After the responses to my article, What Does the Research Say About Homeschooling?, I realized that a large percentage of the population is in the dark about how homeschooling actually works and what goes on behind the closed doors of education at home. I myself was among that overwhelming percentage. While I am not for or against homeschooling, I have to admit that I was really curious about what this whole mysterious process entails. What happens if the child and parent have questions about the academic content? Who do they go to? How does the family acquire the materials? How do families connect with other families that homeschool?
Due to my curiosity and my desire to fill in others about the process, I went in search of parents who homeschool, so I could interview them about how it all works. Two wonderful, dedicated, and generous moms agreed to participate. Below is the interview with my Florida mom, Janet Sedano. Stay tuned for the next article, an interview with an Alabama mom.
Part 1: October 10, 2014
1. What State do You Live In?
We live in Florida.
2. How long have you been doing home schooling?
We’ve homeschooled about 14 years.
3. What grade is your child (or children) in?
I just graduated my daughter June 2014, our son is in 12th grade and dual enrolled in one class in college, and we have a daughter in varying grades in elementary (special needs).
4. Why did you decide to homeschool?
We met a family who homeschooled and were very impressed with the closeness between the kids and with their parents. Then I went to a homeschool convention and was even more impressed by the families. Everyone was so friendly, but the parents were genuinely happy to be with their children. The parents brought their children into the workshops to listen to the speakers. I never noticed the kids whining about wanting to leave or being bored. They sat close to their parents on the floor (leaving seats for the adults) either reading a book, writing or coloring. Oh, rarely saw kids with earbuds or playing handheld games. And the teenagers easily held conversations with adults and kids younger than themselves. A completely different dynamic than what I was accustomed to seeing.
5. If your kids went to public or private school before, what is better about homeschooling?
Kids are not segregated/separated by age. No bullying. No peer pressure. I can give my kids one on one attention. We have time for things that interest them, like horseback riding, ballet, gymnastics, computers. We have time to volunteer in our community. I can challenge my kids in the academic areas they are strong in while also helping them in the areas of weakness without frustrating them and still encouraging them. Most of all, we can work on their character and teach them our own beliefs, comparing them to other beliefs in our culture.
6. Is there anything about public or private school that you miss now that you are homeschooling?
The guidance in the high school years from a good guidance counselor, and one who does it all for free. I gave this question a lot of thought and almost answered “No”.
7. How does homeschooling work? Do you get the materials mailed to you? Do you have to order them? Are they automatically sent at regular intervals? Do they come all at one time for the whole school year or are they sent in sections? What do you do if you or your child doesn’t understand the work or material? How do you find out the information. Is there someone you can ask for help?
We’ve done different things and used different curricula throughout the years. Our curriculum has been purchased from homeschool curriculum vendors or used materials from other homeschooling families. With my oldest two, during the middle and high school years they have attended homeschool classes one day a week where they are taught by tutors using some of the best homeschool curricula. With my youngest, we use an online interactive curriculum (Time4Learning.com), and we supplement with a few other workbooks and educational activities and videos.
8. Are the materials free?
We have received free materials, as parents also often share materials. There are ways to homeschool for free or cheap. Through the use of the library, and there are courses through Florida Virtual homeschooling has been free at times. We can be creative in creating our own curriculum, especially with internet access and for elementary grade levels. However, there is also a plethora of high quality homeschool curriculum to choose from, which we also use.
9. How are your child’s skills tested? Does he/she take statewide tests or other tests? Where are the tests taken? At home or in a different location? Who supervises your child when taking a test?
My kids were evaluated during their first few years of elementary by a certified teacher. We took samples of their work and the teacher tested them orally. Once in about 4th grade, they started taking standardized tests. These tests were supervised by certified teachers and were at a designated location, like a private school or church with classroom loaned to us for this purpose. Most homeschooled students score above average.
10. How does your child feel about homeschool?
Our kids have never asked to go to a brick and mortar school. We have a large homeschool community, so we have many friends. My oldest, who wasn’t homeschooled, now wishes he had been….and is homeschooling their daughter. He was in high school when I started homeschooling his little siblings.
11. What social opportunities does your child have? How often does he/she attend social activities? Where does he/she go for the activities?
We have a very large homeschool community and participate in many of the same extra-curricular activities kids in a brick and mortar school have, such as yearbook club, drama club, competitive sports, homecoming and prom dances, public speaking/debate tournaments and so much more. Our kids have participated in all the aforementioned activities. We also have been in co-ops and homeschool classes.
12. How is your child’s cooperation, motivation, and participation when you are working with him/her? On a scale from 1 to 10 please rate (separately) your child’s cooperation, motivation, and participation.
My daughter who is now in college, likes workbooks, she likes writing and reading. So as long is it involved one of those, I’d rate her at an 7 or 8 in all. She has a hard time with deadlines. She prefers to work at her own pace. She’s learning this in college now. If it’s something she enjoys, she’s on it; if it’s a subject she doesn’t like (math), she drags her feet a little, but she gets it done.My son is very disciplined. So I would rate him at a 9 in everything.
My daughter who is developmentally delayed or has a learning disability, loves learning. We found the ideal curriculum for her and she just loves it. (Time4Learning.com) There have been times she’s been sick, needing rest, so we tell her ‘no school today’. She cries because she wants to do her Time4Learning. So I would rate her at a 9 or 10 in all.
13. How is your child performing academically? What kinds of grades is he/she currently getting? What are grades like year to year? If he/she went to public or private school before-did he/she do better or worse in public school?
My two older children have gotten As and Bs.
My oldest daughter has struggled through math, so at times the scores were Cs. But she’s doing fine in college.
My son is mostly As in everything. He’s also dual enrolled in college and is doing very well with As.
My youngest with the learning disability is in different grade levels. She struggles in math, but does very well in Language Arts. I don’t give her grades. I just work with her in every area, trying to improve in all areas.
14. Does your child have any special needs? If so, how do you address these needs through homeschooling?
My youngest does. I work with her at a one-on-one level. Her Time4Learning online program is interactive, which keeps her engaged. Some of the lessons are animated, which makes learning fun for her. The program also tracks her work through a progress report that gives her scores. I don’t show her these scores, but I use them to determine which lessons she needs to repeat and work on with more frequency. I also find other ways to help her understand concepts, in math, for example, through hands on activities or visual means. Because we homeschool, I am able to spend a lot more time with her as we work on on one. I’m also able to select the activities she enjoys participating in, such as ballet…this year she’s in a PE group, drama club and a book club where I attend with her. I’m able to observe her interaction with other kids. This helps me work on other areas with her related to conversations and social interaction. She has never been bullied. On the contrary, the kids of all ages give her extra attention and help her with dance steps, skits, crafts or with whatever they’re doing.
Part 2: October 13, 2014
1. How could someone go about finding a homeschool convention?
Contact local homeschool support groups, which I also recommend homeschoolers join. I would also do a Google search of my state homeschool organization. Usually it is these organizations that have these conventions…although sometimes local support groups do have their own smaller conventions.
2. Where could someone find a homeschool vendor?
Same answer as above.
Should they just do a Google search?
3. How will they know if the vendor is reputable?
All homeschoolers are familiar with reputable homeschool vendors. New homeschoolers should do their research and get connected with homeschooler organizations. And there are vendors for used homeschool curriculum. So you could do a search of those, too. The best way to find out if it’s a reputable vendor, is to ask other homeschoolers. Visit homeschool blogs to find what others use and where they purchase materials. Also visit homeschooling forums and Facebook pages. The best resource is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. All homeschoolers should join this organization. They’re a great source for information, but they also provide excellent legal assistance if ever needed! 4. After fourth grade, are standardized tests the only kinds of tests given?
When I spoke of evaluations and standardized tests, these are to show proof of academic progress for the year. Each state has different laws and requirements. In my state we need to show proof that our child/student is showing progress from year to year from kindergarten through 12th grade through test or evaluation.
5. Are there just regular tests like children in traditional school take on a weekly basis in school (e.g., spelling test, chapter test, etc.)?
For our family, the answer is yes. My kids do take tests in every grade, subject, and in every chapter covered. It’s how we determine where their strengths and weaknesses are, how well they are learning the material, and if the curriculum is meeting their individual needs. While one curriculum may meet one child’s needs, it may not for another.
6. Is there anywhere you have to report their grades other than the standardized test grades reported to the state?
Each state’s laws and requirements vary. We report to our local school board. If you want more information on state laws for homeschooling, contact: Homeschool Legal Defense Association Address: P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, Va 20134 Phone: 540-338-5600 7. How could parents find a homeschool community and associated social activities you mentioned like drama club, yearbook club, debate tournaments, etc.? Ask other homeschoolers or Google it. You may also get this information from your state homeschool association or the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
8. Do only homeschooled kids join these clubs?
You would need to be a member of the homeschool support group where these clubs or courses are offered. These are support groups for homeschoolers. Classes and clubs often meet during school hours. For example, just like a drama club in a school meets during school hours, so does a drama club for homeschoolers. Non-homeschoolers may not be turned away, but it would be difficult or impossible to participate.
9. What are co-ops and homeschool classes? How could someone find these in their area?
Again, find them through support groups or word of mouth. These are usually put together by a homeschool support group or by homeschooling families who decide to get together and teach their kids in a cooperative way. For example, I’ll teach Spanish, another parent teaches science experiments, another voice lessons, another art, or writing or Latin, etc.
If you are interested in homeschooling or learning more about how to home school, one book with excellent reviews is Homeschooling 101: A Guide to Getting Started
, which can be purchased as a paperback or an e-book (FYI-You don’t need a Kindle to read e-books. You can download the free kindle reading app and read e-books on your phone, tablet, or computer. You will see a link to the app when you click on the e-book): Thank you for visiting educationandbehavior.com. We have so many strategies to help you support children in the areas of reading, writing, math, and behavior. We also have information on disabilities, special education, bullying, and social skills, tons of free resources and materials, and an open forum! Many of our strategies can also be used to support adults with special needs.
If you found this article helpful, please share it! About the Interviewee:
Janet Sedano has been married 20 years. She and her husband have been blessed with 5 children and 4 grandchildren. Their oldest two children, who are now married adults with children of their own, attended public school. Her three younger children are homeschooled. One of their grandchildren is also homeschooled. Janet has been homeschooling now 14 years. Her daughter just graduated from homeschool high school and is attending college. She continues to homeschool her son, who is in high school, and her daughter with special needs in elementary school. If you want to know more about their homeschooling journey, she invites you to visit her blog, The Learning Hourglass
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them.