Homeschooling FAQs

Homeschooling FAQs

Are you new to homeschooling or considering homeschooling and have lots of questions?

I get it. I’ve certainly been there. After 9 years of homeschooling, I’ve been asked numerous questions about our experience. Below is a list of homeschooling FAQs I have personally been asked and my candid answers.

Why did you decide to homeschool?

My reasons for choosing to homeschool have changed over the years. Initially, I wanted to homeschool our son because I could not fathom sending him off to other people to spend the majority of his waking hours, especially since I was trained as a teacher. I wanted to spend every minute I could with him.

As we progressed through the years, while I still wanted to spend as much time as possible with him, I began to see homeschooling as an opportunity to tailor fit an education that met his needs exclusively. And I loved that! Of course, as we continued and I found unschooling or interest-led learning, this idea became much more prominent as I saw the benefit of not following a prescribed curriculum and arbitrary timeline designed to place my son inside of a predetermined mold.

Will you send your child to “regular” school?

This was a question I got asked more often than I anticipated! And again, my answer has changed over the years. What began as a HARD NO, has turned into, I would be open to discussing it if it is something he wants to do. Oddly, that change in mindset came after I adopted more of an “unschool-ly” way of thinking. If he wants to take some classes or even enroll in all of his classes, then that means he sees value in it. I would let him explore that. I would also allow him to change his mind.

Is homeschooling legal?

Yes, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Before you begin, however, you will want to check out your state’s laws regarding it as they vary greatly.

How do I start homeschooling?

The expression, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” comes to mind here. First, take a deep breath and know that all will be okay. Second, read the homeschooling law in your state and be prepared to follow it. Third, find supportive like-minded individuals. A village surrounding you always makes things easier! Finally, think about how you want to run your homeschool. Traditional? Interest-led? Eclectic? And then run with it knowing that you can always change your mind.

Is there only one way to homeschool?

Absolutely not! Do thorough research here. There are many ways to homeschool. You don’t have to do it any certain way. The beauty of home education is that you are the one calling the shots here. You get to decide how you want to proceed. Do what is best for your family.

This post outlines various homeschooling methods and can help you decide where your family fits perfectly.

What is deschooling?

Deschooling is an ongoing process of releasing what we have come to know as educating. It is strongly advised, particularly if you are following an interest-led approach to learning, to deschool first. It is important to remember that deschooling is not a one-and-done activity but may need to be done frequently throughout your homeschooling experience. Additionally, it is just as important for you as the parent to deschool (maybe even more so!) than for your child. I wrote this post on how we deschool in my interest-led family.

Do you need a curriculum?

Nope, not at all. Can you have a curriculum? Sure. Again, it’s all up to you. In the beginning, I printed out the course objectives my local public school had outlined for the students in my district. I feared “getting behind” or “not covering” the essentials. I borrowed books from our district too, which we never used! About 3 years in, when I found unschooling, I gave that all up. But the beauty of homeschooling is that YOU get to decide. YOU are the boss. If you feel better having a structured curriculum, go for it. You can always change your mind later! See the freedom there?

Are there grade levels?

Again, this is largely up to you. If you want the structure of grade levels, use them. If you desire to live more unschool-like, then nope, no levels. We do use grade levels despite being an unschooling family only because it helps my son relate to his friends who are largely traditionally-schooled. Most of the time he (and his dad!) are unsure of his actual grade level anyway!

Does your homeschooler take tests?

We do not do tests in our homeschool. I have never seen them as a necessity. Tests are given for a teacher to see who has mastered the material presented and who has not. When you homeschool, it will be clear to you what your child knows and does not know without the need to test him or her. Now, if your state requires standardized testing, then, yes, you will need to complete that during the designated years.

Do you have to homeschool during regular school hours?

Here is again where the beauty of homeschooling lies….NO! You decide when (where and how!) your family learns best. You get to determine how you will spend your time. Breaks? Vacations? It’s all up to you! You only have to ensure that you are fulfilling what your state requires.

What counts as an instructional day?

Some states have guidelines for how many hours or days are needed for each subject. But again, you get to decide what counts as a day for your family. Just be sure to follow your state’s law. (See a theme here!)

Is homeschooling expensive?

It can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you choose to make it. You can purchase all sorts of curriculum and supplies including subscription boxes, books, and art supplies. You can visit museums, travel, or pay for online classes. Borrow books from the local library or school district. Take virtual field trips and explore local areas. Enroll in free classes and/or programs like “Easy Peasy All in One” homeschool or Khan Academy. Join coops or find businesses that would be willing to swap services. The possibilities are endless. What you spend or don’t spend, is all up to you.

Aren’t you worried about socialization?

Woof. This question. If I am being honest, in the beginning, yes I was. I had heard for years that homeschoolers won’t be socialized and you must find a coop. I may have even panicked a bit in the beginning about this MYTH. Well, now I loudly call BUNK on all of it. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize as a homeschooler. There can even be too many, at times! Here I explain my thoughts on socialization for homeschoolers and how my views have changed since we began homeschooling.

Can you homeschool through high school?

The first time I was asked this question, I was puzzled. It did not occur to me that people would think you could not homeschool through high school. Yes, you absolutely can, and many do.

Do colleges accept homeschoolers?

Yes, over the years I have spoken with many homeschooling families whose children earned college degrees. Your homeschooled child can do anything that traditionally schooled children can do! In fact, from what I hear, many colleges prefer homeschoolers!

Do you need a teaching degree to homeschool?

I can’t speak for every state, but in Pennsylvania where I live, you do not need a teaching degree unless you homeschool under the Private Tutor Law. You only need a high school diploma to register under the Homeschool Supervisor Law in Pa.

Can homeschooled kids play sports?

Yes, they can! My homeschooler is currently playing baseball for a recreational league. He hopes to play football for our local school district when he is of age too.

Are homeschoolers religious?

Sure some of them are religious, but others are secular. Homeschooling is not a “one-size-fits-all” in any capacity!

Are homeschoolers weird?

This question always cracks me up. Everyone has a degree of weirdness whether you are homeschooled or not!

Can you work full-time and homeschool?

Lots of families need to get creative in this arena, no? I have been blessed in only needing to work part-time while my husband works full time allowing me the opportunity to supervise our homeschool. I know people who are working full-time and homeschooling though too. It can be done! Maybe you and your spouse/ significant other can work opposite shifts. Or perhaps you are a single parent and need to enlist the help of other family members or friends. Maybe you can do homeschooling on the weekends or other times of convenience. There is great flexibility in homeschooling!

Are homeschooled children successful in the “real world”?

We have been conditioned to believe that learning only occurs in “special learning places” between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on certain days of the year and that only those learners will be successful. Again, I call BUNK. Yes, homeschoolers will be able to succeed in the real world. They most likely will be more adept at being in the real world since they have been able to live more of their childhoods in it!

Do I need an evaluator? If so, how do I find one?

This is again dependent upon your state laws. In PA, yes, unless you are home-educating under the Private Tutor Law with a teaching degree, you will need an evaluator. All types of evaluators are available. The best way to select one is to look for one who shares your philosophy of education. Many states have lists of evaluators on their Department of Education websites.

The Wrap: Homeschooling FAQs

Making the decsion to homeschool can be a daunting one. Naysayers and other people who will scrutinize your decision may give you pause. Questions and doubts may keep you awake at night. I hope that some of the answers to my most common homeschooling faqs will assist you in making that decision. For us, it’s been the absolute best one yet!