about homeschooling, and ask family or friends that are homeschooling your questions.
After speaking with others and reading up on homeschooling, ask yourself if you are willing to spend the time and effort it takes to homeschool. Are you willing to give up a lot of your free time to work with your child? Although there are many resources and curriculum options that save a lot of preparation time, such as open-and-go curriculums, homeschooling is a lifestyle that requires some adjustments. Also, be sure to consider your current lifestyle, will it be possible with your work schedule?
Even once you decide to homeschool, it will take a year or two to work out routines, curriculum preferences, and teaching styles that really do work best for your homeschool. Giving yourself and your children time to adjust will be necessary but worth it for many families!
With this in mind, remember your reasons why you are interested in homeschooling your children. Are the effort and involvement required of you to give to your children worth it to you?
No one will be 100% ready and primed to take the leap to homeschooling but asking yourself these questions will help you make that decision for your family.
How can I get my spouse on board about homeschooling our kids?
Be patient with your spouse and explain the reasons why you want to homeschool. Tell your partner about the benefits of homeschooling (ideas in the question above “What are the benefits of homeschooling”). Let him or her know that you are committed to doing this together as a family.
Let your partner know this is important to you and that you’d like to talk with them about it. Remember, you both want what is best for your children so approach the conversation with the intent to understand each other’s perspectives and concerns. Be sensitive and listen to your partner’s concerns and address them with love.
In addition to educating yourself about homeschooling, it is important to involve your partner in learning about it too. As you learn more about homeschooling, share it with your partner. If your spouse is skeptical of the validity of homeschooling, using credible specific statistics, case studies, and facts along with your own perspectives may give further understanding.
Ultimately, homeschooling is a family decision. Be patient and over time they may come around.
Do homeschoolers outperform public school students in standardized tests?
The short answer to this question is in many cases, yes. Homeschoolers have shown slightly higher performances on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT.
While the national average performance for the ACT is a score of 21 out of 36, homeschoolers were reported to score a higher average of 22.8 out of 36. Homeschoolers also score an average of 72 points higher on the SAT than the national average.
Homeschool VS. Public /Private Schools
Can I enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
Of course! You have the freedom to enroll your children in public school after homeschooling. You can also homeschool after being enrolled in public school. Each state in the US will have different requirements for this so be sure to follow your state’s guidelines.
What are the advantages of homeschooling vs. public school?
There are many advantages to homeschooling vs. public schooling. We’ve touched on this in the questions above but to give you an idea, here are just a few…
- The ability to teach to your children’s individual needs and interests.
Public school teachers do their best to accommodate each of their students but they often feel overloaded with their workload. It is simply not possible for one teacher to give the same quality of attention to 20-30 students as you could with a one-on-one teacher.
- Homeschool gives parents the freedom of parent choice in curriculum, socialization, beliefs, and opportunities.
Public school has to accommodate multiple beliefs and opinions of the community as well as needs to stay in line with state and federal educational requirements. This leaves little room for parents to influence what their children learn in school. Homeschool offers parents much more freedom to educate their children in ways that align with their beliefs, interests, and student needs.
- Safer learning environment.
Although we cannot protect our children from all potential harm, homeschooling can be a safe place to learn. The influence of bullying, drugs, sexual abuse or addictions, emotional harm, and other negative outside influences can be less of a worry with homeschooling because parents have more influence on what happens at home.
Can I start homeschooling mid-year or do I need to wait until the end of the school year?
Normally you are free to withdraw your child mid-year to start homeschooling. However, the decision is up to you on if you think your child would be better to end the school year at a public/private school or not. Make sure to follow your local requirements if you decide to withdraw your student and begin homeschooling.
How to make the transition from public school to homeschooling?
Here are a few tips to help your child transition to homeschooling.
- Involve your kids in the conversation about the decision to homeschool.
- Don’t recreate public school at home. Make your own homeschool routine that fits your family’s needs.
- Find a local homeschool co-op or homeschool support group.
- Give yourself and your student time to adjust. Don’t be afraid to try new curricula, routines, and learning opportunities when the current ones aren’t working.
Are public school sports an option for homeschooled students?
In most cases, homeschoolers can participate in public school sports if they are meeting the requirements of their state. Check to see what your state allows. If your state doesn’t have the option for public school sports, there are many alternative ways to get your kids involved with sports such as homeschool sports groups, city teams, and private lessons.
Can homeschooled students go to college?
Of course! In fact, depending on your state, many homeschoolers can take college classes while they are in homeschooled with dual enrollment programs. Homeschoolers will prepare for college just like any other student.
Can I do Homeschooling?
How can I homeschool multiple grades/ learning levels?
Yes! It is a matter of finding the routine that works for your family and strategies for making the most of your day. Many families find it easier by teaching lessons to all their children using unit studies and gameschooling methods. Others use independent learning with online lessons, open-and-go curricula, or self-paced curriculums where older students can learn independently while the adults assist the younger kids. You can even involve your older students as a peer buddies where they tutor and learn together.
How can I homeschool with a baby/toddler at home?
This is a balancing act but very possible. Be sure to take advantage of the times when your littles don’t need your attention.
- Try homeschooling when your young children are napping
- Set out toddler activities they can do independently.
- Plan homeschool activities that don’t require your hands. Example: Instead of reading aloud from a physical book, use an audiobook from the library or purchased it online.
- Try having your kiddos learn independently when they can. Older students are especially capable of completing work on their own.
Do I need qualifications to homeschool my kids?
There are no official requirements for parents to be able to homeschool their children.
Can I use video in my homeschool or do I need to teach it all myself?
That is up to you! Many parents integrate many forms of learning into their homeschool instruction. There are some advantages to using a video curriculum that you may want to consider. In addition, there are co-op groups, clubs, city programs, tutoring, and many more forms of learning to look into. Your children’s education doesn’t all have to come from you!
Can I work and homeschool at the same time?
Yes, many families that homeschool has one or both parents working. It’s a matter of finding a routine that works best with your family’s schedule. Working during times when your kids don’t need your attention such as naptimes, playtimes/playdates, or around when someone can help watch your children will help. Also having a low-prep curriculum or outsourcing some homeschooling instruction to co-op groups, family members, or tutors will help reduce the amount of time you need to spend preparing for lessons.
Can I homeschool my kids as a single parent?
Homeschooling as a single parent does make it challenging but there are things that you can do to make it possible. Using the strategies above similar to a working parent will help. Some homeschooling single parents try to find work they can do from home to help as well.
Will homeschooling prepare my child for the real world?
Many argue that homeschoolers are more prepared for the “real world” than public school students. Homeschoolers get to see you demonstrate real-life skills every day. They learn as you take them to the store about how to budget, eat healthily, and prepare food, they watch you as you work and keep responsibilities, they learn how to take care of their possessions and do household tasks as you take care of the house, and they learn social emotional skills as you have important conversations.
How can homeschool fit into my busy schedule?
One way to keep things in check with a tight schedule is to keep your routine simple. There are many approaches to creating a homeschool routine, but many of them are flexible. Life happens with homeschooling and rolling with what opportunities come is essential for fitting everything in.
Trying to reduce the amount of idle or wasted time. Cutting down on time browsing on social media or watching your favorite T.V. show can also help you take advantage of the time you need for homeschooling.
Try killing two birds with one stone. See if you can do a task that serves more than one purpose. Can you cook dinner with your kids yet make it a lesson about fractions or science?
How Do I Homeschool?
How can I make sure I’m teaching everything I need to in our homeschool?
The number one way is to look up the requirements by your state. Other than that, it’s up to you and your children what you learn at homeschool. Try not to be tempted to add too much to your schedule. Starting slow and steady will benefit you more than overloading and burning out. Establish a routine and slowly add more as you can handle it.
What do I need to do to start homeschooling?
Start small and find out what your state requires. Join a homeschooling support or co-op group to help answer questions, socialize, and support you as you begin your journey. Dive into your research online and in books. There are so many free and paid resources out there to make homeschooling amazing and easy.
What is deschooling?
It is a time when parents and students adjust their mindset from the traditional education style to homeschooling. No longer do we have to sit at a desk quietly and listen to a lecture. Homeschooling is so much more than public school. In fact, if you try doing public school at home, you will most likely become frustrated because in most cases this approach doesn’t work at home. Deschooling is a time for your family to figure out what homeschooling will look like for you.
How much does it cost to homeschool?
The cost of homeschooling varies depending on the family’s wants and needs for their homeschool. A good portion of homeschooling budgets goes to purchasing curriculum. There are many options for paid and free curriculum so don’t worry if you are on a tight budget. There are also expenses associated with extracurricular activities such as art, music, dance or sports teams, field trips, and other exciting activities.
Also keep in mind that some states offer reimbursement for curriculum, supplies, and extracurricular activities. Do some research and talk with your co-op groups or other homeschooling families in your area to see if your state offers reimbursement for educational activities.
Where can I find resources to help me homeschool?
All over the place! There are quality resources just about anywhere you look these days. Check out what your state, city, and library offer for educational resources, co-op groups in your area, online paid and free resources and curriculum, and more. You can find resources as general as a full-year curriculum or as specific as crossword puzzles to help enrich your homeschool.
What are a “learning style” and “teaching style”?
Learning style is your student’s preference for learning and consuming information. There are many learning styles to check out. A lot of times it is good to use more than one approach to encourage your students to be flexible in the way they are able to learn. A Teaching style is the teacher’s preference in delivering educational material to their students.
Will it affect my child if we change teaching styles?
The real question is is the current teaching style benefiting your students in the best way possible? If the answer is no, changing styles of teaching may be the best option for your child in the long run even if it presents short-term setbacks. The beauty of homeschooling is that it is flexible to the needs of the homeschooling family. Making necessary changes is a good thing!
How much time each day do you need to spend homeschooling?
In homeschooling, the amount of time spent on a given day of “learning” is not as important as the quality of learning that was accomplished that day. The amount of time will vary depending on the family and even the individual student.
Some states may require a certain time that needs to be spent each day on learning. However, in most cases, the amount of time per day dedicated to formal learning is significantly less than a student would be at public school. Why? It simply isn’t necessary! If you think about it, public school students have interruptions such as lunch, drills, recess, and other activities that eat up the day. In homeschooling, as long as you are getting the things done that you need to that day, you can call it quits early!
Some homeschooling families accomplish their homeschooling in less than 2-4 hours. The main goal is to set appropriate learning goals or time frames for your student each day that works best for your family.
Do you need to take tests in homeschool?
Depends on your state requirements but many homeschoolers rely on projects, portfolios, or tests in less formal ways to measure understanding of subject material. If your state doesn’t require homeschoolers to test your students, you may want to test understanding in other ways to be sure your students are mastering the materials you are teaching them.
How can I help my kids stay focused while learning at home?
Keeping a consistent routine while being flexible on the material you teach may help keep things fresh. Adding elements of personal interest and involving their opinions or choice may also get them more eager to learn. If you have a resistant learner, sneaking in learning while having fun and learning through play may be a good option. Switching things up by learning outside at the park, library, or on a field trip every once in a while will also spark inspiration.
Can homeschooling help my child with ADD/ADHD?
Homeschooling offers a lot more flexibility than public or private schools for children with special learning needs. Children with ADD/ADHD need the flexibility of teaching methods and frequent breaks to accommodate their needs. Homeschooling gives your child the ability to learn in many locations around the house or outside, take frequent breaks, have one-on-one attention, and have the flexibility to choose the curriculum best for their interests and needs.
Can I homeschool my child with special needs?
Yes! Homeschooling is a great option for any student with specific learning needs. Similar to ADD/ADHD students, homeschooling offers flexible and accommodating schedules and curricula. It also allows your students with special needs to move through their lessons at their own pace.
Will my kids get enough social opportunities to build the social skills they need?
Unlike popular belief, homeschoolers have many opportunities to socialize with a variety of people and cultures. Arguably, homeschooled students can have more rich socialization experiences than public schools. The unique part of homeschool socialization is that the parents have more influence over who their children socialize with. The amount of socialization your children have while homeschooling depends on how willing you are to get involved.
How do I organize my homeschooling supplies?
Having a specific location for homeschool-specific supplies can be useful. Whether it is a bookshelf, closet, box, pencil box, or file folder.
Minimize what you have to store. Try to reuse household items to minimize the extra materials and manipulatives you have to store. Can you learn to count with toys your children already have instead of buying a bucket full of counting bears?
Digitizing files to minimize the files and papers that you need to store around your house can also help you stay organized.
What To Teach?
Is buying a curriculum expensive?
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on the curriculum but it is very easy to do. There are so many fun and exciting curriculums to choose from that you may want to whip out your wallet at every shiny new option. But keep in mind there are cheap or free options out there too.
Can I enroll my kids in online programs or virtual schools?
There are many online programs and virtual schools that you can enroll your students in. It is important to understand the difference between the types of online schools available to be sure they align with your educational standards.
How do I find the best homeschool curriculum for my kids?
Choosing a curriculum is a big decision so choosing one that will fit your homeschooled family is a must. When researching curriculum choices it is important to keep a few things in mind to be sure that you make a good choice.
Obviously, making sure to think of the needs of your child is important but less obvious may be keeping your own needs in mind as well. Is the curriculum ridiculously fun for your child but keeps you up until 10 pm trying to prep the lesson for the next day? Making sure that your lifestyle will fit well with the curriculum is also important. Be sure to also look at the content within the curriculum, the approach to learning the material, and the method for delivering the material.
Do my homeschool and curriculum need to be accredited?
No, no state in the US requires your homeschool to be accredited and curriculum can’t be accredited.
What subjects do I need to teach for homeschooling?
The answer to this is it depends on your state and some states are quite picky so be sure to do your research. Most states will require students to learn English, Science, Math, Art, Social Studies, and Physical Education. As long as you cover the basics, you are free to add in other subjects as well. Just be sure to not overload your plate!
How do I know what grade or level my student is at when homeschooling?
Instead of worrying about grade levels, homeschooling works at the individual pace of the child. There are books and assessments that you can give your students in order to determine where to begin but keep in mind that mastery is more important than moving along to keep up with the grade levels of other students their age.
Can I homeschool my kids even if I don’t feel comfortable teaching some subjects?
You don’t need to worry about teaching all subjects to your children if you don’t want to. You can always outsource or seek help from others. Invite experts in your community to tutor your student, join a co-op group, online classes, self-study curriculums, and friends or family members to share in educating your children.
Are all homeschoolers religious?
No! There are a wide variety of people from different beliefs, cultures, and backgrounds that homeschool worldwide.
Now that you’ve found some answers, be sure to grab your free Homeschool Kickstarter Toolkit!
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Hi, I’m Tori! I’m the founder of homeschoolnewbie.com. I’m a former elementary school teacher turned homeschool mama who has a passion for home education! I have 10+ years of experience working with children in all kinds of educational settings. As a new homeschooling parent, my mission is to navigate the world of homeschooling and share with you the best home education practices. If you want to learn more about me, check out my about page. See you there!