New Homeschooler FAQs
Are you new to homeschooling? Maybe just new to homeschooling in Texas?
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and their answers. Don't see the information you need? Please feel free to contact us and ask!
This list is by no means comprehensive, but just covers commonly asked questions when people are looking into homeschooling.
Is Homeschooling legal in Texas?
YES. Texas is considered a homeschool-friendly state, with no registration, standardized testing, or reporting requirements for home educators. The 1994 decision Leeper v. Arlington ISD upheld the rights of families wishing to homeschool in Texas by classifying them as private schools and therefore exempt from compulsory attendance requirements.
My child is in public (or private) school already. What do I need to do to withdraw them?
All you need to do is inform the school or district (by certified letter, return receipt requested is recommended) that you are withdrawing your child to "privately school them." You are NOT required to inform them of the curriculum you use, or any other information.
However, the law states they have the right to make a "reasonable inquiry" as to your private schooling. If you should incur this kind of inquiry, please see this website:
What am I required to teach my child?
The law states that to homeschool your child, you must teach using a "bona fide" curriculum, that is in a visual form (books, workbooks, video), and must include reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship.
You may also send your children to the home of another parent or use a tutor for outside instruction.
However, most homeschooling family also include History, Science, and Writing (penmanship or actual writing of papers/essays) as well.
My child is NOT currently enrolled in an outside school. Do I need to do anything?
No. You do not need to contact the school in this case. It can be helpful to join a local group or co-op to enhance you and your child's journey into homeschooling, however, nothing is mandatory.
I do not have a degree, or if I do, I am not "trained" as a teacher. Can I still homeschool?
Overwhelmingly, YES. Did you teach your child to eat with a spoon? to potty train? to talk? right from wrong?
Curriculum today is made to help the parents, many with instructional videos, manuals with step-by-step instructions, and more. There is also the option of finding specific outside classes to supplement where you are not confident or comfortable. But either way, no, you do not need to be certified or degreed to teach your own child.
How do I know what to teach them?
There are many answers to this question! The first thing to consider is their age and if you plan to put them into public school at any time in the future. If you do, it is suggested that you follow your school district's "scope and sequence" for your child's grade level. Most of this is available free on your local school district's website. Search "(name of your school district) scope and sequence" and see what you can find.
If you are not planning to go back into the school district anytime soon, consider your child's age before choosing curriculum. Younger children, under 7, usually only need simple things, many available free or inexpensively. Math, handwriting (fine motor skills), simple phonics, and reading aloud to your child daily are what is most important. Simple science such as looking up bugs, leaves, or other things they encounter as they go through their day. Once they master reading simple books, you have choices galore. Consider your child's learning style before choosing. Being a part of a group like GCCHS is helpful so that you can ask other experienced homeschool moms what has worked for them!
There are two basic approaches to homeschooling:
1. The Traditional Approach
This approach uses graded textbooks or workbooks, follows a scope and sequence that covers each subject in 180 daily increments a year. It assumes that you will run your homeschool similar to that of a traditional institutional school.
Curriculum that falls under this includes Abeka, Saxon, Bob Jones, School of Tomorrow, Alpha Omega
2. Non-Textbook Approach
Textbooks are very teacher-directed. Non-textbook approaches tend to use "real" books to educate. There are several "non-textbook" styles including: Classical (studies history in three stages, each stage is four years, something known as The Trivium; The Charlotte Mason style uses "living books" and is based on the teaching of Charlotte Mason, an early 20th century British educator. It teaches basic reading, writing and math skills and then teaches all other subjects through reading real books and exposing them to real ideas through nature, museums, and other real life experiences; the Unit Study style integrates all subjects together under a theme, or topic, uniting all together; and the Unschooling approach assumes children are natural learners and allows them to lead the way in choosing what they want to study, based upon their desires and interest.
There is also the Eclectic, or Mixed approach, that many homeschoolers use. It takes what works of each style above and integrates them together. There is no set right or wrong way in this, but what works best for each individual family.
How much does homeschooling cost?
That varies from family to family. You can find free curriculums online, use books from the library, borrow from friends, buy from half price books, used books sales, and more, to cut your costs. Or you can buy from big name curriculum providers. The cost can range from one end of the spectrum to the other. Many people start out using a pre-packaged curriculum as it's easiest for the parent, but it is not always a good fit for the child. Over time many parents end up picking and choosing what works best for both.
Are there any tax cuts or benefits for homeschooling?
No. You still have to pay your school taxes, and we get no write offs on our taxes. This is one of the things that many differ in opinion over. Some believe we deserve to be able to write off our purchases, while others state that by doing so we are inviting the government to inquire as to what we are doing and how we are doing it. But as of this time, there is no tax benefits given to homeschoolers in Texas.
Are there any local places I can go actually LOOK at homeschooling curriculum?
YES! There are THREE places in Houston where you can get hands-on with hundreds of different curriculums:
1. The Homeschool Store, 12315 Ann Ln, Houston, TX 77064
Located WAY UP on the Northwest side of Houston in the Tomball area, this amazing store is worth the drive. A huge building filled with tons of NEW and USED curriculum, and lots of helpful people, they have been in business for over 25 years, and you can spend HOURS in this lovely place. The employees are very knowlegable and helpful, and never pushy. And since it's all homeschool supplies, the people shopping there usually will help too! If you are looking at a particular curriculum, and someone else is in that aisle, just ask them for an opinion and most will be more than happy to share. Usually open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 to 5, they do open on Mondays during July and August, but call before going. Makes a great road trip with other homeschool friends! (They also buy back many used books.)
2. HEP Bookstore, 11665 Fuqua Street, Suite A-100, Houston, TX 77034
Located on the SE side of Houston off Fuqua, HEP (Home Education Partnership) is both a homeschool curriculum store, and provides classes for many subjects. All employees are very knowlegable, and it's great for starting out looking, or picking up that next workbook you need. It is not as big or comprehensive as The Homeschool Store, and the used book section is much smaller, but HEP is a great resource whether you are just starting out or a veteran of many years.
3. Mardel Christian Books, 20085 Gulf Fwy, Webster, TX 77598
While not specifically a homeschool store, Mardel has a decent selection of the most common homeschool curriculum including Saxon, Alpha Omega, Master Books, Memoria Press, Veritas Press, Critical Thinking company, Bright Ideas Press, Bob Jones, All About Spelling, A Reason for Writing, and MANY more. They also have a "homeschool sale" day in July with all curriculum and supplies being 20% off!
What's the difference between a co-op and a support group?
Well, most co-ops can be support groups, but not all support groups are co-ops.
A co-op (short for cooperative) usually indicates that you cooperatively teach with others. You might teach a class on photography, while another parent is teaching a class on biology, and another on journalism, etc. Most have several families involved, with a variety of aged children, and the parents commit to teaching a certain number of classes each year. They are a great way to supplement your homeschool, while allowing your children to get to know other homeschool families and make friends. Some co-ops are very academic, some are geared specifically toward performing arts (music/drama/art), while others are just supplemental.
Support groups (such as GCCHS) provide a hub where families can participate in field trips, get to know other families with like-aged kids, find out about classes, co-ops, events, homeschool days at local venues, park days, ask questions about homeschooling and more.
My child wants to play sports. Can we participate in public school sports or other programs while we homeschool?
At this time, no. This is a very controversial topic among homeschoolers, and the opinion gap is huge. The Texas legislature has had bills come up almost every year for the past few years that would allow homeschoolers to participate in UIL (public school) activities such as football, volleyball, band, drama, and other sports. So far these bills have not gotten far. Some see it as a great asset to have his bill pass, while others see it as allowing the district (government) in, and eventually have them dictate what should or can be taught.
However, there are many opportunities for sports and other activities for homeschoolers in our area. There are leagues that compete on level with most of the area private schools including Baseball, Basketball (boys and girls), Volleyball, orchestra, band, choir, and even football. Many of them have reputations that have brought the attention of college scouts, and resulted in scholarship offers.