So you are thinking about homeschooling:
Homeschooling is overwhelming to everyone getting started. If you feel that way it’s perfectly normal, but still doable. I am going to try and break this down as simply as I can, with links to more info, to hopefully help make the research a little less overwhelming. We are also always available for help via a message or a phone call. Ok. You ready?
Step 1: Choose Virtual Public OR Traditional Homeschooling.
Virtual Public (sometimes called: online school, K12, connections, ALVA) is done through the public school system. They generally provide a free curriculum, require regular check-ins and testing, and have limited flexibility of time table. You will still be following a public school curriculum and plans.
Traditional Homeschooling is parent led. The legal requirements are different (but not difficult). If you want to return to a brick and mortar public school later you will have to test back in, but keep reading, I have help for that! There are many FREE curriculum options (more below), but even most of the options that have a cost are still cheaper than the general costs of getting ready for a new school year. Curriculum comes with teachers guides (answers), and much of it comes back to you as you go. You choose your curriculum and on what time table it is completed. It is common for children to be ahead in some subjects and not others.
Step 2: Getting legal (in AL)
*Only for if you choose the “Traditional Homeschooling” path.
There are three options, but most people choose between joining a church school OR sending in the private school enrollment form. The first has a small cost and real person support in filling out forms and more, the second is free but independent. Click here for more information (under “Getting stated” you will find the law, a list of church schools, and the private school enrollment forms with Board of Education contact info)
Step 3: Choose a Curriculum:
This process can feel overwhelming at first. It seems like every choice is a “make-it or break-it” decision. It’s not. The choices you make can be changed. Most homeschool families change curriculum many times. What works one year, or for one child, may not be the best fit for the next. Remember that there are teachers guides with answers, and information on the best way to map out each curriculum for the school year. You don’t have to make it up. Several of these also have options of a video to teach the lessons for you. You should not be spending 6-8 hours a day doing school work. See the second link below, any grade level, for a chart of suggested lengths of time to be spent on school work.
More Curriculum Options, broken down by grade groups (suggested by Alabama homeschool parents):
Step 4: Socialization
The Gulf Coast has a huge and very active, homeschool community. Robotics. Jr Civitan. Holiday parties. Park Days. Computer Courses. Dances. University classes. High School Trade School, co-ops, and field trips. The following groups are all great jumping off points for more information on activities near to you.
On Facebook: South Alabama Homeschooling, Washington County AL Homeschool Moms Group, Baldwin County Homeschoolers, HASA Homeschoolers (Hurley and Surrounding Areas), Happy Homeschoolers of South Mississippi, Pensacola Homeschooled Families
Step 5: Putting your child back into public school
If long term homeschooling isn't your plan they will have to test back into public school. (I have heard of one off exceptions, but this is very rare) To help in this plan I give you two links. The first gives you the learning goals of the public school system per grade level. It’s hard to test on biology if they took chemistry all year. So following that path will keep them on the right track. This doesn't mean you have to use the public school curriculum. The second is a link for at home testing sites. These you can do in your home at the end of the year so you have an idea where your child is before you make the next step.
Grade Level Goals:
College and beyond:
While the K thru 12 public schools do not accept the homeschool issued credits the colleges, military, and employers DO! This means if you decide to homeschool through high school your graduate will be able to go on to all of those opportunities, as long as you have followed the reporting requirements.
Homeschooling High School info:
Early college enrollment tips:
Some of this information is geared heavily for the south Alabama area. To “get legal” in your state check out the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense) website and find a nearby homeschool group on social media. Finding that group will also connect you to the activities available to your children in your area.
That’s a lot of information. While homeschooling isn’t for everyone I genuinely believe that many more people can do it than think they can. I suggest taking it one step at a time, join a local homeschool group for support, and feel free to message me if you have more questions.
“We aren’t trying to do school at home, we’re trying to do homeschool.
These are two entirely different propositions. We’re not trying to replicate the time, style, or content of the classroom. Rather we’re trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7 days a week. The “formal” portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceberg”
~ Steve and Jane Lambert, Five in a Row