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Questions and Challenges
While all of this seems to paint a rosy picture, homeschooling does have its challenges. The first year seems to try parents and kids the most. It takes time to find the best curriculum and the right balance between schoolwork and free time. Often, parents set rigid but unrealistic goals. “You have to expect the unexpected,” cautions Warshaw, who works part time as a special-needs-education advisor. She believed that she and her ex-husband would have no problems instructing Keith in math, since they had both excelled at it. But it proved the one area where Keith needed a tutor. “The way we taught and the way he learned just didn’t match,” she says.

There is also the problem of expertise. As kids get older, math and science curricula can advance beyond their parents’ understanding. “A common concern for a lot of families is that when you get to high-school level, math or science gets hard, and they don’t feel capable of teaching it,” says Wyatt. Also, providing hands-on lab experience in biology and chemistry can be difficult. But there are many resources available on the Internet, such as computer-based biology experiments, and some community colleges allow high-school-aged students to enroll in classes, including lab-based science courses.

Parents who stay with homeschooling for the long haul face challenges preparing their children for college. In some states, it can be difficult to acquire the high-school diploma necessary not only for college admission but also for federal aid. Warshaw is now working with North Atlantic Regional High School, an accredited private school in Lewiston, ME. Schools like North Atlantic offer to keep track of homeschoolers’ coursework and test scores, provide tutoring services, and, when students have met state criteria, issue diplomas.

None of the MIT alums who homeschool say that they are mandating college for their kids, though. The Webbs have set up a college fund and are encouraging David to go but say the decision is up to him. Warshaw is leaving it to Keith to choose when he wants to enroll. Curtis and Bidigare have similar thoughts about their children’s futures. “I want them to have their options open. That means taking all the classes,” says Curtis. “But I would not be disappointed if none of them wanted to go to college.”

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