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Your Family’s Homeschooling Options by Mary McCarthy

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The following piece by veteran homeschooler Mary McCarthy explains the different programs and approaches that utilize the term “homeschooling” to help your family as you begin to explore what your family might want to do with an educational option to public school. This basic outline should help save you a lot of time. As Mary suggests, it’s important to do your research so you are sure that what you’re getting is what you really want. Parent at the Helm is happy to help people who want to get started with this exciting educational option!

Your Family’s Homeschooling Options by Mary McCarthy

As a parent you have many options to choose from to meet your state’s requirements to educate your child.  You have the freedom to choose an education that meets each child’s unique needs and fits your family’s lifestyle.  For many parents and children, it is a very rewarding experience, both academically and emotionally.


Homeschooling is an option parents have available to them to insure their child is educated.

The decision to homeschool is usually not an easy one.  For many parents it is a reaction to a school-based situation that seems to have no obvious solution within that system.  It may be the child’s difficulty in learning, or a bullying situation the staff seems oblivious to, or some other school-centered problem such as violence in the school or a child’s health concerns.

For other parents it’s a desire to see their child grow and not be raised by strangers.  For others, a child with unique talents can learn at their own pace.  There are probably as many reasons to homeschool as there are homeschool families.

Whatever your reason, homeschooling is an option parents have available to them to insure their child is educated.  Assuming you already know about public school, others include:

Independent  homeschool which is where a parent or guardian accepts legal responsibility for the outcome, creates curriculum, assembles materials and oversees the learning process.  For this option you need to comply with your state’s homeschool statutes. To find them visit:

You can also find a local support group at that website that will help you. Locals are familiar with school districts, state laws and the local customs when it comes to homeschooling.  Many sponsor assistance services like help locating curriculum, sports teams, tutoring (but don’t expect them to educate your child for you) social activities and field trips. Note that there are no federal education laws.  The federal government using funding to force mandates on public schools.  Schools are free to refuse the programs and the funding but almost none do.

Only you can judge whether you are qualified to oversee your child’s education even though you have taught them many things before they reached compulsory education age and are quite capable of continuing to do so.  If you do not feel comfortable or ready to accept this responsibility for whatever reason, you have other options.

You many enroll your child in a virtual school that operates nationally if your state permits them.  They are free to you because they are public schools paid for by the taxpayer.  In general, the child does their lessons over the computer (which may or may not be loaned by the school) and a parent or guardian oversees the child at home.  Because they are public schools they must meet all the same laws and regulations as any other public school in your state, including testing and No Child Left Behind mandates.  However, you may be responsible for subjects like physical education or state history if they are required by your states public school laws as well as shipping costs.  Your child may earn a public school diploma with this option.  To learn more about virtual public schools like K12, Connections, Insight Schools or IQ Academy (among others) google ‘your state’ and ‘virtual school.’

If your state does not permit virtual schools, you may still be able to enroll your child, but it will be necessary to pay tuition.  If this option interests you, contact the schools and ask for more information.

It is not uncommon for parents to begin homeschooling through a virtual school, then tire of the regimentation and schoolish conditions before deciding to independently homeschool their own children as their confidence increases.

Some states permit Charter Schools, which can take many forms from public schooling to homeschooling.  The term ‘charter’ refers to the local school district ‘chartering’ a school in their district.  They remain public schools and part of a school district.

There are many private “homeschools” on the Internet.  Some are very good, often extension schools of mainstream private schools, but others are not.  In most states – if not all – anyone can start an Internet school. It does not seem to require any permit or license.   In order to make a wise selection be prepared to thoroughly learn all you can about your choice before sending any money.  They are not regulated and any diploma they offer is only as good as their reputation.

In some states public school districts are permitted to capitalize on homeschooling’s success by creating “homeschool programs.  Your child is enrolled in the local public school and the district receives the funding for that child, so it is NOT homeschooling, it is public school.  The public school assists parents with obtaining curriculum (but not religiously based materials, because it is a public school) and monitors progress to assure the family is complying with state public school requirements not homeschool statutes.   Generally, your child will be required to attend public school for a day or two each week to receive instruction.  Many public school parents who choose this option are expected to participate or complete home educator programs.  Your child may earn a diploma from your local public school through one of these programs.  For more information ask you local public school if they have such a program and how it works.

With a wise, well-researched choice, you can expect  your child to be educated in a way that is right for your family and them.

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