Wondering what is homeschooling? If you’re new to homeschooling or wondering how to home school, or curious about the topic and considering homeschooling programs and homeschooling pros and cons, or just looking for some homeschool 101 stuff, asking the question “What is homeschooling anyway?” is a great place to start for new homeschool families.
WHAT IS HOMESCHOOLING?
Many parents today are reviewing school choice options and taking a hard look at the local public school system, charter schools, and even private schools and make a decision if home schooling is for their family.
What is homeschool and how does it work?
In the most simple definition of homeschooling, homeschooling is when a parent takes control of their child’s learning in more of a parent-directed education role and educates the child at home instead of sending them to a public school or private school (more traditional avenues). Homeschool parents accept complete responsibility for their child’s education and become the homeschool teacher instead of relinquishing control of their school-age children to another person or institute.
You can home school young children, homeschool elementary school and middle school, and even home school high school! That’s right! You don’t need to send your kids to public high school if you don’t want! Homeschooling high schoolers can still get a high school diploma if they homeschool. There are many home school educational options for all ages and many homeschooling families with success stories of graduating high schoolers from home school! Also, if you wish, once your child gets to high school grades, you can put them into a traditional school setting after homeschooling.
For many, homeschooling is less about test scores and academic excellence and more about guiding a well-rounded child and developing a child’s interest. Homeschool students also do field trips, extracurricular activities, take group classes, play sports on sports teams and more! With home school, you create the school environment that works best for your family!
READ THIS NEXT: WHAT IS THE COST OF HOMESCHOOLING?
This is a quick definition of homeschooling, so let’s take a closer look into what does homeschooling mean for homeschooled students?
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THIS IS PART 1 IN OUR SERIES FOR NEW HOMESCHOOLERS.
What Is Homeschooling Like?
With homeschooling, parents educate their own children at home. Homeschooling families may follow a homeschooling curriculum (many include all the educational materials you need for a subject or grade level), use several sources to create their own eclectic curriculum or for specific subjects (yes! you can make your own curriculum), teach religious instruction or secular curriculum, be part of a co-op, have some group classes in person and/or some online courses, or even follow a more relaxed unschool method based on your child’s interest.
Being able to choose how you homeschool is one of the biggest homeschooling advantages and makes it a flexible type of education. (An important reason to school from home!) Also, homeschooling students can work at their own pace — like spending less time on things they grasp quickly and slowing down on things that need more work! You customize homeschooling to meet each child’s needs, the child’s learning style, and the needs of the entire family and help your homeschoolers be more successful.
(We get into a full list of homeschooling pros and cons on another post.)
Depending on where the homeschooling family lives, they may be required to follow a specific state-required curriculum or lessons or you may have very relaxed homeschooling laws that allow you to pick and choose your homeschool resources, homeschool curriculum, and homeschool method (like Charlotte Mason / Montessori method). You may also have to participate in home visits to review work or submit to homeschool testing and evaluation. This is why you need to fully understand your state requirements!
Don’t worry! There are a wealth of resources for homeschooling, no matter what method or style or homeschooling program you choose!
In the United States, each state has their own set of laws and regulations for homeschooling.
If you are wondering:
What do you have to do to start homeschooling?
Can you start homeschooling in the middle of the school year?
Know this: you must first understand the homeschooling laws for your area before you do anything else. Reviewing your homeschooling laws will answer all of the above questions (and more) for you. Simply search online for “homeschool legal requirements [your state]” / “homeschool laws [your state]”. In some cases, you state may have you follow some requirements of your local school districts.
What’s the difference between homeschooling and school?
There are marked differences between homeschooling and school (and even home school and school at home). It’s important for you to understand the difference between virtual schools (online schools / virtual learning) and home schools for your children’s education. Homeschooling gives you complete autonomy over your child’s education, but school at home or even some homeschooling online schools may not.
We’ll guide you through more of this in STEP 2 of HOW TO HOMESCHOOL, so be sure to head over after this!
Also, if you live in a country other than the United States, closely check your country’s homeschooling laws! In some countries (like Germany), homeschooling is illegal and may have repercussions for your family even if you are temporarily living in those countries overseas (like with military families).
WHAT IS HOMESCHOOLING? 60 Second Homeschooling with Homeschool Super Freak [VIDEO]
Benefits of Homeschooling
We have good news! Homeschooling doesn’t just happen in the home! One of the biggest homeschooling 101 misconceptions is that homeschoolers are isolated kids who never leave the home. However, many homeschoolers have part of their studies at home and also participate in regular classes, activities, and meet-ups outside of the home. Homeschooling parents are often focused on giving their children a well-rounded education full of life experiences built around their own lifestyle and home life and find it the best option for educating children!
Many parents also put homeschool socialization as a priority. It’s a good idea to put in some effort so that your child can be exposed to a variety of different social interactions and group opportunities.
(Yes, sorry. You will need to leave your house…)
A Short History of Homeschooling
If you’re new to the concept of homeschooling, you may be wondering how this educational method started.
Homeschooling was actually the norm in early America, going as far back as colonial times when people came over on the Mayflower.
Then, it was standard to school your children at home while completing all the other homesteading chores.
It wasn’t until 1837 when Massachusetts opened its first public school that the move toward compulsory education started. Not long after parents were even being jailed for not sending their children to school!
(READ ON TO FIND OUT WHY!)
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By 1918, all states enacted compulsory education, requiring children to attend school, and making homeschooling a crime in all states.
Homeschooling Was Still Illegal in the 60s and 70s, But Changing…
In the 1960s and 70s, homeschooling started to gain a widespread interest again.
However, at that time removing children from public schools to homeschool was illegal.
During this time, when parents removed a child to homeschool, the traditional schools recorded the amount of time that children were out of the school as unexcused absences instead of a withdrawal from the school which got parents into A LOT of trouble!
Some parents started the homeschool process before children were ever enrolled in the traditional school system so that no public school record of the kids existed.
Some families even went as far as to move to a new community where their children were never enrolled in that local school system and wouldn’t be “found out.”
Unbelievably, other parents were still fined or even served jail time for simply wanting to teach their children at home.
If you live in an area where homeschooling is legal, then count your blessings!
There are still many areas where you cannot homeschool or that have very strict regulations on how you homeschool.
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Making Homeschooling Legal (Again)
Late in the 1950s, Nevada and Utah started to allow homeschooling again. It wasn’t until 24 years later in the 1980s, that other states followed. By 1989, Michigan, North Dakota, and Iowa were the only three states that still considered homeschooling illegal. By 1993, all 50 states had enacted legislation to make homeschooling legal again.
So, what is homeschooling like… really?
To be completely honest, homeschooling is hard.
It takes a lot of work and commitment and should not be entered into lightly.
HOWEVER, it is one the most amazing things that you’ll ever do!
Having a hand in how your child is educated, being able to encourage their natural interests, and help instill a lifelong love of learning are things that will serve your child throughout their entire life!
If you’re new, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give (aside from starting with your state laws), is to find HOMESCHOOL LOCAL SUPPORT GROUPS ASAP.
Come on over and join us in our online group, even if you’re just curious about homeschooling or just starting your research! We support and share a ton of things for homeschooling parents and educators at all levels — from the curious, to newbies, to homeschooling parents who have homeschoolers graduate! There are many who are willing to honestly share their homeschooling experience to help others.
I’ve also listed some of the other common how to homeschool questions below and additional information to help you decide if home schooling is a good fit for your educational choice / educational path.
COMMON HOW TO HOMESCHOOL QUESTIONS (ANSWERED!)
Need More Help With How to Homeschool and Questions You Have (or That Others Are Asking You About Homeschooling)?
Check out my homeschooling book (available in print and electronic formats).
It hit #1 BESTSELLER in FOUR educational categories!