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Monday, January 18, 2010

About Homeschooling

So you are interested in homeschooling.... So you have decided to homeschool...
BUT you have a lot of questions before you begin.....

Let me begin by saying, Relax... Take a deep breath... Everything can look a bit overwhelming at first. Rest assured it is not all that overwhelming. In the beginning we think there is a certain way we have to do things- /sigh/ here comes alot of stress. The truth is, "We unknowingly add more to the plate then we really need - Thus, adding more weight on our shoulders then we should have as we consider or even begin this new journey. Beginning to homeschool should not be a job full of stress. We should be excited and ready to learn with our little ones. Make if fun for everyone...

So you have questions? Ok, I encourage you to take a moment to write down all of your questions. [ex. Why are we considering - [or] - do we want to - homeschool?, What can my children, my family gain from homeschooling?, Can we really afford to homeschool?, What do I know about homeschooling? etc...]

Allow me to give you a brief run down on all the things you will need to know in the very beginning of this journey. [Whether considering to HS or Just beginning to HS]

First allow me to say this, "There's NO specific way you have to Homeschool!" Homeschooling is all about you, your schedule, your kids, your rules.... Get the message, YOU set your agenda, pick your curriculum, teach on your schedule at what ever pace you desire. You are the teacher/principal/parents. Dont feel obligated to stick to a public schools agenda or routine. I know you have the questions, I did to. The truth is, You will not have answers to all of your questions right away. Some will come in time. Don't rush the answers to your questions. For the most part, many of us are still learning the answers to alot of our questions that we have had from the begininning of our journey. - Stay with me, I may have to make a few seperate posts on this bt I will link them up to this post and I will cover more of this later on.

I will note below the questions that you need to know before or as you begin to homeschool.

- What do we need to know before we begin to homeschool?
First thing is first, You will need to know all of the following:

~ Go to your State Gov. web page and search the Laws & Legislation for Homeschooling Education. [ For example: I am from Indiana, so you would go to the Indiana State Gov. page linked here: http://www.in.gov/core/education.htm and click on Homeschooling.]

** It does not matter what state you are from, "Know the guidelines to your state laws." I encourage you to make a binder of your state requirements and stay up on them as new laws are always added. This away you are fully aware of the requirements and sure to keep within them.**

~ Next, What are the state education requirements for our children? You will also find this under the homeschooling laws and requirements. Typically school in sessions days are required at 180. [Now I urge you to stay up on these laws with this new administration there has already been talks of changing in sessions days and other important things that may very well effect all of us homeschoolers.]

~ What do I need to do if my child attends a public school? You will need to write a letter to your childs school principal respectfully explaining you will be with-drawing your child from school. If you have a few children in different schools print off a few copies to give to the other school principals. [Now although you don't have to do this - I strongly recommend that you Thank the principal for their years of service to your child or children. Show them how much you appreciate them and all they have done for your children. I say this because it shows them you appreciate them and all they have done to help your child over the years and in most cases you will find favor in the schools eyes - allowing you an easy withdraw from the public school. If you carry attitude and give a few days to a weeks notice you are looking for some sort of trouble out of the school.

It is recommended that you send your letter of withdraw in the mail allowing a 2 week notice for the school principal to get all of your childs records ready for withdrawl. It is also being respectful to the district school. Important Note: It is not required that you give anymore detail then just that you are withdrawing your child. If you feel you should explain a little, that is ok to. Just dont give to much information as you are not required to. I want to red flag you on one thing - Schools will and have pressed the parents for more information making the parent feel like they are required to give the school information by law. NO! By law you are not obligated to give any information other then what you want the school to know! You need to be aware of this. You have parent rights and do not let the public school system tell you otherwise. You have the right to withdraw your child at any time for any reason. [Thus, why you need to know your rights, the laws & legislation for HS in your state. You can also go to the HSLDA web site and find out your parental rights and more. www.hslda.com Should any school try or succeed in violating your parental rights, I urge you to contact the HSLDA for help. They are your HS advocates and will fight for you.]

~ Will I need to notify my state about homeschooling? In most states they do require you to register with them. You can find the enrollment form on your state web page. It is very simple and fast. You will need to give your brief information: Name, Address, Telephone #, Children ages/grades to homeschool. They will assign you a school identification # that you will want to hold on to. That is it!

~ What do I need to do about curriculum? Well that is up to you. You are the teacher and you will need to research some curriculums and find out what curriculum is best. Now just because it works good for someone else it does not mean it will be best for you. Remember, everyone homeschools differently. What works for one family does not always guarantee it will work for yours. You will need to experiment a little your first year to find out what works best for you. Keep in mind there is always some room for change at any time during any school year. Be ready for this and really it is ok for this. Sometimes it will be necessary. You can use curriculum already done up for you that is sold most anywhere online or retail stores- or you can make up your own curriculum. [In a later post I will share some insiders to curriculum searching]

~ What is the HSLDA and Why should I become a member? HSLDA stands for Home School Legal Defense Association. They are just what the name says. Your legal counselors there to fight for you and your rights. If you are not a member it is something to consider should you have any trouble later on. - If you are not a member and you do need help they still encourage you to call them and they will still help but they will encourage you to become a member. You can find an application at the HSLDA website and keep checking back as they will show discounts to the membership often.

~ Assessing your child - No it is not required in all states to assess your child. However, some states do require it. I highly recommend you testing before you begin any schooling to see where your child is at as far as learning and what you may need to recap if any as you begin teaching. You can do the testing yourself or take them to be tested. I test once before school begins and once towards the end to ensure they are where they should be for that school year. [I do encourage it, Had I not done that with my oldest I would not of found out the flaws of the public school. She was in 4th grade passed to the 5th grade but only in a 3rd grade learning level on everything. When I talked to the teachers about this, I learned it was because the public schools recap the previous school year more then they do the present school year due to the ISTEP testing that is required in most states. Since that is the case, why do we pass our kids along to a grade higher when they are not learning at that grade level. The public schools standards honestly make NO sense to me at all.]

Also, do a test on your childs learning types. You will want to know what type of learner your child is in order to help him or her learn as you homeschool. To the right of my blog you can find some links in a drop down box.

~ Always Always KEEP RECORDS of everything you do! It is easier to keep records on your computer but if you prefer to keep records on booklet then do so. Always keep records of your school agenda, work completed or not, testing, Grades [if you grade, many do - some don't. I recommend it to keep you on your feet as to what your child is learning ok or what they are struggling with. Evaluate them and keep records of their evaluation. This away if the state should come in or question your schooling you have proof and your end is covered. You should always be ready for anything that can happen. Remember for every good homeschooling school - there is always a bad one out there making it hard on the rest of us!]

~ What do I do with all the unanswered questions I have? Hold on to them! Sooner or later [probably later] you will get the answers to those questions. You can ask around with others that homeschool. They can tell you what they did or how they got their answer. I remind you that what works for an other will not always work for your family. Just because one answer was given to your question or one similar does not mean it is the answer for you. Do your research and most importantly be willing to have the patience it may take for that answer to come. Some times answers are not answered for along time. It is ok if your questions still sit answer less. In time the answer will come. Homeschooling is about learning and truthfully what homeschooling parent is not still learning the answers to alot of their questions earlier on! For the most part know the important information listed above. Get ready to learn and enjoy learning & teaching your children. What better way to teach your children truth and learning with them because it is coming from Us their parents!

~ What is a homeschool support group? A group of other homeschoolers coming together to support and encourage each other. Not all groups have child care and many groups prefer that you do not bring your children. The reason being, is the group is specifically for just the parent. It is hard in some cases for many to go with no care for their children. Some offer classes for their children or craft time while the parents are being encouraged and having fellowship with other adults. It is highly recommended that you get involved some where near your home location. If you can not go out to them connect with other homeschooling parents online. They are great encouargers, friends, supporters with lots of ideas to help along the way. A great place for online connection is the homeschool lounge. http://www.homeschoollounge.com/

While I am at it, Blog about your experience. [blogspot is a great blog to begin with, there are other blogs that are great to, http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/ - You can connect and help others by sharing about your experience in homeschooling, beginning to end. You don't have to write anything in particular. Just share your thoughts, your day, your agenda or things you all did through out your school day. Ideas you have or sites you found. We are all here to encourage each other. Be creative, express you and make your blog all about you and your family. After all it is your blog and you are the author. It is not meant for your blog to be done to please any other but yourself.

Books I recommend as you begin : The basic steps to homeschooling by Vicki A. Brady and Living well on one income by Cynthia Yates

I am going to wrap this post up and later on I will link another to this post. Please feel free to ask any questions at any time.

God Bless you and welcome to a new fun filled adventure in homeschooling.

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