The 5 W’s of Homeschooling


Who, What, When, Where, Why? Answering these questions about homeschooling might lead you to lay a foundation to start schooling at home or find a new goal in homeschooling.

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” -C. Mason

Who are you homeschooling? In most states you can homeschool only the children that you are the parent or legal guardian of. While it might seem sweet to offer to homeschool your sister's kids or your grandchildren, it might not be legal to do so. Check your state requirements before you sign up to teach other children. This rule does not usually apply to teaching co-ops offered by homeschool groups. In this scenario parents are just offering their knowledge on a subject and teaching a small class of children, and then their own children can take other classes offered. You can find legal information for your state here: Homeschooling your children gives you the time to get to know them as individuals and build a strong family unit.

"I have used the words "home schooling" to describe the process by which children grow and learn in the world without going, or going very much, to schools, because those words are familiar and quickly understood. What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth in the world is not that it is a better school than the schools but that it isn't a school at all. " -J. Holt

What is homeschooling? Again, you need to check your state requirements as to what they define homeschooling as, how many hours need to be attained each year, if you need to file a notice of intent, how attendance is kept track of, if you need to be a certified teacher, if they need lesson plans and so on. Homeschooling is learning at home, this can be unschooling, religious centered, child-led, Montessori, classical, unit study, boxed curriculum, eclectic; there are so many ways to homeschool that it just doesn't fit into a neat little boxed definition. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to try different teaching methods and tools to accomplish your goal.

“ object is to show that the chief function of the child--his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life--is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses...” -C. Mason

When can you homeschool? You can homeschool before a child reaches the age that you need to put them in public school (usually 6, but check your state.) You can homeschool during the summer if your child is in public school and you aren't ready to make the switch. Some parents find that they homeschool every day after school, doing hours of homework! Also, in your learning time you get to pick when you start your day. Do you have a late riser? Start in the afternoon. Does your husband work odd hours? Do school when he is at work and enjoy your time as a family. I have known families who school from 7-10am, 10pm-1am and 8am-4pm, they did what worked for them. Learning happens all the time, not just 8-3 on weekdays. Homeschooling helps you take advantage of learning opportunities and make the most of your child's time.

"I think children need much more than they have of opportunities to come into contact with adults who are seriously doing their adult thing, not just hanging around entertaining or instructing or being nice to children.” -J. Holt

Where do you homeschool? The great thing about learning is that it can happen anywhere. You don't need a dedicated school room to facilitate learning. I like having a room where I can find rulers, paper, pencils and schoolbooks all together - it works for us. Some people do school on the couch, in the car, at the library, at the kitchen table....they find a groove and flow with it. So much of learning happens in the world, not in a textbook, so homeschoolers take advantage of that and you will often find them at museums, parks, tours, field trips, and events that expand on something they learned about in school. Homeschooling takes the classroom out of a building and lets children explore the world.

Why do you homeschool? This should probably be the first question because it is the basis for why you do what you do. If you know why you want to homeschool, then you have thought about how it will affect your family. The first step in the journey is often the hardest because you don't know what homeschooling looks like. Maybe you have met a family or two, or maybe you saw a homeschooling family on TV - they might not be a good representation of homeschooling in general. Finding a good support group can help shore you up for the days ahead and give you like-minded people who can help you along. Homeschooling is not for every child or every family; those who choose this path know that they are doing what is right at that time for their children.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -R. Emerson

If you desire to do something, you read about it, think about it, research it and learn all you can about it. Homeschooling can be studied and read about, but when you start putting learning into action with your children - that is where homeschooling shines.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Some good reads about homeschooling:

The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom by Mary Griffith

Discover Your Child's Learning Style: Children Learn in Unique Ways - by Mariaemma Willis

The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith

How Children Learn (and How Children Fail) by John Caldwell Holt

The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child by Linda Dobson


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