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How Homeschooling Works

What is Homeschooling?

Photo courtesy A to Z Home's Cool
A homeschooler touring a pineapple field in Maui with his sister

Homeschooling, for legal reasons, is defined a bit differently state by state. For example, chapter 115C of the North Carolina General Statutes defines homeschooling this way:

    "Ho­me ­school" means a nonpublic school in which one or more children of not more than two families or households receive academic instruction from parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household.

In as much as the definition changes from state to sate, so do the legal requirements for establishing a home school (we'll talk more about this later). These laws usually kick in when your child is somewhere around the age of seven or e­ight. Before then, the schooling you provide within your home is of no real legal concern to the government. If you're wondering what type of "homeschooling" occurs at such a young age, here's a short list of some of the things a child learns before officially starting school:

­It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.

- Albert Einstein
  • How to talk
  • How to walk
  • How to run
  • How to play games
  • How to sing
  • How to get dressed
  • How to tie shoe laces
  • How to count to 10, 20 or more
  • How to recite the alphabet
  • How to recognize the letters of the alphabet
  • How to spell his name
Homeschooling in North Carolina
Homeschooled Students Statewide
North Carolina requires homeschooling parents to submit a "notice of intent" to the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education.

These are just the basics. There are many children who know how to read, do simple math, play a musical instrument, swim, dance and more, all before they're old enough to attend kindergarten. Usually, it's someone within the home -- a parent, grandparent, older sibling or guardian -- who helps the child learn to do these things. Every nature walk, pointing out various plants, insects and animals, is a learning experience. Every trip to the zoo is a learning experience. Even daily activities like grocery shopping and cooking are all learning experiences.

So, if a child's education is already off to such a great start at home, why rock the learning boat? The answer is simple: Homeschooling isn't for everyone. But it is definitely a good fit for some.

There are dozens and dozens of books and Web sites attesting to what a positive experience homeschooling can be for the entire family. Still, homeschooling requires a huge commitment, on the part of both the parents or guardians and th­e children themselves. It's certainly not a decision to be made lightly.

Let's take a look at some of the things you should consider if you're thinking about homeschooling.