** Disclaimer: Any of the laws, requirements, or deadlines I use in this post are pertaining to my state, county, and district regulation requirements. **
Many of my followers have asked me what it takes to homeschool or how we do it so I decided instead of repeating myself over and over I would just write out a blog to put into detail why, how, where, and all of that when it comes to our homeschooling.
First things first – why? I have touched base on our reasons for deciding to homeschool A in a previous post so I won’t get into too much detail here. She had been dealing with bullying and despite my many efforts to work with the school to stop it, it continued happening.
How? I could go two ways with this response – how to do this legally and how I mentally/physically do it. As for homeschooling legally, it depends on your state laws. Some states require little to no regulation and some states require a whole lotta regulation. You can click here to check out your states laws. Virginia is somewhere in the middle. Every year I have to turn in my NOI (notice of intent to homeschool) along with a list of subjects I’ll be teaching, an annual evaluation, and for the first year I had to turn in a copy of my diploma (you can qualify in other ways, the link above will notify you of which ways your state allows you to qualify). The NOI is to be turned in by August 15 of every year (in VA), unless you begin homeschooling mid-year in which case it needs to be turned in as soon as possible after being taken out of public school. The annual evaluation, in Virginia, is to be turned in by August 1 of every year. Your ‘how you qualify’ is to be turned in along with your NOI the first year, again some districts make you turn this in yearly but mine only requires the first year of homeschooling. In Virginia, once you have submitted your NOI, subject list, and home instructor qualification you are good to begin homeschooling, you don’t have to wait for an approval. Here you don’t have to notify the school but it is seen as a nice gesture and it keeps you from getting attendance calls everyday until paperwork has made its way to the school notifying them of your intent to homeschool.
Now, as far as record keeping I don’t have to keep any of it. We are required to do 180 days of schooling around the time when public schools are in session so I do keep an attendance sheet for my own use and it is easily accessible if I were to ever get audited. I also keep a copy of my NOI, my subject list, and a copy of my diploma in a binder along with a handful of worksheets, field trip logs, and any notes I have made throughout the year.
Now for the how do I do this mentally/physically part.. first thing I will say is that it is not easy and it takes a lot of patience and understanding. After dealing with bullying and being ridiculed for getting done with her work quick A began hating school so at first it was very difficult getting her to cooperate. We had a couple weeks of deschooling, an adjustment period for the child upon leaving school and beginning home instruction, where we talked about all of our plans, went over any meet ups we wanted to do, picked out our curriculum, etc. During this time no academic lesson plans/worksheets were completed. It was an introductory session, so to speak, to A on what homeschooling is and how it was different than public school.
Once she fully understood what homeschool was and how it worked we stepped right into our first week. She still has some tough days, as I imagine she will all throughout school like most kids, but the good definitely outweigh the bad. This year we’ve began a new way of instruction that I’m thinking she will like much better than how we did last year.
I am a student myself so I have to plan accordingly to what my week looks like as well. Last year was much harder because I put her curriculum together myself by printing out worksheets, buying textbooks, etc. and piecing it all together to fulfill her educational needs. This year I have pulled online resources together to create a full curriculum so that all I have to do is print any worksheet she may need to go along with the daily work, which isn’t much. I will get into this a little more in the ‘what’ section. I do still use our textbooks and other workbooks but the online resources are used as a guide and A is a lot more independent this year with her schooling.
The first piece of advice I will give you, after knowing your states laws and regulations, is to join a Facebook group of homeschoolers in your area! They share a lot of information regarding laws, activities, get togethers, etc. I have had so many of my questions answered just by scrolling the feed reading others comments or questions!
Where? We don’t have a dedicated homeschool room so we do our work on the dining room table. This year I don’t have a lot of extra supplies or binders so I didn’t need all the storage space that I did last year. A has a case with markers, colored pencils, pencils, etc that she pulls out when she’s doing her assignments if she needs them. I also have a plastic crate where I have her textbooks, workbooks, and my record keeping binder.
When? Our day typically starts at 9am and lasts until around noon. Some days it goes longer and some days she’s done earlier. This solely depends on her needs as far as learning the assigned topics of the day.
What? This is going to be a long section on what textbooks I use, what online resources I use, etc.
Our textbooks are the Southwestern Advantage books. We got them when A was in second grade to use as a supplemental resource when she needed help with her school work. Little did we know that we would be using them so much more often in less than a year. These are amazing books, a little on the expensive side but great for homeschool families. We have two math books, science, social studies, language arts, and a topic source which is used for research type papers. If any of y’all would like a more detailed picture let me know!
We also use the BrainQuest workbooks that you can find at Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Nobles as well as a few books that we’ve picked up from various stores over the last year. Again, if you want any detailed pictures let me know and I will be happy to take some!
I use a variety of online resources as well. We use All In One Homeschool, Math Is Fun, and IXL for our curriculum guides. If I need a particular worksheet made up I will use this worksheet generator. I have an account with Teachers Pay Teachers that I have used to print off worksheets as well.
Now, I have been using all free resources but there are PLENTY of curriculum that you can purchase, either as a set or just a subject. The reason that I throw mine together with lots of different resources is because A is on different grade levels within her subjects so I have to use multiple grades to fulfill her needs. We have what is called an eclectic (definition below) approach to homeschooling. I cover math, english/grammar, social studies, science, health, reading, and p.e. With homeschooling you kind of have some say in what subjects you teach (depending on your state regulations) but I wanted to cover them all so that she’d have a full curriculum.
“Relaxed” or “Eclectic” homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.
The advantage of this method is that the parent feels that the subjects they believe are most important are covered thoroughly. This method also allows the family to choose textbooks, field trips, and classes that fit their needs and interests.
I hope that I have covered all of your questions regarding homeschooling but if you come up with one that I haven’t touched on please let me know and I will do my best to help you!
Again, thanks for reading!