Have you recently been thrust into homeschooling? Maybe you’re considering homeschooling as a long-term option for your family. One thing is sure; homeschooling is no joke.
Many families have chosen this lifestyle and thrive in it.
As parents, you have to both agree this is the route you are taking because it takes both of you to make it work. The parent responsible for the bulk of the homeschooling won’t want to battle their kids and their spouse.
If you have been considering homeschooling or are new to homeschooling and looking for help, look no further. We have collected some great tips, advice, and resources to get you well on your way to being a successful homeschooling parent.
Join Twin Cities Kids Club for access to a variety of discounts to use around the Twin Cities. Trust us; you will want some of these discounts when homeschooling and looking for activities for your kiddos.
What is Homeschooling?
Let’s start by defining what homeschooling is: homeschooling is choosing to base your child’s learning at home rather than a traditional school, either public, private, or charter. However, the real answer is much more complicated.
Ask any homeschooler you know what homeschooling is like, and you will hear a WIDE variety of answers. There are countless approaches to homeschooling. Even within a chosen style, there are many ways to approach learning with your family.
The best part of homeschooling, and probably the most appealing, is that you get to choose what works best for your family. Want school first thing in the morning? Go for it. Does waiting until after lunch work better? Why not.
You will also find that many homeschoolers are not schooled exclusively at home. Counter-intuitive maybe, but for a good reason. So much learning happens when you experience new things Homeschoolers are often great at finding community resources, co-ops, friends, and more to get their kiddos out of the house and exploring. They go to museums, libraries, parks, and more.
What Does the Law Say?
HSLDF, or the Homeschool Legal Defense Foundation, is a fantastic resource. According to the HSLDF, children between the ages of seven and seventeen must be enrolled in school in Minnesota. However, once a child is enrolled, even before seven, he or she must stay enrolled until the age of 17.
If your child is already enrolled in school, you must formally withdraw your child from their school. Officially withdrawing your child will prevent them from being considered truant.
You must also notify your district that you are homeschooling your child. After your child turns seven, you must submit a notification in writing by October 1 of the school year. Please include the child’s name, birthday, and address, as well as the tests you intend to use. You should also include immunization records.
Each year, you will need to provide a letter of intent to homeschool. You will have to submit this letter every year noting any changes until your child turns 17.
According to Minnesota law, you, as the parent, are a qualified teacher. However, if you choose to hire another instructor, there are additional requirements.
You are required by law to teach the required subjects. These subjects include reading, writing, literature, fine arts, math, science, history, geography, economics, government, citizenship, health, and physical education. This list seems intimidating, but there is no requirement of how often you have to teach each subject or at what grade level.
As the parent, you will also want to keep records of what you are teaching and when. You should also keep the results of any tests your child takes. Minnesota law requires that you keep these records, not that you submit them, though.
When it comes to testing, Minnesota requires you to test your child each year using a nationally recognized standardized test. Your district must approve the testing site. If your child scores below the 30th percentile or a full grade level below their age, you must have your child evaluated further.
Steps to Get Started
Once you have decided to homeschool your child, there are several things to consider before getting started.
- Legal or state requirements. We just went over the requirements for Minnesota, but every state is different. Ensure you have the latest information for the state you live in before starting homeschooling.
- Consider your child. How does your child learn best? What do they enjoy? If they have a hard time sitting still, you might want to avoid a curriculum with a lot of worksheets. Think about what would help your child succeed and look for a curriculum that highlights those strengths.
- Research curriculum. Google homeschool curriculum and your brain might explode. There are so many options. Talk to people who homeschool, read books, go to curriculum sales. There are so many ways to homeschool. Remember, you are NOT stuck with your first choice. If it doesn’t work, try another one next year.
- Join a homeschooling group. There are homeschooling families everywhere, and they are usually very friendly and helpful. Being a part of a group is essential to staying sane. You will have rough days, and being able to talk to other homeschooling parents will make you realize what you are going through is normal.
- Create a homeschooling space. You might be lucky enough to have a place in your home dedicated to homeschooling. However, many families are not. Decide how you will store your homeschooling items and where you will do school each day. Many families get a bookshelf in or near their kitchen where they can easily get everything out for the day and pack it back up.
- Set goals and schedule. Work with your kids to set goals for the year. Also, set realistic goals for yourself. Think about academics as well as social, spiritual, and physical aspects. Then, create a schedule that allows time for your activities as well as school. Go through your curriculum and lay out what you need to cover each week and month.
Finally, be prepared to “fail.” Hear us out. Homeschooling parents face a few problems with regularity: feeling isolated, feeling stuck, and having a hard time adjusting.
You and your kids need to get enough social interaction. You will want homeschooling friends so your kids can play, and you have a like-minded friend with whom you can share and commiserate. A huge part of school is socialization, and homeschool kids still need this.
Also, don’t commit to the curriculum too early. We mentioned researching, libraries, and curriculum sales for this reason. Buying an expensive package seems easy in the beginning, but avoid doing this until you have had time with that curriculum. Not all syllabi are equal. Find one that fits your family.
Finally, be prepared to struggle and make adjustments. Some weeks will be fantastic, and you will fly through. Others will be tough, and we mean tough. Don’t feel bad about getting ahead. Also, don’t feel bad taking a day off. You will learn as you go and have the freedom to do so.
Join Twin Cities Kids Club Today
We wish you all the best in your homeschooling journey and hope to see you around town enjoying all our great city has to offer. Be sure to join the club today for the best discounts!