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How Homeschooling Works

Deciding to Homeschool

My grandmother wanted me to get an education, so she kept me out of school.

- Margaret Mead

­Deciding whether or not to homeschool your child (or children) is an enormous decision. As ­with any other major decision, it helps to do some research. If you know any people who homeschool their children, talk to them. Find out what they like and dislike about the process. If you don't know anyone, ask around and see if your friends or neighbors know someone. There are also several Web sites, message boards and chat groups about homeschooling (see the links section at the end of this article). The local library is a great resource, too. In addition to all-in-one reference-style books like "Homeschooling Almanac," by Mary and Michael Leppert, and "Homeschooling for Success" by Rebecca Kochenderfer and Elizabeth Kanna, you can find books like "Real-Life Homeschooling" by Rhonda Barfield, which tells the stories of 21 very different homeschooling families.

Here are some questions to think about when considering the decision to homeschool. You may want to write down your answers for reference.

Why do you want to homeschool?
Fully answering this question will, if you decide to homeschool, be of great help in choosing a method or style -- so be as explicit as you can be.

Can your family afford to homeschool?
The actual expense of the materials required to run a homeschool can range from as little as a few hundred dollars each year to much, much more. The real expense generally comes in the form of a lost salary. Traditionally, homeschool families find it necessary for one parent to manage the homeschool -- meaning there's no room for an outside job for that parent. However, with more and more folks working from home, this doesn't have to be the only scenario. In fact, some homeschooling families find it possible for both parents to work if a home-based business or telecommuting is involved. In this situation, with a creative schedule, both parents can share the role of "teacher" in their homeschool and have another job, too.

Do you feel qualified to teach your child/children?
Note that we phrase this, "Do YOU feel qualified?" Right now we're not talking about whether your state finds you legally qualified -- we'll talk about that a little later. This is about how you feel. Hopefully this is something you're already pretty confident about. However, if the idea of teaching your child sends you into a cold-chill panic, that's something very important to consider.

What does your child think about homeschooling?
Whether you're starting out with a seven-year-old or a teenager, this is a good question. If, at this point, you're taken with the idea of homeschooling and your child is on board, too, that's a big plus. But if your child is not quite ready to pick out the homeschool colors and design the stationery, find out why. Make a list of pros and cons -- really discuss the issue. Key points could be made during the discussions that have an impact on the final decision. You may convince your child it's the right decision for now, or he/she may show you that it's not. It could be that you decide to give it a try on a trial basis. Make notes of these initial discussions and revisit the topic at the end of the first homeschool year. This process could be your very first official homeschool project.

Now, for the sake of this article, let's say you've decided to homeschool. What's next? You need to address the legal requirements of creating a home school. Let's take a look at a real-life example.