How to Teach at Home
You’ve decided to homeschool and are unsure of where to start. You don’t even know what to ask.
So, let’s get a few common questions out of the way first:
Is it legal to homeschool?
Yes. You don’t have to ask permission nor be approved to homeschool. You DO need to notify your child’s former school of your choice, and you do need to inform the state in which you reside of your intent to homeschool. Each state has different requirements beyond that. And they probably change over the years, but your local department of eduction will have confusing standards posted for you to bumble your way through! But you can do it - and ask here. We can help point you in the right direction, depending on where you live!
For Louisiana - you can register for Home Study or Nonpublic Not Seeking State Approval. Go for the latter unless you have a junior or senior in high school, as it's the least restrictive. The Home Study option is required if you'd like TOPS funding for college. I'll detail all of that in a later post!
And, if you're looking for info about some other state - click "state standards" in the category to the right and we may have what you need!
Where do I get the books/curriculum to teach my child?
You have many choices here. You can register with your state to “public school at home” (which, pls be aware, many homeschoolers bristle at you calling your public school at home lifestyle “homeschooling.” It annoys them because homeschooling is something that parents do on their own, outside of state control and recreating the failed school system at home when you don’t have to is insanity to them. And they have a point - but you do what works for you! So, just breeze past the criticisms if this is what you decide to do, and know they’re really just trying to be helpful.)
Public School at Home
Back to it - if you decide to do public school at home, they provide everything. Or at least, they used to! I'm thinking they might be overwhelmed right now, and I hear there are waiting lists for them. Using this method, school happens online and kids have designated teachers for classes. The benefit of this, is that if you decide to return to public school, the transition academically is seamless. And you get a state issued diploma, assuming you graduate this way.
Otherwise, you’ll need to schedule testing to determine grade level if/when you return. It’s usually not a problem, we’ll - until it is! But it’s good to be aware of.
And the diploma you give your child will be issued by YOU. So be sure to think of a clever, non homeschool-sounding name for your "Academy" or whatever you label it. Know that colleges love homeschoolers regardless, so don't let that frighten you (and watch for a post on THAT as well!).
Private School at Home
There are also private schools that offer a traditional school at home offering. These can get expensive. We tried Laurel Springs for the second half of 8th grade and my son loved it. There are a good number of choices for private school beyond Laurel Springs as well.
Your Own Private School at Home
OR you can do it on your own - and that is not as scary as it sounds. It's actually amazing, and what I personally recommend if you can swing it. And by "swinging it" I mean - have an hour or two each day to devote to it, per child. Because that's really all it will take, especially when they're up to 4th grade. It can get a bit more intensive as the Math concepts get more complicated, but that's expected.
There are many boxed curriculums to guide you, if you like - Sonlight, Abeka, Saxon, so many more. YOu can learn more about boxed choices here and here and here!
These options provide you with student books and teacher guides for you to teach your child yourself or pay someone else to do so. Many parents worry they can’t - or they just aren’t home - to do this, so they employ tutors in either a one on one or group setting to help their child(ren) work through whatever curriculum they’ve selected. And sometimes parents create little cooperative learning environments (co-ops) with other parents and they take turns teaching different portions of the curricula to their collective children. This provides the added benefit of socializing, which is always a new homeschoolers concern! It shouldn’t be, but we’ll get to that in another post.
Co-ops & Tutors
And it’s important to note that co-ops are not limited to following a specific curriculum. In fact, most do not. Instead, parents find other homeschool families who want to learn together and create their own informal learning environments around a wide range of topics, with parents leading certain areas based on their own skills/interests.
Furthering THAT idea - many families create these learning opportunities based on their child(ren)‘s interests. Everything can be learned this way (again, a post for another day!).
And you can also have private tutors teach whatever you like to your child - in their home or yours! So many choices, really. The key to it all is this - YOU register your child as nonpublic not seeing state approval to perform any of the options above, unless your child is in 11th or 12th grade - then select home study for TOPS funding (Louisiana). If you go the public school at home route, you're registering with the school. Any other schooling method falls under your "private school" designation
Knowing What to Teach
But, wait! This is getting confusing now! How do I know what I’m supposed to teach? Is there a list?
YOU are the principal, dear parent. So, what do you find important for your child to master in your homeschool? You can - and should, as it’s a comfort - refer to state educational frameworks to have way to identify potential learning gaps and ease your mind around what you’re learning vs some of the nonsense schools force on kids via rote memorization insanity (I’m not a fan).
But if I don’t follow a set curriculum, set schedule, set concepts - how will s/he learn everything they need to?
This question gets me excited - because I LOVE answering it. They won’t learn everything they need to - they’ll learn MORE. And they’ll learn in ways that are meaningful to them. You won’t believe this and I won’t convince you here - hell, I have a masters in education and used to teach and I didn’t believe this flaky foofoo talk. But, it’s 100% true.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t public school at home or follow a boxed curriculum. If that works for your child, and it does for a good number of kids - then do that! I’m genuinely happy that clicks for your child.
But if It doesn’t, if your child is a trapezoid you’re trying to smush into a round hole because you’ve been told it’s the only way . . . Well, from one parent of a wonderfully trapezoidal-shapen child to another - you’ve been lied to. And welcome to a world of potential, hope and a-ha moments! ❤️
Before I get lost there with that, let’s wrap up these newbie questions.
Where Does Homeschooling Happen?
Is there a place where I can drop my child off for someone else to teach him/her/them?
It can - and does - happen anywhere and everywhere. At your home, a tutor's home, a church, a park, a museum, a coffee shop with other kids - you can be as creative with this as you like. And each day can be different, if you want.
For us, it happened at the kitchen table when we weren't out and about socializing to beat the band. And man, are there ever lots of socializing opportunities! Did I mention that's a huge myth yet? Because it is. Isolated homeschoolers DO exist, but that's a choice their families have made (to stay inside/only with a small group of kids). Check out and follow our Instagram @HomeschoolingHeroes to see some of the pictures of field trips and events we probably missed below!
As you can see in our Homeschooling Heroes group, which is based in New Orleans area but has a good number of traveling homeschoolers from all over joining us as well, we have 1,500 members. If you can't find something to do with people any day you want to, that's because you're not trying. Our biggest problem was picking and choosing how to spend our time.
This is a list of SOME of the activities we've created/participated in these past 5 years:
And I think that’s a good intro to start those wheels a-spinning!
Please comment or email with questions I’ve certainly missed and I"ll be sure to answer them in future posts! And watch for more helpful “how to teach at home” posts headed your way! There’s so much to share with you! You can do this!