All Your Homeschooling Questions Answered

I am about to start my fourth year of homeschooling my middle child. My oldest attends public school and my youngest is not yet school age. I’m not sure if she will be homeschooled or not. A lot of people find homeschooling to be strange, and many find it even stranger that I homeschool one of my children and another attends “regular” school. You, too, might have questions about what homeschooling is like or why we have chosen to do schooling in this manner. I hope this post will be helpful whether you are considering homeschooling or are just confused by it altogether.

Why would you homeschool one child and send another to public school?

The short version is that we believe strongly in meeting individual needs and don’t think there is a one-size fits all approach to most things in parenting {or in life}. My son is thriving in public school, and although my daughter thrived there for many years, when that stopped being true for her, we looked for another option. She has complex medical needs and homeschooling led to her having the healthiest stretch of her life AND allowed her to do extracurriculars that she couldn’t do when she was so exhausted by school.

Do you have to be highly organized to homeschool?

No. It helps to be able to organize somewhat, but you do not have to be Type A to pull this off. There are so many options for curriculums, some that do EVERYTHING for you right down to daily scheduling, some where you make every single decision and create the curriculum from scratch, and everything in between!

How do you get started? What is required?

This one varies WIDELY, depending on the state. In Texas, if your child is in public school, you have to send a letter {or email} to their campus to notify them that you are withdrawing your child and plan to homeschool. The requirements for Texas are: the curriculum must be bona fide, the curriculum must be in visual form, and it must include the 5 basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship. That’s it. No standardized testing, no turning in a binder to anyone, nothing. I personally recommend keeping track of your child’s progress, but you will not have to turn it in to the state. They are your records. Record keeping becomes more important for you as your child moves into high school and you need to be able to provide them with transcripts.

How do you make sure your child is on par with the public school kids?

In short, I don’t. You totally can, though. You can make sure your child is covering the same subject areas during the same years and opt in to standardized testing. You can even print out the Scope and Sequence from the district webpage. We just choose not to. Some of the beauty of homeschool is diving deeply into areas of interest and encouraging students to take some initiative with what they are learning. We will make sure to cover all pertinent material, but it may be on a different schedule than public school. We don’t expect to return to public school, so it isn’t a priority for us to stay on track with them from year to year, but it is doable.

How do you choose a curriculum? Is all homeschool curriculum religious?

No, all curriculum is not religious. A lot of it is, but there are a variety of secular options as well. We have used both at times. There is also curriculum that aligns with Common Core and curriculum that does not. In choosing a curriculum, you need to consider your budget as well as your personality, your availability, and how your child learns. With the right curriculum, even working parents can homeschool their children. Cathy Duffy is a good place to read reviews of curriculums {though she does have a religious slant}, as well as Secular Homeschool {if you are looking for solely secular curriculum}. There are extremely expensive curriculums and some that are totally free. There are some that are book-based and some that are completely online. There are SO MANY options!

What do you do for socialization?

This is probably the number one question people ask about homeschooling. It’s a little weird to me, honestly, like kids never interact with anyone socially outside of school? But nevertheless, it is a worry for many. My daughter has friends, some that homeschool and some that don’t, that she socializes with daily. She attends theater classes. We are part of a homeschool “support group” that has hundreds of families and gives us access to museum classes and field trips much like those at public school, as well as play groups and co-ops. Google is your best friend when hunting for homeschool groups to join. Again, there are secular and religious options, depending on what fits your family best.

How do you handle upper level classes, like high school? Or subject areas you are weak in?

Most people outsource these classes. Maybe they use a co-op class or maybe their highschooler is enrolled in dual credit courses at the local community college. There are curriculums that do all the teaching for you and you are really just there to keep them on track and answer questions, much like when your child comes home with homework in public school.

What are your favorite parts of homeschooling?

I think this one differs for everyone. I love that we can be flexible with what we do based on how my daughter is feeling. We can take mornings off and do school later in the day. We can focus on subjects she likes and maybe lessen the frustration of the ones she hates. We can say, “This curriculum is not a good fit.” and try something else. I love that she has the energy for things besides sitting in a desk 8 hours a day. I love that she doesn’t bring home every single illness in the community. Mostly, I love that we can make school what it needs to be for her to be her best self while she is learning!

Do you homeschool or are you considering it? What questions do you have and what works for your family?

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