How To Start Homeschooling?

Choosing to homeschool your child is not an easy decision. There are many considerations to keep mind when deciding to go the homeschool route.

So how do you get started after you have made the decision to go homeschooling?

Here are the list of things you might want to find out and prepare before even starting your first homeschooling session.

1) Homeschooling Requirements

Each state in the US have their own homeschooling requirements. So be sure to check you are qualified to conduct homeschooling in your local area. Most homeschooling requirements are pretty simple so it should not be a problem.

2) Homeschooling Support Groups

It is not a requirement to join a homeschooling support group but it definitely will be very helpful to get in touch with parents who are also homeschooling in your local neighbourhood. A support group can provide support and advise especially when you are just starting out.

Some homeschooling support groups also have regular educational trips and activities such as to the zoo, museums and libraries etc.

3) Prepare The Home Environment

You will probably need to make some physical rearrangement of your home to cater an area for homeschooling. You also need to purchase the study materials such as stationary, whiteboard etc.

4) A Homeschooling Schedule

You will need to come up with a study schedule for each day’s lessons, games etc. It is also good to come up with a book keeping system to keep track of the tasks that have been completed. In some states, this is also a requirement.

5) Homeschooling Curriculum

You need to select the method of homeschooling for your child. This is based on the child’s learning aptitude and his/her learning ability. Popular methods are Montessori, classic and charlotte mason homeschooling.

As you can see, there is quite a lot of work and planning involved before starting homeschooling. That is why joining a homeschooling support group can help you so much if you do not know some of the points above.

Homeschooling Programs – Who Do You Need to Inform That Your Children Are Being Homeschooled?

I’m a parent of a 5th grader and we are looking into homeschooling as an option for our family. Along with looking at the different homeschooling programs, I also wanted to know what are the requirements for homeschooling. If we choose this path, who do we need to inform?

As it turns out, while homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, each state has its own laws and requirements regarding homeschooling. Some don’t require you to inform anyone. Others have more strict rules. A friend pointed me to the Home School Legal Defense Association website as a resource. They have summaries of each state’s laws regarding homeschooling. It’s a great place to start.

After reviewing the summary for Oregon, I went to my state’s legislature site to read the laws for myself. The HSLDA’s summaries gather all the statutes and administrative rules pertinent to homeschooling in one place, which makes it convenient. But I also wanted to make sure I understood the laws in context. It took some digging, but I did find the references listed in HSLDA’s summary. In Oregon, for example, parents need to notify their education service district (ESD) that they are homeschooling their children. Homeschooling families also must have their children tested in grades 3, 5, 8, and 10 through a state-approved comprehensive exam. If a child falls below the 15th percentile on these tests, the state requires additional testing and possibly further measures. These additional measures are administered by the ESD superintendent and may include further testing, bringing in a certified teacher and, if the child continues to decline, enrollment in school for 12 months. Once the child’s test scores start to improve, the parents are again allowed to teach their child at home.

For a summary of the homeschooling laws in your state, visit the Home School Legal Defense Association.

I’ve found some conflicting information about homeschooling for traveling families. In some places, I read that if you are traveling away from your home state for less than 3 months, you need to follow the laws in your home state. Other sources indicate that you need to follow the laws of the state in which you are currently residing, no matter how long you are there. I’m still trying to track down a definitive answer on this one. I’m also trying to track down what are the homeschooling requirements for families traveling overseas for an extended time.

General Requirements for Homeschooling

Each state has its own general requirements for homeschoooling students. There are four categories of legal options for homeschooling. The four categories are: states requiring no notice, states with low regulation, moderate regulation and high regulation.

Many of the regulations include parental notification, test scores, professional evaluation of student progress and curriculum approval. Families shouldn’t be scared off by the general requirements for homeschooling. There may be some initial paperwork to handle but as long as the teaching parent can keep good records there shouldn’t be andy fear of the state stepping in and ordering your child back to public school.

The states that have no requirements for homeschooling do not require the parents to initiate any contact. These states include Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. Parents are not obligated to contact the school districts to notify them that they will be homeschooling their children.

States that have low general requirements for homeschooling require the parents to notify the school district that they are homeschooling their children and nothing else. These states include California, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Delaware, Washington D.C. and the territory of the Virgin Islands.

Moderately regulated states require parents to send notification, test scores and provide a professional evaluation of the student’s progress. The states in this category include Oregon, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Maryland and the territories of American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands.

States with the highest regulations may be the most troublesome to parents contemplating homeschooling. These states general requirements for homeschooling stipulate parents have to send notification or achievement test scores, provide professional evaluations of student progress as well as provide a written curriculum that needs to be approved by the state, teacher qualification of the parents and on some occasions visits by state officials to check the student’s progress. These states include Washington, Utah, North Dakota, Minnesota, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. These states have few requirements for the Kindergarten level but the regulations become stricter at each subsequent grade level.

A parent is considered competent to operate a homeschool if they follow the individual state’s regulations; they do not need to have teacher certification. The parents need to file a notice at their local school that they intend to homeschool in the low to highly regulated states. Those that fall within the medium to highly regulated states will also need to keep attendance records, file quarterly reports and a grade narrative for each of the subjects taught. Highly regulated states may require an annual assessment at the end of the school year.

The general requirements for homeschool vary greatly from state to state. The parents should be well versed in the legal aspects of homeschooling before they decide to attempt it. Most parents will find that the red tape at the beginning is well worth it.

To stay abreast of the current trends, information and resources available for homeschool parents, teachers and students subscribe to Homeschool Success News.

If you need an online tutor, courseware or wish to offer your services as a paid online tutor contact our website. Magic Learning Systems also provides excellent products to enhance the homeschool experience for teachers and students. For additional information visit the Homeschool Success News website.

Dr. J. Elisha Burke

Editor, Homeschool Success Newsletter

[email protected]


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