Homeschooling 101 (Part Two)
Last week I wrote on “Homeschooling 101” and the fundamentals of launching your homeschool. Today I’d like to continue that discussion and go over some of the basics to get started homeschooling. I’ll cover basic planning, understanding your state’s legal regulations, and getting your hands on the right resources.
Short Term or Long Haul?
One question you need to consider when planning is whether you are homeschooling for the long haul or if this is just a one year plan? A one-year plan usually happens when there is a transitionary period. For example, you are moving to a new town and don’t want to enroll the children in a new brick and mortar school mid-year. Or, there is a bullying issue in your school and need to simply pull away for short period of time. During the pandemic, many families took up homeschooling as a temporary remedy until their physical schools reopened.
Understanding your timeline for homeschooling is important because plans will be different depending upon it. If it looks like it’s only going to be a one year thing, you might want to sync your efforts with what your brick and mortar school is doing. For example, if the school your child will be attending is doing U.S. History that year, you should do it at home as well. This way, what your children are learning at home fits with what their peers are learning in school. This will ensure everyone will be on the same page when your child returns. Note that homeschooling takes far less time than schooling a large classroom so you’ll have time to add in family devotions and extra curricular activities to your plan.
Now, if you are planning to homeschool for the long haul, you really don’t need to worry about what the local schools are doing. Focus instead on your own vision for your homeschool and what your own educational goals are longterm. You can create a curriculum that is out-of-the-box and takes into consideration your children’s individual needs. You can relax.
What is Required Legally?
So you’ve decided to homeschool. Wonderful! But how do we what is required of us legally? The legal status of homeschooling varies from state to state. In some states you have almost total freedom. In Michigan, for example, we have no homeschooling regulations placed upon us. We do not need to register, check in with anyone, nor have anyone sign off on graduation. However, some states require filing a written letter of intent with the state or school district. In other states, you need to meet with a certified school teacher once a year to have your school plans approved. Others require regular standardized testing.
The bottom line is you need to learn what your state requires. The easiest way is to visit the website of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, HSLDA.org. They have a handy interactive map where you can click your state and quickly review applicable laws. It is important to not only know what is required of you legally, but to know what your rights are in your state. There are instances where a school district might tell you you are required to jump through some hoops that really aren’t required. Even colleges will do this sometimes (see “Homeschooling: A College Admissions Story“).
Resources to Get You Started
Our success in any endeavor is generally only as good as our level of preparation. Fortunately, there are an abundance of resources out there to help you launch your homeschool! Let’s review:
Homeschool Connections offers courses for tweens and teens on study skills and organization. These brief courses lay some basic academic fundamentals that students will helpful in the transition to homeschooling, since homeschooling lays much more personal responsibility upon the student.
Other online courses from Homeschool Connections can help you transition easily from school to homeschool. You can pick & choose classes without having to commit to a full curriculum.
If you haven’t heard of the Catholic Homeschool Conference, you want to check it out! The Catholic Homeschool Conference is an annual online conference with speakers on all aspects of Catholic homeschooling as well as a plethora of Catholic homeschool vendors and curriculum providers. The LIVE conference is interactive and engaging. Additionally, talks can also be accessed year round to conference registrants. It is a fantastic resource.
If you are confused by the different “styles” of homeschooling out there and want to learn what fits you best, the website Homeschool On has a homeschool style quiz. The quiz helps you understand what style (classical, Charlotte Mason, etc.) best suits your family and temperament. This might be good in conjunction with the book Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis. These are not Catholic resources but are still useful.
If you like the Charlotte Mason method, the website Mater Amabilis has free outlines, lesson plans, and resources from elementary all the way up through high school.
If you are interested in a classical liberal arts curriculum, you’ll definitely want to get a hold of Laura Berquist’s classic text Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. Generations of Catholic homeschooling families have found inspiration and practical guidance from this fantastic book.
To explore how to implement more living literature in your Catholic homeschool, see my book For the Love of Literature from Behold Publications.
Lastly, Homeschool Connections offers a variety of free resources for you:
- Homeschooling Saints Podcast
- Homeschool Connections Blog (click: How to Start Homeschooling)
- Homeschool Connections Community
- Homeschool Planning and Record Keeping Forms
To go deeper into this topic, see my interview with Lisa Mladinich on the Homeschooling Saints Podcast below:
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