Now that you've taken the first step and decided to homeschool, you may be asking yourself, "Can I homeschool legally? How does it actually work, and what success have other families had who homeschooled?
Sorting through friendly advice and tons of homeschooling information on the Internet can be mind boggling. If you're wondering what to do first, it's best to start with knowing your state's homeschooling laws.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each has different requirements and regulations. To save time, effort, and keep yourself from any future legal battles, be aware of your state's homeschooling laws which may have certain restrictions like these:
Compulsory school age - The starting and ending age that your state requires for your child to receive an education.
Required hours/days of instruction - Some states have predetermined hours of instruction with elementary and secondary levels requiring different amounts.
Required subjects - In addition to core curriculum subjects like math and English (which may or may not have preset hours of instruction), some states also require other courses like health, state history, and physical education.
Annual academic testing or evaluations - Standardized yearly testing for certain grade levels may need to be administered by you or a local school official with the results submitted to governing authorities.
Annual statements of intent to homeschool - Each year, within a certain time frame before you begin homeschooling, you may need to submit a "Notice of Intent to Homeschool" to your state and/or local educational authorities.
Teacher qualifications - A high school diploma or GED equivalent may be required to homeschool in some states.
Attendance records and portfolios - Recordkeeping in the form of portfolios, scope and sequences, and transcripts may be required. Portfolio requirements may be minimal or more detailed and usually include the curriculum used, completed samples of daily work and tests, attendance, a log of homeschool field trips, and outside activities relating to each subject.
Evidence of immunization - Although you are teaching your child at home, some states may require immunizations against certain childhood diseases. There is no federal requirement for informed consent relating to immunization. For state and local regulations, check with your state or local health department.
"What about homeschooling on a daily basis?" you might ask. "How does it work?" Just as God uniquely created each individual, no two homeschooling families are exactly alike. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all instructional manual on how to homeschool simply doesn't exist.
Depending on your homeschool curriculum, the number of your children and their ages, your teaching style, and your children's learning style (more on that later), you'll find yourself designing a daily schedule that may or may not look like your homeschooling friends' routine. What's the best-kept secret? Remain flexible so you can adjust to life's surprises and future homeschooling demands.
How well do homeschooled students turn out? Will my child be able to get a job? Will he be prepared academically to compete in college? Ease your concerns by checking out this informative homeschooling "report card."
Ask to visit a homeschooling family in your area and observe their day in action. Find out their experiences to see how to tackle challenges. (Remember – Every homeschool family is unique. Glean what would work for you and let the rest go.)
Visit online homeschooling forums and bookmark homeschool blogs to ask other homeschoolers about the benefits and sacrifices involved in homeschooling.
Purchase popular homeschooling books from your local retail bookstore or borrow some from friends to get informed and read, read, read.
Take the next step: Choosing a method
Simply stated, there is no right or wrong way to homeschool. As its popularity has grown over the past decades, homeschooling methods have adapted to fit the needs of individual families and developed into many different approaches.
Next step: CHOOSING A METHOD