Whether you’re firmly committed to homeschooling or you’re tossing around the idea, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the process. Michael James Knapp and his wife Amber found that getting started was the toughest part of homeschooling. But they stuck with it and now homeschool both of their children successfully. Here are some of the basics they kept in mind as they got started.
Check Your State’s Guidelines
While all states allow homeschooling in some form, some states have much more rigid requirements and restrictions than others. For example, Texas, Michigan and Idaho don’t even require notice of your intent to homeschool. Other states, such as California, Georgia and Kentucky, require notice only and don’t have any further say on attendance, curriculum or testing.
Others states, such as Florida, North Carolina and Oregon, have moderate regulations, which may require standardized testing, attendance, vaccination records and professional evaluation. That said, many of these states typically don’t weigh in heavily on a student’s progress or make determinations about the quality of any given curriculum.
The most restrictive states, including New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, require notice, standardized testing, attendance records and professional evaluation. They may also require state curriculum approval, specific teaching credentials for parents and home visits by state employees.
Take Regulations Seriously
It’s important to follow all of your state’s requirements when it comes to homeschooling. If you fail to do so, your state can revoke your right to homeschool, and potentially take further action.
Have a Plan
Whether you’re planning on going the “unschooling” route or you’re following a structured curriculum, having a solid plan matters. In many states, you don’t have to follow the public school’s schedule and standards. But knowing common grade standards can help you learn where your child stands relative to other students and make decisions about your child’s scholastic needs.
Choose a Curriculum Carefully
Not every curriculum is well-suited to every child. One of the best benefits of homeschooling is that you can tailor the learning process to each individual. Some self-motivated, independent learners may benefit from a “hands-off” approach, while other children may need extra encouragement and involvement. Children who work best alone and uninterrupted may prefer an online school, while more social children may prefer an interactive approach. And some students may benefit from the use of workbooks, while others may learn best through the use of auditory lessons.
Homeschooling parents Michael and Amber Knapp have found that a combination of a set curriculum, art and music lessons and real-life object lessons works best for their two homeschooled children. But they recognize that each child learns in a slightly different way.
Homeschooling requires a significant amount of time and even money, depending on the curriculum you choose. Homeschooling may take less time than traditional schooling, but it’s an enormous responsibility to take on, and it isn’t easy. Make sure you have the time and energy to invest before you fully commit yourself.
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