What Is Homeschooling, and Am I Qualified to Homeschool My Child?

The education of children is of vital importance. And it’s a parent’s first responsibility. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that parents “bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues.”

Understanding this, millions of parents have taken that responsibility upon themselves and have begun homeschooling their children.

Homeschooling is simply the education of a child at home rather than sending that child to a school five days a week. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there were 3.135 million homeschool students (kindergarten through high school) in the US during the 2021-2022 school year. That is a significant increase from 1.690 million during the 2016 school year.

Why Should I Homeschool?

The reasons parents homeschool their children vary from believing they can give their children a better education than the local school system to wanting to protect the innocence of their children to wanting to give their child a specialized education or learning opportunities that they could not get if they were to sit in a classroom every day.

When someone looks into homeschooling and wants to begin, one of the natural first questions is How do I start?

You may be surprised to know that it’s not as difficult as it may seem.

homeschool mom with children

First, you will want to check the laws in your state. All states have different laws regarding reporting, grades, testing, attendance, and which subjects you must teach.

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association offers a wealth of information about how to begin, what types of schooling you can do for your child, and what your individual state requires. As far as the education level of the parent, most states require that the parent at least have a high school diploma or a GED. You do not need a teaching certificate.

Once you have decided that you are going to homeschool, the fun begins! As long as you follow the state requirements, you get to choose the curriculum. You can decide what to focus on, and you can tailor it to your child. This flexibility affords you lots of time and an opportunity to have one-on-one fun with your child.

You will soon see that neurotypical children can finish their assignments in a fraction of the time that the school allots. This gives you time for extras like museum trips, field trips to historical sites, walks in nature, fun science experiments, and more.

Does homeschooling require a lot of patience and time on the part of the parent? That depends on your child’s temperament, on his age and abilities, and on the curriculum you use. And quite frankly, it depends on the day.

Some children are very teachable and easygoing. They want to learn and will do what you ask every single time. Other children take more coaxing and may need more breaks. But one of the great things about homeschooling is that you get to structure your day however you want. You can look at the strengths and weaknesses of your child and tailor the day to both.

Starting off the school day sets the tone for the rest of the day. Make sure your child gets enough sleep, has a good breakfast, and accomplishes something right away. That may be helping make breakfast, making his or her bed, or even taking a walk. This sets a positive mood right away.

When I homeschooled my children, I began our day with literature. It was a fun “add on” to their learning. So while they ate breakfast or sat on the couch and got rid of that morning groggy feeling, I read to them from a classic book. We had a huge collection of abridged classics for kids that included titles like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, David Copperfield, The Time Machine, and more. It was a fantastic way to get them interested in classics and to start the day with a little fun.

What About Friends?

You’ve likely heard that, if you homeschool, your child will not be “properly socialized.”

Today, “socialization” takes on a whole new meaning. Not only are kids in public schools exposed to bullying, harsh language, sexuality, and immoral practices (like drag queen story hours) and sex ed programs from organizations like Planned Parenthood, but kids of all ages have their own cell phones, which often results in them looking at inappropriate content, or at the very least spending way too much time on TikTok and trying to take part in the latest trends.

So while these are things you definitely want to avoid, there is still the question of friends. Kids need friends. They need to have fun with other kids. They need to learn how to relate to peers. And they need to learn how to problem-solve.

That said, there are plenty of ways for homeschooled children to make friends and socialize. They can join a sports team. Practices and games are great for building friendships. If they don’t like sports, they can play an instrument in a band or try out for a role in a community play. Even if they don’t like to act, they could participate in backstage activities like set design or lighting. In addition, many local parks and recreation centers offer homeschool classes. The YMCA near us offered homeschool PE classes once a week, as did a local gym. The natural history museum near us offered homeschool classes once a month, and afterward the families got a free pass to the museum.

There are also homeschool co-ops where kids can take classes, usually once a week and possibly all day long. Qualified moms teach classes ranging from serious math and science classes to fun art or history classes. Some co-op classes are supplementary and don’t require extra work, while others require the children to do work at home.

Many states even allow homeschooled children to participate in clubs and sports teams of the local school they would be enrolled in.

I recommend doing a google search for homeschool groups near you, typing in keywords such as “Catholic homeschool groups near me” or simply “homeschool groups near me,” and you will come up with quite a few in your local area.

These groups are also a great way for parents to meet other parents and exchange curriculum ideas.

What About Curriculum?

Check with what is required in your state, as laws vary. But in Texas, for example, parents need only use legitimate materials, such as books and videos, and teach the following five subjects: reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and civics. Other states require testing and enrollment in what is called an “umbrella school,” which offers guidance and gives oversight to make sure your child is learning.

But usually, the curriculum is up to the parent, so you can see what works best for your child. You will want to check with what your child would be learning in a regular school so you can make sure your child is meeting state requirements, but especially for younger children, getting them started reading, writing, doing some math, and falling in love with some aspect of history and science should suffice. Of course, you will want to add religion to your day.

There are lots of great Catholic curricula out there. Kolbe Academy and Seton Home Study School are two widely popular programs. You can get an entire package, which covers all the main subjects, or you can pick and choose which subject you want from them. Choosing an entire package may be good when you’re just beginning, if you feel intimidated about choosing books on your own.

bookshelf with classic books

We encourage you to do research or to find a homeschool bookstore where you can take your child to look at the different curricula. There are several different types of math programs, for example, and there are aspects to each that may or may not appeal to your child. The same goes for science and history. For young children, you could focus on whatever aspect of those subjects your child has an innate interest in.

Both Kolbe and Seton have excellent religion programs, as well. In addition, American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program offers add-on pre-K-12 Catholic, pro-life lessons that integrate with any curriculum. Its lessons range from the lives of saints to facts about the preborn baby to teaching the truth about sacramental marriage and more. There is something for all ages.

When choosing a curriculum, the goal should be to foster a love for learning in your child. That’s why you want to involve him as much as possible and as appropriate when choosing. For instance, unless your child must know a certain time period for a standardized test, it doesn’t matter if your third grader studies the Revolutionary War versus World War II, as long as he’s learning some history. Let him choose what he’s interested in.

In states where you have to do mandatory testing, you will want to align the curriculum somewhat to the public schools’ curriculum or your child will get to the test and not be able to show off his knowledge. A simple google search for your county’s standards will point you in the right direction.

What is a Classical Education?

Many homeschool families take the classical school approach. According to Time 4 Learning, “The classical approach has the worthy overall goal of teaching children to think for themselves. Using the ‘trivium’ model, children move through three main stages of learning: concrete learning (the grammar stage), critical learning (the logic stage), and abstract learning (the rhetoric stage).”

Joanne Juren, founder of Home Education Partnership in Texas—a homeschool program that uses the classical school model and that has served the homeschool community near Houston for nearly 30 years—explains that “classical education produces thinkers—students who are taught how to think, not what to think.”

Teaching kids how to think is a vital skill today and one discussed on this HLI podcast, where we hear Fr. Boquet talk about a Catholic classical education and its importance in the formation of a child.

Fr. Boquet explains that it’s important to form the whole person so he can function in the world. A classical education that involves history, math, science, religion, and reading the great philosophers helps our children learn to reason and put an argument together. This helps them become “active members of the body of Christ” and helps them “model to the world what it is to be a virtuous person.” This of course helps them achieve our ultimate goal—eternal life with God.

Homeschooling allows a parent to enrich a child’s life by teaching these subjects and filling their days with quality content.

Is Homeschooling Expensive?

In general, no, homeschooling is not expensive, though of course it does cost more than public schools, where all the textbooks are free. When you homeschool your child, you have to pay for the books and for any registration fee for classes or for an umbrella school if your state requires it. These fees are often nominal, but you should be aware of the cost.

To help defray the cost of books, you could look at local bookstores. Many used bookstores will have a homeschool section where you can get used science and history textbooks or even workbooks that were never used.

In addition, some local homeschool groups will have swaps or sales where families sell the books they have outgrown or never used. This is also a great way to look at the curriculum before you buy it so you can determine if it will work for you.

What About the Catholic School Option?

Catholic schools are an excellent alternative for parents who do not want to send their children to public schools. But even in Catholic schools, traditional Catholic values are sometimes ignored or set aside, as we saw recently in Toronto, where the school board voted to fly a pride flag but not a pro-life flag.

According to many parents with special needs children or with children who need an individualized education plan, their local Catholic schools were not as well equipped as the public schools in implementing these plans. So if this is a service your child needs, it is important to talk to the staff at the school you want before you enroll him.

Regarding cost, Catholic schools can be extremely expensive, some costing tens of thousands each year. This is simply not feasible for many families and families who have multiple children. So homeschooling is a better option, especially when wanting to instill values and teach the faith.

Is Homeschooling Better than Public Schools?

A 2021 Psychology Today article states that “homeschooled students tend to score higher on tests of academic skills when compared to children in public schools across most studies.” It went on to explain that “children in a ‘structured’ homeschool program—that is, a homeschool program with organized lesson plans—tend to score higher on academic tests than children from conventional schools, while children in ‘unstructured’ homeschool environments without organized lesson plans tend to score lower than children in conventional schools.”

That unstructured schooling is known as “unschooling,” and it is “a style of home education that allows the student’s interests and curiosities to drive the path of learning. Rather than using a defined curriculum, unschoolers trust children to gain knowledge organically.”

The article explains that research on social skills is mixed, but it shows that kids who participate in activities outside the home fare better or just as well as their schooled counterparts. It also said that “most studies find that homeschooled children tend to have higher college GPAs than children from conventional schools.”

The National Home Education Research Institute reported that “the home-educated typically score 15 to 25 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.” And this is “regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.”

This is important information for you to know and to share with anyone who may be skeptical about teaching your child at home.

teens in class taking notes

Keeping Kids Safe Online

With the popularity of online classes and programming, parents who homeschool must remain cognizant of the dangers their children could face when left alone on a computer to attend online classes. Children should always use a computer centrally located in the home and should be monitored when using the computer.

Further, installing parental controls on the computer (such as Net Nanny, Bark, Canopy, and OurPact) is a good idea so that children cannot stumble upon (or purposefully go to) a pornographic site or something inappropriate.

In general, children learn better when taught in person and not online, though there are benefits to online learning if the material is of high quality. But kids will excel when they physically interact with the person teaching them and when they write out their lessons rather than type them.

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling can be a great adventure for all members of the family. The parents will benefit almost as much as the children. Time spent together as a family, subjects learned together, and discussions held will help create memories that will last a lifetime.

When done well, homeschooling is an excellent alternative to a brick-and-mortar school, especially since you get to be in charge of what your child learns. There’s a whole world of learning and fun to be had as a family!

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. Since 2003, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. Fourteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of its Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program, an educational nonprofit program for k-12 students.


  1. Alyssa on July 8, 2024 at 5:13 PM

    My husband was homeschooled and really wants to homeschool our children. I think it sounds wonderful! Thanks for the details.

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