So, you have some questions about homeschooling and want to know, “How does homeschooling work, anyway?”
Or, maybe you’ve already taken the plunge and started homeschooling, but you are still so new to it all that you’re just stumbling along and always searching for answers?
(We’ve all been there!)
It’s natural to have many questions about homeschooling — especially when you’re new to the process (or just researching your options) because there’s a certain mystery and confusion surrounding homeschooling and how it all works.
Not to mention, finding homeschool answers can be super overwhelming.
But, we’ve got your back!
In a bit, we’re going to cover how homeschooling works and common homeschooling questions and answers and tips to get you started on the homeschool path, especially if you’re unsure where to begin!
You know, Homeschooling 101 stuff!
BUT FIRST . . .
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HOW DOES HOMESCHOOLING WORK?
How homeschooling works will depend on your family dynamic and if you are a single parent homeschooling, if you work and homeschool, or if you are a stay-at-home mom who homeschools. In general, how homeschooling works is that a parent leads a child in their education from home. This can be done with a traditional homeschool curriculum that you purchase (also called a “boxed” curriculum) that often comes with everything you need including lessons and quizzes, test, and writing assignments. You can also find online homeschool programs that your kids complete via the internet.
Some families take a more relaxed approach and unschool their children, letting them lead in how and what they want to learn. Before you start homeschooling, the first thing you need to do is check the homeschool laws for your state or country. The laws will direct you on what is required for you to homeschool, including any specific curriculum requirements (if applicable).
Also, homeschooling takes way less time than traditional school. It’s rare to be homeschooling everyday for hours on end. Most homeschool families fit their homeschooling time into just a few short hours every day.
DON’T MISS THIS FOR A MORE DETAILED HOMESCHOOLING 101:
NOW . . .
Here’s a list of common questions and answers to help you get started homeschooling your child today or that will help with deciding whether to homeschool.
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THIS IS PART 12 IN OUR SERIES FOR NEW HOMESCHOOLERS.
“HOW DOES HOMESCHOOLING WORK?”
FAQs: Answers to Common Questions About Homeschooling
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #1: Is homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states.
However — in the scheme of things — it wasn’t that long ago when homeschooling was illegal.
The last state to make homeschooling legal just happened in 1993!
(So hard to believe, I know!)
But, you don’t have to worry (anymore) because . . .
Homeschooling is not illegal!
In fact, homeschooling is legal in every state in the United States.
However, the regulations vary from state to state, so be sure to check out the laws for your state before you begin homeschooling.
Also, homeschooling is illegal in some other countries.
If you live outside of the United States, or even if you’re an American living abroad and homeschooling, you need to check the country’s homeschool requirements.
HOMESCHOOLING 101: CHECK THIS OUT FOR MORE INFO
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #2: What are the requirements to homeschool?
Homeschool requirements will vary based on where you live.
Understanding home schooling requirements are an important first step in understanding how homeschooling works.
To understand homeschool requirements, you need to:
- Check your state homeschooling laws (or country’s homeschooling laws).
- Understand the home school requirements for parents and parental qualifications.
- Review the intention to homeschool requirements (especially if you’re transferring a child out of public school or private school).
- Understand the home schooling state reporting requirements.
HOMESCHOOLING 101: DON’T MISS THIS
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #3: Is homeschooling right for me?
People have many different reasons for homeschooling.
Some parents homeschool for religious reasons, some homeschool because their child has a special need, and some homeschool just to have better control over their child’s education (just to name a few reasons).
If you’re just starting your research and trying to determine if homeschooling is right for you, start out by making a list.
Why do you want to homeschool?
What are the homeschool pros for your family (as well as the disadvantages of homeschooling)?
Homeschooling may be right for you if you want more control over what your child is learning, how they are learning it, and with whom they learn.
HOMESCHOOLING 101: CHECK OUT
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #4: Is it hard to homeschool your child?
You need more?
I’m going to be honest here: homeschooling is hard and not for the faint of heart.
However, that doesn’t mean you cannot do it.
Just realize that you are taking the responsibility for directing your child’s learning and shaping their educational life on a daily basis.
(If you haven’t already, take a moment to let the enormity of that responsibility sink in . . .)
That shouldn’t be a shocking revelation and seem that hard, but we are so accustomed to sending our kids off to be educated by others that it seems scary to educate our own children.
SO . . .
It can be hard to homeschool your child, especially in the beginning when you’re just figuring things out.
However, it is also incredibly rewarding (and fun and interesting).
So, the pros of homeschooling can definitely outweigh the cons.
But, don’t just jump in without giving it serious thought.
It’s certainly not easy, but you can definitely do it.
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How Does Homeschooling Work Question #5: Is homeschooling harder than public schooling?
But, is homeschooling harder than the other options?
I guess the answer to that question depends on what you mean by “harder.”
Homeschooling isn’t just about sitting around in your pajamas and watching television (which is a common misconception).
And, some homeschoolers are advanced in their studies beyond what they would be in public school.
This means that some homeschoolers might study more difficult (or advanced) topics than they would be in their public school classes.
From a parent time commitment perspective, it can be more difficult because homeschooling takes a lot of time.
Not just the schooling part, but the research, planning, and preparing part.
It’s not like when your kids are in public school and you drop them off in the morning and then don’t see them until afternoon.
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #6: How much does homeschooling cost?
Budgeting and saving is a concern for most families.
If you look up research on homeschooling, you will probably see quotes that homeschooling can cost between $600 to $900 per child each year.
In my experience, homeschooling costs much more because we do a lot of outside the home activities and classes that have a fee and also some paid online classes.
However, the cost of homeschooling will vary greatly per family, state, and your needs/wants.
For planning a homeschool budget, take into consideration two of the biggest cost factors:
1. What homeschool curriculum will you use?
Curriculum costs will vary and some can be costly—even running into the hundreds of dollars for some homeschool curriculum.
However, if you have more than one child, curricula can be passed down and re-used.
So, you will pay for it once, but not have those costs the following years.
There are also plenty of free learning resources to help you piece-meal lesson plans if you don’t want to use a particular curriculum.
Your child may also participate in online courses that have costs associated with them.
You may also decide that you want to follow an unschooling approach and not use a specified curriculum.
(Or, use an eclectic mix of learning methods.)
These approaches can both save you money.
2. What will your child be involved in outside the home?
If you have a child who will be very active in outside activities or lessons, or even if you a have large family where each child is only involved in one or two activities, then your costs can climb quickly.
So take that into consideration for your homeschool budget right from the very beginning.
There are also organizations that work with homeschoolers to give discounts, the same way that they give discounts to public school educators.
So, there are definitely creative ways to save money. Just be on the lookout for them!
HOMESCHOOLING 101: CHECK THESE OUT NEXT
This may be one of the top questions that new homeschooling parents may have.
(It’s also a question that homeschoolers hear from non-homeschoolers quite often.)
If you make the effort, homeschooling kids have ample (more than we need, actually) opportunities to meet up with other kids in a social setting.
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REMEMBER THIS: Homeschooling isn’t a quarantine.
Homeschooling families don’t enclose our house in a plastic bubble or embark into a biodome where we shut ourselves away from the world for years on end.
In fact, we even go out with our kids.
We even let our homeschoolers play with other kids!
My child has opportunities to be with other kids quite often (and so do other homeschoolers).
In fact, our schedule right now is four days a week with some outside classes or activities.
(Which, is A LOT, to be honest. I don’t recommend it.)
Just as an example:
At some point my kid has attended classes outside of the home for:
- Ice skating
- Marial arts
- Computer coding
- Nature camp
And more–as well as many other activities (both with homeschoolers and traditionally-schooled kids) where she gets to “socialize” quite often.
SIDE NOTE: That’s a ridiculous list of activities, for sure.
(She wasn’t in all of those at one time. How embarrassing.)
COMMON HOMESCHOOL MISTAKE:
One of the hardest things you will deal with in homeschooling is overbooking/overcommitting. There are so many awesome things to get your kid involved in, but I caution you against putting too many things on your schedule, especially when you’re just getting started homeschooling.
Many homeschooling families spend a great deal of time outside the home in other classes and activities.
It’s your job as a homeschooling parent to seek out those opportunities for your child!
HOMESCHOOLING 101: ALSO CHECK OUT
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #8: Are you worried your homeschooled kid won’t have a ‘normal’ childhood?
We don’t really put a lot of stock in “normal” in our home.
In our house, we celebrate differences (our own and others) and homeschooling is a great place to foster independence and confidence in being unique (and amazingly, awesomely different in your own way).
We definitely rock our freak flag here.
I happen to like that my child has an abnormally unique childhood.
I think it’s going to make her a way more interesting adult with a different outlook on life than many others.
How can that be wrong?
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #9: Do I have to homeschool the whole time (all the way through high school)?
This is a regular question that those new to homeschool often ask.
When my daughter was younger I actually had someone tell me, “Oh, it’s OK to homeschool her now while she’s at this [preschool] age, but as she gets older you’ll need to put her in school.”
Thanks for that.
If you want to homeschool through high school until they graduate, that will be up to your family.
For different homeschoolers, this answer will vary.
There is no requirement that you homeschool for a specific amount of time or when you do (or don’t) start homeschooling.
However, our answer is that we intend to homeschool as long as it is working for us.
If, one day, my daughter wakes up and says “I think I would like to go to traditional school,” then we will explore that option.
(I mean, I will curl in a fetal position for a while and cry, but whatever.)
For now, she’s happy and we’re happy.
And, people do really homeschooling the whole time — all the way through high school (and many even watch their kids successfully go off to college!).
How Does Homeschooling Work Question #10: What qualifications do I need to to homeschool?
I have a secret for you: you’re qualified to homeschool.
Right where you’re standing.
With whatever is going on in your life.
YOU. ARE. QUALIFIED.
I mean, think about it:
I would say we’re about as qualified for homeschooling as we are for parenting.
You don’t need a college degree or a teaching certificate to homeschool.
Your state (or country) homeschooling laws will list any requirements to homeschool, but most of the time the minimum requirements are for a parent to have a high school diploma or GED.
Some people who don’t completely understand homeschooling may not realize that most homeschool parents spend a great deal of money buying homeschool curriculum and countless hours planning out homeschool classes, schedules, and more.
(We do our homework, yo.)
So, don’t let your fear of homeschooling (and family members . . . and society . . . ) tell you that you’re not qualified to homeschool.