We recently began homeschooling our first grader, and since writing this post about our decision, I've had many parents asking questions…
How do you get started with homeschooling? How do you know what to teach? How do you find the time to do it all? While we're new at this, I am more than happy to share what I've learned so far…
How did we get started with homeschooling?
When I was researching the logistics of homeschooling, I found information online to be disappointingly incomplete with many explanations of ‘legal requirements' but no clear basic steps to make the switch. So, I reached out to friends and acquaintances who had already ditched conventional education, and my best answers came from my friends Sylvie and Eric from Hollywood Homestead.
This is what I learned…
Here in California, homeschooling parents basically have two main options:
#1 – You can enroll your child in a ‘homeschool program' which is essentially a very similar curriculum to one he would have at school, but your child works from home on the computer (and physical education would be on the honor system).
This seems to be the best route for kids that don't necessarily thrive in a traditional school setting whose parents prefer the specific structure of the public school curriculum. My friends from Hollywood Homestead felt this was also a great way to gently transition their high schooler into ‘unschooling', which Sylvie talks about in this post.
#2 – The other, option made the most sense for what we had in mind: simply create your own private school using your home address and teach whatever you want, however you want to do it.
To do this, I first wrote a letter to ‘transfer' my son to his new ‘school' (named after our neighborhood).This letter also requested that his records be sent to this new address. I also gleaned that I need to keep on file a simple attendance record and a general written account of what we plan to teach during the year – easy enough.
Finally, the homeschool must submit an online form called a Private School Affidavit that officially registers the new ‘private school' between October 1-15th. If you are outside of these dates, apparently you can file a paper affidavit also available on the site. And that's that. Surprisingly simple.
If you live in California, you can find more information about the whys and hows of the technical side of homeschooling at The Homeschooling Association of California. Regardless of the state you live in, I suggest doing some online research to determine the precise laws (since education is ruled by state).
Then make sure to reach out to other homeschooling parents to find out the best ways to get through the paperwork and any red tape.
Until then, if you're homeschooling, what state are you in?
Can you share with us, the steps you took to become homeschoolers?