If you’re reading this guide, chances are you’ve already decided to homeschool your child or are seriously considering it. You want to know more about homeschooling—what it can offer your child and family, as well as what will be involved.
Know the Legal Requirements
Each state has its own regulations regarding homeschooling, and requirements vary widely. For specific information about what is required in your state, the best place to start is with your state’s homeschool organization. Although there are many resources on the web that claim to describe the requirements of each state, regulations do change and many sites contain outdated information or broken links. Local school divisions sometimes give out inaccurate or outdated information. Your state homeschool organization should be able to direct you to up-to-date sources for your state’s laws on homeschooling as well as simple guidance on how to comply with the regulations. If your state doesn’t have a state-wide organization, get in touch with a local group.
To find your state homeschool organization, use an internet search function (like Google) to search on your state’s name and “state homeschool organization.” For example, search on “Virginia state homeschool organization” and you’ll find The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers.
You’ll also want some general information about homeschooling, including some ideas on how to begin. We have lots of good information available here on our website. Another popular site is the A to Z Home’s Cool website produced by Ann Zeise.
Read, Read, Read
There are a variety of authors who have written books on homeschooling and many are available at public libraries across the country. You can also find popular books at the VaHomeschoolers Bookstore. John Holt wrote some of the earliest and best-known books on homeschooling and child-led learning. Linda Dobson is a popular conference speaker and author of many books on homeschooling, including The Homeschooling Book of Answers and The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas . Homeschooling author Mary Griffith has written several comprehensive and well-balanced books about homeschooling, including The Homeschooling Handbook and The Unschooling Handbook. John Taylor Gatto presents a truly radical view on education and homeschooling philosophy, while Jessie Wise and her daughter, Susan Wise Bauer have written a guide to classical education at home: The Well-Trained Mind. Cafi Cohen’s books on homeschooling high school and college admissions offer much valuable information for families with teens.
When it comes to choosing curriculum, it can help to have some good catalogs on hand as well as product reviews. Rebecca Rupp’s book Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School provides an excellent summary of what is typically taught at each grade level and can be a great starting point for planning your own curriculum and figuring out what topics might come next for your child. Rainbow Resource is one homeschooling vendor that publishes a huge catalog—over 1300 pages—of curriculum materials and product reviews.
One of your best resources for learning more about homeschooling is going to be families like yours that have already chosen homeschooling. Seek out other homeschoolers in your community or online and talk to them about their reasons for homeschooling and what it offers their families. When you find a family with an approach to homeschooling that appeals to you, ask them about their resources and what works well. Remember, though, that every child and family is different. What is a terrific fit for your best homeschooling friend might not work at all for your child.
Attend Homeschool Events
A homeschool conference or resource fair is a terrific opportunity to hear speakers on homeschool topics, ask questions, and see a variety of curriculum materials. Your state or neighboring state homeschool organization may put on annual conferences or there may be a commercial conference nearby. Many homeschool conferences are family affairs with sessions for children and adults.
Deal with Skepticism
Finally, as you begin to discuss your plans to homeschool with family and friends, you may encounter skepticism and concern. Sometimes one parent is reluctant to homeschool because he or she may be uncertain about how homeschooling will work or whether the children will be prepared for college and adulthood. Grandparents may have similar concerns. As you find books, websites, and other materials that answer your own concerns, you’ll be better prepared to address the concerns of family and friends. You can offer to loan them a book or print a few pages of online articles for them. Grandparents might enjoy accompanying your family on a trip to a local homeschooling conference. You can remind them, too, that as your child’s parent you are making a decision you feel is in your child’s best interests. You’ve done some research and believe homeschooling is the best educational choice for your child at this time. You are always free to re-evaluate your situation and make changes to suit your child and family as things change.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to living and learning through homeschooling. Please fee free to contact us if you have any questions about homeschooling in Virginia, or if you’re interested in learning more about The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. Best wishes to you and your family with your homeschooling adventures!
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The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization dedicated solely to homeschooling issues. Created in 1993, VaHomeschoolers is a state-wide, inclusive organization that provides information on homeschooling and protects and promotes homeschooling freedoms at the state and local level.
We provide a comprehensive website on homeschooling in Virginia, answer questions through our toll-free homeschool help line and email homeschool help desk, publish the bi-monthly journal Voice, as well as several electronic bulletins, and offer conferences and seminars on homeschooling throughout the year. We represent homeschooling interests in the state legislature and across the state, and help parents and school divisions resolve homeschooling issues.
Our organization has no political or religious affiliations; we focus exclusively on issues related to homeschooling. Our website does cover the specific legal aspects of homeschooling in Virginia but it is also filled with information and resources on homeschooling that apply universally. It is a great place to gather further details and support on all the topics discussed in this series
If you have found the Guide to Homeschooling Your Child helpful, please consider supporting our efforts on behalf of homeschoolers.
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Leslie Nathaniel has been a member of VaHomeschoolers since she began homeschooling and is now a member of the Board of Directors. Her children began learning at home as soon as they were born, but they became official homeschoolers when her eldest reached kindergarten age in 2002. Prior to children, Leslie worked in information technology consulting. She is a homeschooling mother of two. As a volunteer for VaHomeschoolers, she answers telephone and email requests for information; writes articles for the VaHomeschoolers Voice homeschool journal; speaks at conferences and seminars on a variety of topics; and organizes homeschooling seminars around the state of Virginia.
Celeste Land is a member of the Board of Directors for VaHomeschoolers and the director of our Government Affairs department. Her two children began homeschooling in 1996, and are continuing to learn at home right through the teen years. Her daughter has recently graduated from homeschooling high school and will be attending college full time this fall. Celeste has lobbied on behalf of homeschooling interests here in Virginia and Washington, DC, for 10 years. Her articles on homeschooling have been published in the VaHomeschoolers Voice and the VaHomeschoolers website, as well as several homeschooling magazines in the USA and Canada. She also has been a speaker at many homeschool seminars and conferences.
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