Frequently Asked Questions About Homeschooling
 

What’s the best way to get started?


Just diving in and doing it!  Homeschooling, like most things in life, is what you make of it, and there’s a lot to make of homeschooling!  Far more than merely another approach to education. homeschooling often changes lives by changing the way people think about children, learning, and what’s important within their own families.  The most common reason for homeschooling is to allow family members to spend more time with each other, living and loving and growing together.



Can we homeschool legally?


Yes, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but laws and regulations vary from state to state, and interpretations can vary between adjoining school districts.  Complicating this is the reality that laws and regulations are subject to change.  Read the laws for your state yourself, and then find someone to help you understand your local homechool “climate”, that is, the relationship between homeschooling families and the local school authorities. 



How can I help my child learn?


You don’t have to know how to teach everything your child wants to learn.  Your child will teach herself many things, and homeschool support groups offer field trips, study groups, classes, and other helpful resources.  Community college classes, lessons via the internet, television, videos, and computer software are all available to help your child learn.  Read magazines and websites which feature experiences with various teaching methods, and how to make learning enjoyable for your entire family.



Should we use a curriculum?


Many families start out with a structured curriculum program, or at lease a set of school-type workbooks, just to get a “feeling” for how their children like to learn.  Many families like the structure and stick with it.  But many others find their children using the “school tools” less and less, and leaning on their own terms more and more.  Find what works best for your family through experimentation and exploration.



How will I know if my children are learning?  Should we test?


Children are always learning!  You can discover what they are learning by spending time with them and observing the growth in their understanding.  A standardized test cannot give you the kind of valuable information you will get by simply spending time with your children and paying attention.  Arguments for and against testing can be found online at many homeschooling websites. 



What about higher education?


Colleges are interested in responsible people and capable, motivated learners, and they find both in homeschooled students.  If your child is interested in attending college, a good first step is to ask if anyone in your local support group has helped his or her child through the admissions process, or ask online at a homeschooling message board or email discussion list.  Most good books on homeschooling address common questions about teenagers, college, work, volunteer opportunities, and more; and several authors have written good books specifically about homeschooling older children going on to college, etc.



What is unschooling?


Unschooling is a relaxed, unstructured approach to learning, often characterized by a lack of formal curriculum materials, relying instead on what is sometimes referred to as child-led learning, or simply following and expanding on a child’s natural interests.  There are many outstanding resources available for unschooling, from the premier website unschooling.com, to unschooling-focused books, conferences, discussion lists, support groups, newsletters, and more.  A good starting place is the unschooling.com website, which includes articles and essays in an unschooling library, a popular message board forum, several unschooling discussion lists, and many resources and materials used by unschoolers.  Fore more information, visit the site at www.unschooling.com



How can I learn more about homeschooling?


Two excellent sources are Home Education Magazine and the American Homeschool Association. 


  1.     Home Education Magazine offers feature articles, news analysis, political commentary, interviews, regular columns and more - a supportive resource that arrives in your mailbox six times a year.  But HEM also offers a full-service website and dozens of networking and resource-sharing opportunities.  www.homeedmag.com.


  1.     The American Homeschool Association provides free online articles, reports, support, resources, networking and more through their website, free online newsletter, weblogs, and several email discussion lists.  www.americanhomeschoolassociation.org.




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