Questions to Ponder

Let's start with a few of the big questions you'll need to think about as you embark on this journey. These questions may or may not already be in your mind, and you certainly don't need to have all the answers before you begin. But thinking about them and doing a little research will help to focus your efforts.

 

  1. What are my goals for homeschooling? This is a big question, and it may seem intimidating. But it's also the basis for many other decisions, so it's worth some consideration early on. Keep in mind that your goals will change as your children develop and you begin to understand the learning process more fully.
    Do you want to prepare your children for a particular kind of college education? Do you want to give them more opportunities to follow their own interests than they would have in school? Do you want to provide a learning environment that is more responsive to their needs? Or foster a life-long love of learning? How important to you are these or any other goals that come to mind?

  2. What should my child be learning now? No matter when you start your homeschooling adventure, you'll need to think about your child's current stage of development and knowledge; and if you're not sure how long you want to homeschool, you may want to be aware of some educational standards in case your children might be attending school in the future. The following resources will give you a place to start. (Remember: these are guidelines, not rules. Always do what works for your child!)

    • Homeschooling Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp. I like this book because it is written by and for homeschoolers. There are specific recommendations for study of all subjects in grades K through 12.

    • Typical Course of Study - From the World Book Encyclopedia people. This site is also very useful. It includes important concepts in all the major subjects for preschool through 12th grade, and is written in plain English (not “educationese.”)

    • Core Knowledge Series - (What your Nth Grader Needs to Know) These books include suggestions for general activities and many specific resources. Look for them in your local library.

    • Common Core Standards - There is much debate in the homeschool community about Common Core. I include this link because, even if you don't agree with the standards or their implementation, you may find useful information here. (If you are as confused as most of us about the whole Common Core issue, here is an FAQ page from NPR. It would be a good place to start getting informed.)

  1. How do I help my child learn all of this? The following pages will give you information and links on several educational methods and philosophies. You can do as much reading and research as you'd like and use the things that work for your family. Many homeschoolers use ideas and resources from various methods. That's the beauty of homeschooling...flexibility!

  2. What about the laws? First of all: homeschooling is legal in the United States (as well as Canada, Australia, and most European countries.) It is regulated at the state and local level, so you will need to find information about laws in your state. A2Z Home's Cool has links to the laws from every state. And Homeschool.com has links to state and local support groups that can help you out.  

***Many new homeschoolers have concerns about legal issues and may consider paying for membership in the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. In all my years of homeschooling, I never had any legal problems, nor did I know any other homeschoolers who experienced any difficulties. For most families, paying for membership in HSLDA is an unnecessary expense; and being a member is not a guarantee of legal representation if you should end up in court. Many homeschoolers also object to some of the lobbying work that the organization is involved in. I urge all new homeschoolers to do some research before making a decision about joining. You can read about membership benefits at the HSLDA website. (Remember, this is an organization of lawyers; so look carefully at the fine print!) You can read about some of the concerns about the organization at Homeschooling Is Legal.