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What is homeschooling?
Is homeschooling legal?
Do homeschooled children receive an adequate education?
Don't the children miss playing with other children?
What are the advantages of homeschooling?
What are the disadvantages of homeschooling?
Where can I find others who homeschool for support?
Where do I find curriculum?
Will my homeschooled children be able to get into college?
How do homeschooled children fare in the "real" world?

What is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is the fastest growing trend in education today. Children are removed from public government schools to be educated at home by their parents. By most estimates there are currently as many as 2 million children in America now being educated at home and the growth is continuing.

Is homeschooling legal?

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and Canada. However, homeschooling laws do vary, sometimes a great deal, from state to state or province to province. A good place to check out what is expected in your state is at the HomeSchool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website. HSLDA has the most up to date information I've found regarding state regulations.

Do homeschooled children receive an adequate education?

Yes. Many studies have been done over the last few years and the academic excellence of homeschooled children is well documented. In fact, every study to date which I have ever been able to find shows the education received is more than adequate. Just one example, the Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Homeschooled Students found "the achievement test scores of this group of home school students are exceptionally high--the median scores were typically in the 70th to 80th percentile; 25% of home school students are enrolled one or more grades above their age-level public and private school peers". Further information regarding academic performance of homeschoolers is available HERE.

RECOMMENDED READING: Strengths of Their Own - Home Schoolers Across America: Academic Achievement, Family Characteristics, and Longitudinal Traits

Don't the children miss playing with other children?

They do play with other children -- a lot. In fact, there are some weeks in which we have so many outside activities going on that I look back and realize we did not spend even one entire day at home. "Park Day" is a big favorite here at our house. We meet up with approximately a dozen other families every Wednesday at the park. We also have "Science Co-op" on Mondays in which we meet with other families to do science together as a group. We have "favorite friends" who we visit with once a week or so enjoying some special time together. In addition there is always something else being planned that gets everyone together. The families join together, maybe through Yahoo Groups, and inform each other when something educational is happening in the area and some or all of us end up at the same activities together. Besides the homeschooling community activities there are also dance lessons, Girl Scouts, theater, robotics clubs . . . and the list goes on and on.

If you have so many outside activities, then how do you get any actual work done?"

We *try* to get up fairly early and get all our structured time done in the morning so that we have the afternoon free to do other things. Some days the plan works and some days it doesn't. When it doesn't work we're flexible and will work around it. There have been occasions when we're doing math at 10:00 at night. Learning is not limited to the hours between 8:00 and 5:00.

Another thing to keep in mind is that teaching your child at home does not actually take as much time as you might think. If your children are in public school they are not actually learning the entire 8-hour day. They are waiting much of the time. Roll call must be taken. Lessons must be repeated for slower learners. Quick learners finish a test early and must sit and wait. There are frequent disruptions by other students. There's waiting in line for lunch and waiting to go to the bathroom. Holding up your hand and waiting to ask a question, etc.

Where can I find other homeschoolers for support?

At least one homeschooling association is active in every state. These groups offer advice and information and hold conferences at which families who school at home discuss legal, philosophical, and teaching issues. In addition, online is a great place to find support. I have had excellent success finding both local groups and specialty groups at Yahoo Groups.

How do I find curriculum?

So many options are available it can get quite overwhelming. I find it best to talk with other homeschoolers. It is nice to be able to get opinions about what they are already using. It is also very important to take into account the individual learning styles of your children. If you have a chance try to attend one of the large curriculum fairs held around the country. This will let you look at many different curriculums at once.

What are the advantages of homeschooling?

There are many benefits of homeschooling.

  • More time at home helps to develop a closer family bond.
  • Because of the small number of students each student is able to receive more one-on-one time. Individualize instruction allows each child to go at their own pace spending more or less time per subject as required.
  • Many families who choose to homeschool do so for religious reasons. Homeschooling allows them to more easily pass on their spiritual beliefs to their children as well as make important decisions regarding what will be taught and when.
  • Homeschooling families can travel whenever the need or the desire to do so arrives with no need to plan around school vacations.
  • While all other children are in school homeschoolers are able to visit popular attractions without the need to battle the crowd.

What are the disadvantages of homeschooling?

  • Loss of one income as one parent normally chooses to stay home and take on the roll of full-time teacher to the children. (There are ways around this, such as working part-time or working from home.)
  • You will need to spend more for your children's education to homeschool than you would normally.
  • You will be spending 24 hours a day with your children. While homeschooling is rewarding, spending 24 hours a day with your children can be tiring and frustrating. It takes patience to continue to teach and encourage your children day after day even when you don't feel like it.
  • Friends, family, neighbors, strangers in the grocery store and sometimes even spouses my question your choice and you will often feel yourself justifying the decision you've made.
  • The house will most likely always be a complete mess. :-) I know mine certainly is, but now I have a very good excuse.

Are homeschooled children able to get into college?

Yes. Many homeschooled children are accepted every year into colleges, some even on full scholarships.

As homeschooling becomes more mainstream and as homeschoolers before us prove themselves it is beginning to make things much easier for this next generation. Colleges all across the country have awaken to the reality that homeschool graduates make excellent college students. A comprehensive list of Colleges That Admit Homeschoolers has been compiled and is a very good resource for anyone needing further information.

RECOMMENDED READING: Homeschooling for Excellence. Authors David and Micki Colfax share their story of homeschooling their four sons, three of whom ended up attending college at Harvard.