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Is home schooling legal in every state?

It is important to obtain a copy of your state’s law regarding home school. Constitutional rights to liberty and privacy under the 14th Amendment and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment guarantee parents the right to educate their children according to their own convictions.

Each state is different on the governing laws. Getting in touch with your state’s Department of Education should clarify what is needed. Some requirements are as easy as writing a letter of intent to the superintendent, others are more complicated in writing a curriculum overview, getting an affidavit, getting tested in certain grades, portfolios and evaluations done yearly. Check with your state for the details.

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How do I get started? What’s the first step?

Whenever we have moved to a new area, the first thing I do is get in touch with the superintendent of the school district the children would be attending. They will usually direct you to a principal or give you the information on what you need to do--whether you need to write a letter of intent, get a curriculum overview together, fill out necessary papers, etc. Each school district is different.

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What about socialization?

Young children are more likely to be influenced by the majority than to be an influence on them. Children who receive their education outside the home are more likely to accept their peers’ and teachers’ values over their parents.

The children can have numerous ‘social contacts’ through programs selected by the parents (i.e. community sports, youth groups, church events, home school associations/groups in your area, volunteer community activities). Our children keep me very busy with their ‘social’ life. There are times when we must say ‘no’ to outside activities as schedules get very filled. They have never lacked in social skills, they make friends quickly, they adapt to different situations easily, and interact with adults and children alike.

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What about home schooling through high school?

I am learning now that there are quite a few programs out there--from video to CD Rom to correspondence courses to curriculum developed and set up for home schooled high school students. These are set up so that evaluations are done, report cards are given and diplomas given.

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What teaching materials are available?

There is an abundance of materials out there to help educate children at home. Home schooling is beneficial in the way that if a child has a weakness in a certain area, you can get materials to help strengthen that area. As well, if your children has a special interest or strength, the curriculum is flexible enough that you can develop that interest more.

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What are some of the difficulties with schooling at home that we should be aware of?

* It is very time consuming. It is a full time job. Depending on the curriculum, the grade level and the learning abilities of the student, the time involvement differs. I think the average day, though, is a full, five hour day of teaching, guiding, correcting and directing.

* It can be costly but not as nearly costly as private schools. Because we must pay for curriculum (although some of the public schools allow you to borrow their books and use their library, etc.--in fact Alexis’ first grade principal allowed this) depending on what you order, depends on the price of homeschooling, especially if you are schooling more than one child.

In many areas where home schooling is popular there are used curriculum book fairs which you can get good used curriculum at a reduced price. One advantage if you are schooling more than one child--most curriculum can be used over and over with different children. Curriculum we bought for Alexis in second grade has been used every year for the past 6 years by either our family or other families--which has saved money for every one involved.

* People think you’re strange--"why would you want to be around your kids all day?" They don’t think you’re knowledgable enough. They don’t think the kids will be ‘normal’ once they get out in the real world. But, as you see the results and build your confidence and relationships with your children, answers to all of these come easily. Colleges and professions are now finding that home schooled children do as well, if not better with college grades and work disciplines, as children taught in public schools.

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I don’t have any teaching education and I feel incompetent in teaching my children . . . How can I overcome that?

Prayer for wisdom in teaching is a great start. Wisdom will not give us the ‘book knowledge’ that we will need, but it will allow us to look at all the options and choose what is best.

There is a wide range of options for this. If you are starting in the elementary grades, you will find that through trial and error, you will discover the ways your children learn best. I found it is best to start with curriculum kits/programs that are already set up for parents.

There are correspondence schools that you can send school work, tests, etc. into and they keep track of everything. There are schools that will set you up with appropriate curriculum kits and you follow the day to day schedules. There are schools and publishers that allow you to buy the curriculum and you set up the subject, days and schedules the way that works best for you. Most of these schools also offer over the phone support to answer questions that you or your child may have.

As the time goes by and you become more confident, you can mix and match curriculum. With any curriculum I’ve seen, if it is set up for first grade--you can feel confident that your child is learning the adequate first grade material that the public schools are teaching. A lot of the home school curriculum is even ahead of the public schools’ as you will be working one-on-one with the student allowing him to progress faster.

There are also books that list all the subjects and what is expected in each subject for each grade level in case you want to develop your own mix and match curriculum.

Tutoring is always available for the higher grades and an exchange day with another parent that is better at teaching a particular subject is always helpful--in which you might teach their children a subject or two once a week and they will teach yours.

There are video schools and computer curriculum available also.

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What is your daily schedule like?

A typical school day in our house is that everyone must be sitting down and starting their first subject by 10:00 a.m. with all their chores done, and their personal habits (getting dressed, teeth, hair, etc.) done. The time before that is the responsibility of each individual (with guidance for the youngest ones, of course). Jimmy gets up at 7:00, gets dressed, eats, teeth and hair done by 7:30 and starts chores. That can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the day he is having and the types of chores he has to do (we rotate the chore list weekly). He then watches TV until 10:00. Alexis on the other hand sleeps until 8:30 and then takes care of her personal habits and chores and is ready for school by 10:00.

This morning time allows each one to develop their own schedule, but yet to take responsibility for managing their time and getting their responsibilities taken care of.

The school day usually ends between 2-3:00. I correct the work throughout the day and the kids redo whatever was wrong. Some parents choose to correct the school work in the evening and let the children redo the work the next day, before they actually begin the day’s lessons. Again, the flexibility is yours to decide how your family works best.

Every home schooled house is different. You are given the freedom to set your own schedule, and change it as you go to best fit the needs of you and the students.

I encourage anyone interested in educating their children at home to seriously consider it. Visit a home schooled family in your area for a day. Look over curriculums and see what’s available. Contact different book companies/schools to see what they have to offer. There is a large variety of teaching materials. You have the freedom to choose what works best for you and your children--as each child is different.

Feel free to contact me with questions. If I don’t know the answers, I will try to find the answers or refer you to someone who can.

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