Homeschooling 104: Socialization and Other FAQs

homeschooling 104

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, there may still be questions that you run into occasionally. One of the most common questions, despite many years of consistent ‘debunking’, seems to be the issue of socialization.

There are several parts to this question, so your answer may change depending on what the person asking is really trying to figure out, and usually there are several misconceptions at play when a person asks about socialization.

First of all, let’s clear up the misunderstandings.

Just because it’s called ‘home’ school doesn’t mean that homeschooled students spend all of their time indoors. Though, if they did, it would hardly be any different from a child in public school who is made to sit behind a desk for 6+ hours each day.

Most homeschooled students are involved in activity groups with other homeschoolers, or take extra curricular lessons or sports, much like children in regular schools do. They’re often involved in community service or religious activities, and associate with those communities as well. There’s a misconception that students in the classroom are allowed more opportunity for social engagement, and to some small extent, that may be true, but students in a brick-and-mortar school are often ‘shushed’ or otherwise limited in their social activity during school hours. Simply being in the same physical space as other students does not equal a healthy social life. Additionally, most parents who homeschool are aware of the lack of peer interaction and go out of their way to make up for it by consciously engaging with other homeschooled families or seeking out opportunities for their students to interact with the public.

In Southeast Texas, there are several homeschooling groups, including Triangle Homeschoolers, that offer scheduled activities for students to interact.

Some other questions:

Do I have to have specific qualifications to homeschool?

It varies by state, but in Texas there are no requirements for parents such as having a high school diploma or a teaching certification.

Can I deduct the costs of homeschooling from my taxes?

No. Though some states may allow a deduction, Texas does not.

Can I hire someone to teach my child for me?

Yes. In Texas you are a private school and you can consider it the equivalent of hiring a teacher.

Can my child go out during the day?

There are a variety of daytime curfew laws across the state. In general, these curfews do not allow children outside their house alone during school hours unless their school is not in session. There is no problem if you, or a designated guardian, are accompanying your child.

Beaumont does have a daytime curfew for students (Section 12.03.005), from 9AM to 3PM on school days, however homeschoolers are exempt from compulsory attendance and therefor, this ordinance (in accord with Texas Education Code Chapter 25.086(a)(1)). Other cities in the Golden Triangle and surrounding areas may have similar city ordinances, but the TEC exemption would still apply.

Some parents choose for their child to carry a homeschool ID card to identify them as homeschoolers, with the city ordinance and exemptions cited, along with your contact information as a precautionary measure, however this is not generally deemed as necessary unless your child will be spending a lot of time away form you during normal school hours. If you choose to have a homeschool ID card, you can create on yourself using a template, or order one from an online source like Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

Can my child go to college?

Almost all colleges can and will accept homeschoolers. You will have to provide your own transcripts or portfolio for your student. Your student may still have to take a college entrance exam such as the ACT or SAT. Some community colleges allow homeschoolers to enroll in dual credit classes. Entrance requirements vary by college but many actively recruit homeschoolers.

Lamar University, for example, offers dual credit to students who qualify,  and  has requirements for entering Freshmen on their Freshmen Admissions guidelines page.

What if I want to send my child back to public school?

According to the Commissioner’s Home School Policy Letter “Students transferring from home schools should be afforded the same treatment as students transferring from unaccredited private school.” What ever method the school uses to place students from unaccredited private schools should also be used for assessing and placing your child in the public school.

Can I get special education services for my child through the school?

This is a tricky one, and we’ve heard conflicting stories. Basically, it depends. Districts used to provide some special education services regardless of a child’s enrollment status. Section 25.086 of the education code states that:

(b) This section does not relieve a school district in which a child eligible to participate in the district’s special education program resides of its fiscal and administrative responsibilities under Subchapter A, Chapter 29, or of its responsibility to provide a free appropriate public education to a child with a disability.

However, in recent years, schools have been denying homeschoolers services, presumably with some legal basis to do so. If you can help clarify this, please let us know.

How much does it cost?

Homeschooling can be relatively inexpensive, or quite costly; it depends on what choices and options you decide work best for your family. Some packaged, comprehensive curricula with teacher support cost more than $1,000 a year. In contrast, many resources can be found for free online, or though your local library for free.

How Can I teach what I don’t know?

There many possibilities:

  • Learn it with your kids
  • Hire someone else to teach it
  • Join a co-op so that they can learn from others
  • Take an online course (the child, not you)

If it’s important enough, your child may be motivated to learn it himself; for example, people learn to read for all kinds of reasons. On the other hand, this may be an opportunity to consider whether the subject or concept needs to be taught at all. Maybe it’s not as important as you think since you’ve managed to go through life without knowing it!

So, there you have it: a complete course on getting started! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Happy Homeschooling!

TH