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    What is Homeschooling?

    By Zach Skillings

    Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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    and Cait Williams

    Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: August 24th, 2023
    What is Homeschooling?

    Homeschooling is an alternative to the traditional school-based approach to learning. Under this system, parents educate their children at home instead of sending them to public or private school. Homeschooling has exploded in popularity in recent years, especially after the pandemic forced classes to shift online. In this guide, we’ll talk about how homeschooling works, what the requirements are for homeschooling, and how to get started. 

    See also: Top scholarships for homeschoolers

    Common misconceptions

    Before we kick things off, let’s tackle some common misconceptions that you may have heard about homeschooled students.

    Homeschooled students have easier course loads

    Just because students learn at home does not necessarily mean that they have an easier course load. In fact, increased academic rigor is often a motivator for homeschooling. Additionally, because parents are able to work one on one with their children, they may be able to move through their curriculum at a much faster pace than in a traditional school, meaning they may progress much faster through subjects. 

    Homeschooled students don’t go to college or take standardized tests

    Another common misconception is the level of academic achievement that homeschoolers accomplish. It is quite common for homeschoolers to participate in both standardized testing and the college application process. Some states even allow, and in some cases require, students to participate in standardized tests. 

    Related: Applying to college as a homeschooler guide

    Homeschooled students do not play sports or participate in extracurricular activities

    Another thing you may not know, is that homeschooled students can participate in sports and often participate in several extracurricular activities. In fact, some students who are dedicated to certain sports or activities may specifically switch to homeschooling in order to have more time to train or practice. Participation laws may vary from state to state, so check with your local school districts about their rules concerning homeschool students participating in sports or other activities in local school districts. 

    How does homeschooling work? 

    Homeschooling is a unique educational option that allows parents to oversee their child’s learning experience. While each homeschooling situation may vary, there are a few defining characteristics that all homeschooling setups have in common: 

    Parent-directed

    In homeschooling situations, parents are either direct teachers, or have a say in everything that their child is learning. While parents are responsible for overseeing their child’s education, they don’t always do 100% of the teaching. It’s common for homeschoolers to take some classes outside the home. Ultimately, though, parents are the primary directors of their child’s education. 

    Customized curriculum 

    Many parents choose to homeschool their children so they can craft an educational experience that fits their lifestyle. Homeschool parents are free to choose a curriculum that suits the needs of the child and the family. The rising popularity of homeschooling has resulted in the creation of numerous curriculums and resources. 

    Customized educational philosophy

    Along with choosing a curriculum, parents also typically adopt a particular educational philosophy that suits their child’s needs. Some of the most common teaching models include: 

    • Classical 
    • Leadership education
    • Interest-led learning

    Each model provides a unique educational foundation. The leadership model, for instance, focuses on teaching students how to think instead of what to think. 

    Flexible schedule 

    Homeschoolers typically operate on a different schedule than traditional students. Parents and children are free to organize their daily routine however they see fit. Additionally, weekly schedules aren’t always Monday through Friday. Families may create their schedules to accommodate the parent’s work schedule, or sports and other activities that students have.

    Better time management

    Homeschooling parents don’t need to take time for administrative tasks, such as roll call or moving students from one classroom to the next. That means homeschool days are often shorter than typical public or private school days. Homeschoolers also have freedom over the structure of their school year. While many follow the traditional school calendar, others “go to school” year-round and simply take off during specific weeks when they need breaks. 

    Related: Scholarships for nontraditional students

    Must comply with state laws

    While homeschooling offers a lot of flexibility to create a unique learning environment, parents must still comply with their state’s laws. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but regulations vary between states. 

    For instance, some states require students to pass standardized tests at regular intervals. In other states, parents must get approval on their curriculum. It’s also common for states to require a certain number of home instruction hours each year, or for parents to make official transcripts and send them in. Meanwhile, some states have little to no homeschooling regulations. 

    Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

    How do I start homeschooling? 

    The desire to homeschool is the first step in starting the homeschool process. From there you should research what your state’s requirements are for homeschoolers. As a parent, you should seek out advice from other parents who have homeschooling experience. 

    Once you know what is required of you legally, the rest of the process is up to you. Other things you’ll need to do are:

    • Be sure to properly notify your local school district of your decision to homeschool
    • Decide on a curriculum to use
    • Design a schedule for your week/ school year

    For parents who want to withdraw their kids from public or private school, they must write a letter of withdrawal to the school principal or local superintendent, describing their intent to begin homeschooling their child. After that, parents continue the process by following their district’s specific guidelines. 

    Homeschooling co-ops

    Homeschooling co-ops have grown quite a bit in popularity over the past several years. A homeschooling co-op is usually run by a group of parents who meet a handful of times a week to teach their children in a group. However, there can be a lot of differences from one co-op to another. Some may be much more formal by requiring tuition to be paid and hiring real teachers. Others may meet at libraries and have a few parents take on the majority of teaching. No two co-ops will be the same. The goal is to find one that fits your needs! 

    Home schooled student author

    I attended a homeschooling co-op for 4th-8th grade and it was one of the best decisions my parents ever made for me. The education I received was much more individualized to my needs, while still allowing me to be around kids my age in an academic environment. The co-op I attended met three days a week and had real professionals teaching each subject. We followed a rigorous curriculum that even allowed me to start earning high school credits in middle school. I would recommend that anyone looking to get the most out of their education look into some form of homeschooling or homeschooling co-ops.
    Cait Williams

    Recent four-year college graduate

    Ohio University

    Disadvantages

    As with anything, there will always be some things that are inconvenient or not advantageous. Homeschooling requires much more dedication. It can be hard for parents who each have jobs or single parent households to make homeschooling work. It’s not impossible, but it certainly requires dedication. Homeschooling can also require a lot of organization and self-advocacy.

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Homeschooling can be a great alternative to the traditional forms of schooling that most parents and students are aware of 
    • Homeschool students can still participate in sports and plenty of extracurricular activities
    • A major benefit of homeschooling is parents’ ability to have more say over their children’s education and what they are being exposed to
    • If homeschooling is something you are interested in, it is something you should certainly look into and get more information about 
    Key Takeaways

    Frequently asked questions about homeschooling 

    How are homeschooling programs funded?

    The majority of homeschool programs are privately funded by the parent(s). Although a lot of parents pay out-of-pocket for learning materials, there are some financial aid options for homeschoolers. For instance, some states offer funding for homeschool programs. This is especially true for special needs students. In North Carolina, disabled students enrolled in homeschool programs can qualify for $8,000 per year. There are also plenty of scholarships available for homeschool students as well.

    Do homeschoolers do better or worse than traditional students?

    It depends on who you ask. There have been several studies over the years comparing the academic performance of homeschooled students to traditional students. However, the results have been controversial. 

    Ultimately, it’s hard to say for sure whether homeschooling leads to higher academic achievement. Families should make the decision whether to adopt homeschooling according to the individual needs of students and their parents. While it may work out great for some families, it might not be the right decision for others!

    Is homeschooling good or bad for students?

    Similar to the question before, there is no one answer. Some students may be more successful in a traditional school environment, while other students may thrive through homeschooling. Parents of young children should carefully consider the pros and cons of homeschooling for their specific child. While parents of older children should do the same, they may also benefit from asking their children how they feel about their options.

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