The Big Questions
- 2004 27 Apr
CAN I DO IT?
Is it legal?
“Because the United States Constitution is the highest law of the land, homeschooling has always been legal in all 50 states,” says Michael Farris. “It has been a bit of a fight to get the various members of the education and social services establishment to accept that fact, but great progress has been made. Currently about two-thirds of the states have specific laws authorizing and regulating homeschooling. In the balance of the states, homeschoolers may legally operate as a small private school or provide ‘equivalent instruction.’ The details vary considerably from state to state and opinions about the law vary from district to district. What does not vary is HSLDA’s commitment to the constitutional right to teach one’s children at home.” - Michael Farris HSLDA Chairman & General Counsel
I don’t have a teaching degree. Can I really teach my child?
Yes, research and practical experience show that it is dedication and hard work, not special training, that produce outstanding educational results in a homeschool setting. (See Figure 1 to the right.)
HOW DO I DO IT?
Where do I find curriculum and materials?
There's an ever-increasing variety of curriculum—from traditional textbooks to homeschool-specific curriculum and correspondence courses. Thankfully, there are experienced homeschool moms who have taken the time to put together review guides, saving newcomers much time and frustration. Just two such guides are Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Homeschooling series and Cathy Duffy’s two volume Christian Home Educators’ Curriculum Manuals.
The best place to start is to contact homeschooling veterans in your local and/or state support group—ask what they have tried, what has or has not worked for them, and why. You need to get to know your child’s learning style. (See Useful Tips.) Attend a couple of homeschool seminars and curriculum fairs where you can look at your options firsthand. To find a support group or state homeschool convention near you, visit HSLDA's website.
How much time does it take?
A lot less than you think. Homeschooled students don't have to take time to change classes or travel to and from a school, so they can proceed at their own pace. In elementary years especially, parents and children often find that they may only need a few hours to accomplish their work for the day.
What if I have several children in different grade levels?
You'll be surprised at the subjects that can span grade levels. Certain curricula lend themselves to multilevel teaching. You can design your program so that older children work independently in the morning while you work individually with younger children, and then while younger children take naps in the afternoon, you can have one-on-one time with older students.
What about my child's special needs?
“Thousands of families are homeschooling children whose special needs range from Attention Deficit Disorder to severe multiple handicaps,” says Betty Statnick. “Parents often find that when they bring these children home to be educated, they come out of the ‘deep freeze’ that has kept them from making significant progress. Gone are the comparisons, labels, social pressures, and distractions that a regular classroom may bring. Parents can offer their children individualized education, flexibility, encouragement, and support. For learning-disabled children who function best with ‘real-life problems’ rather than artificial worksheet tasks, homeschooling may be ideal. For medically sensitive children, learning at home provides the opportunity for careful monitoring. And for attention-deficit children who function best with uniquely structured time and fewer distractions, homeschooling usually proves to be the answer.” - Betty Statnick, HSLDA’s Special Needs Coordinator
ARE YOU SURE I WON’T RUIN MY KIDS?
What about socialization & special interests/enrichment activities?
Research has found that most homeschooled students are involved in a wide variety of outside activities, interact with a broad spectrum of people, and make positive contributions to their communities. Experience has shown that homeschoolers are well socialized and able to make lasting friendships across age and cultural divides. (See Figure 2 at right.)
What about a diploma, graduation, & college?
Homeschool graduates closely parallel their public school counterparts—about two-thirds go on to post-secondary education, and one-third directly into the job market. (Brian Ray, Strengths of Their Own—Home Schoolers Across America, NHERI, 1997.)
Homeschool students who have utilized community colleges for foreign language, lab science, or higher mathematics courses discover as an added bonus that these course credits make it easier to enroll in four-year colleges after high school graduation. (See "Making a transcript" under Useful Tips.)
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/Ekaterina-84