Frequently Asked Questions
Are parents qualified to teach their children?
Yes, most parents have what it takes to homeschool their children. Parents love their children more and know them better than anyone else. They also want the best for their children. It is this love, knowledge and desire that makes the parent well suited to be the teacher for their children. That said, it does take effort to learn how to homeschool. The first thing we study is our children. The better we understand them, the better we will be able to teach them. We also need to study educational philosophies, learning styles, curricula (what kind and what's available) and how to teach different subjects. So, parents who love their children and are willing to put forth the effort make the best teachers for their children.
What about socialization?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions about homeschooling. The truth is that homeschoolers are generally better socialized than children who go to institutional schools. Parents are the best socializers, teaching their children how to get along with others. Many people have the misconception that homeschoolers are isolated and kept away from other children. This is not true for most homeschoolers. Homeschoolers have many opportunities weekly to be with people outside their family. One difference is that homeschoolers have an opportunity to socialize with people of all ages, not just their age mates. Therefore they learn to get along with different ages.
The age barrier is not as strong with homeschooled children as it usually is with children who go to school. Studies bear this truth out. There have been several studies to evaluate the socialization of homeschooled children and they have all shown that the homeschooled students have social skills on a par with or better than students taught in a classroom. Homeschool students tend to be more inclusive of people who are different from themselves, and homeschool graduates believe that homeschooling better prepared them to engage the real world.
When can we start homeschooling?
That depends on what you really mean by that question. If you mean when can you actually start working with your child, that process begins at birth. As you parent your child, doing all of the things that a good parent should do, you are homeschooling. There are appropriate learning activities at all ages, and there are books available to teach a parent about these stages of development and what can be done at each stage.
The time to start book work, such as reading, writing and arithmetic depends on the readiness of your child. There is no right age for all children to start these activities. In reference to the North Carolina law, the compulsory attendance age is seven. So, if you have started in the early years, the year that your child turns seven you need to notify the state that you are opening a homeschool. For older children, it is recommended that you notify the state in the middle of the summer before the school year starts. If you are withdrawing a student from a school in mid-year, it is recommended that you wait until you get confirmation from DNPE that they have received your notification.
Where do we get our books?
Homeschoolers generally get their curriculum and other resources from two main sources, book fairs and catalogs. NCHE's annual book fair is the biggest book fair in the state with over ninety vendors. It is held on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in Winston-Salem.
There are other smaller book fairs held throughout the state. These book fairs are usually sponsored by local support groups. There are many vendors who cater to the needs of homeschoolers (see a partial list on page 18). Also, there are a few bookstores that carry homeschool materials; check with a local support group about this availability. Don't forget the public library. Wise homeschoolers will get to know how to use and what's available at their library. We are their best patrons.
How do I know what books to buy?
There is no simple answer to this question. There are many good products for homeschoolers to consider. Homeschool parents must study and research to determine the best curriculum for their family. There are books that describe the resources available. It is a good idea to talk to other homeschoolers about what has been successful and unsuccessful for them. Parents need to select leaning materials that fit their child's learning style and their family.
What do I tell the school about withdrawing my child?
All you need to tell the school is that you have notified DNPE that you have opened a homeschool and that you are withdrawing them from the school. It is best to document your decision with a letter and give the date at which you will start homeschooling.
How many hours a day should we have school?
This will vary by the age of the student. The older the student the more academics he will do. The law does not require a certain number of hours per day. Every homeschooling family needs to determine what will fit their family.
What courses does the state require my child to take?
The state does not set the curriculum for homeschoolers. It is up to the homeschooling parents to determine what courses their students take each year.
How much does homeschooling cost?
This varies greatly. The biggest cost is in the time and energy it takes from the parents, especially the one doing the primary teaching. Many times there is also the loss of a second income. A general estimate of curricula cost would be between $100 to $500 per student per year. It can be done for less, and, of course, a lot more can be spent.
Can homeschooled students go on to college?
Homeschoolers can, and many do, go to college. Homeschoolers go through much the same process as non-homeschoolers to get their student into college. There are many colleges who desire homeschoolers and welcome them. On the other hand, there are a few colleges who are still suspicious of the homeschooling process and make it more difficult for homeschooled applicants. However, this does not mean that we can not get accepted by these schools; we just have to work a little harder. In time, these schools will seewhat good students homeschool graduates make and will change their attitudes about us.
What is a local support group?
From the early 1980s homeschooling families have sought support, encouragement and fellowship from other likeminded parents. These groups of families united to form homeschool support groups. These groups are run by vol-unteering homeschooling parents. There are many support groups in the state, and they vary in size and personality. NCHE recommends that a homeschooling family join one of the groups in the local area. Support groups help the homeschooling parent by organizing opportunities for them to learn more about how to homeschool and encouraging them in their choice. Support groups also provide opportunities for the students to do things that are best done in a group such as field trips, choirs, sports, competitions, etc. Homeschoolers who join support groups are more likely to succeed in their homeschooling efforts.
If I start homeschooling, will my child still be able to participate in extracurricular activities at a public school?
Generally speaking homeschoolers do not participate in public school activities. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and it is up to the individual school to decide this. If you are interested in participating in an activity at a local public school, contact the principal to check on the possibility. Under current regulations, homeschool students can not play sports on public school teams.
Can someone else teach subjects to my child that I feel inadequate to teach?
This is not a simple question to answer. Because of the wording of our law there is a difference of opinion on this topic. (See page 20, "The North Carolina Law", for information on this subject.)
Can someone else homeschool my child?
According to the North Carolina law, a homeschool family can homeschool the children of one other family. NCHE does not provide information on families that are willing to homeschool other children. Very few families are willing to tackle the task of homeschooling children outside their family. However, even though this is rare, it does happen occasionally. It usually is done by homeschoolers who are family members or close friends during a time of crisis. Homeschooling is about parents teaching their own children, and this is the norm.
Can homeschoolers get financial support from the state?
Is it too late to start teaching my children at home?
It is never too late to start homeschooling. However, the sooner you start the better. There are great advantages to homeschooling during the first years of training. Families who start homeschooling later in the educational process will have difficulties to overcome, but the effort is usually worth it. Homeschooling is beneficial for students no matter when the process is begun.
What is a typical homeschool day?
Every homeschooler has their unique way of homeschooling. One of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability to plan your schooling to fit your family. Most homeschoolers do academics in the mornings and outside activities in the afternoons. As the students get older and need more academics, schooling may spread to the evening hours.
Can I homeschool during the summer?
Yes, many families homeschool year-round. This provides for more breaks throughout the year, and more continuity of study. However, many homeschoolers find that our culture makes it more difficult to homeschool during the summer. So, the type and intensity of schooling is likely to change during the summer months.
How does multiple family co-op teaching work for homeschoolers?
Homeschool co-ops can provide a positive element to the homeschooling process. A few families meet once a week (this is the usual, but it can meet less often). They pick a common topic to study and the mothers share the responsibility of planning an activity. The mothers are all present and involved in the activities (the children are not just dropped off for another mother to teach). During the rest of the week the children work on learning about the topic in their homes. Generally as the students get older, typically high school, parents specialize in a topic and add reinforcement to the student's learning in that area.