What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is a choice the parent or guardian chooses to educate the student outside of a school setting. This educational option gives parents the greatest level of freedom and flexibility to determine the means and the method(s) of how a student will be educated compared to private, charter, or local public school options.
Homeschooling allows students to be taught in a manner determined by their parent, including education that upholds their religious philosophies and convictions, while moving at a curricular pace best suited for the student’s needs. Through homeschooling, a child’s home, community, travels, and experiences can become the center of their education.
Homeschool parents have the most freedom to fully exercise their right to make all educational decisions in a highly personalized manner for their child/ren. Many children thrive under the concept that parents make the best teachers because they know their children best. Some other reasons parents may choose to homeschool include:
- The child cannot reach their greatest potential in a traditional school setting
- The child is a gifted or accelerated learner
- The child suffers from attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Autism spectrum disorders, anxiety or other health concerns
- The child has a hard time sitting still and requires kinesthetic or alternate learning styles
- The child struggles with dyslexia or another learning disability
- The child is a trauma survivor or has been a victim of bullying
Other parents choose to homeschool because they have issues with the absence of religion, safety, values, positive-influences, discipline, quality of education, and/or hands-on parenting opportunities in their assigned district.
What will my child’s educational experience be like?
You may question whether you are capable of homeschooling your child, especially when the curriculum seems beyond what you learned in school. This is a common question asked by parents considering homeschooling as an option for their children. However, many parents also find that homeschooling ignites a passion for learning in both parent and child.
It can be a joy to see how engaged their students can become, and many also look for ways to connect educational material to current events and the world around them. This mental shift to all-day learning often results in students who much more self-driven in learning than parents expect, making the process of learning together much more enjoyable.
In general, homeschool days are typically shorter in comparison to public school days. But from there, the education experience for homeschoolers varies greatly, in part because each child is an individual and each parent has different reasons for choosing to homeschool. The four main homeschooling strategies are full curriculum kits, a la carte method, co-ops, and virtual learning.
- Full Curriculum Kits: Rather than designing their own curriculum, activities and worksheets from scratch, parents can purchase a grade-level kit in an online or print format. These usually cover all four school subjects: Language Arts, Math, Science, and History. Parents can even pick curriculum that’s inclusive of a religious worldview. Costs can range from $300 to $1000 for a comprehensive kit. In exchange for a higher cost, parents usually receive much greater convenience. Full curriculum kits can also serve as very helpful guidance for first-time homeschooling parents.
- A La Carte Method: This homeschooling method places the most amount of responsibility on the parent-teacher and is the most time consuming to prepare, since parents create the curriculum from various sources according to their student’s needs and interests, rather than relying on an all-in-on purchase. The parent retains the utmost amount of control over their child’s education in this method of homeschooling.
- Co-Ops (Cooperative Homeschooling): Through a co-op, groups of homeschool families can join together to educate their children, plan field trips, and host social outings or playdates. Many require some parental involvement even if the co-op offers some classes. Co-ops can range in size from a few families to hundreds of students. Co-ops can grant the child access to group learning and social interaction as well as allowing parents to pool resources and maximize their children’s learning experiences. This can be especially helpful for new homeschooling parents seeking support, advice, accountability, and feedback.
- Virtual Learning: Online schooling provides maximum flexibility for parents and their students, typically allowing the children to complete their work whenever it is most convenient as it is primarily delivered through online platform(s) and internet interactions. This the least time-consuming alternative for parents as students can typically guide themselves through the online curriculum, often even allowing parents to work from home. Online homeschooling allows students to participate in extracurricular activities without the restriction of having to be in the classroom or learning at specific times. Online homeschooling can also serve as a temporary resource for short-term homebased learning. Since there is so much flexibility, online learning is often the best option for self-disciplined, independent learners.
When it comes to graduation, the process of receiving a diploma is less complicated than most parents expect. In homeschooling, parents are responsible for assigning course credits to the classes their children take. If you have a high school homeschooler, HomeschoolCounselor.com can be especially helpful with timelines and credits and/or talking directly to a guidance counselor for a minimal fee.
For students who fall behind, parents can still choose to return them to public school and students can legally remain in public school up until age 21. Accelerated learner students can graduate early and/or enroll in CCP college credits. Homeschooling CCP goes through the local school district, as well as any public graduation ceremonials, should you choose to do so.
By working with existing public schools in the district where you pay taxes or private schools, parents cans also coordinate classes a la carte without enrollment, art, gym, music, sports teams, and afterschool activities. Some public and private schools are more friendly to this option than others. Call your local public school district and/or private schools find out how to get your child involved.
What are the financial costs & time commitments required for the homeschooling option?
Financial costs associated with homeschooling is largely dependent type of homeschooling your family prefers. General expenses related to homeschooling may include purchasing a curriculum, books, online programming, co-op memberships fees, and/or other materials/supplies needed for your child’s education. Overall, most estimates have determined that homeschooling costs approximately $300-$600 per year, per child.
This estimate varies based on the type of homeschooling utilized from free courses that include videos and printouts, to kit courses costing around $300, and up to $1000. Online courses can be around $80-90 per course.
There are need-based grants and scholarships available through The Homeschooling Foundation. Additionally, if you have an IEP (individualized education plan) from your district, you may be able to access Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarships to receive services related to the IEP at home, at no cost. For homeschool families on a budget, libraries are an underutilized resource. The library can offer a Teacher’s Library Card to home school parents with extended checkout periods and quantity limits.
Overall, homeschooling your child is a larger time commitment than sending your child to a public, charter, or private school. However, pursuing online homeschooling or co-op options may allow parents to continue working and keep their jobs, if your child is old enough to stay home alone and/or your job allows you to work from home. Homeschooling, if led by a parent, is generally the most time-intensive option. Still, homeschooling is also the most flexible option, allowing parents and their students to design a schedule that is best for their family.
What options does my child have for homeschooling?
There are over a hundred different co-ops available across Ohio in almost every county. Co-ops are helpful for first-time homeschooling parents for socializing, support, and feedback. Ohio’s largest co-op is “Classical Conversations,” a preK-12 program that focuses on classical education. Classical education is generally quite different from public school strategies and often requires a mental shift for parents. Classical education engages students with repetition, memorization and mastery-geared learning that works with the way brains naturally develop.
The Classical Conversations program cost ranges from $13-$30/week. Classical Conversations is a co-op program which educates from a nondenominational Christian biblical perspective. Parents teach the Foundations portion (Pre-K through 5th grade) at home. This program utilizes song, movement, etc., and covers core curriculum subjects for all ages. This is one of the few programs that pairs with a drop-off for older students. Children 7th grade and up become a part of the “drop-off” program for the remainder of their middle and high school education.
What are the next steps to enroll my child in a home school?
First, you need to file a notification form with your assigned district within five days of your designated public school start date so your child will not be reported as truant.
After filing your notification form, you will receive an excusal letter from the Superintendent. COVID-19 has caused delays in processing, so this may take longer than usual. Your excusal letter will include some suggested resources and curriculum requirements. You won’t have to log or provide proof of your child’s required 900 hours, but parents are often surprised how fast time flies when their child is learning.
Your fellow Ohio homeschooling parents are your greatest resource! Join a Facebook group like “Ohio Homeschooling Parents” where you can gain access to their files section and connect with veteran homeschoolers eager to help. If you decide to pursue a full curriculum kit or an a-la-carte teaching strategy, you can compare curriculum books and programs on CathyDuffyReviews.com.