Frequently Asked Questions

by Mary Ann

(Usual disclaimer – this information is general in nature and is not to be construed as legal advice.)

I need help finding something on TheHomeSchoolMom.com.

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What do I need to do to legally homeschool?

In the US, homeschooling is regulated by the state. The best way to find the most accurate and up-to-date information about homeschool legalities in your state is to look on the website of your state homeschool organizations. They often include both the text of the homeschooling statute and an explanation of what it means. You can find homeschool organizations listed by state on our Local Support pages.

I need more information on home schooling please.

There is a primer on starting homeschooling here. Particularly important is learning about your state’s laws regarding homeschooling (you will find a link that explains each state’s laws in the primer). Next, you would benefit from finding yourself a good local support group. If you cannot find a local support group, I suggest joining an online group. A search on “homeschooling” at yahoo groups will yield hundreds of such groups. If you refine your search by adding your state to the search terms, you might even find some local groups.

Local support groups are the best resource for anyone new to homeschooling because you can meet real people who homeschool in your area and they can answer your questions, encourage you, and give you guidance about the legalities of homeschooling in your state. Because each state has different homeschooling laws, it is important to look to local resources for information on legal issues.

Can I withdraw my child mid-year or do I need to wait until the end of the school year?

There is usually no problem withdrawing from public school mid-year as long as you meet the local paperwork requirements. You would need to find out your state’s legal requirements and submit any necessary paperwork in order to be legally homeschooling.

What is meant by “learning styles” and how do I find out my child’s learning style? How is a learning style different from a “teaching style”?

There are many different styles of homeschooling, including the textbook method, the Charlotte Mason method, unit studies, delight directed, and unschooling. Your child’s learning style is simply the way your child best processes information, and your teaching style is the way you normally prefer to teach (and is usually related to your own learning style).

It is important to understand that your child’s learning style may differ from the way you prefer to teach. You can read about the various styles of homeschooling and consider which one fits your lifestyle and your child’s learning style. You may find that a combination of styles work best for your family. While you are learning about what works best, don’t be worried about jumping in with both feet immediately with a full school schedule. Homeschooling is most successful when it does not try to duplicate school at home. You can keep track of the things that you observe your child doing throughout the week and you will begin to realize that children do not have to be spoon fed to learn. (There is an easy to use record keeper for this type of thing here).

Is it disruptive to a child’s learning to change teaching styles?

Think about this question by turning it around: “Is it disruptive to a child’s learning if a parent continues to teach them in a way which makes it more difficult for them to learn?” Obviously, the answer is yes. While it might rock the boat a little to change teaching styles, it is better than leaving your child in a position that makes it harder for him to learn. Any change that brings a positive result is going to be better than leaving everything status quo when it is not working.

What about socialization?

The response to this question took on a life of its own and became a full blog post. Read it here »

Do I have to spend a lot of money on curriculum?

While some families spend hundreds of dollars on curriculum every year, others get by spending very little. The amount you spend depends on several factors, such as the homeschooling method you use, where you purchase materials, and whether you impulse shop. Check out our tips for homeschooling on a budget. Used curriculum is a great way to save.

How do I determine at what level to start my child’s homeschooling?

If you desire to keep pace with what is typically covered by public or private schools, Home Learning Year By Year by Rebecca Rupp, a scope and sequence that contains a list of skills normally found at each grade level for K-12, will help. It is less than $15 at amazon.com, and unlike many books that are only good for one grade level, this is an excellent resource that lasts through all of the homeschooling years. Keep in mind that no book can totally determine the scope and sequence best for your child. Some books are overzealous in their goals and others may be dumbed down. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that you can adjust to your child’s abilities in each subject area, so you may find yourself working in several different grade levels at once depending on the subject. In addition, you may find that your goals for your children differ significantly from what is known as the common core, and setting your own goals is one of the benefits of homeschooling.

What curriculum do you suggest?

Every child and every family are different. There is no such thing as a perfect curriculum, and what works for one family won’t work for another. See the above discussion of learning styles for the best way to find what kind of curriculum is best for your situation. There are some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine a good curriculum fit for your family.

How do you make sure you’re covering “everything”?

You won’t cover everything, and neither will the public school. There is no way to cover everything, but if you have taught your child how to learn, they will be able to pick up anything that they missed fairly easily. Plan your goals, work toward them, and relax. If you do that, you are not going to ruin your child’s future by missing some key element of their primary curriculum. Most schooling simply builds on concepts learned previously, taking it to a deeper level as the child is ready for more information. If you have missed something, in all likelihood you will come across it later and cover it as it is needed.

Since homeschoolers are not in a classroom they don’t have to compete to get attention from a teacher/they don’t know how to relate to other students/they don’t know how to relate to the teacher/etc. Will this hurt them in the future?

This question assumes that school is the only place a child is in a group setting with an adult leader. 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Awana clubs, church, and many different sports activities are only a few of the places outside of school that children learn the rules of engaging in public society.

Do homeschooled children become totally dependent on their parents because they are their teachers too?

It was the leaders of the industrial revolution that decided it was a good thing for children to become indoctrinated by and dependent on the government so that they would produce good workers for their industries (see chapter 2 of the online version of The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto). Prior to that time (including the time during which our nation gained its independence) it was accepted that parents were in charge of their children’s education. A quick look at the list of homeschooled people from America’s past who were “dependent on their parents” will show that homeschooling has always produced independent thinkers who are less likely to find dependence on anyone necessary. The list found at http://learninfreedom.org/Founders_free.html includes George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and more. For more information on research on homeschoolers, please download the Fraser Institute publication Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream (October 2001).

Innovative thinking is discouraged in public schools because the very nature of institutional education is to move students in and move them out while training them without rocking the boat. It’s the nature of any large-scale institutionalized organization to keep order in this way. Employers who are looking for homeschool students (see an article at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/578270/posts) and universities like Stanford that are actively recruiting them have found that homeschool parents generally teach their children to become independent thinkers.

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