Homeschooling Frequently Asked Questions
Parents who choose to teach their own children at home are not paid. Some states offer tax credits or charter school stipends to homeschooling families.
Professional homeschool teachers may be self-employed or work for companies that offer classes or tutoring to homeschooled students. These teachers may offer a variety of courses based on their skill set, such as tutoring, music lessons, or sports classes. Many companies that cater to students, such as music schools or dance studios, offer dedicated classes for homeschoolers. Self-employed homeschool teachers set their rates for their clients. Teachers that work for companies are paid based on their level of experience and the demand for the class they offer.
The answer to that is different for every family, and it is likely different depending on what day of the week it is!
Obviously, the age, skill level, learning styles, attention spans, and the amount of children at home are all contributing factors. When evaluating your homeschool day to see if you’re doing too much or too little, here are a few things to keep in mind.
While most states require 180 school days a year, don’t compare a “typical” homeschool/independent study day to a “typical” traditional school day. In a traditional school setting, a child is in attendance for 6-7 hours a day although not every minute of that is time spent actually learning.
The homeschooling parent most likely doesn’t have 34 students to wrangle in the school day either. Both educators will deal with discipline issues. However, the homeschooling parent is not required to take attendance, check homework, attend assemblies and fire drills, computer class, etc. So, the actual school day will be shorter.
Keep in mind that focused one-on-one instruction will be quicker and more efficient than group instruction. Plus, actual learning time will vary by student, family and ability levels. Budget an average of 3-4 hours a day of school time; meanwhile some days will be less and some more.
The younger the students are, the shorter the focused instruction time will be. Aim for a well-rounded school day with some direct instruction. Independent work time, play time, free reading, and electives (music instrument practice, karate lesson, art projects, etc).
Flexibility is the beauty and gift of independent study. If you travel your homeschooler will be able to experience other cultures. All while not missing a day of school as school travels along.
There isn’t a school bell when it comes to homeschooling and you don’t need one. For night owls, do school at night. Where everyone functions the best in the morning, get all the schoolwork done by noon. If it works better for your family to do formal instruction only 4 days a week, do so. Take one day a week to go on an educational field trip, then, by all means, enjoy the flexibility!
In the traditional school setting, the teacher covers every subject every day. You, as the homeschool parent are able to rearrange the schedule to what works best for your child. With a personalized learning plan that the parent creates, homeschooling parents able to focus more on areas of needs. Hence, spending less time on what the child has already mastered. Parents can also go more in depth into subjects and topics that interest their student(s). As well as get more creative on using the world as a classroom. That’s the great part about self-paced learning.
As a homeschool parent, always be looking out for teachable moments. Baking cookies can easily turn into a lesson on fractions or units of measurement. A discussion on physics or structural engineering can center around a family game of Jenga. On trips to the grocery store or dentist, listen to audiobooks or have an older child read aloud to you. Learning can take place all the time, not just during “official” school hours.
For this reason, it’s impossible to actually measure exactly how many hours of learning you can fit in a day. And exactly how much learning is taking place each and every day – even on the weekends! Remember, learning/education isn’t just doing workbooks and math equations at a desk or the kitchen table, Monday through Friday.
Teach your children to be lifelong learners. When someone asks how many hours a day you spend homeschooling, honestly say teaching your children is a 24/7 affair!
Q: Is it free to be homeschooled? How much does homeschooling cost?
Depending on the choices you make, homeschooling can cost either a little or a lot. Generally, you can assume that homeschooling costs more than a public school education and less than a private school.
Alternately, you could homeschool for free using public resources like libraries, PBS shows, museums, internet, and hand-me-down educational supplies.
In general, home education costs more if you use a complete boxed curriculum. (Like Alpha Omega or Abeka) or sign up with an independent study school (like Laurel Springs or Keystone). Also, homeschooling costs tend to be higher for teenagers than for elementary school students. Since many homeschool teens also take college classes, you will have to factor that into your educational budget.
You will want to budget for extracurricular activities like swimming, soccer, gymnastics, martial arts, piano lessons, and the like. Since homeschooled children have more time, they tend to participate in more of these activities.
The bottom line is that:
(1) you have complete control over how much homeschooling will cost and
(2) you can give your child a quality education no matter how much or how little money you have. Check out the depth of resources available in this Resource Guide
One of the unique advantages of homeschooling is that you have complete control over how much it costs. Here are some of the most common expenses. We will discuss homeschooling on a budget with money saving tips on a future post.
Your curriculum will likely be your biggest expense when you start homeschooling, and prices run the gamut. You can create your own curriculum for free, or you can spend thousands of dollars. It all depends on your needs and how much time you have to put into researching bargains and planning lessons.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) estimates that the average parent spends about $300 to $600. Per year, per child, on homeschooling curriculum, games, and books. However, there are plenty of ways to save money on this expense. We will discuss them in a future post.
- Most common homeschooling expenses
Supplies and equipment
Lost income from the stay at home parent
See also: Homeschooling pros and cons
Q: What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is the most flexible and diverse educational option available today. The different homeschooling styles reflects the different cultures of the people who choose this method. while some families organize it like a traditional school with children studying same subjects the way public school students do. Others use the opposite approach. They “unschool” their children – a far less structured approach where the children’s schedule is determined by their interests and readiness.
Most homeschoolers, however, use an eclectic approach that is partly structured and partly interest-based. This method allows parents to pick and choose the classes and materials that meet their children’s needs. These may be college or co-op classes, pool teaching, charter schools, independent study programs, apprenticeships, volunteering, etc. Homeschooling is as unique as you are.
Q: Is it better to homeschool?
- Studies revealed that homeschool students typically score higher than public school students in standardized tests.
- Parents’ level of education did not change the student’s success.
- Contrary to the myth and stereotype, homeschool children often socialize better than their public school counterparts.
- Homeschool students have a higher rate of graduating college than students who attended public school.
- Homeschooled students graduated with an average GPA of 3.46 while their peers graduated with an average of 3.16.
Studies have been done to show that these traits are most noted in children who have been homeschooled.
Homeschool has had a stigma for years, but now families have shown that homeschool students may be just as successful, if not more, than their public school peers. A study revealed that from 1999-2007, the number of students who homeschooled jumped from 850,000 to 1.5 million.
The choice is now with you to determine if homeschool is right for you and your family.
You might enjoy: The Advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling
Q: What types of families homeschool their children?
Homeschoolers are often inappropriately stereotyped as hippies or religious fanatic. However,, most homeschoolers are just normal parents who have decided to take charge of their children’s education. Homeschoolers are everywhere and come from all walks of life.
They live in cities, in the suburbs, and in the country. Some are doctors, janitors and public school teachers. Other homeschooling families are military families. While some have strong religious beliefs others are nonbelievers. Homeschoolers are just like you and me.
Q: Is homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states and throughout Canada. It is also becoming increasingly popular in Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, every state has different homeschooling. Check laws in your state and be sure that you are compliant with those laws before you start homeschooling!
Homeschooling in VA is very different than homeschooling in TN. Which can both be very different from home education in Florida, North Carolina, Alabama or other states.
Some states have very relaxed homeschooling laws and have little to no state reporting requirements.
Others have very stringent homeschooling laws where you may be required to use a specific curriculum or have to follow very specific guidelines.
Some laws require you to fill out paperwork as if you were a private school. If you are considering homeschooling, you will need to get information on the current laws in your area. State or local homeschool groups are often the best source of information. A member of a support group in your state can advise you on how to register as a homeschooler in your state.
You might like: How do you start homeschooling?
Q: What are the advantages of homeschooling?
For many homeschoolers, one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the strengthening of family bonds. Homeschooling families spend lots of time learning and playing together. This naturally creates close ties between brothers and sisters and between children and parents.
There’s also have a great deal of flexibility in how and what they learn. Allowing them to learn about the “real world” by being part of it. These advantages allow homeschooled children to receive a superior education that is attuned specifically to their own needs, learning style, personality, and interests.
Q: What are the disadvantages of homeschooling?
According to homeschoolers’ feedback on Homeschool.com, the biggest disadvantage facing the homeschooling family is loss of income. Someone must be home, at least part-time, to facilitate the children’s learning. When it’s difficult to get by on two incomes, it’s a real challenge to get by on just one.
Some of the other difficulties facing homeschooling parents include lack of confidence in their own and their children’s abilities. Public and/or family criticism, adjusting career goals and work schedules to accommodate the needs of the family. One last challenge humorously cited by homeschoolers is that of housekeeping. When you use your home full-time for homeschooling (and in some cases even for work), things can get messy. But don’t worry, these are signs that your child is learning. Those books piled high on the coffee table, science experiment on the table, and art project in the patio.
Read also: The pros and cons of homeschooling
Q: How are homeschooled students doing socially?
It used to be that if you announced that you were going to homeschool your children people would ask you. “How will your children learn anything?” Now, fears have been put to rest regarding homeschoolers’ academic achievement. The most commonly asked question is, “But what about socialization?” The assumption is that children will not learn to get along with others. And will not develop good social skills unless they go to school. However, several studies have been conducted over the years. These studies show that homeschooled children are more self-confident and less peer dependent than traditionally schooled students.
Many people believe that homeschoolers spend all their time around the kitchen table, but that simply is not the case. Homeschooled students do not spend six hours a day in a classroom sitting behind a desk. They therefore, have more time to participate in activities outside the home like swimming, music, sports, and Scouts. Also, school children rarely have the opportunity to interact with children who are not the same age. Homeschoolers on the other hand interact with and learn from people of all ages, and with different interests.
Q: Will my child be able to get into college if they are homeschooled?
Homeschoolers are accepted and recruited by some of the top universities in the country because of their maturity. Their independent thinking skills, creativity, and strong academic preparation. As was previously mentioned, homeschoolers perform above average on the ACT. Success on the ACT test reveals that courses taken by high school students to prepare for college have been effective. Homeschoolers also placed highest on the SAT college entrance exams. Higher than private and public school students.
In addition to academic success, homeschoolers have had athletic success in college. Coaches are recruiting homeschooled athletes. In 2001, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) declared about 100 homeschooled students eligible for athletics as freshmen at major universities – up from 85 the year before. TIME magazine on September 11, 2000, reported that 26% of 35 homeschooled applicants accepted into Stanford University’s 2000-2001 freshman class. This is nearly double the rate of overall acceptance.
Q: Will my children be able to succeed in the “real world” if they do not go to school?
Those exploring homeschooling for the first time sometimes worry that their child will not be able to function in the “real world.” if they don’t attend school and have the same social experiences as schooled children. But what do schools really do? They separate kids by age and ability and limit children’s interactions to short recess periods. School children are forced to socialize with children only their own age. They are trapped in a room six to seven hours a day. And allowed to view the outside world only through a textbook. Where in the real world are adults forced to socialize with only someone their own age? Competition, bullying, consumerism, and cruel teasing are often the social values children learn at school. Homeschooled children are more likely to base their decisions on values they learn from their parents. Instead of feeling compelled to go along with the crowd. Or accept the behavior of what other children are displaying as the “norm.”
The bottom line is this: homeschoolers already live in the real world. The idea of “entering the real world” really only applies to school children. Who have been isolated from the real world for 12-13 years. Because homeschoolers spend so much more time in the real world, they are able to communicate well. They get along with both adults and children. They even get along with their siblings. It is common for homeschooling families to receive positive comments about their children’s strong, warm sibling relationships.
Q: Can I homeschool if I’m overseas?
Homeschooling is growing in popularity around the world, particularly in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Still, homeschooling originated in the United States. Because of that there are more homeschooling resources and opportunities available in America than anywhere else.
If you are American living overseas, use an American independent study program to help you while you are away. Planing on living overseas for an extended period of time with a high schooler? Consider participating in the international baccalaureate program. This gives your child an international diploma that he or she can use for admittance to some of the finest universities in the world.