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Homeschooling 101: How to Begin Homeschooling

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015

  If you are contemplating home schooling or have recently made the decision to homeschool, you probably have many questions regarding this important decision. Deciding to take complete responsibility for your child or children’s education is a huge undertaking, but fear not, it can be done and it’s not as complicated as some individuals may suggest.  You may be wondering how to withdraw your child from public school or how to notify the local school district about your decision.  Perhaps you have questions regarding the legalities involved with homeschooling in the state you reside, how to select the best curricula that meets your child’s needs, where to locate learning activities, and much more.  If this sounds like you, and you aren’t sure where to begin, I’ve outlined below my top tips for transitioning to homeschooling. Legalities of Homeschooling  The first place to start is with the law.  Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, though each state has different laws and regulations.  States vary with their regulations with some like Massachusetts and New York requiring more from homeschool families (i.e., in New York, you must file a letter of intent, homeschool for 180 days, file quarterly progress reports, teach specific required subjects, submit an annual assessment) vs states like Michigan (No notice of intent required along with end of year tests or number of days mandated.).  Before you do anything else, you will need to understand your state laws well.  Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has outlined the laws for your state here: Essential Homeschooling Laws The following are some of the questions you will need to address before beginning homeschooling: What are the homeschooling laws in your state? Does your state require a letter of intent? When is this letter due and where do you send it?  (If you join HSLDA, they will walk you through this and provide you with a form letter to give to your school district). What qualifications are necessary to teach your child?  Do you need a B.S., high school diploma, etc.? Does your state offer religious exemptions and is this something your family should pursue? Does your state require proof of progress in the form of standardized tests, a portfolio of your child’s work, or a professional evaluation? Does your state require attendance records or a certain number of homeschooling instructional hours per year? What is the required attendance age (usually six but can be five) for starting school? What subjects are you required to teach? If applicable, are there any regulations regarding homeschooling a special needs child? All of these questions can be examined by studying your state laws.   Sometimes a quarterly report is a simple compliance like submitting a basic progress report and although your state may require you to teach certain subjects, you can choose the curriculum that best meets your child’s learning styles and or needs.  If you choose to join HSLDA, members enjoy guidance with 24/7 legal assistance ranging from answering small issues like how best to send in a letter of intent (If you are a member, they can provide you with a form letter on HSLDA letterhead for you to fill out and send notifying your district),  an attendance issue or what types of proof of progress (i.e. professional evaluation, types of standardized tests, acceptable scores, etc.) and any other legal question or issue you may...

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What is Homeschooling?

Posted by on Mar 17, 2015

What is homeschooling? Homeschooling is teaching your child at home instead of sending them to a traditional public or private school.  This can be accomplished in a number of different ways.  Parents can teach their own children or they can learn from other parents/instructors (co-ops, outside classes, educational software, long distance learning, etc.), or through online accredited school programs. It sounds simple enough, but it can be a big undertaking, especially in the beginning. The decision itself can be daunting and overwhelming, however, I can assure you that it does get easier over time. The more you homeschool, the greater confidence you’ll have, which will, in turn, make you a better teacher thus making homeschooling easier for you and your child. The quick legal facts: Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. You do not need a teaching degree or certificate to home school. It is legal to homeschool your child with special needs. It is possible to homeschool a high schooler (Online courses are available for classes such as calculus, physics, and other challenging coursework). HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) is available to help you with both basic and more advanced legal questions (along with legal assistance and legal representation if you become a member) Reasons families consider homeschooling: Provide a better education for their child. Family lifestyle: Homeschooling works better for some parent’s work schedule, certain military families that want continuity, or parent’s who travel frequently and would like to bring their kids along. Parents feel their home is a safer place for the child. Family values: Parents choose to homeschool so that they can pass on their family values to their children. Their child is having difficulties in school: Learning problems, behavior problems, experiencing boredom, hyperactivity issues, concentration problems, bullying issues, etc. Public school is not working for the child and private school is too expensive. Religious reasons: Homeschooling allows the family to preserve their religious values. Their child has diagnosed medical problems that coincide with the school’s attendance policy and they may be falling behind in school or too medically fragile to attend school. Some food allergies or intolerances may make attending regular school challenging. A family moves around frequently and wants to maintain consistency in their children’s education. Homeschooling is a better for the child. It fits better with their personally and individual learning style. Our top reasons for homeschooling are better education, better fit for our children, and a better fit with our family values and lifestyle.  I’ve also met a variety of other parents who choose to homeschooling for some of the other reasons listed above. Since we’ve been homeschooling I’ve met parents whose first and only choice has been to homeschool. They hope to educate their children from prekindergarten all the way through high school. They dream of possibly living abroad for a few years, or at the very least taking a few long trips overseas. Others have turned to homeschooling because of religious reasons, food allergies, it’s a safer environment, or because private schools are too expensive. And then there are some parents who have been pushed into homeschooling because their child has a medical or behavioral issue that the school can not ultimately accommodate. No matter what your reason is for thinking about homeschooling, rest assured you are not alone!   Deciding to Homeschool The decision to homeschool can...

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