Not all homeschoolers start off planning to educate their children at home. Many parents graduated from public school and expected that their children would thrive in classes led by certified teachers like they did. So their kids ride the school bus with other kids from the neighborhood and play with their friends from church at recess. It seems like it will all work … until it doesn’t.
If you’ve become disillusioned with public education because it’s not a good fit for your children or your family values, homeschooling could be the solution. Bullying, unsafe schools, poor academic fit, and a desire to provide religious instruction are all reasons parents take kids out of public school to homeschool. Regardless of your reason, it’s wise to work out some details before you pull the plug on public education.
Know Your State Laws
Figuring out how to legally withdraw a child from public school to homeschool can be intimidating. Laws in every state in the country allow parents to educate their kids at home. However, each state’s laws are different.
State laws dictate:
• What paperwork you’ll need to file and when
• Any total days or hours of schooling required
• If certain subjects or yearly evaluations are required
• Any records of the child’s work you’ll need to keep
• Any assessment tests your child is required to take
• If the school district must allow homeschoolers to participate in sports or activities
• If the school must provide curriculum to homeschoolers
Search online for your state’s department of education webpage on homeschooling to find out what’s required where you live. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also has compiled laws from each state and a map of the level of regulation across the country.
It’s not unusual for public school personnel to be uncertain—or mistaken—about what the homeschool laws require; the onus falls on homeschoolers to know the laws.
What Do You Want to Accomplish?
You know the reasons you want to pull your child out of public school. How will homeschooling improve your children’s learning experience? Maybe they didn’t fit in with the public school structure, social dynamics, or style of teaching. Homeschooling allows children to learn differently, and at their own pace.
Before you dive in, identify what was lacking. Was it faith-based lessons, challenging studies, or a safe place to learn? Choose curricula, resources, and learning styles that meet your children’s needs in ways public school didn’t.
A Change in Lifestyle
Many parents who have the courage to switch from public school to homeschool envision bonding with happy kids who spend days eagerly learning in the comfort of their own homes (and pajamas). Self-directed learning, outdoor activities, and trips to the museum will replace rushing to get ready for school, missing the bus, and slogging through homework.
Celebrate the good changes, but be prepared for some struggles too. Children might miss school friends or activities, or find it hard to accept their parent’s new role as educator. Parents might find the new responsibilities of homeschooling overwhelming at times. Some families drop from two incomes to one so a parent can be home with the children; this is certainly a financial adjustment.
You might see the path ahead with certainty one day and question if you’re doing things right the next! The great news is you’re not alone. As of 2010, more than two million children are homeschooled. Their parents are out there, willing to share ideas and advice or commiserate through the rough patches.
Even before you decide to homeschool, talking to other home educators can give you a wealth of helpful information. Look for Christian homeschool support groups in your state. Search on Facebook or Meetup for groups in your area. There are homeschool groups that focus on special needs or specific homeschooling styles. Consider attending a homeschool convention to learn more about getting started. These are all places to get curriculum recommendations, learn about events, ask questions, and build homeschooling friendships.
Choose When to Start
Laws allow parents to withdraw children to homeschool even if it’s mid-year. Some situations—like bullying—might warrant a rapid exit from public school. Make sure you follow your state’s guidelines by filing the appropriate paperwork before withdrawing your student, so you aren’t accused of truancy. Some families finish out the current year or semester at school while they prepare to homeschool the next year. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to do what’s best for your family.
Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.
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