Monday, September 22, 2008

What exactly is home schooling?

Home schooling is one of the fastest growing alternatives to public education today. Simply put, it is teaching your own children at home. When we first started home schooling in 1989, there were still states where it was not legal, and most people had not heard of it. We were likely to hear – “Is it legal” “But what about socialization?” or “Why would anyone want to teach their children at home?” Even our families were opposed to the idea. Hadn’t we attended public school and turned out fine?

Nineteen years later, people still ask those questions, but there is less resistance since home schooling is now legal in all fifty states. Nearly everyone knows someone who home schools, or at least can name their sister’s boyfriend’s uncle’s ex-wife’s hairdresser who home schools. And even if they cannot, there is a growing body of adults who are former homeschoolers distinguishing themselves in every field of endeavor, from medicine to the military.

The laws governing home schooling programs differ from state to state. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here - there are already many good websites where you can learn about the specific requirements in your state. The bottom line is the same, however, no matter where you live: you have decided that you are going to take full responsibility for your child’s education. So the first thing you have to decide is whether you are willing for the buck to stop with you.

It isn’t necessary for you to do all the teaching. There are often local networking groups who have email lists where you can keep track of events and classes offered. Parents from several families may band together and offer a coop, where each one will teach a subject on a rotating basis for a small group of students. There may even be classes offered at your community college, or a special enrichment program for homeschoolers in an institutional setting like a church or a community center.

But it is necessary for you to take all the responsibility. When you have completed whatever grade level you have decided you are comfortable with – whether you just take them through elementary school or all the way through high school - what your child knows, or doesn’t know, will be largely a function of what you exposed him to. You will not be able to blame the schools, or the teachers, or “the kids at school” for any shortfall in your program or in your child’s education.

Don’t let that frighten you away from home schooling. If you can teach your children good study skills, how to read, write and communicate well, how math is used in the real world, and how to find out what they need to know when they need to know it, you are a wonderful candidate for a homeschooling parent! From that basic starting point, it will be entirely up to you and your child to decide what subjects you cover, and in what depth. You can choose a broad based “liberal arts” education, or you can custom tailor your child’s curriculum20% off curriculum during April! to a particular interest or ability.

If you are a home based entrepreneur, working with you in your business can give your child interpersonal and professional skills, and an opportunity to apply his academic knowledge in a real world setting. It can also give you a nice tax deduction if you hire your child and pay him a salary. And it will give your child an opportunity to have his own money and learn how to handle it in a controlled setting.


  1. My parents were part of pioneering the homeschool efforts in Wisconsin, everybody said my sister and I would turn out unsocial, sheltered kids who would end up flipping burgers.
    Today, my attended the milwaukee school of engineering, and I am currently attending the best art school in the country.
    Most of my college friends don't even know that I never went to a highschool.

  2. Excellent info! Thanks for keeping people in-the-know :-)

    I am blogrolling ya!