Homeschool Views November 1, 2004

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Frequently Asked Questions
faq Asking questions is an essential part of homeschooling. This is true for the veteran homeschoolers as well as you beginners. We've collected some of our favorite answers to those age old questions.

*What are some of the benefits of homeschooling?
*Is homeschool legal?
*How do I get started?
*Is homeschooling expensive?
*How do I know which materials and resources to use?
*How do I find a support group?
*What if my child wants to learn something I can't teach?
*Do I need to keep records?
*What about higher education?
*Should I test my child?
*How much time does it take to homeschool?
*What about socialization?
*Can I homeschool my special needs child?
*What if I want to put my kids back in public school?

Q. What are some of the benefits of homeschooling?

A. The benefits of homeschooling are almost countless and all of them revolve around your childrenís happiness, health, safety, and overall well being. Not to mention, that you get to be directly involved in their education! You and your children get to decide what to learn about and youíre able to do it at your own pace. You can also cater your teaching style to your childís learning style. (Unsure of your childís learning style? Our Quizzes will help you discover the perfect approach to teaching your unique learner.)

Another good way to begin thinking about homeschool is to write a list of reasons why you want to homeschool. Hereís a list to help you get started:

Why I Homeschool

Homeschooling gives you freedom. How you use it is up to you, but remember that by homeschooling youíre taking your childís education into your hands. With this privilege comes great rewards . . . and responsibilities.

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Q. Is homeschool legal?

A. Yes! Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but each state has different guidelines and rules. Knowing your state laws is a very important homeschool responsibility. Fully understand and follow your stateís laws and youíll have the power you need to make your homeschooling choices confidently. You can easily get a list of your stateís homeschool laws by calling the Department of Education (their phone number is under the ďState GovernmentĒ section in your phone book). Theyíll give you a list of laws and get you started in the right direction. Donít be afraid to ask them as many questions as you need. They're there to help you!

There is also the Home School Legal Defense Association to help support you. They offer legal advice and support to homeschoolers all over the nation. Iím not personally a member; however I feel every homeschooler should be aware of their services and make their own choice.Iíve also narrowed down the Internet sites giving current accurate state laws to these two:

Homeschooling Laws and Legalities
Home School Legal Defense Association

You'll also most likely have to write a letter of intent. This is just a short letter telling the school officials that you'll be homeschooling. Check out this link for a sample letter you can personalize and use:

Letter of Intent

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Q. How do I get started homeschooling?

A. Youíre well on your way by educating yourself and becoming fully aware of your choices. Iíve narrowed down what I consider to be the Six Most Important First Steps for you to take as a new homeschooler:

(1) discuss your decision and choices with your family (2) contact homeschool support groups in your area and ask lots of questions! (3) do some research by reading homeschool books or searching through homeschool websites (4) talk to your child and help them understand what homeschool is (5) set realistic and attainable goals
(6) become familiar with the homeschool laws in your state.

Chapter two in A Parentís Guide to Homeschool guides you through this process step-by-step.

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Q.Is homeschooling expensive?

A. You can spend as little or as much as you want! You have full control over whether you spend $30.00 or $3,000.00 on your child in a year. I personally like to spend about $500 on my son in a school year. I find a lot of materials and used curriculum at garage sales and thrift stores. The library also has great things to offer and making copies of workbooks and materials makes them reusable! If youíre creative and use free resources from your public library or take advantage of learning opportunities in your community you may spend as little as $100 to $200 per year on each child; on the other hand, if you decide to purchase a complete curriculum, you can spend as much as $1,000 per child.

After youíve read our book, A Parentís Guide to Homeschool (especially chapter 9) and searched through our Select Resource Guide youíll have tons of budgeting tips and ideas that will help you homeschool on a budget.

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Q. How do I find a support group?

A. Support is one of the most important parts of homeschool! Even though homeschool takes place in the home, that doesn't mean that you're alone or isolated in your teaching! You can find homeschool support groups in your community and even on-line. Here are the links that I've found that will help you locate homeschool support groups in your area:

Homeschool Central
Learning 4 Life
Teach at Home
Support Groups in USA

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Q. How do I know which materials and resources to use?

A. Use whatever works for you. There's no limit on what materials you can use as a homeschooler . . . and the more creative you are, the better! Iíd personally start by looking around my community and thinking about all it has to offer: libraries, zoos, museums, aquariums, great college campuses, art galleries, forest reserves, parks, beaches, local farms, and even local factories. By highlighting your communityís options, you'll be able to see just how many resources are already right at your fingertips.

The next step would be to outline what it is you want your child to learn this year. Fill out this easy to use Goals Sheet and, with the help of your child, the materials you need will become obvious.

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Q. What if I want to put my kids back in public school?

A. Every family is different and, even though homeschool is a great option, homeschool doesn't work for everyone. Check out chapter 14 in A Parentís Guide to Homeschool if you feel that homeschool is placing too much stress on your family. Here are some tips to try to reduce the stress you feel homeschooling: get support from your support group, use stress as a learning tool, try to let go of your worries, know that your child is learning (even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes!) and most importantly - youíre a Great Teacher!

My first instinct is to tell any family that feels homeschool just isnít working for them to Keep Trying because itís worth it! However, if you feel like you have no choice, continue to make what you feel is the best choice for your family. If this means placing your kids back in public school, donít worry too much. You're probably never going to find a situation where your child won't be allowed back into school. Check with your district superintendent to see what requirements you will need to meet. Requirements vary from state to state, sometimes even from school to school. This may be a case where a good relationship with your district superintendent will come in handy (so be sure to always nurture those relationships!).

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Q. What if my child wants to learn something I can't teach?

A. Remember this: You don't have to be an expert in every subject in order to be a good homeschooler! You have many teaching options when it comes to homeschool: If your child is older, you can enroll them in a class at your local community college or even in an on-line cyber school ; you could join up with other homeschooling families in your area and take turns teaching different subjects; you could hire a tutor to cover the difficult subjects; you may even be able to get your child into an apprenticeship program where they can learn real skills in the real world.

But, I still want to add one thought: Learn right along with them! What do you do when you want to learn something? You get a book, find an informational web site . . . you do research and learn as you go. Children do this too! When allowed to explore and have fun with education, kids pick up new subjects amazingly well on their own. Of course they still need guidance, but you'll be amazed at just how resourceful your kids will be!

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Q. Do I need to keep records?

A. Maybe. Laws regarding record keeping vary from state to state and, depending on your specific laws, you may have to keep detailed records of your childís progress. Either way, even if your state doesnít require strict record keeping, you may still want to keep track of what your child has covered and accomplished throughout your familyís homeschool adventure.

Even though this may sound daunting, keeping records can be as easy as buying a three-ring binder and a hole-punch, printing up some of our record keeping file sheets, and filling them in once a week or whenever you get a moment. Setting goals for the year, planning lessons for the week, and keeping track of your childís daily progress will make homeschooling a breeze!

A really fun way to involve your child in recording their progress as a homeschooler is to do scrapbooking! Check out our Clever Homeschooler for fun and easy ideas!

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Q. What about higher education?

A. Many colleges and universities accept homeschooled students Ė as a matter of fact, some have even begun actively recruiting homeschooled applicants! Patrick Henry College, for example, a private Christian college located in Virginia, focuses primarily on homeschooled applicants. Most universities are also more concerned with ACT or SAT scores and community involvement than formal high school transcripts. College admissions officers understand that homeschoolers are dedicated, self-motivated, and intelligent students! Check with your prospective college's admissions rules: some require an ACT or SAT test, some a diploma or transcript.

If you feel that a high school diploma is important to you and your child (or if it is required by your future college-of-choice), you can always check out a distance-learning program that will allow you to teach at home while also providing a diploma. If you decide to do this, make sure you know the difference between accredited and non-accredited programs.

Check out this site for a list of colleges that are known to have accepted homeschooled students:

Learn in freedom

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Q. Should I give standardized tests to my child?

A. Maybe. Some states require testing, some don't. As a homeschooling parent (unlike public school teachers), you'll already know how your child is doing, what they're learning, and where they stand academically. For homeschoolers, testing often seems unnecessary (and even annoying). If your state doesnít require testing, you may find it easier (and more helpful to your child) to avoid it altogether.

Some parents, however, feel that it's important to allow their kids to become familiar with standardized testing, or they may want to make sure that their kids are "keeping up" with what's being taught in the public schools. For more information on testing and public school content standards, check out chapter 8 in A Parentís Guide to Homeschool. . .

As your child gets older, however, and begins thinking about college admissions, you might want to consider the GED, ACT, or SAT tests. You'll want to find out if your prospective college requires these tests for admission.

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Q. How much time does it take to homeschool?

A. Honestly? A lot. It definitely helps if one parent stays home and is dedicated to homeschool. But look at it this way: How much time are you willing to spend with your kids? How much time are you willing to invest in their future? And how much time do you already spend helping them with homework or school projects, anyway?

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Q. What about socialization?

A. Many people think that if you take your child out of school, they'll become isolated and friendless. My favorite response to this is: "Iím not in school, but I still have friends!"

Kids meet kids everywhere Ė I'm sure you've taken your child to the park and were amazed at how fast they picked up friends! Think about all of the groups kids can be involved in outside of public school: boy/girl scouts, gymnastics, soccer, young aviators association, 4H, summer camp, swim lessons, soft ball, Sunday school, church events, community events . . . not to mention all of the kids in your neighborhood! Now think of all the great group activities your homeschool support group will add to this list!

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Q. Can I homeschool my special needs child?

A. Absolutely! Actually, it's probably the best place for your special needs child to be! A special needs child will require an endless reserve of patience and love in order to be successfully homeschooled. As the parent of a special needs child, you already know this better than anyone ever could. If you feel you would like to homeschool your exceptional child talk to the professionals in your area and with their help you can really get a clear picture of what your options are. You can also read chapter 15 in A Parentís Guide to Homeschool for an in depth discussion about special needs kids and homeschool.

We also provide tons of resources for special needs kids in our Select Resource Guide.

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Thanks for listening and I hope this helps you along your homeschool journey!
Aloha Ė

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