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Homeschool Q & A

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I'm new to homeschooling. Can you help me translate some of the jargon?
If you're a newcomer to homeschooling and are a bit confused by the terminology, you've come to the right place! You can look it up and learn more in our Homeschool Glossary!
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Is homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but requirements vary from state to state. The Fourteenth Amendment of our Constitution guarantees our right to liberty and privacy. The freedom of religion granted by the First Amendment allows us to educate our children in accordance with our beliefs. The various states, however, interpret these rights differently in their legislation regarding homeschooling. We suggest that you contact the homeschool organization in your particular state in order to understand the specific requirements in your area of the country.
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Why do parents decide to homeschool?
Many parents homeschool their children in order to provide spiritual training and nurture character development in a safe environment that maximizes academic achievement.

Homeschooling provides a safe and controlled environment, physically and spiritually. Parents can protect their children from the negative influences, including teachings with which they disagree (such as secular humanism or New Age and the occult), unhealthy peer pressure and unsafe environments. Within the safety of the home, children can develop self-confidence and independent thinking free from the pressure to conform to their peer group.

Parents can include spiritual training to instill positive values. Christian parents can teach academic subjects from the perspective of a biblical worldview.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. -- Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NIV

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. –Proverbs 9:10

Parents can design a specific educational program that meets their children's needs and gives them the individual attention that they need. One-on-one tutoring has obvious educational advantages compared to a classroom in which one teacher attempts to meet the differing needs of many children. Homeschooling allows for the quality time necessary to nurture children in all areas of learning in order to help them achieve their full potential.

Homeschooling provides a healthy social environment. Time spent learning together enhances family unity and relationships. Quality time enables children to explore their interests and to reflect on what they have learned. Flexible scheduling allows parents to plan learning and activities according to what is most convenient for the family.

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Who can homeschool? Am I qualified to teach my children?
Anyone with the desire to help children learn in the context of the home environment can homeschool. As a parent, you have the greatest love and commitment to your children and know them better than anyone else.

We have all the advantages of the small student-teacher ratio, much better discipline than in most classrooms, far less busywork, a wide choice of good text materials and above all, a deep bond of love with our children. – Home Educating with Confidence, How Ordinary Parents Can Produce Extraordinary Children by Rick & Marilyn Boyer, page 15.

Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute compared the standardized test scores of over 16,000 homeschool students nationwide. The average for children educated in the public schools is the 50th percentile. Homeschool children scored in the 73rd percentile or above in all subjects. His 1997 national study Strengths of Their Own, showed that there is little correlation between a parent's educational level and their children's test scores.

Many resources are available to provide you with on-the-job training:

  • Explore Christianbook.com to locate the resources you need to successfully homeschool your children.
  • Contact the homeschool organization in your state. Local support groups in your area provide ideas and affirmation. Visit our Homeschool Organizations by State page.
  • Homeschool conventions include workshops offering practical instruction in teaching methods.
  • Homeschool publications contain helpful articles to inform and encourage homeschooling parents.
  • Trust in God to provide the wisdom you need
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Can I teach several children at once?
Subjects such as science, history, and the Bible can be taught to several age groups at once. The subject matter can be amplified with explanations that enable each child to understand the material. You can tutor younger children in basic skills while your older students work independently.
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What about socialization?
Until the advent of public education about a hundred years ago, all children learned their social skills in the home. Your children can learn the necessary social skills to enable them to relate well to others of all ages in a homeschool setting. They can interact with parents, siblings, and other children and adults under parental supervision. While children educated outside the home are more likely to be influenced by their peers and teachers, the absence of peer pressure can foster self-confidence, independent thinking and lasting relationships with family and church friends.
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I'm thinking about homeschooling my children. What can I do to get ready?
  • Know your state's legal requirements. Refer to our Homeschool Organizations by State page.
  • Plan to visit a homeschool convention in your area. These fairs offer speakers and products, and are an excellent opportunity to ask questions and examine homeschool material in person.
  • Contact your local homeschool network. Talking with parents who have experienced the joys of homeschooling can be very helpful and encouraging, giving you the self-confidence you need to get started.
  • Streamline your home by organizing schedules and chores. Do a thorough "spring cleaning" and toss out unneeded possessions. Establish a learning area with space for studying and learning materials.
  • Learn more about homeschooling by reading one or two basic books.
  • Choose materials that are appropriate for your children and that you feel comfortable using. Many homeschool parents begin with a structured curriculum, then improvise and blend various materials as they gain experience and confidence.
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Are there any homeschooling resources that I can contact?
One of the first organizations you should consider contacting is the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They are national advocates for parental rights and religious freedom who defend parents' rights to homeschool their children:

Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134
Phone: (540) 338-5600
Fax: (540) 338-2733

The National Home Education Reasearch Institute based in Oregon and Washington, D.C., researches homeschooling in the U.S., provides conference speakers, and works with local and national legislators on issues related to homeschooling. Their findings provide statistical affirmation for the decision to homeschool.

Dr. Brian D. Ray, President
National Home Education Research Institute P.O. Box 13939
Salem, OR 97309
Phone: (503) 364-1490
Fax: (503) 364-2827
Email: mail@nheri.org

Mr. William A. Lloyd
National Home Education Research Institute
12221 Van Brady Road
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-7924
Phone: (301) 372-2889
Fax: (301) 782-7256
Email: wlloyd@nheri.org

Helpful homeschooling publications:

Homeschooling Today
P.O. Box 1608
Ft. Collins, CO 80522-1608
Phone (954) 962-1930
Email: Subscriptions@homeschooltoday.com

The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland, OR 97294
Phone: (503) 253-9633
Fax: (503) 253-7345
Email: tth@TeachingHome.com

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What's the best curriculum for my child?
There is no single best curriculum for homeschooling. Many parents use comprehensive curriculums for the first year or so, then experiment with other approaches as they gain confidence.

Homeschool parents are artisans with an array of tools and techniques at their disposal. The materials and methods that you choose will depend on your family's specific needs and preferences. Here are some questions to help you focus on your family's unique needs:

  • What are your children's ages?
  • How many children are you teaching?
  • What subjects are you teaching?
  • What have you attempted in the past?
  • How much time do you have available to prepare and teach?
  • Do you prefer: a scripted curriculum or an outline that allows for improvisation?
  • Are you looking for material to cover an entire academic year?
  • Do you want to use the same material for all subject areas?
  • What learning styles are most effective with your children?
  • Do they prefer workbooks or hands-on activities?
  • Do your children have special needs or varying abilities?
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What teaching method should I use?
You can choose among various teaching methods or combine elements of these approaches to create a custom-made curriculum for your child.

Textbooks and Workbooks Christian publishers offer quality textbooks covering particular academic subjects in a logical sequence of topics. Some texts also have consumable workbooks available that reinforce the lessons.

Principle Approach Notebooks for each subject are maintained by recording biblical principles, personal applications, and pertinent notes and information gleaned from a variety of sources.

Unit Studies Units of study integrate information about a particular theme such as space travel from several different subject areas like language arts and math. This interdisciplinary method allows for project-oriented, hands-on learning.

Living Books Living books are stories written by a single author about a subject that particularly fascinates them. Various activities supplement learning from good literature and non-fiction. Karen Andreola's "One-Page Test" helps you identify living books:

First examine the book to see if it promotes noble thoughts rather than a jaded or misleading outlook on life. If the book captures your interest it very well may capture that of your children's. Once you have determined its general suitability, simply give the book—whether fiction or non-fiction—the one page test. Start reading it aloud to your children and look for signs that it is opening the doors of their minds. Stop at the end of the first or second page. You will know you have found a living book if you hear them plead, "Read me more!" A Charlotte Mason Companion, Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, by Karen Andreola, page 97.

Supplemental Enrichment Activities Your child may want to participate in community and church sports teams. Museums, art schools, parks and zoos often offer special classes and activities. Christian schools in your area may offer courses in drama, athletics, or music to homeschool families. Homeschool families have the advantage of being able to plan their field trips for times when museums and parks aren|72329|1016't crowded.

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Why doesn't Christianbook.com sell homeschool titles by certain publishers?
Some homeschool publishers only sell their products directly to the customer. Others are willing to sell us their products, however they want to control the prices that we charge so that we will not be competitive, and we are unable to offer a discount.
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The answers in my answer book don't match the textbook. What's the matter?
Although books sometimes can be defective, the problem is most likely a result of differing editions, especially in the case of curriculum materials such as Saxon or Alpha & Omega. This problem can occur when a textbook is reused with younger siblings. If a new edition of the text has come out in the meantime, when you purchase a new set of student materials it may not match the text book that you used in a past year. Unless it is the first edition of a text, the edition number is normally printed on the cover of the textbook under the title, for example: Second Grade Math, third edition. If you don't see an edition mentioned on the cover, check on the copyright page, which is found right after the title page. The edition will be found printed in italics under the copyright date.
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I'd like to homeschool my special needs child. Do you have any suggestions?
Christianbook.com can offer you various resources to help you determine how best to homeschool your special needs child. A good place to begin is Sharon Hensley's reassuring and informative book Home Schooling Children with Special Needs, Turning Challenges into Opportunities