It is Back to School time. We have the privilege of having our guest blogger, Melissa Stroh, give us some really practical advice for homeschool families.
Lori & Becky
Time to plan what school supplies and clothes to buy for my kids, what teacher they’re going to have…Oh wait! I’m a homeschooling mom. Nix that last one.
Yes, homeschoolers don’t face that mad scramble before public school begins. With homeschool, you’re the boss. The school year bends to your whim and the calendar is yours to command…muahahaha! Okay, so that’s a slight exaggeration. There are still guidelines to follow.
Never fear, though. I’m here to help alleviate some uncertainty for you with steps to planning your homeschool year.
Learn Your State Requirements – Each state has criteria that parents must follow in order to legally homeschool their children. This varies from state to state. Some are basic – others, more complex. you can find your state requirements at Home School Legal Defense Association.
For instance, in Nebraska, compulsory attendance age is from six to eighteen. Required instructional time is 1,032 hours (elementary) and 1,080 hours (high school), in language arts, math, science, social studies and health. Parents must fill out forms electing “not to meet legal requirements for state approval and accreditation” for religious or non-religious reasons. Standardized testing is not required.
For those living in another state, research curriculum options – Finding the right homeschool curriculum is essential to a successful homeschool year. It can be overwhelming. The first thing to do is take a deep breath. You can do this!
Discover Your Child’s Learning Style
Next, it’s helpful to discover your teaching style and your children’s learning style. I’ve covered this topic before over at HerViewfromHome.com. These links may prove helpful: Deciding What Teaching Method & Curriculum Works and Curriculum – Oh the Many Options to Choose From!
Notify Your School District – I mentioned Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA). They’re invaluable. If you live in a state with particularly demanding requirements, then you won’t regret having HSLDA by your side. You can learn more at HSLDA to connect with local homeschool groups and get specific information on approaching your school district.
No matter the state, here’s some good advice:
1. Send all correspondence via certified mail with a receipt.
2. Keep copies of what you send and receive for your personal records.
3. The information you send out must reach your school district well before the first day of public school – preferably before the first annual meeting of your local school board.
Establish Your Annual Schedule
1. Purchase or create a planner and calendar for yourself.
2. Figure the number of school days required by your state.
3. Look over your curriculum. Write down the number of pages or lessons in each subject.
4. Figure out how many days you will devote to school. Most stick to a five day week.
5. Divide the number of required school days by five.
6. Then take the page or lesson number and divide it by your answer in the previous step. This will give you the number of pages per week that you need to accomplish in order to finish the curriculum in a year.
I can’t emphasize this enough…use your figures as a guideline! Don’t allow the numbers to shackle your teaching.
Plan Your Calendar – This is the fun part. Pull out your calendar. Begin marking school days, field trips and vacations. Pencil in the minimum school days required by your state. Think outside the box here. School days need not be confined to the week. Plus, as in public school, educational field trips count as school days.
Purchase School Supplies – Okay, obviously you don’t have to buy new clothes or backpacks (unless you really want to). Since home is where you school, your shopping can be as frequent or infrequent as you need, and not necessarily confined to the month of August.
Supplies needed will vary but here are some good basics:
1. Teacher and student supplies
2. Art, craft, and science supplies
3. Computer and printing supplies (or money set aside for scanning material if you don’t have a scanner/printer at home).
Above all remember, trust God with your fears and homeschool needs.
These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world,
but your Father already knows your needs.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,
and he will give you everything you need.
So are you ready to begin?
Melissa N. Stroh is an aspiring Historical Fiction author and homeschooling mother of three, enjoying the ranching life outside Newcastle, Wyoming. She serves as board secretary for the Newcastle Area Christian Homeschool Organization (NACHO) and writes regularly for Her View from Home, an online Lifestyle magazine. She and her husband, Matt, were involved in youth ministry for eight years.