What is it, How do I start, Is it legal, Can I do this? What curriculum should I use, Should I try school at home, What are my options, finally will my kids learn anything?
I can’t tell you how often I am asked about how to get started in homeschooling. Moms yearn to understand how, and what curriculum do I use? Teacher friends want to know why and family members ask about socialization. I don’t have all the answers but I can give some guidance. To me starting this journey was answering the call to more time together as a family, creating traditions and culture, I wanted to give my kids a well-rounded intensely individualized education and bring the wonder back into their childhood. I chose the more traditional homeschool route.
Homeschooling or even school at home looks different for everyone. Each will be different based on each family’s circumstances or needs.
To begin you will need to determine your why:
Are you looking for more freedom or does your significant other spend more time away from home and you want to follow. Religious reasons, political, health, social. The choice to homeschool is a personal one so I encourage you to figure out why and create a mission statement for your family and homeschool. This will help guide the direction of your school and family.
Before I go any further I want to go over online/e-school because this article is going to cover traditional homeschooling. This is not an option for everyone so I want to briefly cover this. Online schools like k12 are not homeschooling. They are an online public school. Licensed teachers provide the states required instruction, this includes required testing. You do not need permission from the home school district you just contact the online school for enrollment. This route will require you to make sure your student is completing the required work. It is very similar to regular public schools without actually entering a brick and mortar building. Your child will also receive a diploma.
So you want to homeschool…
You have made the decision… now where to start. I suggest researching the various methods/philosophies and determining how your child learns. This will help you decide what you want your homeschool to look like and what curriculum you will use.
Charlotte Mason- This method is based on Charlotte’s belief that children are born whole persons and that we must educate the whole person, not just the mind. She said, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” This method focuses on cultivating good habits. Children should have conversations full of living thoughts and ideas, not just boring facts. Kids get this through experiences and living books, handicrafts, and nature study. This method is considered holistic because it takes into account the child as a whole person.
Waldorf- another holistic approach, Waldorf is also known as Steiner education. This pedagogy focuses on developing the child’s mind body and spirit. The Waldorf method uses a broad curriculum that includes art, music, physical, emotional, and social education including academics.
Montessori- created by Maria Montessori this is one of the most well known and popular holistic methods of schooling. This method emphasizes independence, freedom within limits, and respect. Montessori is well known for its use of engaging, natural hands-on materials.
Unschooling- Educator John Holt is the father of this method. The idea behind unschooling is that we are born natural learners. The idea is that children can direct their learning, at their own pace. There is no rigid curriculum or formality. Unschooling is very child-led with little interference from the parents.
Last but not least Classical- Classical is based on Applied Trivium. The classical subjects are Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Also referred to as Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom. Classical follows the idea that we have three mental capacities. One for gathering information another for arranging that information in a logical order and finally putting the information to practical use.
Whew, that was a lot I know. There are more you can look into these are just the main pedagogies you will find. Now onto learning styles.
Learning Styles show us how our kids learn.
Each of us is different and knowing how your child learns will help you set up your home and choose the right curriculum to create the optimal learning environment. There are four main learning styles.
- Visual- this person will process information using charts and graphs. They need images to explain concepts and ideas and they prefer graphics over words.
- Auditory- this person learns best when information is spoken. They prefer lectures and discussions. They process information by talking through things.
- Read/Write- They prefer to get written words, they enjoy reading and writing and they process information by writing notes.
- Kinesthetic- Learns best through processes. They prefer to create a concrete personal experience. Kinesthetic learners process information by recreating and practicing.
Christian or Secular:
Finally, decide if you are leaning towards a Christian based education or a secular. Secular means you have chosen to homeschool because it is the best choice for your family. Religion has nothing to do with it and you will use a curriculum that isn’t written from a religious world view.
Now is the time to finally research the curriculum. You can buy a big box set or choose to search around and put together what works best for each child. I suggest joining a few homeschool groups online. You can find great used and even unused curriculum plus years of experience from other parents. Check out Instagram, Youtube, and read as much as you can on homeschooling.
Why in the world did I cover all of that before covering the legal side of homeschooling? Because you need this information to correctly notify your school district.
The Legal side of homeschooling in Ohio:
We are so lucky, in some parts of the world homeschooling is illegal. It is not here in the United States but most states do have rules to follow. In Ohio, compulsory attendance is not required until age 6. So, for example, my daughter turned 6 in March of this year. Last year I was not required to let the district know she was not attending. This year I have to send my Notice of Intent or NOI to our superintendent before the next school year begins. There are many NOI templates you can find to fill out. It does ask you about what curriculum you will be using which is why I covered that before.
I suggest walking your NOI into the board of education and getting a receipt for it. Your other option is sending it to the Superintendent via certified mail. It must be received no later than the first week of school. This process has to be done for every year you homeschool.
You are required to provide 900 hours of instruction per year and have your students work assessed(by a certified teacher) in place of testing. This assessment must be sent to the superintendent with the next year’s NOI.
I suggest getting a homeschool planner to keep track of everything and to keep your samples in for your assessment in the spring.
Do my kids have to take the GED to get a diploma?
The simple answer is no. Technically a diploma is just a certificate from the board of education. You can print one at home. The reason you have to keep track of your hours and those assessments is that what you need is a transcript. A transcript shows colleges and the state board of education that you fulfilled the graduation requirements.
Finally, I encourage you to read as many books as you can. I highly recommend For the Children’s Sake by Susan McCauley Schaffer, anything by John Holt, The Read-Aloud Family, and Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie, The Call of the Wild and Free by Ainsley Arment, The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart. Memory Making Mom, The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson and Homeschool Bravely.
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