Homeschooling a child is a big decision. You can’t make that switch without considering all of the implications it will have for your child or children, and for your family. My wife and I have been homeschooling our 4 children for 5 years now. I say 4 children, but my little one is pre-k, so he’s more like the class entertainment at times. The other 3 are elementary and middle school. I believe the first thing you have to think about is your bandwidth and capacity to teach.
Virtual school is different than homeschool in many ways, which I’ll explain throughout this article. For our kids it was an easy decision in that we run a business from home. Both my wife and I work in the business, and our employees are virtual. My business doesn’t depend on me traveling as much as I used to 5 years ago. If I were still traveling 50-60 days out of the year, we probably wouldn’t have chosen to homeschool our kids.
Did you know? Lines (1991) estimated that there were some 13,000 homeschool students in the late 1970s in the United States. In comparison, there were an estimated 3.135 million school-age (K-12) homeschool students in the United States during the 2021-2022 school year. And during the 2020-2021 school year there were an estimated 3.721 million school-age (K-12) homeschool students in the United States. If you’re interested in looking at the data for homeschool student pre and post-COVID, this study provides accurate information. The chart below illustrates the growth of homeschooling in the US since 1970.
Source: National Home Education Research Institute
How does that contrast with the number of students attending public and private schools in K-12?
In 2021 there were about 49.5 million students were enrolled in public schools in prekindergarten to grade 12. In school year 2020–21, there were 3.0 million teachers in public schools. There are 130,930 recorded number of K-12 schools in the United States of America (U.S.A), according to the National Center for Education Statistics
Homeschooling has become a popular option for many families in recent years, as it allows for a more personalized and flexible education for children. However, the decision to homeschool is not one to be made lightly and requires careful consideration of a number of factors. Here are the top questions to consider when thinking about homeschooling your child:
Question #1: What are my child’s learning needs? Every child is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. Before making the decision to homeschool, it’s important to understand your child’s individual needs and how they can best be met through homeschooling.This question is as important as the first one. Even if you have the time and desire to homeschool your kids, it may not be beneficial for them in the long run if they can’t adapt to independent learning.
If you choose to do Virtual School, depending in the state you live in this likely means your child will have to login to the learning platform daily on their computer and follow along. This requires less time on your part, as it’s solely led by the department of education in your state and county. Most kids experienced this style of learning during COVID. However, if your child is more of a visual learner, curious, and a hands-on learner then Home School led by the parent will be the best option. When you choose to do it yourself you can either subscribe to a platform that offers curriculum that’s approved by your state or you can use the state’s flex curriculum. We’ve done both with our kids.
Question #2: Am I prepared to take on the role of teacher? Homeschooling requires a significant commitment of time and energy, and the primary responsibility for your child’s education will fall on you as the parent. It’s important to consider whether you are prepared to take on this role and have the necessary resources to support your child’s learning.
Do you have enough time to plan the curriculum, review their work, administer tests, work with outside professionals to assess their progress, create opportunities outside of the home for them to socialize and make friends, and on and on… Most of these important elements will fall on you, the parent or parents. The majority of the homeschool families we meet are led by one parent. So, it can be done with one parent. These days I spend less time than I used to. There are several reasons for that, but the main one is that our kids have adapted to this approach to learning.
Question #3: What are the legal requirements for homeschooling in my state? Homeschooling laws vary from state to state, so it’s important to understand the regulations in your area and ensure that you are in compliance with them.
Question #4: How will homeschooling affect my child’s socialization? One of the biggest concerns about homeschooling is the potential for isolation and lack of socialization for children. It’s important to consider how you will provide opportunities for your child to interact with other children and adults, and how you will ensure that they have a well-rounded education that includes social skills.
Question #5: What curriculum will I use? Homeschooling allows for a wide range of curriculum options, from traditional textbooks to online resources. It’s important to research and choose a curriculum that is appropriate for your child’s age and learning level, and that aligns with your educational philosophy.
Question #6: How will I evaluate my child’s progress? Monitoring your child’s progress is important to ensure that they are on track to meet their learning goals. Consider how you will evaluate your child’s progress and make adjustments to their curriculum as needed.
Question #7: How will I balance homeschooling with other responsibilities? Homeschooling requires a significant time commitment, and it’s important to consider how you will balance this with other responsibilities such as work, household tasks, and family time.
By considering these questions and carefully researching your options, you can make an informed decision about whether homeschooling is the right choice for your family. With careful planning and a commitment to providing the best possible education for your child, homeschooling can be a rewarding and successful experience for both you and your child.
Now that you’ve consider these 7 questions, you can begin to go deeper into the rabbit hole that is, homeschooling. It goes without say that no two families are the alike, there’s not a one size fits all system for all kids, and every family knows what works best for them. The 7 methods or approaches listed in this section are not the only ones available, but they are the most popular approaches to homeschooling. Keep in mind that you can choose to lead the lessons at home with your kids, subscribe to the state or program with 100% virtual lessons, or you can blend these programs together for the hybrid approach. Check out these different homeschool programs & options for learning to find the best fit for you:
Florida and North Carolina’s home school resources are among the most robust in the US. Check out the state’s websites to get an idea of what the sign up process is like, and what programs are available for your child.
Florida Virtual School (FLVS) has been leading the way in Kindergarten-12 online education for more than 25 years. FLVS provides a robust, award-winning curriculum to public, private, charter, and homeschool families and school districts nationwide. Founded in 1997, FLVS, the district, and its schools are accredited by Cognia and offer supportive online learning to students both in Florida and around the world.
The North Carolina compulsory school attendance law (Article 26, Chapter 115C) requires that
parents and/or guardians, of children who are at least age 7 but not yet 16, ensure that their
children attend school. Parents may use their discretion to select the educational environment
to fulfill the compulsory school attendance law. Parents are legally allowed to home school their
children as prescribed by G.S. 115C-563(a). G.S. 115C-563(a) defines a home school as “a
nonpublic school consisting of the children of not more than two families or households, where the
parents or legal guardians or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of
academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic
Unit studies is a homeschooling approach in which learning is centered around a specific topic or theme. This approach is based on the idea that students learn better when concepts are related and integrated across multiple subjects, rather than learning each subject in isolation.
In a unit study, a single topic or theme is chosen as the focus for a period of time, typically several weeks. For example, a unit study might center around the theme of ancient Egypt, and include history, geography, language arts, and science lessons related to ancient Egypt. The student would study the history, culture, government and economy of ancient Egypt, read literature, and do some hands-on activities or experiments related to the topic.
Unit studies approach allows parents to create a more engaging and hands-on learning experience for their children. It also allows parents to tailor the curriculum to their child’s interests and learning style. It also allows for a more interdisciplinary approach to learning, and it helps students to make connections between subjects, which can deepen their understanding of a topic.
Unit studies approach can be a great option for homeschooling families, particularly for those who want to create a more holistic, integrated approach to learning. It can be used for all subjects and all ages, and it allows for a lot of flexibility in terms of curriculum and resources. It allows parents to customize the curriculum to their child’s individual needs, and it allows the child to explore subjects they are particularly interested in.
Project-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach in which students engage in a hands-on, real-world project to learn and apply new knowledge and skills. In PBL, students work on a project over an extended period of time, typically several weeks, and are given the autonomy to explore a topic or issue that is of interest to them.
In homeschooling, PBL allows for a more personalized, self-directed learning experience. The student can choose the project topic, and the parent can guide the student in the research, planning and execution of the project. The student can work independently, or collaborate with peers, which allows them to learn from one another, and to develop social skills.
PBL can be applied to a wide range of subjects, including science, math, history, and language arts. For example, a student may create a science project on the effects of pollution on a local stream, or a historical project on the life of a notable person.
PBL provides a way for students to apply what they learn in a real-world context, making the learning more meaningful and engaging. It also helps to develop important 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
The Montessori approach to homeschooling is based on the educational philosophy developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, which emphasizes self-directed learning and respect for the child’s natural development. In a Montessori homeschooling environment, children are given the freedom to choose their own activities and work at their own pace, with the guidance and support of a trained Montessori teacher or parent. This approach emphasizes hands-on learning and the use of Montessori materials, such as manipulatives, to help children develop skills and understanding in various subjects. Additionally, the Montessori approach encourages children to develop independence, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
The classical approach to homeschooling is based on the traditional liberal arts education that was used in ancient Greece and Rome. It emphasizes the study of core subjects such as mathematics, science, literature, history, and languages (usually Latin and Greek) and is divided into three stages: the grammar stage, the dialectic stage, and the rhetoric stage.
In the grammar stage (typically for children ages 4-12), the emphasis is on learning the basics of each subject, memorizing facts, and developing strong reading and writing skills.
In the dialectic stage (typically for children ages 12-15), students begin to analyze and question what they have learned and to think more critically.
In the rhetoric stage (typically for children ages 15-18), students learn to express themselves clearly and persuasively, both in writing and verbally, and to integrate what they have learned across all subjects.
A classical approach often includes the use of a curriculum, such as the “Trivium” and “Quadrivium” (grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy) and the study of great books and works of literature, history and science. The ultimate goal of a classical education is to develop critical thinking, logical reasoning, and wisdom.
The eclectic approach to homeschooling is a method that combines elements from different educational philosophies and methods. It allows parents and educators to choose from a variety of curriculum and resources to create a customized learning plan that best suits their child’s individual needs and learning style.
An eclectic homeschooler might use a mix of traditional textbooks, workbooks, and hands-on activities, as well as online resources, field trips, and community classes. They might use a mix of different approaches such as Montessori, Charlotte Mason, classical and/or unit studies. They also might use different resources such as textbooks, workbooks, and hands-on activities, as well as online resources, field trips, and community classes.
This approach allows parents and educators to be flexible and responsive to their child’s needs, interests, and learning style, and it gives them the freedom to adapt the curriculum as the child grows and develops. It is important for the parent to have a good understanding of the different educational philosophies and methods and to be able to evaluate the curriculum and resources to ensure that they are appropriate for their child’s level and needs.
Unschooling is a unique and alternative homeschooling approach that emphasizes self-directed, interest-based learning. It is also sometimes referred to as “child-led” or “natural” learning.
In unschooling, there is no set curriculum or lesson plans. Instead, learning is driven by the child’s interests and curiosity. Children are free to explore and learn about whatever interests them, whether it’s through books, hands-on activities, or real-world experiences. Parents play the role of facilitators and guides, rather than traditional teachers, providing resources and support as needed.
Unschooling is based on the idea that children have an innate desire to learn and will naturally seek out knowledge and skills on their own, given the opportunity. It is often seen as a more relaxed and less structured approach to homeschooling, and it allows children to learn at their own pace and in their own way.
Unschooling can be beneficial in that it allows children to develop autonomy, self-motivation, and self-direction. It also allows them to pursue their passions and interests, which can lead to a more engaged and motivated approach to learning. However, unschooling can also be challenging for parents, as it requires a great deal of trust in the child’s ability to learn and a willingness to let go of traditional notions of education.
It’s important to note that unschooling is not for everyone, it requires a lot of trust in the child’s ability to learn and a willingness to let go of traditional notions of education and it’s important to consider whether it aligns with your educational philosophy and parenting style. It’s always wise to research the different homeschooling options and talk with other families who have chosen unschooling before deciding if it is the right approach for your family.
Pros of homeschooling:
Cons of homeschooling:
It’s important to keep in mind that homeschooling is not for everyone and that every child has different needs and learning styles. It’s essential to research, weigh the pros and cons, and make an informed decision that will best serve the child’s education and overall well-being.
|Source||Number of Homeschool Students, 2021-2022||Homeschool as Percent of all students*|
|Education Next survey||Not reported||6.60|
|US Census Bureau||Not reported||5.22|
|14 states, weighted mean||4.16|