The Homeschool Phenomenon

Not every child today learns in a big building with lots of other students all studying the same things at the same time. In the past twenty years, the homeschool phenomenon has caught fire across America.

In 1999, parents of over 600 children in the Fredericksburg area chose to educate their children themselves.* In the home setting, parents may choose how a child is educated and what (if any!) standard curriculum is used. When you elect to be your child's teacher, you may also regulate the pace at which she is taught, allowing more time for tackling challenging subjects or simply breezing through the areas that come easily.

Student sitting at a study tableOne way to teach at home is by obtaining a commercially available lesson by lesson curriculum. Some of these provide all materials down to the pencils and scissors-- a practice that has its roots from the necessity of giving a quality education to missionary families decades ago. Back in those days transporting common goods overseas was a really big deal! Today some parents still very much like strongly structured curriculums. Other parents subscribe to the "unschooling" philosophy put forth by educational pioneer John C. Holt who believed "that learning is not the result of teaching, but of the curiosity and activity of the learner. A teacher's intervention in this process should be mostly to provide the learner with access to the various kinds of places, people, experiences, tools, and books that will correspond with that student's interest…"**.

It's also possible to use an eclectic method through the years of your children's studies: teaching some subjects by correspondence classes, employing a tutor or using free materials from the library and the Internet as the subject demands. Today homeschooling is all about choices. Moms and Dads choose to homeschool because they want something different for their child's education than what the state or established private school has to offer. Parents may wish to give their children more freedom and guidance to grow intellectually and spiritually, and sometimes they prefer to homeschool because of religious preferences. For whatever reason, there are perfectly practical procedures followed by parents of the nearly 13,000 homeschooled kids across Virginia* which are accessible to most people.

Thinking about homeschooling your child? Now is the time to start planning. Although it is possible to change a child to homeschooling in the middle of the school year, the paperwork flow is really geared toward those making a decision about a month prior to the beginning of the fall term. Check with your local superintendent's office for procedures, and use the resources below, many written by parents who have been there and succeeded, to get an overview of homeschooling. You will also get some specific recommendations for different grade levels and interests as well as interviews with homeschoolers. Look here, too, for a list of contact points for local homeschool associations. The groups often plan field trips or other fun learning experiences, and sometimes they just gather together to socialize. The Central Rappahannock Regional Library owns many more materials on homeschooling and can support most subjects studied with classic books, videos, and even some computer programs. Just ask your librarian for specific suggestions or browse our online catalog.

*Virginia Home Education Association **John Holt: Teach Your Own Children… At Home

Homeschool Helper: A Webliography

Getting Started

Bell, Debra. The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.
Bell's book is an enthusiastic overview of the process of homeschooling from a decidedly Christian perspective. Includes CD-ROM for Windows or Macintosh systems.

Byers, David P. and Byers, Chandra. College-Prep Homeschooling: Your Complete Guide to Homeschooling Through High School.
A mother and a college education professor combine their experience and expertise to show how parents can continue to homeschool their children through high school in subjects for which they are not experts.

Curry, Lorraine, Aldort, Naomi, and Campbell, Janice. Easy Homeschooling Techniques: The Real How-To Guide.
Packed with Tips and Ideas for Preschool through High School.

Duffy, Cathy. 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child's Learning Style.
Top curriculum choices from every subject area approached through a Christian perspective.

Farenga, Patrick. The Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling.
"A brief and useful guide to the essential information, resources, andguidance you need for starting homeschooling. Questions and answersabout homeschooling, suggestions for creating or purchasing curricula and for record keeping and evaluation, history and research, as well as lists of state and national support groups, correspondence schools, and learning materials."

Frank, Barbara. The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling: Tips from a 20-Year Homeschool Veteran.
Customizing lessons for each child, measuring what their children have learned, and “115 Organizing Tips.”

Holt, John Caldwell. Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling.
Encouraging and inspiring work from one of the pioneers of the modern home schooling movement.

The Homeschooling Book of Answers.
Homeschooling parents answer 88 common concerns about this educational decision. The editor, Linda Dobson, began homeschooling in 1985 and is also the editor of Home Education Magazine.

Leppert, Michael and Leppert, Mary. The Homeschooling Book of Lists: Grades K-12.
Information, resources, and curriculum ideas. Includes lists of homeschooling support groups, the top 100 homeschooling Web sites, homeschooling FAQs, and much more.

Rupp, Rebecca. Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool through High School.
Gives yearly guidelines for what subjects to cover with your homeschooled child from preschool to high school.

The Virginia Home-School Manual.
Laws on homeschooling in Virginia. Please check the Code of Virginia for updates, and consider consulting legal counsel in the event of difficulty. The Home Educators Association of Virginia has some materials online.

Additional Online Resources

About Homeschooling
This site has online guides for beginners, information on trading curriculum, unit study directories, record keeping and answers to frequently asked questions.

The Home School Mom
Free resources for homeschoolers: lesson plans, activity pages, unit studies, software downloads, discussion boards, articles, and information for new homeschoolers.

Jon's Homeschooling Resource Page
Features Kaleidoscapes' discussion forum, online newsletters, and links to special interests: home school friendly colleges, afrocentric homeschoolers, homeschooling kids with disabilities, a guide to classical education, a curriculum swap, homeschooling the gifted and more on the philosophy of unschooling.

What's It Like to be a Home Schooling Family?

Freedom Challenge: African-American Homeschoolers.
Twenty African-American families recount the challenges and joys of homeschooling from a unique perspective.

Llewellyn, Grace. Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School.
Read what teenagers themselves have to say about the experience of being homeschooled or "unschooled" as some like to call it. Some of those interviewed have never been to school; others have attended public or private schools prior to being pulled out for home learning.

Cover to Home Schooling, A Family's JourneyMillman, Martine and Millman, Gregory. Homeschooling: A Family's Journey.
Intimate, eminently practical story of a successful homeschooled family from cradle to college.

Orr, Tamra, ed. After Homeschool: Fifteen Homeschoolers Out in the Real World.
Interviews with young adults of varying backgrounds, explaining why they chose the homeschooling path, what philosophy they followed, and what the future may hold.

Rivero, Lisa. The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It's Right for Your Family.
Explores the diverse faces of homeschooled students including children with special learning needs. Socialization, curriculum, special needs arrangements, and resources.

Rockett, Marilyn. Home Schooling at the Speed of Life: Balancing Home, School, and Family in the Real World.
Organized and hospitable homemaking for the homeschooler. Includes CD-Rom.

Sheffer, Susannah. A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls.
"Recent reports claim adolescent girls' self-esteem fades in their teenage years. But in this book Sheffer analyzes the 55 in-depth interviews she conducted with homeschooled girls. She found that these homeschooled girls did not lose their sense of self in their adolescent years and allows these girls to express their thoughts on the issue." --Ingram

Voetberg, Julie. I Am a Home Schooler.
Nine-year old Teigen is taught at home, primarily by her mother, but the family also uses tutors, field trips and get-togethers in public schools as ways extending learning opportunities. Children curious about homeschooling can get a look at the Teigen's daily routine and find out what it's like to be taught at home.

Special Subjects

Allee, Judith Waite and Morgan, Melissa L. Educational Travel on a Shoestring: Frugal Family Fun and Learning Away from Home.
Help your children learn while traveling. From researching destinations to suggesting activities that both instruct and entertain, this guide offers practical information for parents.

Bauer, Susan Wise. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home.
"What is classical education? It is language-intensive, not image-focused. It demands that the student use and understand words, not video images. It is history-intensive, providing the student with a comprehensive view of the human endeavor from the beginning until now. It trains the mind to analyze and draw conclusions. It demands self-discipline. It produces literate, curious, intelligent students who have a wide range of interests and the ability to follow up on them."-- From the authors

Bear, Mariah. Bear's Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning.
"The essential reference to alternative education, this book covers it all: night and weekend colleges, foreign medical schools, degrees by Internet and other e-mail avenues, and basically every other way of earning a Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, law, or medical degree through some unconventional method." --Ingram

Beechick, Ruth. The Three R's.
Teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic to the early grades. Includes phonics, comprehension skills, writing skills, and math concepts.

Britton, Lesley. Montessori Play and Learn: A Parent's Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six.
Advice, projects, and simple games that can give children confidence and a sense of independence, while preparing them for lingual, mathematical, scientific and artistic development.

Carlson, Pattye. Art Adventures at Home: A Curriculum Guide for HomeSchools, Level 1 and Level 2.
Complete lesson plans for over 100 art projects. The lessons are organized into five different units: drawing, printmaking, sculpture and crafts.

Christian Home Educators' Curriculum Manual: Elementary Grades and Junior/Senior High.
These books contain reviews of books, games, computer programs, and videos. Reviewing is done by subject and grade level. Also addresses children's different learning styles.

Daleo, Morgan Simone. Curriculum of Love: Cultivating the Spiritual Nature of Children.
A nondenominational book that encourages development of core values such as self-reliance, compassion and joy in children and young adults through movement, music, art, storytelling, contemplation, and work activities.

Gold, Lauramaery. Homeschool Your Child for Free: More Than 1,200 Smart, Effective, and Practical Resources for Home Education on the Internet and Beyond.
Use the power of your home computer's Internet connection to mine hundreds of solid educational sites for your homeschooler.

Hainstock, Elizabeth G. Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years and the School Years.
Beloved by generations, this new edition of an old favorite is a good introduction to the popular Montessori method of education. Learn how it can be applied in a homeschool environment. Includes instructions for making simple learning toys.

Henry, Shari. Homeschooling, the Middle Years: Your Complete Guide toSuccessfully Schooling the 8- to 12-Year Old Child.
The middle years' love of learning and exploration is particularly addressed along with common concerns of homeschooling parents: choosing curriculums and how to incorporate learning into everyday routines. Extensive resource listings for both online and print materials.

Rupp, Rebecca. The Complete Home Learning Sourcebook: The Essential Resource Guide for Homeschoolers, Parents and Educators CoveringEvery Subject from Arithmetic to Zoology.
A tremendous resource with many specific recommendations on how to enrich your curriculum through books, videos, web sites and hands-on materials.

Slavin, Steve. Math for your First- and Second-Grader: All You Need to Know to Be Your Child's Best Teacher.
"Based on the math curriculums of states across the country, it covers the fundamentals, plus "new math" principles such as grouping. Includes simple activities which reinforce each concept and a mastery test for each grade level." --From the Publisher

Whitney, Bruce. Home School Family Fitness: The Complete Physical Education Curriculum Guide for Grades K-12.
Explains the fundamentals of exercise in a fun way, teaching kids to achieve and maintain fitness throughout their lives. Includes age-appropriate activities and an instructional sport-skill DVD.

Wise, Jessie and Buffington, Sara. The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.
Simple phonics program provides parents with the know-how and confidence to teach reading.

The next time you visit the library, bring home a beautiful, educational kids' magazine or check out Home Education Magazine for more ideas on homeschooling.

Calliope: World History for Young People
A world history magazine for ages 9-14.

A U.S. history magazine for ages 9-14.

Stories, puzzles, and crafts fill the pages of Cricket. Recommended for ages 9-14.

Home Education Magazine
Offers interviews, feature articles, regular columns, political commentary and analysis, and news reporting pertaining to home education. Published bimonthly.

Kids Discover
Each issue features a single, nonfiction topic in natural and social sciences for kids 7-12.

Young people's magazine of astronomy and outer space.

Science World magazine
Science news for kids from the publishers of Scholastic magazine.

Six- to nine-year-old kids will enjoy this magazine full of fun stories, poems, and activities.

Organizations that Support Homeschoolers in the Rappahannock Area

Homeschool Resources Yahoo Group
EGroup designed to inform homeschoolers about local events in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Homeschooling in King George
EGroup designed to share local event information for homeschoolers living in King George, Virginia.

North Stafford Moms
Email newsletter, Moms support meetings, and field trips.

PACE: Piedmont Area Christian Educators
Vanessa Short, 701 Holly Leaf Road, Culpeper, VA 22701, (540) 273-5521 Christian organization in Culpeper which provides support and encouragement to parents who are teaching (or are considering teaching) their children at home. Serves Culpeper, Madison, Orange, Rappahannock, and Fauquier counties.

REACH: Responsibility of Educating All Children at Home
Wanda Sloper, 35451 Wilderness Shores Way, Locust Grove, VA 22508
Christian group that offers many educational activities, fieldtrips, workshops, seminars and more for children of all ages. REACH serves Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Orange, Stafford, King George, Caroline and the surrounding areas.

SRCH: Spotsylvania Regional Christian Homeschoolers
Christian group serving Spotsylvania. Social and educational activities for children and parents including parent meetings, nature days, field trips, science fair, international day, used curriculum sale.

TOOL: Teaching Our Own Legacy Homeschool Support Group
P.O. Box 42233, Fredericksburg, VA 22404-2233
Christian group established to provide educational opportunities, practical resources, activities and support. Monthly meetings in the Fredericksburg area.

State Associations

Home Educators Association of Virginia
Member-supported, statewide, nonprofit homeschool association that operates from a biblical worldview. HEAV serves all homeschoolers regardless of religion and works to promote and protect homeschool interests in Virginia through information, legislation, and resources.

Home School Legal Defense Association: Virginia
Includes an overview of requirements for homeschooling in Virginia. Please read the attached disclaimer.

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (Va Homeschoolers) is an association of individuals, families, and Virginia-based homeschool organizations and businesses. Va Homeschoolers promotes and protects the interests of Virginia homeschoolers through information and representation. VaHomeschoolers is neutral in matters of religion and partisan politics. Previously known as Virginia Home Education Association.

Special Interest Groups

Central Rappahnnock Regional Library
The library sponsors a variety of free programs for people of all ages. Browse the program listings and try something new today!

Cub Scout Pack 330 of Fredericksburg, VA
The majority of families in this active pack also homeschool. Emphasis on participation in the Scout religious award program.

Christian Youth Theater (CYT)
An after-school theater arts education program for children ages 6-18. CYT's mission is to produce quality, wholesome, family entertainment and to reflect Judeo-Christian values through training in the arts.

Fredericksburg Area Speech and Debate Club
Dennis and Minette Hughey, (540) 720-1348
A club for homeschool students, ages 12-18.

Grace Center for the Arts
1141 Heatherstone Dr., Fredericksburg, VA 22407, (540) 785-2293 Christian organization that provides instruction in art, dancing, drama, and music