Just as good planning is the key to any successful road trip, so it is on this homeschooling journey. Most of these items will be covered in greater detail later in this section and/or in other sections of this workbook, but this checklist will give you a basic overview as you prepare for this adventure!
•Consider subscribing to homeschooling publications. Attend a state convention (or obtain tapes from the workshops, if this is a mid-year decision). •Read, read, read. •Attend a How-to-Begin seminar in your area. •Check out home education web sites on the Internet (see resource list for a starting point). •Attend a local support group meeting and ask lots of questions – other parents often love to talk about home schooling! Most importantly, talk to other homeschoolers to find out what they do, how and why. •And read, read, read!
Research your state’s homeschool law
Yes, Virginia, it is legal to homeschool! Basically, you should:
•Familiarize yourself with the statutes of the Virginia Code which regulate home education. [See the appendix of Home Education 101: Mentor’s Manual, Virginia Law section of the HEAV manual, or www.heav.org for more detailed information.] •Comply with one of the three options: Certified Tutor statute (22.1-254) Religious Exemption statute (22.1-254(B)(1)), Homeschooling statute (22.1-254.1). (See HE 101 Appendix for more information on these options.) •Be aware of any deadlines you must meet. For example, under the homeschooling statute, you should file your Notice of the deadline, in which case you may send in as soon as practicable; also, you must submit proof of progress by August 1 of the following year. •Keep copies of any paperwork you send, and it’s a good idea to mail everything certified, return-receipt requested. Be sure that any paperwork you submit is free of spelling or grammatical errors (and coffee stains). If you hand deliver, take a receipt to be signed (“I have received Mrs. ___’s homeschool paperwork.”)
Join support organizations
You don’t have to make this trip alone! Consider membership in any of the national, state, and local organizations that exist to help you. Some suggestions include:
•State organizations such as Home Educators Association of Virginia (www.heav.org or 804-278-9200), or your state organization, if you are outside of Virginia •Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org or 540-338-5600) •Local support groups •Specialized support groups, such as those for families of special needs children (www.NATHHAN.com, for example, or those based on particular interests such as sports, 4-H, etc).
Why are you homeschooling? What is your idea of an education? What would you be doing if nobody told you that your five-year-old had to leave home?
•Determine where your child is now – academically, spiritually, physically, and emotionally/socially; this is your starting point. •Set measurable, attainable goals for each child. Discuss with your spouse and your child (if appropriate) how these objectives •Set personal and family goals. •Evaluate activities and curriculum against goals.
By definition, your curriculum is your “course of study.”
•Talk to other homeschoolers about what worked for them and why, as well as what didn’t work and why. •Attend state convention workshops/exhibit halls and local curriculum fairs. •Evaluate your child’s learning styles. •Decide which method(s) seem to fit your family best at this point in time (you may overlap – methods are not mutually exclusive!). •Keep evaluating all your choices against those goals you have set for your family and for each child.
•Homeschool resource books •Basic home reference materials •School supplies such as paper, pencils, pencil sharpener, rulers, pens, notebooks of some sort (and the proverbial red pen!) – •Bookshelves and/or storage cabinets – designate “a place for everything” •Other necessary items as specified in your curriculum
Establish a schedule
•Decide on your school year (in Virginia, at least 180 days). For example, we homeschool for eight weeks on, one week off, August through June, taking a four-week break in December and again in July. My reasoning is that I can do anything for eight weeks at a time, and then I have a week to re-group for the next session! Taking only one month off in summer keeps the girls on their toes academically. •Have at least a framework for academic and character progress during the year.
“ED’ U CATE, v.t. [L. educo, educare; e and duco, to lead; It. Educare: Sp. Educar] To bring up, as a child; to instruct; to inform and enlighten the understanding; to instill into the mind principles of arts, science, morals, religion and behavior. To educate children well is one of the most important duties of parents and guardians.
ED U CA’ TION, n. [[L. educatio] The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts, and science is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”
(Noah Webster in First Edition of an American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828)
“And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8, KJV)
*****Nothing in this article or on this website should be considered legal advice.******