Homeschooling is home-based learning that provides an education customized to suit your child and family. It does not have to look just like school, taught at home; nor do you have to follow a typical school schedule. Homeschooling affords a family the chance to ensure that children are taught in the manner in which they learn best, offering a lot of freedom in guiding your child’s education. More than just an educational choice, homeschooling typically represents a lifestyle choice for families.
Why Choose Homeschooling?
Why do families choose homeschooling? There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are families choosing homeschooling—and families frequently find that their reasons change as their children grow older.
Homeschooling can offer something different than school. For some parents, that difference might be a more rigorous academic approach than they find at their local school. For another family, that difference might be the chance to provide their child with a broader range of educational experiences. A third family might prefer the benefits of a family focus on education, especially when their children are quite young. Yet another family may find that homeschooling allows their very active child the chance to learn without having to sit still—so that the child who hated school blossoms when brought home to learn.
Where Does Homeschooling Take Place?
Homeschooling is home-based in that it comes from the home, but frequently much of a homeschooled child’s learning may take place in the community—taking advantage of the great outdoors for science and nature study, visiting museums, going on field trips, and doing volunteer work. Homeschooled children still participate in the same kinds of activities as other school children—scouting and 4-H, music and martial arts lessons, sports, dance, and art.
Contrary to some stereotypes, homeschooled children are typically not isolated at home. They usually have rich and varied lives, with more opportunities to interact with people of all ages than many children who spend their days in age-segregated classrooms.
Common Reasons to Homeschool
Let’s explore some of the common reasons to homeschool.
Allows a Child to Learn at His or Her Own Pace
Homeschooling can allow each child to learn at his or her own pace, whether that happens to be faster or slower than a typical school schedule. A child might speed ahead in one area and lag behind in another, but homeschooling can adjust to provide enough challenges in your child’s strengths while giving extra help and support in areas where your child might struggle. Homeschooling can also help meet the needs of children with disabilities of one kind or another.
Allows a Child to Follow Passions and Talents
Homeschooling can allow a child to follow passions and talents. Learning can fit around music lessons, sports practice, games, and performances. A child who is keenly interested in a specific subject can study other subjects through that lens—for instance, a child who loves math can study the flow of mathematical knowledge through history, can read about mathematicians and their discoveries, can write about mathematics, and delight in the mathematical underpinnings of science.
Allows Families to Educate According to Their Personal Faith, Philosophy, and Values
Homeschooling can allow families to educate according to their personal faith, philosophy, and values. Some families choose homeschooling primarily because it allows them to incorporate their faith into their child’s education or to use a faith-based curriculum.
Allows Families to Follow Unusual Schedules, Seasonal Work, and Mobile Lifestyles
Homeschooling can allow families to follow unusual schedules, seasonal work, and mobile lifestyles. Some homeschooling families take advantage of the freedom that homeschooling offers to accompany a parent with work-related travels; some families have a mobile lifestyle as performers or travelers. I’ve met one homeschooling family who travels the seas on board a private boat where dad is employed as the ship’s captain—you can’t find opportunities like that one in a classroom!
What Does Homeschooling Look Like?
Home-based education doesn’t have to follow a school schedule or look like school at home. It does allow parents to select materials and methods appropriate to each child.
Some children thrive on literature-based approaches. Some children do well with textbooks and workbooks. Other children learn best with hands-on, practical explorations and activities. Homeschooling allows families to pick and choose what works best to accomplish their educational goals. As one homeschooled child recently described it, “Homeschooling is an art that is done at home with your mom or dad that is creativity and learning and reading and writing all at once, and you’re having fun at the same time.”
Homeschoolers are a cross-section of society and very diverse; they represent every political, educational, faith, socio-economic, and ethnic background. Families have as many different reasons for choosing homeschooling as there are children, and just as many different ways to go about educating their children.
So, homeschooling allows parents to guide their child’s education and can look very different than traditional school. All kinds of people homeschool and their methods can be very different.
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.
Not a member? Join today!
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.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.