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Homeschooling 101 (Part Two)

Last week, I wrote about “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 with 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 you need to simply pull away for a short period of time. Many families took up homeschooling as a temporary remedy during the pandemic until their physical schools reopened.

Understanding your timeline for homeschooling is vital because plans will differ depending on 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 also do it at home. This way, what your children learn 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 plan to homeschool for the long haul, you don’t need to worry about what the local schools are doing. Focus instead on your own vision for your homeschool and your own long-term educational goals. You can create a curriculum that is out-of-the-box and considers your children’s individual needs. You can relax.

What is Required Legally?

So you’ve decided to homeschool. Wonderful! But how do we know what is legally required of us? 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 or check in with anyone, nor do we 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 must meet with a certified school teacher once a year to approve your school plans. Others require regular standardized testing.

The bottom line is you need to learn what your state requires. The easiest way is to visit the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website, HSLDA.org. They have a handy interactive map where you can click your state and quickly review applicable laws. It is essential to know what is required of you legally and 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 on study skills and organization for tweens and teens. These brief courses lay some basic academic fundamentals that students will find 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, recordings of the talks can also be accessed year-round by 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 helpful.

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.

FREE Resources

Lastly, Homeschool Connections offers a variety of free resources for you:

To go deeper into this topic, see my interview with Lisa Mladinich on the Homeschooling Saints Podcast below:

NOTE: This article may contain affiliate links.

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Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

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