Where can I get help when I need it?

  • Textbooks, paper supplies, and other materials may be available from your local school. Some principals will bend over backwards to help homeschool families; others would like to avoid them. Although it is not a requirement for the principal to help homeschoolers, many are very willing to do so. If you would like to use school materials, contact the principal of your local school and set up an appointment to discuss your needs.
  • School districts often have 'textbook dumps,' where textbooks go that aren't used anymore. Ask your school district office, your homeschooling friends or your UHEA district leader where these places are.
  • Besides community education classes, many private schools and businesses offer classes. Computer stores generally teach classes (or know someone who does) on a variety of computer topics. Also, correspondence courses fill the needs of some families.
  • Tutors can be hired for subjects you find difficult to teach. Even top-notch high school students or older homeschoolers can make good tutors, and they aren't as expensive as college or community tutors.
  • The Parent Education Resource Centers (PERCs) found in many public libraries offer a wide variety of games and educational tools, curriculum, and helps that you can check out free of charge. To find out if there is a PERC near you, contact your local library.
  • The public library is usually your best and cheapest resource. If your nearest library is small or doesn't have what you want, consider paying a fee to use a larger library in your area. Many homeschoolers purchase only a math textbook and use the libraries as their main curriculum source for other subjects. Classes taught at conventions can show you how this is done.
  • The 4-H organization offers many individual projects and educational materials. Also, your local scouting office and county extension agency may offer classes, educational books and pamphlets that are wonderful for homeschool projects.

Literally hundreds of resources are available to homeschoolers. Besides the annual UHEA convention (which is packed with great ideas and information), you have UHEA district leaders, area leaders, and board members; the UHEA newsletter, Right At Home; local homeschool support groups and co-ops; members of your extended family and community; and public-school teachers and administrators who are often supportive and helpful. For curriculum, you can turn to homeschool catalogs; educational computer software and the Internet; public libraries; local schools; community education classes and activities; apprenticeship programs; private tutors or lesson exchanges with other homeschool families; advice from veteran homeschoolers; your own and your spouse's experience and talents; nature and the world around you; and life itself.

What if my parents/in-laws/neighbors/church leaders are antagonistic?

Negative attitudes toward homeschooling are usually due to lack of information. One family silenced criticism by pulling a book off the shelf of the home they were visiting and handing it to their six-year-old, who read it aloud fluently. The thing to remember is that your example will be more convincing than any statistics you can quote. Unfortunately it may take years for your family or neighbors to acknowledge your success, but most grandparents and friends are won over to homeschooling simply because it proves itself by producing confident, capable children.

You may also want to consider involving homeschool skeptics in your curriculum. Most people have a talent or skill they could share with your children. Or you might invite them to your home for a family dinner or activity. Nothing will make your point better than letting people see for themselves how well home- schooling works. At the same time, remember to be honest about your own concerns as well as considerate in answering their questions. Most outsiders are not The Enemy; in fact, they're probably concerned about the same thing you are: the effective education of our children.

How do you get your housework done?

If a homeschool mom tries to maintain the house and do all the teaching single-handedly, the situation can become unbearable. As in other areas, you do what works for your family, but a good way to start is to make housework part of your curriculum. It's called Life Skills!

How many homeschoolers are there?

At this time we have approximately 7300 families in the UHEA database. Estimates of the number of homeschoolers nationally have ranged as high as two million, though these statistics are not always reliable. The fact is: no one knows exactly how many children are being educated at home, either in Utah or in the United States. The only sure thing is that the number is growing every year.

What about college?

One of the best-kept secrets in education today is that a high school diploma is not required for college admission. In fact, the only profession in Utah still requiring a high school diploma is law enforcement. Most colleges, even the prestigious Ivy League schools, admit students on the basis of their performance on tests like the ACT and by compliance with that school's particular admission requirements. Many excellent colleges even give preference to homeschooled students because their experience with homeschoolers has been so good.

Can you teach junior high and high school at home?

Definitely! This age is a great time for more emphasis on academics, and many teens prefer homeschool because they recognize its efficiency. They can get their academic work done more quickly and have time left to play a musical instrument, practice gymnastics or basketball, serve vocational apprenticeships, pursue their own consuming interests, and generally get on with real life. In fact, many homeschoolers have been able to enter college early because they were homeschooled through high school.

Dual enrollment (attending public school part-time while homeschooling) is also an option in Utah. Some students choose to attend high school classes like algebra, drama, orchestra, debate, or journalism, and free-lance the rest of their education at home with great success. Some school districts will work with homeschooling families to arrange for class credits and a high school diploma, if desired. 

What about socialization?

This is probably the most-often-asked question of all. However, homeschooled children have plenty of people and activities to help them learn social skills. They have neighbors; extended family members; church leaders, teachers, and peers; community sports teams and coaches; community education classes, 4H, scouting, apprenticeships, gymnastics, hobby clubs; and of course, they have other homeschoolers to play with. Because home-educated children learn their social skills from their own parents and within social groups their parents select, they grow up feeling poised and capable in almost any social setting. They become civilized rather than 'socialized.'

What do homeschoolers do all day?

Most people who ask this question are operating out of their own public-school experience and are hoping to be handed a schedule showing reading at nine o'clock, math at ten, history at eleven, and so forth. In fact, many homeschoolers do begin by patterning their homes after the public schools, but few of us do it for long, because we quickly find better ways. Home school is not just 'school' at home; it's a completely different approach to education. We feel that life itself is the best possible school.

What curriculum should I use?

This depends on what you want your child to learn, how much or how little structure works for you, what you feel is the best way to learn, and your child's personality. How much time should be spent at a desk? Developing artistic, musical, or physical talents? Going on field trips or apprenticing? Watching the grass grow? Some parents prefer a structured approach and follow a daily schedule, others choose unschooling, and many pick and choose from many approaches, using whatever works for each child, sometimes including part-time public school enrollment.

If your children have been in a classroom setting, they may need time to unwind and unlearn how they used to 'learn.' They may expect you to tell them what to do every minute. Home school will therefore be an adjustment both for you and for your children. Talk to them about it, and read them some passages from books about how other homeschoolers learn.

To help children who have been constantly entertained and told how to do everything, you may want to have them draw up a list of 'things to do' for themselves. Let them refer to this list when they're bored -and they will sometimes be bored! Do not panic. They don't need to be entertained by you. In fact, it's harmful to their development to be constantly spoon-fed and entertained. In order to discover their talents and interests, they must search within themselves, and they can't do this if they are being constantly bombarded with outside stimuli.

Avoid the temptation to plug in an electronic game or video to entertain them. There are times when watching videos and working on the computer are educational, but don't use either the TV or the computer to eliminate boredom. You may want to type up a schedule for your children to follow. Then change the schedule every few months or weeks to allow for more and more flexibility, to wean your children gradually from depending so much on you.

Read the articles about various approaches to learning, talk to your homeschooling friends to discover what works for them, check out possible resources in your own community, and then make your own decisions according to your children's needs. 

Can I really do this?

The most common misperception about homeschooling is that you must have a college degree or some other special qualifications to teach your own children. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are perfectly qualified to teach your children just because they are your children. No matter how competent and devoted a professional teacher may be, that teacher can never know or love your child as deeply as you do. And since love underlies all true learning, homeschooling parents actually have an advantage over professional teachers.

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