FAQ of Potential Homeschoolers

May 19th, 2011 by Dionna | 7 Comments
Posted in Eclectic Learning

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My husband and I are leaning heavily toward homeschooling our son. Because we both attended public school, we have many questions about the mechanics and practicalities of homeschooling. I’m sure that most of our questions are common ones, so I asked several homeschooling mothers for their input.1

If you are a homeschooling family and have time to provide your input to any of these questions, or if you are considering homeschooling for your children and have other questions, please leave a comment or contact me directly. 2

1. What are the major homeschooling “philosophies,” and how will I know which one will match my family’s personalities/learning styles?

Charlie broke the philosophies into these helpful categories:
1. All in one curricula school-at-home (Sonlight, A Beka, K12 virtual schools, etc.)
2. Alternative education schools (Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason)
3. Eclectic/build-your-own style programs (i.e. unit studies)
4. Unschooling/radical unschooling

Before you really start researching the different philosophies, take some time to discuss why you want to homeschool. Is it for religious reasons? Do you find the classroom too confining? Do you want your child to be free to learn based on his interests? The answers to these questions may help guide you in a certain direction.

It may also be helpful to talk to other homeschooling families and find out what works for them. What you will probably find is that no homeschooling family uses one philosophy to the exclusion of all others; they use a little bit of several theories.

Research a little of everything, try a little of everything. Watch your kids and see what they enjoy. One of your children might thrive on a text-based math program, while the other learns basic math more easily by working with real life situations (a trip to the grocery store, cutting up pie, etc.). You can learn and evolve as you go, no one starts out as an expert.

2. What are the main advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling?

*The freedom to make your own schedule (daily – when to wake up, when to go out and about; and globally – when to schedule vacations, etc.)
*Kids can socialize with adults and children of all different ages rather than being forced into a group made up of children the same age
*Kids learn at their own pace
*You are free to explore the world, the only boundaries are self-imposed
*Homeschooling creates strong families
*Not the extreme exposure to stereotypical problem behavior in public schools (drugs, bullies, etc.)
*Children are not tied to the expectations of school personnel with respect to expected development
*Families have more time together
*Less pressure for kids to conform to peers
*More individualized attention
*Immersion and learning in the real world
*Religious freedom
*The ability to give your children a healthy diet

*Parents should take time for themselves to avoid burnout
*Loss of time for parents to do other things
*Hard to balance everyone’s needs
*Parents work harder than if the kids were in school away from home

3. How do you help your kids learn the subjects that you aren’t comfortable with? In other words, am I smart enough to homeschool?

No school teacher knows everything, and neither do parents. Parents do not need to rely on themselves for every facet of their child’s homeschooling. Check your community for homeschooling cooperatives, community classes (from the library, community center, community college, etc.), and tutors. The library and Internet are also incredible resources.

Unschooling parents trust that their children will learn exactly what they need to know, when they need to know it. To paraphrase Summerhill, if a child is interested in music you could not keep her from learning it, and if a child is not interested in music then there is no need for her to learn it. Parents who unschool do not teach, they facilitate.

4. How do homeschooled children connect with other kids?

Again, homeschooling cooperatives/groups are an excellent way to find opportunities for socialization. You can also look to the library, community centers, sports programs, churches, your neighborhood, etc.

5. Do homeschoolers have opportunities to participate in extracurricular/organized activities (orchestra, sports, etc.)?

Homeschoolers have many different opportunities to be involved in traditional extracurricular activities. Here are a few ideas:
*There are school districts that allow homeschoolers to participate in activities
*Traditional non-school based activities like Girl/Boy Scouts, karate, community theater, etc.
*Homeschooling families often form their own teams/groups
*City and community programs

6. How do you find your curriculum/resources? How much do you need? Are they expensive?

Many homeschooling families do not use traditional curricula. Instead they utilize the Internet, the library, various community resources (zoos, aquariums, festivals, etc.), and their own local cooperatives. If you are interested in traditional textbooks/curricula, you can often find materials used.

Almost all of the respondents said that homeschooling can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you make it.

7. Alone time for parents: how important is it, and how do you get it?

As Darcel reminded me, it’s important to stay connected with your partner regardless of whether you are homeschooling. So true!

Otherwise, the responses differed on the question of how important alone time is. Some people need more, some people need less. Those who need more mentioned doing things after the kids are in bed, hiring trusted babysitters, utilizing time when the kids are in homeschool park days or other activities, and taking turns with partners watching the kids.

8. Where can I find laws about homeschooling, and are they are to understand?

Call your local school district to find out what you will need to report. You can Google homeschooling laws for your state or find a local homeschooling store – they should have resources on local laws. Join Yahoo homeschooling groups, cooperatives, and get to know the local homeschooling community.

You can find a list of laws by state at HSLDA.

Photo credit: creactions

  1. Thank you to Allison, Charlie, Darcel (at The Mahogany Way), Katherine (at Momioso.com), Mandy (at Living Peacefully with Children), and Whittney for their responses to my questions.
  2. This post was originally published as a guest post at The Mahogany Way. I’m recycling it because Kieran and I are on vacation!

7 Responses to:
"FAQ of Potential Homeschoolers"

  1. Thanks for the break-down here. We’re planning to homeschool our kids and so I’ve recently been going through my own reasons for it and how I’ll do it, etc. I think your list of points is a good starting point to get people thinking about how they’ll do it and why.

  2. Karyn   kloppenmum

    We don’t homeschool, but two bloggers I think are a great source for homeschooling Mums are Laura at Free Range Learning, and Carrie at Parenting Passageway. Both of their links are on my blogroll. Good luck with your journey. Had we not been able to send our kids to our local Waldorf School (heavily subsidised by the government I might add!) I would have considered homeschooling our boys too.

  3. Leah

    Great post! We are beginning homeschool this year.

  4. Write About Birth   writeaboutbirth

    My daughter and I actively started homeschooling last year. She is nearly five now, and we’ve really settled into a (non)routine we are both comfortable with now. My reasons for choosing homeschooling are many and varied.

    I’d probably do it anywhere, but we are living in a developing, ex-communist country with an appalling public school system (too much trouble there to go into detail now!). Homeschooling would be my choice anywhere, but the dreadful system really allowed me to accept it as the only choice. We’re also multicultural and a one-parent family, and discrimination is common in the patriarchal culture we live in.

    So far, it has been wonderful. I am using a mix of an English-language curriculum, local language workbooks, and natural learning opportunities. I love how many opportunities come up randomly. We’ve taken tours of a police station, the parliament here, museums, farms… And I am also grateful for a homeschool group where my kids can socialize with other kids who are being homeschooled. Most of those are also AP, vegetarian, and had homebirths.

    DD already has the same amount of skills kids are supposed to acquire in the first grade of public school, which starts at age 7 here. Right now, I am looking into hiring a math tutor because I have dyscalculia, numerical dyslexia, and really couldn’t teach math in the long run (incidentally, there are many math graduates in the homeschool group, it would be great if we could swap skills – I could teach English to the kids of parents who don’t speak it, and someone else could teach my kids math).

    Of course I do have worries about homeschooling, and sometimes it’s tricky to combine work and school activities. I work from home and am a solo parent. I do get some time to myself once a week, which is wonderful! But the homeschool adventure has been very enjoyable for everyone in my family, including me. I feel privileged to be able to be part of my children’s education and early life.

    Sorry for the novel. Wishing you all the best on your own homeschool journey!


  5. Michele

    I homeschooled my children for 6 years several years ago. The one thing that I learned from our homeschooling experience is that it is not a just a method of education it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that I have noticed that is still with us. I have found that this encourages the concept of ‘life long learning.’ A trend that seems to becoming quite prevelant in educational circles. I loved our homeschooling experience, but my children grew up. I wish everyone the best with their homeschooling journey.

  6. Debbie

    I began my homeschooling experience about 25 years ago when it was practically heretical. We did really well until we got into the teen years and then it got very dicey. Both my girls finished at 16 with equivalency exams to get their diplomas and went on to complete their AA degrees at 18. Neither is really enamored with public education and neither went on to finish a bachelor’s. Both, however, have pursued unique paths (a yoga instructor/musician and a sculptor who does a pretty good business online) and are VERY independent thinkers. They stayed true to their talents and have tons of determination and confidence in their abilities. I would have done a lot differently (get to those co-ops folks), but am happy with the outcome nontheless.

  7. I’ve been homeschooling for a year now, I follow a fairly eclectic style. Mostly based around my son’s passions for learning… cars, boats, building, cats and rabbits. But I also incorporate unit studies of my choice, and using various small books I’ve picked up here and there. We read a variety of books and often find ourselves inspired to learn more, or plan activities around the book we’ve read. :)

    He’s learning. :) perhaps not in the most traditional sense, but learning none-the-less. My family isn’t always certain what to think of my style, but that’s okay. it needs to work for both of us right?

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