To homeschool or not to homeschool, that is the question? Whether it is nobler to send your little ones off packing to your local public school without a second thought or to tackle their personal education yourself? Hmmm…good question! All kidding aside, only you can know whether you have it in you to teach your own child. But if you’re unsure, know that you are not alone. I’ve been there. Though I’m the farthest cry from the perfect teacher, after two years I have learned one important lesson…I can do it!
The decision to homeschool is a daunting choice for those who know nothing about it. My mother homeschooled my sister and I for two years (4th-5th grade for me). We attended public school the rest of the time. I never gave homeschool a second thought until years later when I found myself married with two kids and my first born was about to turn five. At that point I had to make a decision and I hate making decisions!
Fortunately, I was not alone. I have a wonderful sister in-law who homeschooled her daughters and I knew several homeschooling mothers in our town, one of whom, just happened to be the head of our local homeschool board. They showed me where to begin my journey, and I’ll do my best to impart a bit of that advice to you.
For starters, anyone who undertakes looking up homeschool info on the internet will quickly discover the barrage of information thrown at you. Tackling where to begin in that slush pile is tantamount to taking on the Atlantic ocean with a paddle and water-wings…you aren’t going to get very far before you’ve had enough. So here’s a couple good sites to begin with: www.hslda.org/defaulot.asp?bhcp=1 and www.beginninghomeschool.com
The first site will take you to the Homes School Legal Defense Association. There you not only learn about the how-to’s of beginning homeschool, but you will also discover where to find the education requirements for your state. Most states adhere to similar standards, but there are specifics that differ here and there and it’s important that you are aware of what those are.
I highly recommend finding a local homeschool group to offer you advice and support. These individuals can also tell you how to contact your local school district to comply with your state law. And if you are a social introvert like me, you will be pleased to know that all of your contact with the school board should be in writing. If you are contacted by phone or in person, politely inform them that you prefer to keep all contact in writing so that you have a written record of all your correspondence.
If you are starting homeschool off with kindergarten, you most likely will not have to report your child until they are seven years old by the beginning of that school year. In my home state of Wyoming, a parent is not required by law to report that they are homeschooling until their child is seven years of age by September 15th of that year. After that, reporting to the school board may cease once your child turns 16 years old or they have completed the 10th grade.
Next, you want to consider your homeschool philosophy. How do you want to approach homeschool? What things do you feel are important for your child to learn? What can they do without? What kind of curriculum do you want to purchase? Some parents shutter at the thought of being in charge of every little detail of their child’s education. For them, an online accredited school with packaged curriculum is the way to go. Other parents (like me) prefer to have complete control and handpick their child’s curriculum from a variety of sources.
If you go the packaged route, it will take a load off your shoulders when it comes to keeping written records and such. But it will place a lot of pressure on your pocket book and hamper your schedule. As you may have guessed, if you hand pick your curriculum, you have the freedom to teach what you want at your pace, but you have the responsibility to keep all of your child’s school records. Some good sites to check out for curriculum providers or homeschool programs are: www.teachinghome.com ; www.home-school.com ; www.homeschooldigest.com ; and www.homeschoolenrichment.com.
This, of course, is only the beginning of your homeschool journey. But I hope it gets you off to a good start.