IF YOU WANT TO START HOMESCHOOLING (SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN) RIGHT NOW, HERE ARE THE FIRST 4 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO GET STARTED:
#1- Familiarize yourself with homeschool regulations for your state. The rules vary (by state) from very lenient/almost non-existent to very strict (in some states the only requirement is that a parent has to have graduation from high school. That's it - no testing, no rules. Other states require you to be a certified teacher or be supervised by a teacher, and to provide an elaborate portfolio of work samples ever year). Washington state is fairly lenient.
Put simply, here are the "rules" for WA state:
- Any child over 8 has to be registered as a homeschooler with the school-district (if they are already enrolled in public school, they have to be formally withdrawn, no matter what age).
- Each child must participating in standardized testing annually (see separate post on this topic)
- You must report your intent to homeschool the student to the school district EVERY YEAR within 2 weeks of school starting (or 2 weeks of withdrawing the student from school). There is a specific form you have to use (see separate post for this)
- You must keep records (including standardized test scores, immunization records, etc)
- You must cover a minimum of 11 topics (not necessarily all at once): reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art & music appreciation (these do not have to be taught separately...if you're studying frogs that could include reading, writing, spelling, science, math, art and occupational education all in one lesson).
- At least one parent in the home must meet one of these criteria (and it doesn't have to be the main teaching parent):
- Have earned at least 45 quarter units of college level credit.
- Attend a "Parent Qualifying Course" (ie, something you can pay for, but its unnecessary)
- Work with a certified teacher who meets with your student on the average of an hour a week.
- Be deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of your local school district.
#2- File an intent to provide home instruction with the school district within 2 weeks of the start of each school year or immediately if student is currently enrolled. (see separate post on this topic)
#3- Get a folder/notebook/filebox to start your homeschool record-keeping. This is not the place to keep completed schoolwork or plans for lessons. This is the place where you will keep your important records related to homeschooling (see separate post on this topic)
#4- Go to the Washington State Dept of Education Website (or the comparable website for your state if you aren't in Washington). This website has a complete list of everything that Washington State students are expected to learn (listed by grade year). This is all broken down into subjects. I use this resource because #1- our state requires annual standardized testing, so I need to know what will be covered on the test. #2- if you ever need/want to put your student back into public school, you want to make sure they've covered the same material as the public school kids so they aren't behind. I consider the required topics/skills to be the base and then I add on what I want the student to learn/do.
(See my other posts on how to plan/prepare your curriculum!)