Each Monday, I've been sharing the most effective ways to answer some of the common questions homeschoolers are asked. I have already discussed five issues: why, legality, socialization, education and extra curricular activities. I only have two more issues I want to address and this week's issue is good questions. There are many good questions to ask yourself when you are thinking about home education so it is only logical that others who are unfamiliar with homeschooling would ask them too! We've already discussed socialization and what options are open to homeschoolers for activities. Here are a few more. Answering these questions is pretty straight forward. As Sargent Friday used to say, "Just the facts, Ma'am." 1. How much does it cost? Other than time, many ask how much homeschooling costs as a consideration before starting their homeschool journey. It was a concern for us as well, but for different reasons. My daughter was attending a private Christian school from K-4th grade. While many private schools can be in the thousands of dollars, hers was a mere $300 a month. It was a small private school so there was only one 5th grade class and the number of students decreased substantially as the grades progressed (She would have been one of only 8 students in her 5th grade class). So when we found out that it would only cost us about $150-$200 to purchase her school materials for the year, we jumped at the chance to save hundreds of dollars each year in tuition, uniforms and school fundraisers! For a few years, we homeschooled two children for about $300 a year! I once discussed the cost of homeschooling with my sister who also had two children, but enrolled in public school. We compared notes and found that while I had the responsibility to pay for all their books, due to budget cuts and misspending my sister paid almost as much each year for her children's free public school education! Not only were parents were required to purchase school supplies for each child, but classroom supplies such as chalk and tissues as well. To add insult to injury, she also was required to buy gifts for the teacher. The PTA forced each parent to give the teacher gifts for his/her birthday, Christmas and for each day of Teacher Appreciation Week! 2. How do you know what do teach? A valid question easily answered. Some states have guidelines posted on a website for public schools. At first, I went to the department of education website to research each subject for each grade level. However, since many of the public schools are academically below most homeschoolers and may teach things objectionable to some homeschool parents, I find there are better sources. I think the best way to find the right curricula that prepares your student properly is to talk to veteran homeschoolers you trust. Having access to a local homeschool group or online group is an invaluable resource for information and support. However, you can also find a trusted homeschool or private school curricula publisher like ABeka or Bob Jones to provide your texts or even just to compare as a benchmark to follow. Another great way to teach with excellence is to find veteran homeschoolers with an expertise in a subject. Many homeschoolers have published fabulous curricula that is created just for homeschoolers. I also appreciate that there are many that are written from a Christian perspective. This is why I produce my own speech communication studies. I found there was a need for speech communication studies that were presented from a Christian perspective with an approach that was fun and easy for parents to teach. 3. What about things like the prom and graduation? While the prom and a graduation ceremony aren't vital educational concerns that should steer us toward or away from a particular educational choice, it is a concern. Most of us remember our prom and high school graduation ceremony with some amount of fondness. It's a right of passage, a milestone. And it is not exclusive to public or even private schooled students. Many homeschoolers coordinate a group graduation ceremony where all the local members get together for a custom designed event for all the graduates. I once belonged to a large homeschool group where this was done each year. It was slightly different each year according to the wishes of the students and parents of those graduating. What a blessing to be able to create your own ceremony and celebration according to the wishes and needs of each graduating "class." I remember being a bit disappointed with my prom and feeling like just a number in my huge graduating class. Homeschoolers can create a unique and special event that highlights each student and his or her achievements with as much or as little pom and circumstance preferred! Another option some homeschoolers choose is to have a party for family and friends on their own. I've known homeschoolers who have two hundred guests at their home or several hundred at a local hotel! Some have chosen to take a trip with close friends where they can create memories that will last a lifetime. Yet others, like my daughter, see no need for a large celebration. Kelsey didn't want a big party; she wanted to get on to the next phase of her life as a college student. She said high school graduation wasn't as important in the scheme of things and she preferred to look forward to college graduation when it would really mean something to her. How ever you and your children feel about it, homeschoolers can experience a prom or graduation ceremony in any way they like with a little planning. Please feel free to post a comment with your prom and graduation ideas or experiences! I'm sure my readers would love to read about them! ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer. Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula, including Say What You Mean Defending the Faith. You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com and hosting her weekly podcast, Communication Comedy Network. For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com Stay tuned next Monday for my final article in the series, “A Question of Homeschooling” when I will share the dumb questions homeschoolers are asked.