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Should I Consider Homeschooling My Child?

You might have heard the term "homeschooling" more frequently in recent years. As a parent, it's natural to wonder if this educational option is the right fit for your child. Many families opt for home education. They choose this over traditional public or nonpublic schools/private schools. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of this educational option.

Homeschooling gives parents much more control. Because of this, homeschooling is subject to varying degrees of state regulation. This article provides a general overview of homeschooling. See FindLaw's Compulsory Education and Types of Schools sections to learn more.

Reasons for Homeschooling

There are many reasons why homeschooling families choose this path. Some parents believe they can offer a more tailored education program. This program can better suit their child's pace and interests. The most common reason parents give for homeschooling is that they feel they can provide a better education.

These parents may feel that the local school's curriculum is inadequate or that it focuses on the wrong areas. Some parents feel that traditional schools fail to teach values to children. They school their children at home to provide a strong moral education or for religious reasons. They may feel that the public school system is too secular for their tastes. 

Others may question the environment in public school districts. They might seek to provide a safer, more nurturing space for their child. If your child has disabilities, homeschooling can be a great option. You may offer more specialized attention to your child.

Some parents turn to homeschooling because they cannot afford to send their children to a private school. Additionally, some students may have difficulty learning in a traditional classroom environment. These same students may thrive with at-home instruction. Some parents do not agree with standardized testing in public schools. They may feel this is an aggressive test-first approach.

Homeschool Legal Requirements

Before you take the plunge, you must familiarize yourself with the homeschool laws in your state. Each state's Department of Education has specific regulations. Each homeschooling family must follow these rules. You might need to submit an affidavit to your local school district superintendent. This affidavit should clarify your intent to homeschool your child.

Required subjects would be English language and math. Civics and social studies may need to be covered as well. You should also understand the compulsory attendance law of your state. Familiarize yourself with vaccination or immunization requirements. Know of any annual assessment or standardized achievement test expectations.

How To Start Homeschooling

Starting with homeschooling might seem overwhelming. First, check the eligibility criteria. Are you, as the legal guardian, qualified to teach? Do you need a private tutor? After deciding the appropriate grade level, enroll your child in a homeschool program that fits your curriculum goals. 

Always inform your local school district about your decision. Many states offer frequently asked question (FAQ) pages on their Department of Education websites. These can guide you further.

Once your child completes their homeschooling journey, they can receive a diploma. In many states, homeschooling families have the right to issue their own high school diploma. This is an acknowledgment that your child has met the necessary requirements for graduation. Another option is a General Educational Development (GED) test. Some homeschoolers opt for this path because the GED is widely accepted by colleges and employers.

Outside Support for Homeschooling

You're not alone in this journey! Many organizations and communities support homeschooling families. These groups often conduct field trips or offer group classes in subjects like language arts or technical education. They provide resources to enhance home-based learning.

Joining such communities can help your child socialize and allow you to exchange ideas with other parents. Additionally, there are many companies and organizations that can help. They offer curricula and other materials for the homeschooling community.

In some cases, parents who homeschool their children seek and receive a degree of public school support. This might be in the form of supplies or curricular help. Public schools might allow homeschoolers to take part in the school's extracurricular activities. Frequently, the parents of homeschoolers do not avail themselves of these resources. They prefer to keep the education centered around the home classroom.

Homeschooling and Academic Standards

Many homeschool programs align their curriculum with state education requirements. By the end of the school year, you can choose to conduct an annual assessment to gauge your child's progress. Homeschooled children have to show they are learning at the proper educational level. Parents must provide structured classes, homework, tests, and projects.

State regulations vary. If your goal is a high school diploma or GED, ensure you're aware of the graduation requirements in your state. For example, Arizona doesn't mandate assessments or standardized tests for homeschooled students.

Conversely, Colorado requires homeschooled students to keep certain academic records. These students also have to take state-mandated assessment tests. See Education and Homeschooling: State Laws for a state-by-state directory.

Special Education and Homeschooling

Special education services can be a significant concern for families. If you're considering homeschooling a child with disabilities, there are several aspects to keep in mind. Many states mandate public school districts to offer special education services. These services must be available to eligible homeschooling students. Coordinate with your local school district superintendent.

You can also talk to the special education department. Through these departments, you can access resources and support for your child.

One of the greatest appeals of homeschooling is the flexibility it offers. Homeschooling empowers parents to offer individualized learning experiences. For children with unique needs, this can be especially helpful. Learning can be tailored to the child's specific needs, interests, and learning pace. The intimate setting of homeschooling can be less stressful.

This can be ideal for children who might feel overwhelmed in traditional classrooms. These students are also not subjected to bullying by public school students.

You have more control over the education process, but you might also need more support. Joining homeschooling groups for parents with special needs children can be invaluable. These groups often share resources and strategies and provide emotional support.

Potential Drawbacks of Homeschooling

While homeschooling has many benefits, there are also challenges. Your child might miss out on traditional school experiences like prom or school sports teams. There are also other opportunities for socialization with other students which may not be possible with homeschooling.

Homeschooling can also be time-consuming. It can demand many hours of instruction from you. Balancing work and teaching can be challenging for some parents, and there's always the fear of not meeting grade-level standards. This can potentially affect your child's future adult education or career options.

Getting Legal Help

Understanding education law is crucial when homeschooling. If you ever feel overwhelmed or unsure, don't hesitate to seek legal advice. Many legal firms are experienced in homeschool laws. They can guide you on areas like exemptions from public education. They can also help you navigate the State Board of Education requirements.

Talk to an education law attorney today.

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