Homeschooling for Beginners: Top 10 Questions
10 Questions Answered about Homeschool
- How much does it cost?
- How do I work and homeschool my kids?
- Is it legal to make up my own curriculum?
- Does it have to be accredited?
- Will my kids perform better or worse than traditionally educated kids?
- What if my kids have special needs?
- What are the benefits of homeschooling?
- Is all homeschooling religiously based? Secular vs Religious?
- Testing – Can I be homeschooled and still go to Harvard?
- What about sports, drama, music?
Bonus Question – “Is it selfish to take your kids out of school?”
1. How much does it cost
You can get free curriculum packages from organizations like K-12 or spend thousands of dollars on private, online or personally created programs. That is for the individual family to decide. Whatever your personal preference is there are quality programs run online by charter schools and state run programs that are tuition free. Right now in Arizona we have, Arizona State University’s digital prep.
This is a no fee, online school that has AP (advanced placement classes) as well as opportunities to complete basic college courses at an extremely reduced rate, giving your student the ability to finish at least the first year of college before they ever step foot on campus, saving the family thousands of dollars! You will want to check your local area for colleges that have done similar things in your area.
2. How do I work and homeschool my kids?
Some families have one parent that does not go out of the home for work and they are able to homeschool without thinking twice. While others either need to leave the house or work in a quiet office at home. This topic has been the basis for millions of hilarious TikToks!
The question still remains, how do I homeschool and work?
If you are thinking of homeschooling it is very important to think about who is shepherding the kids through the curriculum. Do you have independent workers or do you have children that are younger or even need more 1:1 help?
Create a village.
In our last neighborhood, we had three families that decided to homeschool together. The moms all had degrees in Math, Science and Biology. So they would spearhead each subject (giving the other two moms the “day off” (they had remote jobs that used this time) while they took on the responsibilities of school for the day, creating labs, field trips, testing etc. This had the added benefit of social interaction.
If you are going to be homeschooling on the road, time chunking will be your best friend. In other words, setting aside three hours (or so) where the majority of the work is completed and supervised. When you first start to homeschool it is fascinating to see just how fast basic work is completed when you do not have things like transferring of classrooms, morning announcements, recess, assemblies, etc. You have much more time for learning in atypical ways that travel provides in spades!
3. Is it legal to make my own curriculum
Homeschooling comes in many forms. Before you make a curriculum or choose a plan it is imperative that you check with your state or municipality to understand what is required of you. While homeschool is legal there are some states that put heavy regulations on the parents to direct their behaviors and keep the students on track. Home School Legal Defense is a fantastic place to start to see what the regulations are for your state.
4. Does it have to be accredited
The simple answer is, no. In addition, if you find a curriculum that is accredited it does not always guarantee that it is a quality program. What most people are really looking for when they request accreditation is if the curriculum is well developed and will prepare their student for the next step in their education. In other words, will your curriculum translate, with approval, to a private high school or desired college, or will your desired curriculum allow for seamless reentry to your student’s previous school if you take a year off to travel with plans to come back.
Having your student figure out what they want to do beyond middle school and high school is the best way to create a plan. For example, does your student want to go into a military academy or competitive college? Go to the site of these schools and see what is required. Then have a meeting with these schools to go over their expectations. The admission offices are very helpful and usually have a specialized office or person that handles homeschooling families. The key here is the earlier the better. You need to know as soon as possible so you have the time to deliver on the requirements.
5. Will my kids perform better or worse than traditionally educated kids
The most recent report from the U.S. Department of Education stated that homeschoolers are, on average, one year ahead of their schooled peers on the elementary school level.
What is most important, are the things books can’t teach us. This is where homeschool can be amazing or challenging. Creating opportunities where kids can see themselves stack up to their peers helps in growth, identity formation and practice in working out solution-based thinking.
Here is an article about 5 ways that Homeschooling might be the best way to teach in the 21st century.
6. What if my kids have special needs
The spectrum of special needs is vast and one child’s needs will not look like another. That is why working with your school district, or those in charge of delivering services will be imperative in creating a well developed plan from kids that learn differently to disabilities that require daily consideration, while being homeschooled.
The key to remember: Services follow paperwork.
Every state has a Parent Training and Information Center that can help parents understand what services are available to them. There are two things to remember in this pursuit. First: there many people in this career path that want to help and are amazing. Second: sometimes you will have to search for them because you are your child’s advocate. If you are not getting the answers you need, keep searching. When you find them be sure to help other families along the way!
7. What are the benefits of homeschooling
There are many benefits to homeschooling but one of the greatest is being able to tailor your child’s education. Knowing that we do not all develop at the same rate or have our strengths in the same areas we can adjust and develop missing pieces and accelerate in others is the greatest strength of homeschool.
Oh and… did we mention the flexibility to travel and center our lives around what we want to do instead of abiding by a schedule that was created for us. 🙂
Here is an insightful article on using the great outdoors as your classroom.
8. Is all homeschooling religiously based? Secular vs Religious
No. Homeschooling is all about you creating your own plan in accordance to your state’s regulations. There are many choices when creating a curriculum. That can include religious-based materials or secular materials.
9. Testing/Will my kids get into college
There are many questions about testing and homeschooling. State standard testing vs. PSAT, SAT ACT are the most common tests that are of concern to potential homeschoolers. State standard testing will be dependent on the curriculum you choose. When we first set out to go full time RVing I signed up our family to use the K-12 program. They had the full spectrum of services that a traditional school would have but they were also held to the same standards. That meant they required their students to return in the spring for testing. This was okay for the first year of our travels but became inconvenient and was a motivator for us to change our program in the following years.
PSAT, SAT and ACT Testing can be done around the country and does not need to be at your local school. Our kids were tested for the ISEE, PSAT and SAT all while we were traveling. You will need to go to the correct website to find the testing dates and have your school code ready for the enrollment process. Pay the fees and it’s as easy as that!
10. What about sports, drama, music
There is a great site called Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling. They have a break down of states that allow participation from homeschooled kids in Public School Sports and activities. If it is available in your state, it will come down to proving that your student is completing their academic tasks (consistent to the standard for the public schooler) There other requirements, depending on the state, that ask you to prove that they are not overtraining to protect the opposing teams that you are not training hulks on the side by “homeschooling” them but really just training them like pro athletes to tip the scales.
Chris Jeffery says
First of all I am not bashing home-schooling, I have worked with some very good parents who home-schooled their child; but In your #5 Performing better or worse than traditionally educated kids. Which I guess you mean Public Schools and not Private; Remember that the numbers that the traditional public schools reports is one which includes all of their student body! Scores of all students are figured together, which includes all socio-economic ranges, at risk students, special needs students, So as with any statistic, you can skew it to look just about how you want unless you’re in public education. 🙂
Crystal Harter says
Great video! We’re planning to homeschool this year for the first time because of COVID-19. Our daughter goes (went) to Culver Summer Camp- Jr. Woodcraft & maybe CGA too when she gets to high school. What a small world! Thanks for the wonderful advice.
Mary Taylor says
Thank you for taking the time and energy to post this video. I know you worked hard to put this together.
I have been homeschooling my daughter for 5 years now. She is in the 11th grade and doing rather well both in her education and maturity. We are loving the flexibility with time and curriculum choices. It’s NOT always rainbows and waterfalls, but we use our creativity to get through. I don’t work outside of the home so I don’t have that obstacle which I know is a blessing. I have used Monarch online curriculum for one year which was nice for me. It did all the scheduling and grading, BUT it wasn’t working for my daughter. She is a hands on learner so we went back to the books. It’s good to know your child’s learning style before you pick a curriculum.
I’m looking forward to other comments on the subject.
Thanks again for sharing your story.
Great video. We have 4 kids, ages 18, 14, 12 and 6, that my wife does a wonderful job homeschooling. I think the key to her success is the research that she conducted to identify a curriculum that works best for our kids. We teach our children until they are approximately in 5th grade and then they attend virtual classes at Lukeion , Pennsylvania Homeshcoolers, The Potters School, and couple others. This has worked for our children, but we have friends that tried to follow our methods and it didn’t work for their kids. I believe the key is to try different things and find what works best for your child.
Homeschooling is becoming more and more accepted in all colleges and universities; you just need to research what is required by the school(s) they want to attend. We had a friend that saw that a college her son wanted to go to was “testing optional”, meaning the SAT/ACT was optional, so she did not have her son take the SAT. After applying to the college, she discovered “testing optional” was not the case for homeschoolers; they had to take the SAT. Again, I give credit to my wife and her research, my 18 year old graduated this year and applied to 15 different colleges/universities (I know that’s crazy, but it’s what he wanted). He accepted an offer from Swarthmore College as an early decision; out of those 15 colleges/universities, he heard back from over half of them before he had to pull is applications from the others due to accepting on early decision. He was accepted to all but one of the colleges. His offers included full rides and maximum scholarships available at private universities. I say this not to brag, ok maybe proud papa is coming out a little, but to let you know that if the research is done to determine what colleges and universities want from homeschoolers, they can attend any school they want; you just have to put forth a little more effort that would normally be done by a guidance counselor at a public school.
Find what works for you and your child, don’t be afraid to try it and enjoy being a part of their education.
I am a public school teacher and my district is going remote for the first quarter. I am considering working from the road. I would love to learn more about online learning to better adapt my teaching to a more realistic setting and work load for students. Any suggestions/ideas
Kristin Thompson says
Yes DeAnna great question! We’re longtime homeschoolers. There’s an idea in the community that it doesn’t take as long to do homeschool or school at home as it does to do school at school. This is mainly due to the lack of transition time and knowing that when the student is done with the subject matter for the day, they can move on. Obviously not knowing what grades or subjects you teach, I’ve found that early elementary takes about an hour and a half to complete a full day. Upper elementary, maybe up to 2-3 hours a day. Middle school/high school more like 4-5 hours. This includes all lecture/instruction and time spent studying or working on projects.
Homeschool students don’t typically have ‘homework’ because it’s all homework. I wouldn’t let a lecture or time online to exceed 50mins to an hour at a stretch. When we talk about screentime in our culture, any time spent in online classes feeds into that screentime. Kids can get fatigued or experience the same kind of eye strain that adult office workers do. My oldest child (7th grade) who takes a lot of online courses, typically he’ll have one or two lives lecture type classes per subject per week at no more than an hour at a time and then he will have 1-2 hours of assignments to work on in that subject for the week. I hope that gives you a little to chew on. Good luck to all of you In your new school year!
Laura S Lytle says
I can’t think of a better way to teach US history and geography than by RV travel. As we discover experiences that we think would be particularly interesting to our grandchildren we urge our daughter to take the children to them or join us there. She is homeschooling her children in a stix-&- brix home but our RV experiences have helped enrich their education. Last year when I realized that the children were reading a book about Thomas Jefferson as part of their school work, I urged my daughter to take the grandchildren on a field trip to see Monticello in Virginia. This year I have urged her to take them to Massachusetts to see the Mayflower which has it has been renovated for it’s 400th anniversary of Plymouth Colony. When possible, we meet up with the kids at National Parks where they can tent camp with us next to our RV. Access to our kitchen and bathroom helps to make these trips easier for them. These are learning experiences for us all and memories together that will last a lifetime!
Frank Robbins says
I’ve learned tons about the RV life from you guys. Perhaps I can return the favor. If your kids are high school (home school as well) juniors or seniors and would like to take an online college course for $25 per credit hour check out WVUTech.edu/TechEE.
This isn’t a spam email. The program can’t handle thousands of kids. But you guys are doing the RV thing, which is where I hope to go soon, and you also have an interest in aviation, and I’m a professional pilot. Maybe I pay it back just a bit.
Frank Robbins says
Regarding earning college credit through testing, don’t forget CLEP and DSST testing. Go to GetCollegeCredit.com and CLEP.Collegeboard.edu for details. Also, check your prospective college’s policies about what they accept.
Robin Balanciere says
I think you guys are amazing! My husband opened me up to your channel. We are planning to go remote at least for a year and were thinking of K-12. However at the beginning of this video you stated that you started with k-12 but have since changed. How are you schooling now? My kids will be 10 and 12 when we start. We are in Texas and as far as I can tell in my research so far is that they have to have been in a public funded school in order to attend the online programs. They are currently attending a charter school. Any recommendations?
Mary Catherine York says
Our family has homeschooled for the past 10 years in many different ways. I would like to comment on two of your points: will my kids be behind or ahead if we homeschool and the question on special needs.
When we first began homeschooling I felt insecure, almost like I was doing something illegal and almost positive that I was going to ruin my kids. On our way to a vacation that summer before we started homeschooling a man waiting for his flight asked my kids what grades they were going into. My kids gleefully explained to him that they didn’t have grades because they were homeschooling. I apologetically said to him, “Yeah, I can’t mess them up too bad in one year, I guess”. He was a principal for a Blue Ribbon school in Florida and gave me these words of wisdom… if you are even halfway diligent as a parent with their education, they will come out ahead. As we acclimated to homeschooling and loved it, I thought everyone should homeschool because of the benefits of the tailoring the education to their needs. However, the more years we got under our belt, I also saw families, for one reason or another, unable to meet the academic needs of their children and those kids ended up way behind when they went back to public school later. So, it is not automatic that children will come out ahead. Seeing the needs of your children, knowing your own needs, skills, and abilities, and being able to hold yourself accountable as a parent are crucial to the success of homeschooling.
Regarding special needs and homeschooling… I have three children; all three of them have ADHD and two of them have autism (high functioning), one of them also has dyslexia and dysgraphia. I find that it has been easier to attend to their issues while homeschooling. Many of the issues that accompany these special needs can be exacerbated by being in school all day. For instance, the sensory issues with autism, the attention and movement (lack of ) issues with ADHD, the social issues with autism can actually be tougher for the child to handle because they are battling all day with these things in addition to their academics. My oldest daughter found it much easier to homeschool and do her academics in that time and be social when she was with her friends and in her homeschool groups than it was to both of those things together in the brick and mortar environment. Having said that, life does happen and thankfully we can change directions when we need to our when our child needs to. Homeschooling does not have to be a permanent, indelible, ever fixed decision. For example, I had a couple of years when I had some health issues that needed a lot of my attention and time. Realizing that, we found a private school for my youngest during that time that had a creative, hands on curriculum and social emotional curriculum they implemented well. She was happy there and I could relax knowing her needs would be met. The second daughter went back to public school and developed a wonderful friend group and finished out her high school years there. My oldest daughter went to a school that specialized in educating kids with high functioning autism. They are now 20, 18, and 12. The two oldest attend college, and our youngest is currently homeschooling. Long story, short… Sometimes, students with special needs can be better served homeschooling, and if not, we can always try something else that may be better for our family’s particular needs. 🙂
Mary Catherine York says
Oh, and I got a lot out of this video. I wrote down a few things I didn’t know and a few ideas I would like to try. Thank you!
Jill Vigil says
What curriculum have you used? We are looking ahead for homeschooling for middle school which is still 2 years away, but I am a researcher so I am starting the process now. We will live in a town where public education is horrible and our gem of a private school only goes through 5th grade.