In today’s rapidly changing world, you might be taking an interest in the idea of homeschooling your children. If you have ever wondered exactly how homeschooling works, what its benefits are, and how you can get started, this guide will help you get started.
Why Do People Homeschool?
Before we talk about how to homeschool your child, let’s go over some of the reasons why people homeschool.
There are actually numerous reasons for homeschooling. Here are a few:
- You might live in a school district or state that simply does not offer a quality education. Homeschooling may reduce the chances of your child falling behind, ensuring they learn what they need to prepare for adulthood.
- Some people have a fundamental disagreement with the way the public educational system works, and prefer alternate approaches to educating their child.
- In some cases, it may not be the educational methods that parents question, but the curriculum in public schools. Homeschooling offers an alternative.
- Bullying and even crime may be serious problems in some schools. Keeping a child out of that environment can help them stay safe.
- If a child has a disability that the public school system is not adequately addressing, homeschooling may be more supportive and effective.
- Sometimes people homeschool a child temporarily while moving from one state to another (or even from one country to another).
- Homeschooling is more flexible than public school.
- Parents and children can spend more time together, and kids can also spend less time commuting.
- Sometimes parents do not want their children exposed to outside values.
Nowadays, there is another reason to homeschool, which is health and safety. As of the time of this writing, we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some parents may homeschool their children to reduce their possible exposure to the virus.
Most of the benefits of homeschooling are apparent from the list above. Whether because of a more comprehensive curriculum, more flexible, personalized teaching methods, or other reasons, a child can sometimes receive a better education at home than in school.
Does research support this? As it turns out, yes.
There is a study you can view here from Michael Cogan at the University of St. Thomas.
The four-year graduation rate for public school children was 58.5%. For children who were homeschooled, it was 66.7%.
GPAs were also higher. In public school, the fourth year GPA was 3.16 on average, whereas for children who were homeschooled, it was 3.46.
Does Homeschooling Have any Drawbacks?
While homeschooling has many great benefits, it also have a few potential disadvantages:
- One parent has to be available to conduct lessons. That means that the family’s overall income will be lower than if both parents worked. And in some cases, it may simply be impossible.
- Homeschooling can be rewarding for parents and children alike, but there is no denying it is a big job. There is a great deal of planning that goes into it.
- Children may get lower exposure to different perspectives and ideas at home than they would in a public or even private school.
- While homeschooling is more flexible in general, kids will also get lower exposure to different teaching styles. If a parent’s teaching style and a kid’s learning style are a mismatch, it may also not be ideal.
- Parents will need to go out of their way to find social enrichment activities and opportunities for their children, who will not automatically get those things at school.
How to Homeschool Your Child
If you do want to move forward with homeschooling your child, how do you go about it? As a starting point, you need to look up the requirements for your country and state. Based on those requirements, you will need to build a curriculum that is suitable for your child.
From there, you just need to have a schedule that allows your child to work through that curriculum each day. Teaching methods and assignments can vary a great deal from one situation to the next.
Your child may need to be able to pass standardized tests, much as they would in public school, and an outside authority may need to look over certain coursework.
Parent Requirements for Homeschooling
The exact parent requirements to conduct homeschooling will depend on your state. As an example, here is a page that the state of California maintains about homeschooling requirements. As the page explains, you will need to file a Private School Affidavit (PSA) with the California Department of Education (CDE) in order to homeschool your children.
The state says that parents need to record attendance, but “are not required to report to their school district.”
As another example, here is the homeschooling page that the state of Virginia maintains. This page offers detailed criteria for parents, saying they must meet one of the options below:
- Option I: The parent holds a high school diploma or a higher credential.
- Option II: The parent meets the qualifications of a teacher as prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education.
- Option III: The parent provides the child with a program of study or curriculum which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner.
- Option IV: The parent provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.
The same page explains what “evidence of progress” the parent must submit during homeschooling, such as standardized testing or evaluation letters from licensed third parties.
So, make sure to look up the requirements for your state before you proceed with homeschooling.
Homeschooling Scheduling and Curriculum
There are numerous options with how you will structure the homeschooling experience. You could pattern it closely off of what your child would experience in public or private school, or you could use online teaching tools and resources.
There is also an option called “unschooling,” which basically is a child-led approach where kids come up with the subjects they want to pursue and sometimes even the activities they want to do.
There is not necessarily one “right” way to homeschool. Rather, you will want to structure the experience according to your individual child’s needs.
Some kids may benefit from more structure and others from less. A balanced approach may be worth considering.
It is also possible to change how you homeschool over time. For example, you might begin with a traditional curriculum, and as your child gets older, give them more freedom to decide what they want to study (similar to the introduction of electives in secondary school).
Some parents might also start out with unschooling, realize their child is not learning enough reading or math, and modify the way they are structuring things to ensure that their kid is getting all the basics.
Those are just a couple of examples. The ways in which homeschooling can evolve as kids get older is as individual as children themselves.
Q: How long does it take to get approved for homeschool?
A: The exact amount of time approval takes for homeschooling may depend on your state. Also keep in mind that planning your homeschooling structure can take time. That said, in many cases, you can get up and going with it in a matter of months.
Q: How expensive is it to homeschool a child?
A: Most of the estimates we have seen for materials and activities costs for homeschooling children are anywhere from $500-$1,000 annually per child.
The biggest cost of homeschooling, however, takes the form of lost potential income, since one parent must stay home. Of course, if one parent is going to stay home anyway, you can just factor this consideration out entirely.
Q: What if my kids fall behind?
A: This is an understandable concern. That being said, it is not necessarily any more likely to happen while you are homeschooling than it would be in public or private school. Recall the statistics we shared earlier that demonstrated higher GPAs and graduation rates for homeschooled children.
Kids do sometimes fall behind, regardless of setting. When that happens, at least with homeschooling you have far more power to address it than you would if your child attended public school. You may simply need to adjust the curriculum, structure, or teaching methods to better suit your child.
Q: Can I supplement the homeschooling curriculum?
A: Yes, you can. Kids can learn in multiple environments. You can, for instance, sometimes opt your children into outside classes, including in community college. You can also hire tutors for your kids, or help them apply for internships and other vocational learning experiences.
Q: Will my child be able to get into university if I homeschool them?
A: Parents sometimes worry that universities will not accept homeschooled applicants, but this is not the case. In fact, as we just discussed, your child may even be able to get started in community college before their peers in public school.
Q: How will my child spend time with other children?
A: Your child can still get plenty of peer socialization without attending public school. Classes and teams are good extracurricular options. You will need to be willing to drive your child to these outside activities.
Get Started with Homeschooling
If you think homeschooling is the right fit for your family, you can begin by looking up the requirements in your state. From there, you can start building your curriculum. Good luck, and enjoy sharing this educational time with your child.