Considering the transition to homeschool but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. The number of applications submitted for homeschooling this year has exploded because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year there were around 2.5 million K-12 homeschool students in the United States. But this year, Brian Ray, president of the National Home Educators Research Institute sees that number increasing by 10 percent or more.
So there are a lot of people out there looking for suggestions and wondering just how to make it work. We are here to help. In this article, we’ll go over some doable tips to help your family make the transition to homeschool.
There’s no need to be like Loki in Thor: Ragnarok and “hate” asking for help because “it’s humiliating.” We love to help parents who are looking for assistance in the transition to homeschool. If you have a specific question about the homeschool process, the classes we offer, or anything else about how to make the transition go smoothly, we will assist in any way we can.
This is a major decision for both you and your child. It isn’t something that you should put them through without plenty of open discussion. This should include you and your spouse and any kids involved. Make sure to listen to their questions and concerns so everyone in the family can have peace of mind about the decision. It might even help to allow them to make some of the decisions. Kids can benefit from taking ownership so let them decide what order to study different subjects, where to study, or something else that is important to them.
Something that parents may try to do but shouldn’t is to make homeschool just like the public school experience. Well, as much as possible anyway. Avoid trying to keep your roles as the parent and the teacher separate. You will find more success by integrating your teaching and their learning into your normal lifestyle and parenting. Remember, even though you may seek out help and advice from others, you know your child better than anyone else so follow your heart and intuition.
As we can see from the numbers above, you’re not alone in trying to figure out how to make homeschool work. Far from it! Try to find and connect with other parents that are in the same boat. Be there for each other when there is a struggle and celebrate together when things go well. It can help to find other children being homeschooled for your kids to connect with. One place that you might search is on Facebook. It shouldn’t be too tough to find a group you can join and start connecting. There are also some wonderful families here at Big River Academy!
Ease Into It
When you make the transition to homeschool, don’t feel stress or pressure to immediately begin with a full load. It’s not going to be perfect right off the bat. Why not start slowly as you create a new routine? Maybe start out with a couple of subjects and work you way up to a complete schedule as your family becomes ready to handle it.
Build Your Relationships
For many families, spending more time together is the best part of homeschool life. Of course, it can also be difficult for your relationship from time to time. The important thing is that you understand this and make an effort to work on and build family relationships. Do your best to focus on the positive aspects of their learning and work together patiently throughout the struggles.
Follow The Law
Certainly, you will need to go about this transition in the proper way. Perhaps your first step ought to be to find out what the requirements are when it comes to homeschool in your particular state. We’ll go into more detail about the requirements in the next section.
Keep In Touch
If your child is leaving public school, they’ll surely be missing spending time with their friends. Not only is it important to connect and find support from others in your situation, but you should work to stay connected with those friends in your community too.
Trying something new won’t be perfect from the start. You will learn as you go. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as they become necessary. Be flexible in the schedule you follow, trying new things, and even with your expectations.
Find a way to remind yourself about all of the reasons for making the transition to homeschool. When the going gets tough — and it probably will — it can help you to have a list of why you are doing what you are doing.
Something that you need to be aware of is that every state has its own laws for homeschooled students. Make sure you are aware of what the laws are for the state that your students are in. The word “in” is the key. You must follow the law of the state that you are physically in. So if you move, travel, or anything else where you cross state lines, the requirements may change.
You can find the requirements for all 50 states in many places, including sites such as the HSLDA. Here are a couple of examples from around the country.
North Carolina law defines a “home school” as “a nonpublic school consisting of the children of not more than two families or households, where the parents or legal guardians or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction.”
You may choose to operate your homeschool as one of two different types of “nonpublic” schools: (1) a qualified nonpublic school, or (2) a private religious school or a school of religious charter. The requirements are the same regardless of the type of homeschool, and are listed below.
- Submit a notice of intent
- Ensure teachers in your homeschool have required qualifications
- Provide required days of instruction
- Keep attendance and immunization records
- Administer an annual standardized test
- Close your homeschool
In Texas, homeschools are considered private schools. To legally homeschool, you will need to follow these requirements:
- Teach the required subjects.
The required subjects are:
- Spelling and grammar, and
- A course in good citizenship
Although science and history are not required by state law, any college your student applies to will require them for admittance, so you’ll want to make sure to teach those too.
- Use a written curriculum.
The private school law as interpreted by the Texas Supreme Court requires that you use some form of written curriculum (online programs meet this requirement) and that you operate your homeschool in a “bona fide” manner.
In Illinois, your homeschool will be treated as a private school. You do not have to register your home-based private school with the Illinois State Board of Education, nor are you required to obtain state recognition of your home-based private school. In fact, you cannot get your private school registered or recognized—the law does not allow it.
Homeschooling under the private school statute
To homeschool, you will need to follow these guidelines:
- Teach the required subjects.
Illinois requires you to provide an “adequate course of instruction” to your child covering the following branches of education:
- Language arts,
- Biological and physical sciences,
- Social sciences,
- Fine arts, and
- Physical development and health.
The State Board of Education treats biological and physical science as one combined branch of instruction, and physical development and health as another combined branch.
- Instruction must be in English.
When you teach your child in your homeschool, you must do so in English.
- Know what to call your homeschool program.
HSLDA recommends that you call your homeschool a private school when you deal with government officials.
Important exception: You should identify your program as a homeschool if you are filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as part of your child’s college financial aid paperwork.