Commonly Asked Questions
Is homeschooling right for me? Where do I start? How much does it cost? If so many people homeschool, where are they? Is there help out there? Will my children like it? Do I have the time? Do I have the patience? How do I get started? Are there laws to homeschooling? Where are the support groups? How long should I homeschool? Are homeschool children different? What will my family say? Do I have to be a stay-at-home Mom? Am I qualified to homeschool?
If you have considered homeschooling your children, I’m sure you have asked yourself (or others) at least ONE of the questions mentioned above! 🙂 And that’s OK! You have to start somewhere, right? Below, you’ll find some very resourceful information for getting started. We live in KY so when it comes to the legal aspect of it, that information will pertain to our state only. I will suggest ways to look up laws for other states. Also, there is a wealth of information here so take your time and don’t try to take it all in at once.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, homeschool is defined as – “to teach school subjects to one’s children at home”. Now that we’ve gotten the “technical term” out of the way…. think about what defines homeschool for you. For me and my family, homeschooling involves much more than “teaching school subjects”! We are teaching morals, values, skills that will be used much later in life, and so on.
There once was a time where the aforementioned were taught in the school environment. There were home economic classes, teachers could focus on the children instead of test scores, and behaviors were addressed and dealt with instead of ignored and overlooked.
So, when it comes down to defining homeschool, just remember that it will be just as unique as your family!
Why we homeschool varies. For some people it’s the simple fact of wanting to be the biggest influence in their child’s lives. For others, it may be because they were homeschooled. There are also instances where it is best for the child, possibly due to a developmental delay, behavioral issue, and so on. I suggest before focusing on the what involved with schooling at home, focus on defining why you want to it in the first place. Once that’s established, the next step is making the decision to actually do it! If you choose to pursue homeschooling your children, then you are ready to focus on how you want to homeschool.
This is another question that most parents ask themselves (and others) when beginning this journey….. and it’s totally normal. In fact, a lot of families are able to get an idea of how they want to homeschool by asking this question. So how do families homeschool?
This is just as versatile as the last two points, and it will vary depending on the unique dynamic of your family. We homeschool using what I call a more “laid back” program. I develop and use curriculum that I make using various books and online resources. I have even been privileged enough to get some hand-me-down textbooks and manipulatives from my public/private school teacher-friends! I know several Moms who homeschool using a strict schedule and purchased curriculum. Some families use a child-lead approach. A few families I know homeschool different times each day depending on work schedules. So you see, how you homeschool is totally up to you.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that within the first year or two of homeschooling, there are all these [self] added pressures to homeschool a particular way…. a “right” way to do it…. a “certain” way to get it done – when in all actuality, there is only one way to do it, and that’s your way.
Okay, so we’ve covered the why and how of homeschooling – now, the what. As I mentioned before, we reside in Kentucky so I will cover what is required in that state. I suggest googling “___________ (state) homeschool laws”, and you will find a wealth of information pertaining to whatever state you are searching. As for Kentucky, I would start with the Kentucky Department of Education website. It starts off by stating the rights we have to homeschool our children by stating the following:
THE KENTUCKY CONSTITUTION ESTABLISHES THE PREROGATIVES OF THE PARENTS TO CHOOSE THE FORMAL EDUCATION FOR THE CHILD. THEREFORE, PARENTS MAY CHOOSE TO HOMESCHOOL THEIR CHILD. KRS ANN. 159.010(2)
The website also offers a Kentucky Home School Information Packet that will have very valuable information in it, such as:
- homeschool requirements (contacting local superintendent, enrollment age specifications, keeping attendance records, suggested subjects to be taught, and so on)
- other information (responsibility in providing curriculum to be taught, diploma recognition, extracurricular activities, enrolling/re-enrolling in public school, and so on)
- resources (KY core standards, e-schools, etc.)
- sample letter of “intent to homeschool” that has to be turned into local Board of Education (for my town it can be emailed)
There is a very resourceful agency called HSLDA that serves as legal advocates for homeschool families. They are our go-to for everything legal pertaining to schooling our children at home. They provide good information about legally homeschooling in Kentucky here. What I have come to figure out is that Kentucky is one of those hands-off states when it comes to homeschooling. There are no “check-ins”, no “pop-up visits”, no “yearly tests”, and no strict rules to follow. This helps A LOT when it comes down to having the control over doing what is best for your family. Some people ask why do we still pay school taxes on our bills and like one Mom I know put it, “If paying school taxes keeps them out of our business – we will pay!” I couldn’t say it any better!
Now that we’ve discussed Homeschooling Defined, let’s touch base with the Homeschooling Decision!
This can be a tough situation, but not one that can’t be managed. I’m not a counselor, don’t claim to be one, and will not be biased. I simply recommend that everything be laid out on the table when it comes to deciding to homeschool. It is always better when everyone is on the same page – parentally speaking. Everything runs much smoother when there is mutual support.
Sometimes what makes one parent (or the other) resistant is the lack of information. I’m not saying that the parent interested in homeschooling should “build a case” to persuade the other parent; but, I do think that it is okay to do some research and be prepared for a discussion where all comments, criticisms, and concerns are addressed. Don’t hesitate to talk about it! It’s nice to know where each other stand when making a decision such as this!
Homeschooling shouldn’t be something that is shunned upon, just as attending public/private school shouldn’t be either. It is all about doing what is best for your family, and having a mutual understanding in what is chosen. Once both parents have mutually agreed to homeschool, it only gets better!
The number one question that goes through everyone’s mind when contemplating homeschooling is the infamous – “Am I qualified?” What you should ask instead is – “Who is better qualified than you?” I believe the word “school” throws people off. We hear the term “school” and then put with “home” and all of a sudden it becomes this unimaginable, unattainable job that seems to need some type of qualification and credential earned by a top state university. In all actuality, that is not true.
To teach a group of children in a state-funded environment is a different territory, but when we’re talking about teaching our own children (and maybe a few others from a homeschool coop), the only qualifications are simply: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! 😀 I’m not saying that all of these are always present on a daily basis, but somehow it always goes back to these simple truths.
So let’s go ahead and trump this myth…. YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO HOMESCHOOL YOUR CHILDREN!!!
As with any new decision, there comes an investment. This is just like any other investment such as buying a new home or car. It doesn’t cost that much to get started or maintain schooling your children at home. I believe it is very affordable, especially when you sit down and truly budget out how much you are willing to spend and stay within those means. Our first year, we didn’t spend over $250 (not joking either)! I was so nervous and didn’t know what I wanted to do curriculum-wise, extracurricular-wise, or anything-wise. So I reached out to all my teacher-friends and was blessed with an overabundance of text books, worksheets, activities, manipulatives, and more! Taking advantage of local school supply drives can come in handy too!
Majority of our investment came in printer paper, ink, fees to join a local homeschool group (more on that later), subject-related posters, and a few other things throughout the school year. Now that we’re going on year four, we still haven’t spent over $300 (first two years combined)! I’ve managed to come upon a great way to get the text books I’m going to use at 25% off and they will be used until my son is at least in middle school and the two kiddos coming up after him will use these same ones too – WIN WIN! 😀 I’m telling you this because there are very inexpensive and frugal ways to homeschool. Don’t go into this feeling like everything has to be brand new, straight out of the box, and never before seen! But hey, if you can afford it – go for it! Main thing is just. don’t. stress!
Some other great ideas to keep the homeschool expenses down are:
- start small – you can always add to
- use online resources – a lot of them are FREE (including ours)
- reach out to teacher-friends – schools are ALWAYS throwing away perfectly good materials
- fall in love with hand-me-downs – they are pocketbook savers
- search out local curriculum sale events
- check local thrift stores, yard sales, dollar stores (Dollar Tree is AMAZING), etc
As previously mentioned, special needs can be a major reason why a family may homeschool. It can also be the very reason why a family may choose not to homeschool. With the latter in mind, most parents are concerned about the lack of resources to help accommodate their special needs child…. outside the classroom. But, that’s the thing – there are resources available beyond the school environment to help families homeschool their special needs child(ren). This is where linking up with a local homeschool group comes in handy! You can rest assure that there will be Moms in the group who have been there, done that and are ready to help other families any way possible – especially in dealing with special needs.
The same search to find out your state’s homeschool laws is also the same search you can do to help find local resources that will accommodate homeschooling children with special needs. It isn’t something that should be feared, but embraced!
“I’m not patient enough”
And neither am I, LOL! No, really though, this is why I mentioned patience on the other page…. this is another area of being a homeschool parent that takes lending and depending on my Abba Father (Yahweh)! I don’t always get it right, and I need breaks (quite a few), and every so often I have to take a break to recoup! And you know what, that’s okay!
I recommend embracing the moments when your patient tank begins the deplete. Remember that it is a journey full of twists, turns, learning, and growing – for both you and your children. So, before you allow the thoughts of not being patient enough be the determining factor on if you homeschool or not….. remember, that’s just part of it and YOU CAN DO IT! 🙂
Location, Location, Location
What’s involved in the day to day of homeschooling? At this point, the concern may not be so much of the what as to where.
Where am I going to homeschool?
What if I don’t have the space?
Do I even need a particular “school space”?
Can I “school” outside of the home?
All these questions, and more, are perfectly normal. The main thing to keep in mind is this is your journey and you can do whatever works! Some families have the ability to have a “homeschool room”, others have a “homeschool area”, and still, there are others (like me) who homeschool all over the house. It’s whatever is convenient for you. Plus, you can get creative with it and use other places such as the public library, a spot at the park (playing = learning 🙂 ), or the back yard!
Dealing with Interruptions
It’s pretty much safe to say that these are going to happen. At some point. Like, every day. And, that is okay. Really, it is. The word interruption may seem like a negative one, but it doesn’t have to be. Not the mention, there are a wide variety of “interruptions” that can happen.
For example, perhaps you’ve planned out the schedule for the upcoming week. Everything has its time, its place, and you’ve already pictured it in your mind. Monday comes and you wake up to a sick little. . . now you’re getting a late start to your “school day”, breakfast changed from the warm cooked meal to a bowl of cereal, another child begins to vomit, you forgot to let the dog out so now he’s found a nice spot in the house to go. . . and you still haven’t started “school”. This can seem like a major interruption but it’s not. It’s just how your day is going, and that’s okay!
I’ve learned to go with the flow of interruptions, and to do what I can when I can. If there is a late start to the morning, okay! If everyone woke up with their bells on, ready to go, but it’s not time to “start”, that’s okay – I start early!
Basically, interruptions can be worked with, especially when you homeschool. So, enjoy them and don’t let them stress you out!
Homeschooling 101: Your First Year
I would have put this with The Homeschool Decision, but when it comes down to it, you shouldn’t base your decision off what your family (extended) and friends (best and beyond). The decision to homeschool should be between your immediate family (husband and wife). So let’s say you’ve made the decision to homeschool, you’ve taken the necessary steps to get started, and now your first year is starting.
How do you explain your decision to your family and friends?
Keep it simple and be confident! When I first decided to homechool, I felt like I needed a long drawn out explanation, packed with statistics, and summed up with credible references. In all actuality, that is not necessary. Keep in mind that this is your decision and your family’s unique journey.
If you come against family and friends who do not support your decision, it’s okay. Keep in mind that not everyone will understand your decisions and choices, but it doesn’t have to affect you in a negative way. It is important to have support, and that is where a local homeschool group can be quite beneficial!
I need some “me” time…
Whether you are homeschooling one child or five children, you will come to the point where you are screaming, “I NEED SOME ME TIME!” Even if you don’t homeschool, it’s still a great idea to take some “me time”. 🙂 It’s just part of life in general (my personal opinion).
Me time can look different to each individual, so I’ll just give some ideas of what it could look like:
- take advantage of play dates – this is a great time to hang with other Moms and indulge in some adult interaction
- set up park days with other homeschool families
- set up or take part in a Mom’s Night Out event
- grab a cup of coffee with a friend at a local coffee shop
- while the kids are napping/resting, go to a different part of the house (or on the porch) and enjoy doing something you want to do (read, knit, scrapbook, rest, etc.)
These are just a few ideas that I personally do and recommend. Of course, as I said before, me time can look different for others!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!! I’m not a professional but with my personal experience, a B.S. and M.S. in Early Childhood, and being a part of an amazing homeschool group – I’m sure I can find the answers to your questions! Also, I have a resource that is perfect for every homeschooling mom. My book, Just for Today’s Homeschooling Mom, can be purchased in the SHOP.