What is Homeschooling?
A generation ago, homeschooling was primarily a fringe movement chosen for religious purposes and often conducted despite laws prohibiting home education. The current generation of homeschoolers, however, enjoys a very different environment. Now legal in all fifty states, homeschooling is becoming a much more mainstream and widely selected education alternative, with families choosing this route for a wide variety of reasons.
Simply defined, homeschooling occurs when parents choose to educate their children at home or through co-ops and enrichment programs rather than by sending them to a traditional public or private school. Parents take responsibility for choosing an educational method and curriculum and for ensuring that all progress and record-keeping is conducted in a manner that meets state and prospective college requirements.
Points to Ponder
Here are a few basic bits of information to process as you start your exploration of homeschooling.
Methods for homeschooling vary almost as widely as the families who make this educational choice. These methods include:
- traditional textbooks
- literature-based curricula
- online learning
- cooperative learning through associations, co-ops, and enrichment programs
- unschooling – informal, student-directed learning
- and more!
Ultimately, the freedom to customize learning methods based on the needs of each student is a primary factor in the decision to homeschool.
The homeschool community is a diverse group that has grown to include many support systems. These support systems range from the social, including groups for mom’s night out, field trips, and park days, to the more academic in nature, such as co-ops and enrichment programs.
Thanks to the growth of homeschooling over the past two decades, an ever-growing number of resources are now available to homeschool families. In addition to local support groups, there is a wide variety of homeschool-specific print and online resources.
Additionally, many museums, field trip destinations, resource centers, and even colleges offer programs specially tailored to the homeschool family or group.
Homeschool requirements include factors such as the parent’s level of education, paperwork oversight, documentation of hours or days of instruction, standardized testing, record-keeping, and more. It can seem a bit daunting, especially considering that homeschooling laws vary from state to state.
Fortunately, a wide variety of resources exists to help homeschoolers learn their state’s requirements. Most states have conventions or associations specifically geared toward helping families navigate state law. Membership with a nationwide organization can also help homeschoolers stay up to date on current law and requirements.
A Few More Thoughts
Homeschooling can seem like a strange new world to a family just testing the waters. And, in a way, it is! But, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. Remember that the homeschooling community is full of people ready to help newcomers process through each new piece of information. So, come on in! The water’s great!