The idea of taking responsibility for our children's education can be a bit intimidating. Many parents have concerns and doubts about homeschooling---is it the best choice for my children? Am I qualified? Some common questions and concerns about homeschooling are addressed here.
The first question asked is nearly always "What about socialization?"
There are several different fears and concerns hidden in this apparently simple question:
Will my child have friends?
Abundant social opportunities await the interested homeschooler. Most cities have active homeschool support groups. There are usually ongoing park days, roller skating days, meetings at the zoo, the science museum, book clubs, history clubs, language clubs, homeschool scouting troops and many more options.
The Homeschool Law & Support Groups page at this web site is an excellent place to start making those connections.
These activities, of course, are in addition to the normal neighborhood and playground interactions that most children experience, whether in or out of school. Most homeschooling families find that they must limit their social activities to avoid burning out.
How will my child learn to get along in the "real world"?
One of the marvelous aspects of homeschooling is that children repeatedly encounter the "real world" in a variety of circumstances that are not generally open to children in school.
Rather than spending their days sitting quietly next to their same-age peers, they are actively involved in the business of real life---shopping, running errands, earning money. Every activity is an opportunity to interact with people of a variety of ages in numerous social situations.
Homeschoolers don't need to be prepared for the "real world."
They are in it every day.
Am I qualified to teach my child? What if he wants to learn something I don't know about?
Most parents are very well qualified to teach their own children. Parents have an advantage that teachers will never have---an intimate, personal knowledge of each student, AND a vested interest in helping the child learn everything he wants to know.
Teachers often stress their professional training. The majority of teacher training focuses on classroom management techniques (not effective teaching methods or building a strong personal knowledge base).
There is a world of information available to you---books, libraries, the internet---these provide an abundance of materials that will help you with your child's education.
You also have another powerful resource available to you----OTHER PEOPLE.
It isn't necessary that you personally know every single thing that your child wants to learn about. What is necessary is the willingness to help her learn it. There are, of course, always classes and tutors, but many adults are more than willing to share their knowledge with interested learners.
This is another area where a local homeschool support group can be invaluable.
How will I know what my child should be learning?
There are numerous lists of the basic things a child should know, usually broken down by age, or grade level.
You can find a list of some of these resources on the Benchmarks page at this site.
What about college? Will my child be able to go? What if he doesn't have a diploma?
There are several possible pathways to college for the homeschooler. None of them require going to high school.
The GED is one possibility. Many homeschoolers attend a community college program instead of high school and then move on to a 4-year university.
Many universities are open to homeschoolers, without any kind of diploma or GED. Homeschoolers are still required to meet entrance requirements, so some form of documentation of subjects studied is necessary---a transcript or portfolio. Some universities actively seek out homeschoolers.
Burn out is a very real concern, particularly for the parent who covers most of the teaching and transportation---usually mom.
It is crucial that parents schedule time to nurture themselves. Don't be afraid to cut back on outside activities if it is running the family ragged. Chances are the kids are feeling the strain as well, and would be grateful for a few months of down time.
Can I get support services for my child from the school system even though I am homeschooling?
There is not a simple answer to this question. The answer depends on your state, your school district, perhaps the principal of your school. It is possible to receive services for your child while homeschooling, but there is no mandate in the IDEA that schools provide these services to homeschoolers.
Begin by checking out the State Law page at this web site.
What if it doesn't work out?
The good news is that you aren't stuck. You can homeschool for a few months, a few years, or forever. Life happens and things change. It is okay to be flexible and it doesn't mean homeschooling "failed" if you choose to enroll your children in school.
Be sure to check out your state's policies on re-entry. If you think you will be sending your children to school at some point it may be a good idea to keep an eye on your state's core curriculum standards. High school age kids may not be given credit for work done at home, so hopping in may not be a viable option at that point.
Common Objections to Homeschooling
John Holt's answers to common objections to homeschooling.
No Thanks, We Don't Believe in Socialization!
An interesting article about what school-type socializing would look like the real world.
Stanford Magazine: In A Class By Themselves
"A wave of homeschoolers has reached the Farm--students with unconventional training and few formal credentials. What have they got that Stanford wants? And how do admission officers spot it?"
The Valedictorian Who Failed Socialization by Neysa C.M. Jensen, Home Education Magazine.
An article about socialization and introversion.
Handling Friends & Family
Suggestions for answering questions, handling delicate situations and setting good boundaries with family and friends regarding homeschooling.
Homeschooling Pros & Cons
A discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling a deaf or hard of hearing child.
Special legal issues facing parents homeschooling children with disabilities.
The family is the first setting in which socialization takes place and where children learn to live with mutual respect for one another. - Marianne E. Neifert
©2000-2013 Barbara L.M. Handley