Homeschooling is an incredibly popular alternative to public schooling. Almost 2 million children were homeschooled in 2007 in the United States alone. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when researching homeschooling options simply because there is so much information out there about the concept. Twenty years ago, when the movement began in the United States, homeschooling was much more difficult.
I’ve homeschooled 4 of my children over the past 15 years and I’ve had a lot of people question me about the whole concept. I’ve also had people ask me how to get started or asked for help with an educational issue. I’d like to share some of the answers I’ve given with you in this post.
Before you begin to homeschool you child, you need to find out the legal details. Homeschooling is legal in all of the states in the US, but it is not entirely legal in other countries across the world. If you live in the US, be aware that homeschooling laws vary from state to state. Each state has rules and regulations that homeschoolers must follow in order to legally educate their children if they live in that state. In Pennsylvania for example, I had to keep a log book each day of educational activities I taught my children. I also had to log our days and hours and present documentation that I had taught my children for so many hours or so many days each year. In Virginia, I do not have to do this.
The best place to find out about homeschooling laws in your particular state is to look up the laws online. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a great source of info on this! Just look up your state on their map. They also have information on homeschooling in territories governed by the US and information on homeschooling laws in foreign countries.
Once you find out if it’s legal to homeschool in your country or state, you can begin to research curriculum choices for your children. The best way to research curriculum choices is to attend a homeschool conference in your area. You can search online for more information in your particular state or country. You can also research online. A great website to evaluate all sorts of curriculum options is Choosy Homeschooler. You can read the reviews and decide which curriculum would be best for your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
If you have children with special needs, you’ll need to do a little more research to find the best program for your child. I’ve had success using Time 4 Learning, an online learning program, with my special needs children. This company also offers a free trial period which is helpful!
After you’ve found a curriculum, you need to think about your child’s social needs. There are so many opportunities for homeschooled children to socialize both during and after the school day that it’s overwhelming. Many areas have clubs and events during the day just geared towards homeschooled students. For example, an ice skating rink in our area has a time where homeschooled children can go during the day to take lessons, skate, and meet other homeschooled children.
My children belonged to a homeschool swim club for many years. The club met at a local pool during the morning hours. There were so many children that participated that the pool owner shut down the pool to the public and opened it just for the homeschooled children.
The best way to find local events for homeschoolers in your area is to check out Yahoo Groups for local homeschooling groups. You’ll be amazed at the number of options that you have!
For many years, I ran a homeschool travel group. Our group took trips to Philadelphia, New York City, Washington DC and Paris. You will find groups that meet that have goals other than traveling. Some groups are for religious families and other groups are for non-religious families. Some groups are designed specifically for teenagers, and other groups are for all members of the family. Some homeschool groups even plan fun nights out for the moms!
Perhaps you still have questions on homeschooling. If so, please feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to help you find an answer!
UPDATE The folks at Time 4 Learning are offering a 14 day free trial to new members only.