What Is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is a form of private education in which a parent or guardian plans, manages, and facilitates a child’s education as an alternative to enrolling in a traditional public or private school. Parent-led, home-based learning allows individualized study that can be tailored specifically for each child’s needs, interests, and abilities. Homeschool parents make decisions regarding each aspect of their child’s education including homeschooling style, teaching methods, learning objectives, curriculum selection, student evaluation, group classes, and extracurricular activities. There are as many reasons for homeschooling and styles of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. The consensus among practicing homeschoolers is that for each of our families, the choice for educational freedom creates the most potential to provide high quality educations for our children.
Homeschooling is a substantial commitment, and the decision to homeschool can seem overwhelming. The choice to homeschool your children should be made with an in-depth understanding of what homeschooling entails, a vision of how that might look for your family, and a broad idea of how it might affect the dynamics of your home. Do plenty of research and visit with some homeschoolers to help you make an informed decision that is best aligned with the needs and priorities of you family. Keep in mind that many people have very strong opinions regarding homeschooling.
An internet search will reveal many books, websites, videos, and blogs on the topic of homeschooling that provide general information as well as shared experiences of homeschool families of all sorts.
Before you begin homeschooling, please check the laws and legal requirements in your location. In the United States, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but requirements vary from state to state. You can check your state’s current laws on the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website: www.hslda.org/laws
Texas is a wonderful state for homeschooling. Homeschools in Texas have been determined to be private schools and are not regulated by the state. You can find a wealth of information on the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) website about homeschooling in Texas. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also offers some excellent resources.
Whether or not your child is currently enrolled in school, we suggest familiarizing yourself with the withdrawal and/or homeschooling policies of your local school district. When you begin homeschooling, it is highly recommended to formally withdraw your children from any school in which they are enrolled.
If the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, withdraw before the new school year begins. If the school year is ongoing, withdraw immediately. Please follow up with the appropriate administrators to ensure that the school does not mark your child absent or truant.
Again, please verify your laws (www.hslda.org/laws) as regulations vary depending on location.
One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is that you don’t have to stick to any one method, program, or curriculum. That means you can tailor each of your children’s learning experiences to meet their needs and complement their individual learning style. You can use HSLDA’s checklist to determine the learning style of your child.
There are many methods of home education, the most popular being traditional, classical, eclectic, Charlotte Mason and unschooling. Each style is unique in philosophy and technique. Most homeschools employ a combination of teaching styles depending on the subject and specific needs of each child. Learn more about homeschooling styles at Homeschool.com and find one or more that work for your family.
Choosing a curriculum is both one of the most fun and one of the most challenging parts of homeschooling. There are many curriculum options ranging from detailed, topical unit studies to a complete curriculum set that includes all subject materials, manipulatives, teaching guides, and schedules. Many of the available teaching materials are tailored to a specific style of homeschooling, so be sure to verify that the methods are consistent with your family’s homeschooling philosophy.
You are unlikely to find any individual curriculum that meets all the needs for all children in a homeschool setting. Most of us choose a combination of curriculum materials and supplies that both cover the chosen academic subjects and are best suited to our childrens’ learning styles. As a homeschooler, you have the freedom to modify and supplement the lessons at your discretion. Cathy Duffy Reviews offers detailed descriptions and reviews of many curriculum options and is an excellent resource to use when selecting curriculum.
SAIL has an internet forum specifically devoted to curriculum so members can discuss and share their experiences. Members are welcome to set up a time to meet to actually look inside different curriculum programs, books and manipulatives and discuss different methodologies.
Joining a local support group helps ensure your and your child’s success in homeschooling. Groups like SAIL provide support, encouragement, and community to both parents and children.
A strong homeschooling network offers opportunities for learning and socializing, as well as a shared network of knowledge and experience that you cannot get by doing it alone. At SAIL, opportunities include field trips, park days, monthly book clubs, co-op classes, Mom’s Night Out, and so much more.
Just like all support groups, you need to find the one that best suits your family. This is why we invite you to come meet some of our members at our Monthly Gathering events on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. It’s a good chance to meet some current members and see if we’re the right “village” for you.