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All articles are presented to stimulate thought and assist Christian families in homeschooling their children. Articles may or may not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the management of

Frequently Asked Questions About Homeschooling

Special Situations

  1. What about talented and gifted kids?
  2. When are your child's problems behavior or learning related?
  3. How do you homeschool children with special needs? Does homeschooling a child with disabilities require more commitment from their parents than of parents who have able bodied children ?
  4. How can a single parent homeschool?
  5. What do we do if we have a family crisis arise and can't homeschool for a while?
  6. What about homeschooling an "only child?"

What about talented and gifted kids?

This factor caused our final parting with the public school system. Despite the many programs for gifted kids in the public schools, the system is geared to the average or slightly below average student. The gifted program where we are would take the student out of the classroom for "enrichment" for about 4 hours per week. During that time, they got to study some fun topic like Ancient Egypt while everyone else was grinding away on division problems. Remember that during the other 28 +/- hours in the week, the gifted child is sitting in class twiddling his/her thumbs or worse yet, making trouble, while everyone else is STILL grinding away on division problems. With homeschool, you gear the speed of learning completely to the child. If a concept is difficult, you slow down. If they've gotten the idea, you skip some of that practice. The best part is that if a brief discussion of, for example, the snake slithering by in the back yard, sparks an interest, you can embark on a full-fledged, in-depth study of reptiles, amphibians, food chains, rain forests, or whatever gives your child the thrill of learning.--Martha R.

Firstly, they are often incorrectly diagnosed ADD or ADHD by teachers. Unless you have a very competent pediatrician, you're bored but gifted child could be so diagnosed. Before drugging your child, consider at least one, and possibly the best, alternate view, Talking Back to Ritalin: What Doctors Aren't Telling You About Stimulants for Children, by Peter Breggin, M.D. Secondly, once you begin homeschooling, there are dozens of ways your child can expand his or her abilities even if you, yourself, don't have that special knowledge. Don't be afraid to let your child call people or organizations involved in the "real thing" to find out information. Most people very much enjoy such a call from an interested child. It gives them a chance to explain their own work, something which is very important to them. Check with local homeschooling groups and also search on the web for people or events who can help with your child's education in the direction of their gifts. This doesn't need to cost a lot. Lack of tutoring doesn't mean something else can't be a substitute: a children's interest group, homeschool co-op tutoring, accessible books on the subjects (even at a college library if they are too expensive to purchase), etc. And if they have a different talent or interest from yourself, give them a little room to grow in that direction. You may be surprised. Always be flexible enough to follow their interest for awhile. The learning of subjects doesn't have to start and stop on the hour. --Chuck S.

When are your child's problems behavior or learning related?

It's hard to know the answer to this question without spending some time with your child. I have yet to see a child who does not do better one-on-one with a loving mentor be that a parent, grandparent, older sibling, or family friend. Spend some time with your child, and get to know him. You'll be able to work through these issues with much more success. -- Martha R.

Does homeschooling a child with disabilities require more commitment from their parents than for other children?

The commitment required to homeschool a child depends, I believe, more on the individual child than on whether the child does or does not have a disability. For example, homeschooling my compliant son who has high functioning autism probably requires less commitment from my husband and me than would homeschooling a child with no disability but who was rebellious and oppositional. Still, homeschooling my autistic son has admittedly required more commitment from us than did homeschooling his older, also compliant, non-autistic siblings, but the difference wasn't as great as one might have thought it would have been!

However, rather than comparing the commitment required to homeschool a child with special needs vs. the commitment to homeschool a child without special needs, a more relevant comparison might be that between the commitment required to homeschool a child with special needs vs. the commitment required to have him appropriately educated in public school. As homeschoolers, my dh and I are probably spending less time and energy (and definitely less emotional turmoil) homeschooling our autistic son than we would have expended battling a recalcitrant public school system to obtain an appropriate education for him (i.e., getting an appropriate IEP and then, even harder, getting it implemented). -- Caron

How do you homeschool children with special needs?

This question can be answered in a couple ways. Legally, how do you homeschool children with special needs, and pragmatically, how do you homeschool children with special needs?

Legally: The laws on homeschooling in general, and homeschooling special needs in particular, vary from state to state, and the application of those laws differ from county to county and even from school district to district within a given county. Although IDEA is federal law, how it is applied can vary. I would recommend contacting and joining Home School Legal Defense, especially if your child already has an active public school IEP. In our case, since our school district would not offer services to any privately educated (be it homeschool or traditional private school) student, I closed our son's IEP before we started homeschooling. (Even if the public school had offered services, those services would have had to have been both necessary and very difficult to obtain elsewhere in order for us to have traded the freedom of private homeschooling for the intrusive control of a public school IEP.)

Pragmatically: I will limit my response in to one area, as a more complete answer would largely depend on the specific characteristics of the child in question, the homeschooling parent(s), and the particular situation.

When homeschooling a child with special needs, your approach to academics could be divided into two distinct, yet overlapping realms: With a particular activity or assignment, is your primary goal to help your child improve areas of weakness, or is it to help him work around areas of weakness? For example, when we first brought our son home from public school special education, one of my goals was to help improve his auditory processing, which was an area of weakness for him. Towards that end, I read aloud a lot to him with the book closed, even though imparting factual knowledge by reading aloud was slower and more inefficient than, for example, reading to him aloud while he read along in the book. I also used some programs specifically designed to improve auditory processing. In contrast, when the goal was content mastery (e.g., in math), rather than trying to improve areas of weakness, I made sure he had his book open and was following along as I read and explained aloud. I also made frequent use of a dry erase board to illustrate concepts. Using the dry erase board and having his book open allowed him to utilize his relative strengths in visual processing to accommodate his relative weakness in auditory processing.

These two approaches, of course, are not mutually exclusive. However, conceptualizing activities and assignments in this manner has been helpful to me as I have tried to decide upon methods of instruction.

The above examples illustrate one of the great advantages to homeschooling, whether you are homeschooling a child with special needs or one without special needs: the ability to tailor the educational approach to the specific individual needs of the child. For responses to more specific questions, please ask on the Special Needs board here! There, you can have the benefit of the experience of more parents than just me. -- Caron

For me, it has become a fairly seamless part of our lives. My son is a joy to teach! I don't have a frame of reference as to teaching multiple children or for disabilities other than PDD-NOS and ADHD. And because I have never homeschooled anyone before, I can't even say if my son is easier or harder to teach than any other child. But I can say that sending him to the traditional school was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I was watching my sweet boy slip away before my eyes, but I was scared to pull him out. With much prayer, and a leap of faith, here we are. I know the Lord was telling me, "See! I told you it would be fine!" -- VA Fran in MI

See the following for help with special needs situations:

How can a single parent homeschool?

I can only address this from my situation and I know that each single parent's situation is very different. I homeschooled my older children for 13 years before my husband and I divorced. I went from strict textbook-school-at-home to unit study, project-oriented education over the years. After the divorce I was financially able to stay at home for several years while I went back to school to finish my education. During this time my older children were still homeschooled and the younger went either to Christian preschool or the public Montessori school in our town. When I went to work full time (teaching in a Christian school) both younger boys were full time public Montessori and the older children had graduated from our home school. My youngest began displaying a lot of behavioral problems and was diagnosed as ADHD. He has also been tested by special education and found to have several minor learning problems as well a vision difficulties. These all combined to make school a horrible place for him. I quit my job to take a (are you ready for this?) substitute teaching job that paid more than full time private school. I brought JD home and within two months his reading level jumped almost a year. I use Charlotte Mason with very short lessons and unit studies with a lot of hands-on activities that JD seems to need. We only "school" one to two hours a day so it's not too hard to fit in around my working schedule. During the summer, when I don't work, we will spend a little more time. Days I work he goes to a babysitter (he's 8-year-old). So far this is working. Advice to other single parents who want to homeschool? Look at all options in your situation. Do you have family who can pitch in if you work outside the home? Is there another homeschooling family who might trade some responsibilities with you? Is your child old enough and responsible enough to be along for some time during the day? (I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving any child under the age of 18 alone all day every day!) Limit your expectations to reality. You do not have enough time or energy to take on another full time job - but homeschooling doesn't need to be full time to be successful. You know your child(ren) better than anyone else on earth. What is best for them? Finally, pray about it. God knows you and your child even better than you do and if it is His will that you homeschool, you'll find a way. --Lorinda

Yes! I was widowed when my children were 13, 10, 8, and 6. We have continued homeschooling since then. I won't say it's easy! However, if you have the commitment and feel called to do it, the Lord will provide everything you need. -- Martha R.

See our Christian single homeschooling parent message board for on-going support.

What do we do if we have a family crisis arise and can't homeschool for a while?

We homeschooled the entire time my dear husband was fighting cancer. We homeschool year round with a lighter schedule in the summer. Children find comfort and thrive on a schedule so while my husband was recovering from surgeries, I would do some school in the morning while my in-laws visited him in the hospital and then I would go to visit in the afternoon/evening. Homeschooling is SO flexible that you can take some time off when you need to. If you need to travel, you can take your materials along with you and continue where ever you are. You can even count the trip as a field trip!! You are NEVER behind because you set the pace.--Martha R.

What about homeschooling an "only child?"

Our family homeschools an "only child". Actually, we also have an 18 year old daughter who is out of school now. Our other daughter (presently 6th grade) is homeschooled. I find it very easy to homeschool. I know what my daughter dislikes (textbooks and worksheets) and likes (hands-on activities and games) and can tailor our studies to fit her needs. With the Lord's help, I am overcoming my desire to "know it all" and then teach it. Now I am enjoying learning right along with my daughter. As a matter of fact, she often "teaches" me about life science. The need for socialization can be met through homeschool support groups, church youth groups, Girl Scouts, dance lessons, etc. Don't forget though, socialization can also be met through visiting nursing homes, the (non-contagious) sick, the poor and needy. --Barbara C.

My dear daughter is a six-year-old only child. I could see when my child was still preschool age that she had very good social skills when around other children. I did not expect these to disappear merely because I didn't choose to send her away from home for her education. Actually, I don't think that a formal school setting is conducive to learning these skills. There are balls and jump ropes for recess, but sharing is not taught - instead it is whoever can get to them first gets to use them for that recess period. LOL, it is more like speed is taught. The same with art supplies - those kids who come home with paintings all done in black and browns did not do this because they have dark feelings to express on their paper, but rather because they didn't feel like fighting for the brighter colors. Try to persuade your spouse to sit through a school day and observe in the class where your son would be placed. You will find that it is the Law of the Jungle that is emphasized and not that of courtesy and charity. Now some say that the kids need to learn the Law of the Jungle (survival to the fittest, or the fastest, or the smartest) in order to survive in the corporate jungle where many will reside in adulthood; but I personally believe that Christians should teach a biblical worldview toward behavior and problem solving techniques which will stand by them wherever they are. I prefer to think of socialization as character development, and I cannot begin to think about teaching character without beginning with the Bible, the only guide your son should ever need to teach him about how to act and behave around others. Your son can also learn Christian courtesy and charity by being around other Christians of all ages in his formative years. Yes, provide him with ample opportunities of being one of a group, but I believe it is better in our dangerous culture, to be selective about the groups. Sunday school, church youth programs such as AWANAs and Young Pioneers, homeschool or Christian boy scout troops, 4-H Clubs, team sports, etc.

Remember that public schooling is an invention of this century. Most people received an education at home or with a tutor in the past. If the government schools are supposed to provide socialization that cannot be learned outside of a school setting, then you would expect the children of our times to be more courteous, more sharing, more sociable and pleasant than the children of the last century. Think about it. --Laura in TX

Socialization, is that the whole purpose of schools??? Why is it that people so often ask that question -- they never ask, "But will he get an education as good as the public school?" Since when did socialization become the main goal???

I have an only son (age 8 1/2) who has been an only child since just under one!!! Although his dad lives just an hour away, he does not visit often. His dad had some of the same objections to homeschooling (there I must disagree with you, though, as they are not valid objections). I showed him that his son would not be deprived the opportunity to interact with other kids, but that it would be in an environment that encouraged decent social interaction. Who makes a better teacher of manners: other kids his own age, or adults to be role models? By homeschooling, we have MORE time to interact with other kids! If he were in school, he'd get home in the afternoon, do his homework, feed the animals, eat dinner, watch a bit of TV, then sleep. By homeschooling, he has the time and energy to enjoy lots of activities with other kids. So far, he has (not all at the same time): taken lessons in horseback riding, gymnastics and ice skating; been in Cub Scouts for two years (and earned the most awards of anyone in his den); participated in sports every season -- soccer, baseball, basketball; and of course practiced his "school" skills by attending Sunday School and VBS. We also belong to a group of homeschoolers who meet twice a month to play together. And, he is out in the "real world" with me all day, so he learns to deal with all situations and all ages of people, not just those in a classroom. In addition, he has his own business, selling Usborne Books. And, we have the time to have friends over often, especially to spend the night (since we don't have to get up early Monday morning to get to school). His social skills greatly exceed those of kids in public schools! Believe me, my son is ALL boy -- his behavior is not perfect, but he's learning! Best of all, he has time to read many "real" books, not just get a quick textbook education that skims over subjects but never really looks at them in depth.

Last year, when his dad was visiting, we stopped in a store. The clerk commented on how nicely our son asked her a question -- my ex's response was, "We homeschool." (while I'm looking at him thinking "Who's this 'we'???") Then he went on to tell her that it's the BEST way to educate.

So, sign up for lessons and a sport and a club like Scouts, and show your son's dad that he doesn't need to worry! Oh, and show him the excellent books you plan to use to educate your son (since, last time I checked, that's the real goal of education) -- even if he hasn't bothered to ask!

PS...a note about Scouting: Scouting is an awesome program (especially for us single moms who might not otherwise do all the camping and outdoorsy stuff with our sons) but please don't have him join just any old pack, be sure it's a Christian pack. Here, your son can find men of God to be role models as well as mentors. Also, they will be encouraged to interact in a Christian manner with the other boys. And, YOU yourself will make friends who will last a lifetime! --Brenda

I'm a homeschooler of an only child. I think one of the most difficult things about homeschooling an only is the fact that the only child doesn't have siblings that are being schooled along with them plus a lot of times homeschooling is a very isolating situation. So you must keep the child engaged, challenged and get involved with a homeschool support group for outings, etc. Plus being an avid reader, I find in all of the many homeschool books I have read there is rarely anything about homeschooling an only child. All of the ones I've read mention families with anywhere from 3 to 10 or more kids. It would be nice read about 'only child' homeschool families. Sadly, the impression I get from people is 'why homeschool just one. Just send her out there to school. Why go through all of that for one'. And my response is if we are blessed with more kids they will be homeschooled as well. Homeschooling is a conviction, a choice and a blessing, for my family and me. -- Alesia W

Also see Homeschooling An Only Child, an article by experienced homeschooling moms.