FAQs About Homeschooling

Let’s start by me telling you that if you are here because you are – somewhere in the deepest, far away corner of your mind – considering homeschooling, I DIG YOU! It takes a little streak of rebellion and thinking outside the box to go against the grain, and I love those qualities in people. So welcome to the conversation!

If you are here as a skeptic, you are welcome here too! Read on! The fact that you are here tells me you are open-minded – another quality I dig in people. I hope we will address some of your FAQs about homeschooling, not to convince you to homeschool, but maybe to help you understand your home educating family members and neighbors.

If you are currently home schooling, THANK YOU! Thank you for reading, and I implore you to join the conversation! If you have anything further to offer, please comment below. Did I miss an FAQ? Ask and answer it below!

Melissa Homeschool

Where do I even begin?!

This is an excellent question, and by reading this – that’s a starting place! While the thought of educating your children on your own may seem like an overwhelming task, the friendly support and resources available are unending. Just a quick Google search of “How to begin homeschooling”  is a good starting place. Maybe that’s how you found this. Yay, you! Houston has a plethora of homeschooling resources and support groups. There are co-ops and hybrid schools, which are a blend of home and private school. Each year in The Woodlands, there’s the Homeschool Convention. The number of options themselves are almost overwhelming.

Still, of all these ways to learn about homeschooling, my favorite is the “Phone a Friend” option. Chances are, you know a homeschooling family and they are making it look good. I believe if you ask your friend if she’d be willing to chat with you about all the homeschooling options {there are many}, she’d be more than happy to do so! Most homeschoolers, in my experience, are gracious in encouragement for unsure, curious, overwhelmed parents who’d like to know more about homeschooling. My friends invited me over and actually allowed me to look through their homeschool books and even their kids’ completed work!

There’s no need to be nervous about asking a million questions, I can usually smell the difference between curiosity and interrogation. *Smile*

If you don’t have anyone, comment below with any other questions! I’ll try to help you and direct you to some good resources.

How do you get your kids to do actual work?

Yes. This is a legitimate concern if you want to educate at home, right? You need to know that learning can actually take place! I need to preface this by saying that this is pretty difficult to answer objectively because “doing work” and “learning” will look completely different in every home, much like parenting and discipline look different in every home. It will also be dependent upon your parenting style and your children’s learning style. You may be a super-scheduler or a pretty relaxed scheduler, or a do-school-at-a-desk mom or a do-school-on-the-beanbag mom. {Yes, I’m fine with my girls doing school work in a relaxed environment. I have seen my children go from doing school on the beanbag or the trampoline to the classroom to an internship on a political campaign. In our case, they transition from gym shorts to a professional setting pretty well.}

So, to answer the question, I guess I’d say you get your kids to do actual work the same way you get them to do anything else.


What about socialization?

Honestly, this one isn’t so “frequent” a question anymore, but I still feel like I should address it. The research has shown for several years now that students educated at home show no lack in social skills. There are so many opportunities outside of the school building to socialize – sports, music, extra-curriculars, communities of faith, etc., that in our experience, we have to say “no” to some activities because there are too many! Now, if you are a “homebody”, this may force you to get out of your comfort zone a bit. But, if you find that your family’s calendar is booming, I imagine you will all be well suited socially.

Consider this :: The “school years” are really the only time in your entire life that you are expected to be with people your own age for an entire day. Upon reaching college and the workforce, we are collaborating and socializing with people of all ages.

My children have never been permitted to pull the “shy card” with adults. From the time they were old enough to say “kicken nugget”, they have been ordering for themselves. If they were old enough to ask me for more drink, then they were old enough to ask the server for “more lemonade, please”. This isn’t homeschooling, this is teaching social skills. I say all that to say, the social skills {or lack thereof} are taught from home regardless of where the book learning takes place. I’ve met all sorts of socially awkward kids from home schools and public schools.  I imagine you have, too.

How do you test them? How do you know if they are “on track”?

This is a tough one. I say that because it will depend on your state laws. In Texas, where options abound, you get to choose how to test them, if at all. Many homeschool groups and co-ops will announce when evaluations are available, usually in May. Often, a certified teacher will proctor a standardized test, such as the ITBS, over several days. You may opt to have a certified teacher do a “portfolio review” and review some sample assignments from the year. The teacher can give you an idea how your school is going, and even assess reading/math levels. Some parents contact a child psychologist and have students evaluated that way. It really depends on you, your child, your testing philosophy, and of course, the requirements for your state.

How do you know you are teaching well with no background in teaching?

Danger! Danger! I’ve actually witnessed this question get thrown out there to a friend who left the public school classroom for the homeschool classroom. It is typically not a good idea to assume that homeschool parents do not have a teaching degree. Many do. And many have years of experience teaching in the classroom.

That said, I do not have a teaching degree. I have dropped out of the College of Education about three times! Ridiculous, I know. Feel free to give me hassle about this.

Anyway, I understand this question. I do. The parents who ask this question care about their kids’ education and future. Yay! I was an English Major, but I put off homeschooling {even though I wanted to} because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to teach my child to read. Well, I did and so can you. Just as you taught your little budding genius to recognize colors, the ABC’s, and to use the toilet. Which brings us to…

IMG_0324How do you teach a subject you don’t know yourself? {Chemistry, Algebra, etc.}

Well. I have to confess, I don’t. We are in a season of homeschooling that allows me to “hire out” a good bit of the teaching. I call it “a la carte” schooling. My girls have taken writing/literature from a WONDERFUL teacher in the NW Houston area. My older daughter also took a science class. There are SO many options, really. If you get plugged in to a local support group, and I hope you do, you will find a plethora of options. {Homeschool groups and co-ops help scratch that socialization itch too.} Teaching Textbooks is a software-based math {there are placement tests to determine starting point} and Rosetta Stone is a renowned foreign language program. We like Apologia Science {faith-based}, and it has an online academy available. Don’t forget your district virtual schools, either.

Also, let me tell you what so many veteran homeschool parents and teachers have told me – You only have to be one day smarter than your student. That’s it. Sometimes, it’s more like co-learning. Gasp! I know some of you are ready to click that X out of this post right now, but don’t! It took me a while to learn to trust it, but even when I was stumbling through something and learning alongside them, my girls still learned it! Kids are very forgiving in this area! You really can teach your kids.

How do you handle multiple kids?

This is certainly a legitimate concern. How do you teach multiple subject areas and multiple levels? This is the sort of practical question to which the answer is annoying. I’m sorry. The answer is that it will look different in every home. It may mean you let the Littles color while you do writing with a bigger one. It may mean having your older one help a younger sibling read or do math facts. My girls would read aloud to me while I folded laundry or prepared lunch. It can happen, it just takes a little creativity and want to.

How do you handle not having a break from the kids?

Cry. Hide. Eat chocolate in the bathroom.

I jest. Sort of.

Yes. This is tough. Homeschooling is a sacrifice. It is, like parenting, a sometimes thankless job in which the fruit is not seen for years. It means missing out on the celebratory first day of school breakfast with friends. It means being with your children 24/7 a majority of the time. It. Is. Hard. So, you must make time for Sanity Breaks. What it takes to revive you depends on you. What do you call a break? Is it a mom’s night out or date night or afternoon quiet time? You may have a friend you can trade babysitting time with. You may have a standing night that is your “night out” for you to go out alone to a coffee shop or book club or something. If you can, go to the gym or get your work out in early in the morning before the kids get up. It really does depend on how you get reenergized. It may be a little bumpy at first, but find what works for your family and do that!



Thank you for reading and for joining and/or continuing the conversation.

What questions do you have about homeschooling? I’d love to hear some success stories too! ({Ya know, because these interwebs we love so much are so full of scary stories so often!}

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Melissa is a native Floridian currently making Houston home. She has a background in English education, but ended up teaching sex ed to middle and high school students. This passion for teaching healthy relationship education transformed into a ministry of teaching parents to speak early and often to their kids about healthy sexuality. {Which she says was way more fun than teaching poetry.} But that’s all “Doppleganger Melissa” now. These days, she is a full-time homeschooling mama to two future world-changers, Meghan and Maddy. She is an unapologetic sanguine who loves having people around her table eating off of paper plates and drinking sweet tea. When “Mel’s Diner” {the kitchen} isn’t open, she may be working off calories at the gym, driving her girls around town, or trying to round up some twenty-somethings to feed and mother. Melissa believes in a few things pretty strongly :: Jesus, her spouse, the power of Diet Coke, and that traveling should be a sport. You can find her over at Spouseisms, or on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook {@Spouseisms}.


  1. Melissa,
    Did you get any push back from family on your decision? If yes how did you deal with them? And was your husband always 100% on board? We currently have our 1st grader enrolled in a homeschool hybrid school, it was our compromise, however, I dont think that we continue after this year. My husband, a public school teacher incidentally, isn’t on board with 100% homeschooling and I’m trying to gather as many “selling” points as possible :-).

  2. Julie, I’m so sorry for such a late response to you! (Worst blogger ever!) So to answer your first question, we didn’t get any push back from people whose opinions mattered. Meaning, extended family had some snarky remarks, but my husband and I ( and our girls) were completely of one accord in the matter so we just let it go. We are pretty strong personalities here, so if any other close family didn’t agree, they didn’t voice it. That said, I’m also pretty transparent. I do not mind saying, “Look. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing here. I’m scared to death I’m gonna screw up my kids. I’m not doing this without a lot of thought & prayer, so if it isn’t working, we will change directions.” Now, your husband not being on board is a different story. I’m not about to get into a marriage discussion! ;)) Maybe see if y’all can agree to a “One year at a time” scenario. Re-evaluate each year? We have homeschooled since January ’09 and every single year has looked a little different. And, we aren’t married to homeschooling. Right now, it’s working. When it no longer looks like the best path, we bail.
    Also, I don’t know what area of town you live in, but if you are apart of a support group or co-op, you will likely find a slew of former public school educators and administrators even who champion home education. You might just find some good allies. 🙂 Thank you for reading! I’ll try to respond much faster next time!

  3. How expensive is homeschool to start up? I ask because obviously we would have the financial sacrifice of me quitting my job to homeschool our children. That being said, I have the next 6-10 months to make a final decision.

  4. Trying homeschool for the first year this fall. One pre k and one kindergartner. And I work full time. This is going to be an exciting overwhelming journey I’m excited and anxious to make. My kids are my world. I too am scared what if I mess my kids up by teaching them. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.

  5. @Tanna, I am in the same boat. I work full time and planning on homeschooling my 14 and 5 yr old. I am also planning on going to school myself. I might be taking on a bit much!


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