Homeschooling your child is a big decision. If it’s something that you’re thinking about doing, you might not even be sure where to begin. While the process may seem overwhelming, it’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be. Below are questions to ask yourself before your start your homeschool.
Related: Read about our homeschooling journey
7 Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Homeschool
What are the Homeschool Laws in My State?
Research the Legal Aspects: When you choose to educate your children at home, it’s so important to make sure that you are abiding by the law. No matter what U.S. state you live in, it is legal for you to homeschool your child. That being said, each state has its own set of laws regarding homeschooling. For example, homeschooled children in Pennsylvania are required to take standardized tests at certain grade levels, while parents who choose to homeschool in California must become registered as private schools, according to pbs.org.
So, how do you find out what the laws in your state are? The best place to start is with the homeschool association in your state or with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
Am I Qualified to Homeschool Your Child?
Make Sure You’re Qualified: The next thing you will want to do is make sure that you are qualified to homeschool your child. While many states do not have any qualification requirements for educating your child at home, some states do require parents to have a high school diploma or GED. This is something to ask your state’s homeschool association or the HSLDA about.
Do I Have to Notify the School District?
Has your child already begun public school? If so, you will want to notify your school district about your decision to homeschool your son or daughter. While not all states actually require parents to notify the school district about their decision to educate their child at home, it can’t hurt to notify the school. This way, you won’t need to worry about coming under question for truancy.
What are the Educational Requirements in My State?
In addition to finding out what the state laws are regarding homeschooling your child, it’s also important to learn about any requirements specific to the educational process. Your state may require you to educate your child during a set number of hours or days, while others may require that you teach specific subjects. In addition, you may be required to track your child’s academic progress by keeping records of test scores or other schoolwork. Again, this will all vary according to state. While your state may have multiple educational requirements, other states have none.
Do Local Public Schools Offer Any Benefits to Homeschoolers?
Many parents make the assumption that by making the decision to homeschool, you are cutting yourself off completely from the public school system. However, there may be some ways that your homeschooled child can still benefit from the public school district. For example, some states allow homeschooled children to participate in athletic teams. If your child has special needs, there may also be some benefits offered through the public school district that you can still take advantage of, even as a homeschooled parent.
Which Homeschool Techniques Will I Use?
When you make the decision to homeschool your child, you are the teacher. This means that you will be the one who decides how you will educate your child. This raises a number of questions. Will you use a curriculum and, if so, what type of curriculum? Will you have a daily schedule in which you teach your child each subject at the same time every day or will you switch things up? What type of learner is your child? Will you use visuals, such as slideshows or movies, to help educate your child or will you stick to textbooks? Will you encourage hands-on learning? These are just some of the many factors you will want to take into consideration when you determine your daily lesson plans.
Have I Connected with Local Homeschooling Groups?
Be sure to find out what groups or support groups there are for homeschooled parents in your local community. Getting involved in the local homeschool community offers benefits to both parents and children.
As a parent, you will gain support from other parents who are also educating their children at home. It helps to have someone to talk to about of the frustrations and joys that come along with homeschooling. You may also learn new techniques from other parents. While you are bound to find that every parent has a different homeschooling method, you are sure to benefit from swapping teaching tips.
Children will also benefit from the interactions they have with other homeschooled children. You will be able to learn about events for homeschooled children, such as field trips, team sports, proms, and so much more! Since homeschooling can be very lonely for kids, it’s important to get them out around other kids their own age.
While it may seem daunting to learn about all of your state’s legal requirements, don’t let this scare you away from homeschooling! Homeschool offers many benefits and is often enjoyable for both children and parents alike. Once you learn about the legal requirements, you can begin to focus on what really matters: ensuring that your child receives the best education possible!