How to Homeschool
Our goal is to provide simple and helpful information on why homeschool and how to homeschool.
This website covers information that parents should know. By following the How To Homeschool website instructions below, you will receive a well rounded orientation to prepare you or better equip you for homeschooling. We have included many beneficial tips and links that will save you time, money, and headaches! If you are already a homeschool family, visit us regularly for thought provoking articles on our sidebar or further below if you are a mobile user.
The best way to learn how to homeschool is to read this page first. Then review as many of the linked pages as you have time.
- Check your state requirements first, so you know what options will work the best for your local situation. Some states do not have any requirements. Some only require completion of an annual form. Some require periodic achievement test results be submitted to the local district office. Some require the student to attend and complete periodic achievement testing. Some have more requirements such as submitting curriculum information. Some states leave requirements up to each district or county. Generally, the requirements are not difficult to achieve. Information for several states is here, otherwise check directly with your state government website’s department of education section. Read more about Step 1.
2. Realistically evaluate the long term commitment required. There are many benefits to homeschooling, but parent self-discipline is normally required for success. Even if you use a homeschool program with many services, parents are the key to success. Parents need to monitor the school schedule, student environment, progress, and potential student frustrations. Parents must consistently motivate and encourage. Even when the student appears to be doing well, parents must be regularly involved. Read the rest of this page, Read More about Step 2 page, and Common Homeschool Barriers to Success. A family discussion at some point is usually required to introduce the idea to children. Some options and benefits should be researched first to prepare for the discussion. Read more about Step 2.
3. Decide if you want a secular or Christian worldview curriculum. Many states offer charter or even public school options to complete school from home. These options will be secular curriculum. These options usually provide academic assistance, but also stronger oversight. Although there will be less cost than other options, the curriculum values will be similar to public schools. There are also many curriculum and distance learning options that include a Christian worldview and traditional values. Most of these focus on character building, which lets parents and their church handle more doctrinal areas. Since a Christian worldview curriculum will normally require the parent to cover costs, you might want to review Why Homeschool Tuition Is A Value to see how you might justify the cost. Read more about Step 3.
4. Decide between curriculum or distance learning. Decide whether to buy curriculum to use as an independent homeschool or use a distance learning program such as an online private school. Parents that purchase curriculum and operate as an independent homeschool have less costs. Parents often find support and social opportunities through local homeschool associations. Distance learning through a school will cost more because of included benefits. These programs have to cover curriculum, accreditation expenses, academic support, testing services, records, and other costs. Distance learning will normally provide academic help which is especially beneficial for middle and high school students. Many distance learning options assist with very time consuming subjective scoring. Some feel a school diploma is important, thus use distance learning. One of their bigger benefits compared to independent homeschooling is student motivation. Sometimes the student needs to know someone else other than parents expects a quality and quantity of work to be done. See 10 Points For Choosing A Program if considering distance learning or an online school. Read more about Step 4.
5. Re-evaluate your situation regularly after you have started. Make sure you are still meeting any requirements. Use an annual achievement test that is not connected to your curriculum, so you can measure strengths and weaknesses of annual growth. Assess the overall family health. Has there been an improvement or deterioration with quality of life for each family member, including yourself? What changes might improve your homeschooling experience? Read more about Step 5.
It Must Be a Priority:
This paragraph is blunt, but we all need to be reminded. Homeschooling should be considered for the right reason. If parents are lazy or overly busy, the child will usually not excel. The child will blame homeschooling. If the child doesn’t get the proper amount of assistance, he will get frustrated. He will blame homeschooling. If he has already struggled for several years in a campus-based situation and has developed negative behavior habits, conflict can continue at home. He will blame homeschooling. If the child has been expelled from a school, problems may continue at home. He will blame homeschooling. If an academically struggling child is brought home to homeschool, he may not understand why and drag his feet. He will blame homeschooling. Keep reading!
If you are new to homeschooling, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. The next three paragraphs are important! Many new homeschool families use a quality homeschool program or online school to make homeschooling easier and yet achieve academic success. The parent is more of a supervisor rather than a teacher. The parent makes sure the student starts work each day in an environment that is not distracting, while occasionally checking throughout the day on the progress of the daily goals. Since the student does not have to wait on others or a school bell, the student knows he is finished with school when his daily goals are done. This alone helps motivate a good work ethic, but some students need closer monitoring and frequent encouragement. The parent also reviews quiz and test scores to know the student is following proper procedures. A lower score may mean the student is shortcutting reading requirements or is being distracted. Occasionally the student may need help, but with self-teaching curricula the parent can ask the student where did the curriculum talk about the issue. Then the parent can ask which paragraph talked about it. Then the parent can ask the student to read the sentence or two that talks about it. Often the student then understands the answer or concept. By consistently offering that type of help, most students eventually realize it is easier to look back and do the same procedure rather than asking for parent help. All of us need occasional interest by others though. For junior and senior high, a homeschool program that offers teacher assistance can help with occasional concepts that might not be as easy to resolve. Even if teacher assistance isn’t needed very often for academic help, the subjective scoring of written work that a computer cannot score takes time and work. Teacher assistance can save the parent from that responsibility when desired.
A homeschool program or online school can save the parent an enormous amount of time and energy, which allows the parent to concentrate on encouragement. Homeschooling doesn’t require you use a distant learning structure through a school, but the benefits can give many families better odds for long term success. A homeschool program can assist with academic support when needed. A homeschool program can offer outside accountability and motivation to reduce or prevent parent-child attitudes from forming. A homeschool program can free up parent time to develop occasional field trips or a specialized course the student has an interest in that can make homeschooling attractive to almost any child. (see 10 Points For Choosing A Program) Children with negative behavior problems need extra attention, incentives, and shown the parent truly cares. A homeschool program can allow a structure to do that.
Homeschooling has historically been a method to allow children to excel above public school standards, plus protect morals. Academic excellence takes work by both the parent and student and doesn’t happen overnight, especially for students that have been struggling in a campus-based situation. Many homeschool families use an individualized curriculum that starts by diagnosing gaps in foundational concepts. Gaps in learning can be repaired so the student isn’t distracted with foundational concepts. Repairing those gaps can take time for some students, but can accelerate learning afterward. Generally, the student will experience higher test scores immediately when switching to an individualized structure. An individualized program also works well with a gifted student. Often a gifted student will become bored in a lock-stepped classroom. That can sometimes lead to acting out or getting lower grades. A homeschool program that uses an individualized structure can keep the student challenged. Read our post about individualized education to see why it is good for all students.
In many campus-based schools, time is used at the beginning of the day for announcements, attendance, lunch count, communication envelope management, and other tasks. This often takes 15 minutes. Another 5 minute transition break is used between subjects, sometimes to go to another classroom. For all subjects, that totals about 30 minutes per day. There is usually one longer recess/break per day, which adds another 10 minutes to the class transition break time. Lunch is as long as 50 minutes for many schools. For homeschoolers, as soon as they are done with a subject, they begin the next one immediately. In a campus-based structure, time is lost at the beginning (settling in) and end (getting ready to dismiss) of each class. Sometimes time is lost when a student might just sit at the end of a class, because he is done with the day’s lesson early. These classroom issues can add up to around 55 minutes total each day. If we count a 15 minute each-way travel time (usually more) for the student, there’s another 30 minutes minimum. Not counting older students with their supposed study period of 50 minutes, that comes to 185 minutes per day of non-academic work.
A California school example has school from 8:45am-3:15pm on full days, which comes to 420 minutes including the minimum 15 minute travel times.
So 420 minutes minus the 185 minutes comes to 235 minutes or 3.9 hours of actual education time. With a quick bathroom break, snack, and occasional stretch, a homeschooler can do the same work from 8am-noon.
Campus-based students might have additional homework time to consider, but adding that to homeschooling time would not change the difference outcome. Okay, sure younger students may need more break time, but still it is obvious that homeschooling time can be more efficient.
One of the more important benefits of homeschooling is work ethic training. Homeschool students know when they get their work completed, they are done with school for the day! In a campus-based situation, a hard working student quickly learns he will often be rewarded with more work if he gets done before others. After several years of that structure, the student enters the work force with that same mentality. This homeschool benefit does come with a price. Parents must take the responsibility to ensure the student is not short-cutting or skimming to get done with school earlier. Plus, other structured activities should be arranged to broaden the student’s life in this extra free time.
Education practices have changed drastically in relationship to history. Through modern research, we have learned each person has unique traits. Researchers feel we have different personalities, temperaments, learning styles, birth orders, love languages, intelligent quotients, emotional quotients, brain hemisphere dominance, and other areas.
Since the beginning of mankind, people were either hunter-gatherers or agricultural-based. Parents had many different responsibilities to give their children. They were able to assign tasks that best fit a particular child based on his strengths or weaknesses. One child might be good with animals. Other children might be good at gardening, hunting, fishing, cooking, clothing, or building things. Each child had an opportunity to develop self-esteem.
Today, children are placed in a classroom with identical age levels for thirteen years where academics must be their strength. It does not matter whether they are naturally good at it or not. A young person that might have excelled in another time is less likely to experience that today. A traditional classroom structure will remind these struggling children daily they are not as good as other students. All he learns is that he is stupid, a failure, and a disappointment. This causes many children to act out or get in trouble.
Today, parents should consider individualized curriculum structures with the appropriate learning style format, so any ability level can excel. An additional customized course or project that concentrates on the student’s gifting should also be considered.
When asked, “What about social interaction?” Most homeschool families respond with “That is one of the primary reasons we do homeschool!” Older people believe better social skills were developed in yesteryear’s small schools with multiple grade levels. Many believe this also applies to today’s homeschools. The thinking is children develop a wider set of social skills when not placed in an environment where everyone is exactly the same age. Some parents are not exactly impressed with today’s social influences from other students in the classroom either.
It is important to look for opportunities for children to have supervised interaction with other people of all ages. This is more important if in a more isolated situation such as an only child or secluded rural living. There are many options to consider such as church, sports, music lessons, elective group class, scouts, 4-H, etc. A safe supervised environment is the key! Opportunities for the student to develop and experience leadership skills are beneficial. Leadership skills can be developed by observance, but situations where the student can eventually participate in leadership are especially valuable.
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