What is Homeschooling? Homeschooling in simplest terms is deciding to take your children's education into your own hands, outside the route of the traditional school setting. This can be done in a variety of ways from teaching the children at home the same subjects as taught in the public schools to Unschooling where the children are far less structured and led by interests and when they decide they are ready.
Is Unschooling/Homeschooling legal? Yes, Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. However, laws governing homeschooling change from state to state and some are more homeschool friendly than others. To see a complete list of all the laws governing your state click HERE.
How much does Homeschooling cost? This will depend on if you choose to use a complete boxed curriculum, sign up under an "umbrella" school and purchase their curriculum, put together one yourself, or don't use a curriculum at all. With all of the resources readily available for free on the internet and public library with a little work you could easily homeschool for FREE. We have never used a complete curriculum and often find that the learning materials we choose to buy are at a far less cost than the every day costs of sending a child to public schools once you factor in special clothing, transportation, lunch, material, etc. costs.
What are the advantages of Homeschooling? One of the biggest advantages we have seen is the closeness of the family. We do lots of learning and playing together and spend much more time together than the "average" family. My children are all best friends despite age differences and all have a close relationship with Mom and Dad. They also tend to be friends with all ages of children from toddlers to adults which I don't see quite as much in traditionally schooled children. Another advantage is their education can be custom fit to their needs, abilities, learning styles, and interests, not a "one size fits all" approach. Homeschooling has a lot of flexibility and my children have the advantage of being a part of and learning from the "real world." Homeschool children also have the advantage of having parents as role models instead of peers, meaning parents are their to lead children in what they feel is morally acceptable. The children aren't given into fitting in and peer pressure to be accepted. They are free to be themselves without criticism. Homeschooling also allows the child to be in a safe environment away from the bullying that has become so common in the public school setting.
What are disadvantages of Homeschooling? If you are a two parent working family one parent may need to quit their job or adjust to be home more to overlook the children's education. This loss of income will require some budgeting but if you were like us and had a stay at home parent anyway this will not really be a concern. Most new homeschooling families lack confidence in themselves to teach their own children and if you are like a lot of homeschooling families and have unsupportive family members who may openly criticize you it only adds to your lack of confidence. This is where you have to be strong and know why you have chosen to take this road and stand on your beliefs. Some families also find belonging to a group of like minded individuals like a homeschool support group helps. Many families have a hard time at first adjusting if your child has not always been at home. You have to find your balance, learning to help an older child while taking care of a toddler or how to fit in both housework and schoolwork can be a bit of a challenge at first.
What about socialization? First let me ask you how much time you think a child in a public school setting is allowed to "socialize"? A few minutes at lunch, on the playground, or in the hallway on the way to class? Studies have shown that homeschooled children are actually more self confident and less peer dependent than traditionally school children in part because they have the flexibility to take part in more activities outside of the home and more "real world" interaction with people of all ages instead of a group of peers who are the same age.
Will my homeschooled/ unschooled child be able to go to college? Homeschool children are recruited by top colleges and universities around the country because of their maturity, creativity, and independant thinking skills. Children who were homeschooled have been known to test higher on the SAT and college entrance exams than those in both public and private school settings. It is also important to note that not every child will take the college path in life and that having the freedom that homeschooling allows will allow your child to seek out professionals of careers they are interested in or intern in a career they think they may be interested in.