Most people would agree that deciding how to educate one’s children is a serious personal choice. Although some may robotically send their children off to public school, most parents don’t easily decide whether to give public schools a chance. Whether deciding to send a child to public school, taking on the obligations of homeschooling, or committing to the financial burden of private education, parents struggle, and then wonder if they have made the right decision.
Choices must be made according to the needs of each child and the dynamics of each family. Whatever choice parents make, monitoring and readjustments are required to be certain all is going as well as possible, as parents try to rear children to be persons of good character, ready for the challenges of adult life as citizens, and providers for their own families.
Regulations on homeschoolers vary from state to state. The following requirements are by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
No notice: No state requirement for parents to initiate any contact.
Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Low regulation: State requires parental notification only.
Alabama, Arizona, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
States with moderate regulation: State requires parents to send notification, test scores, and/or professional evaluation of student progress.
Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
States with high regulation: State requires parents to send notification or achievement test scores and/or professional evaluation, plus other requirements (e.g., curriculum approval by the state, teacher qualification of parents, home visits by state officials).
Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
In some parts of America, there are many homeschooled children while in others a family can feel estranged and looked upon as weird for making such an “unusual” choice. Support from other homeschoolers can be critical to a successful start and, thanks to the internet, support is available no matter where one resides.
Here is a list of websites and books that will help families make decisions about homeschooling, and which will also be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about the subject.
- Home School Legal Defense Association: www.hslda.org
- National Home Education Research Institute: www.nheri.org
- Homeschool World, the website of Practical Homeschooling magazine: www.home-school.com
- The Homeschool Post (encouraging, informing, and connecting the homeschool community): hsbapost.com
- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
- Educating the WholeHearted Child, by Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson
- For the Children’s Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
- How Children Learn, by John Holt
- So You’re Thinking about Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It, by Lisa Whelchel