I know how crazy researching for homeschool information can be in the beginning. I have put together the following for those specifically homeschooling in the state of Kentucky. Some of the information can be good knowledge for those in other states as well but please check your states laws. Information below covers: How to get started, curriculum, organization + what to keep, useful tips + more!
STATE HOMESCHOOLING LAWS
Read + learn the Homeschool laws for your state! If you have questions about them, ask around: other homeschoolers in your area, a homeschool group online or a local meetup. You can find + print the laws out here, from Homeschool Legal Defense Association: https://www.hslda.org/laws.
LETTER OF INTENT + NAMING YOUR SCHOOL
To register in Kentucky, you must send a letter of intent to the school superintendent; it’s recommended to send it by certified mail at the post office with receipt that they received it.
You are to give your school a name + it can be whatever you choose. My mother used “Hope Academy” for ours when I was growing up and I chose to pass it down and use it for my children as well. Some use their last name such as “Smith Academy” or “Smith Learning Center” for example. If you have all girls, you can use “Smith’s School For Girls” or all boys you can go for “Smith’s School for Young Men”. Those are just a few examples so use your imagination and come up with something unique, yet still professional.
BINDER: ORGANIZATION + WHAT TO KEEP
Start a binder for your homeschool. Keep all your important info in it for quick access in case you ever need it. Depending on your state laws, all of these are NOT required, but you may find helpful. Things that you may want to keep in your homeschool binder:
– A copy of your letter of intent for each year, with the post office receipt and also add the receipt that is mailed to you when they receive it.
– A copy of the homeschool laws for your state. Update this any time there is a change in laws to your state or if you move out of state. Make sure to keep previous States laws to be able to prove what you were previously required in case of differences.
– An attendance chart for each year (you can use one for all of your kids or one for each individual child, your choice). Some people like to use their county’s public school schedule so that it’s easier to keep track of school days/hours, however you are free to make your own schedule to fit your family’s needs. I use this free printable attendance chart: http://fivejs.com/free-printable-school-calendar-for-2017-2018/
– Not always a requirement, depending on state laws, but testing scores. You can find free or paid testing materials/websites. Keep the scores to reference for progress and need to work on subjects.
– Report cards or transcripts of each semester/year.
– A plan for the school year. This can include the subjects/topics you wish to teach, daily or weekly schedule you would like to follow and materials/curriculum you plan to use (workbooks, websites, textbooks, etc).
– Password tracker for educational websites (remember to track parent/teacher logins as well as the student/child). Log websites that are useful for homeschooling information + downloads as well. I suggest setting up an email specifically for your homeschool to keep it separate from all personal accounts + for ease of organization.
– Other handy information to keep, but not always required: Field Trip Log, Reading Logs, Documentary or Educational Viewing (movie/tv) Log. A photo album (printed or digital) could also be useful for capturing hands on activities, field trips, etc. Keeping a journal (kids can do this on their own when old enough for Language Arts skills) of activities + achievements is a great idea.
USEFUL TIPS + INFO
– You are not limited to the style of a public school. Homeschooling gives you the chance to teach at all times, everywhere, about anything! Watch your kids + figure out how they learn best. Research “homeschooling methods” to find what’s right for your family.
– Everyday activities can become a lesson. Math can be done when running errands in a store or bank (money management), in the kitchen (measuring ingredients), etc. Household cleaning, cooking, sewing/knitting, etc are examples of life skills + home ec. Auto repair/maintenance, home repairs, woodworking, lawn care, gardening, etc are all other great life skills to learn that include other subjects with math + science. Science can be nature hikes + researching things that were seen (plants, animals, insects, weather). Volunteer work is at a minimum job + social skills.
– Lessons can be taught not only in the home, but everywhere you go. While in the car, they can read or you can quiz them on recently learned topics for comprehension + memorization skills.
– Always keep an eye out for clearances or great sale prices (such as back-to-school) on school and craft supplies. Stock up when you can, as you will be able to use the supplies in the future.
– One of the best places to purchase books is at Library Book Sales. The money earned helps to stock new books. They sell anything from fiction + non fiction books, encyclopedias, movies, audiobooks and more. Ask your local library when they usually hold their book sales and note it for the future.
For those withdrawing your child(ren) from a public or private school, you may choose to deschool. Deschooling is an adjustment period for both students and parents to learn that school at home is not suppose to be the same as in an actual school setting. We all get stuck in our routines however those school settings are most likely part of the reason you have chosen to homeschool. Here are a few links to help you understand + what you can do during this time period:
What is deschooling?
Tips for deschooling:
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on curriculum. In fact, you may waste it because a lot of times it doesn’t work out the way you hoped.
Depending on your state laws, you can choose a specific curriculum (with books and workbooks) or online school program if that’s what you feel is best for your family. I have never used a strict curriculum (when I was homeschooled nor for my own children) so I am not any help on giving advice on any of them.
My family’s homeschool is interest led. Reading and math we do tend to stick to books + worksheets. For most other subjects, we follow topics that the children like and find ways to use that interest in as many subjects as possible.
You can also use many other resources such as your local library, encyclopedias, books you already have on hand or that you can purchase from yard sales, library book sales, online or clearances at book stores. There is no requirements on the how little or much you have to spend on materials.
The internet has many free curriculum sites as well as educational games, printables and sources for research. A few sites to find free (and paid) printables on a wide variety of subjects:
ENJOY THE COMPANY OF YOUR CHILD(REN)
You can make school fun and enjoyable for your child(ren) and yourself. Take pride in all of your successes + learn from all of your mistakes together!
Join an online homeschool support group (Facebook or Yahoo groups). Follow homeschooling pages on Facebook as they share free + cheap curriculum, tips + ideas, experiments + activities, etc. Don’t be shy + ask any questions you have. Homeschooling families are usually quite open and willing to share information with new or inexperienced homeschoolers too.