Oh good grief, where shall we begin?
I know, it’s a long page. But that’s only because I can’t be bothered to separate it into sub-pages, it’s really not that much. However, this page is only the beginning. Thanks to the Internet it is extremely easy to find out an enormous amount of information about homeschooling, both generally, and by location. My goal was to build a good jumping off point, and at the very least I hope to save you some time.
First, find your state homeschool network.
Every state will have a range of homeschool support networks. They should be your first port of call as they will have detailed information about state laws and regulations. The CA Homeschool Network has an excellent site:
To find yours, just Google your state name +Homeschool and it will pop up.
There is also a Homeschooling Legal Defense Association, who offer details of state by state regulations, as well as other legal advice and support.
And there’s an American Association of Homeschoolers, too.
While it’s totally legal to homeschool your child, every state tends to get pissy if a child who was registered in school suddenly disappears for no reason. They like to keep track of them. I cannot speak for any state apart from California and I am not a lawyer, but each state will have a process for registering your child somehow, in some educational establishment. It’s how they make sure they’re not working down a mine. In California, you simply need to file a Private School Affidavit every year in the fall. The California Homeschool Network has detailed instructions, but it’s a piece of cake. And you get to make up a name for your school!
You also need to keep records of what the kids are doing, and studying, and you have to keep attendance. It is extremely unlikely in California, at least, that a truant officer will come to your house to check up on your kids, but if they did, you need to show them the affidavit and your records.
Then find your State Standards.
It’s interesting to know what your state expects your child to know. It’s almost certain your standards will be higher.
All you need to do is Google your state +state educational standards and they’ll pop up. Here’s a link to the CA ones:
Once you’ve found your standards you’re pretty much free to ignore them. Every state will have it’s own opinion on what is necessary to teach, but in CA, for example, the legal language about curriculum is:
Instruction must be offered “in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools.” The materials and methods you use to teach these areas are up to you. You are not required to teach every subject as long as it is offered and available to the student:
- Grades 1-6: English, math, social sciences, science, fine arts, health and phys ed.
- Grades 7-12: All that is included in the above plus: foreign language, applied arts, vocational ed and drivers ed.
If you like, read practical books about homeschooling.
Fortunately, or not, there are about forty million books on homeschooling. Here are ones I’ve found practical and useful.
Everything by Linda Dobson. She is a goddess.
The Homeschooling Handbook This one is really an unschooling book, but it is chock full of practical suggestions, too, and she writes very entertainingly.
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling John Holt is the man.
And/or philosophical books about homeschooling.
Not only are there lots of books about how to do homeschooling, there are even more about why…
John Holt I’ve already mentioned:
John Taylor Gatto is a firebrand, a reactionary, and a highly effective writer who was really the guy who made it difficult for me NOT to homeschool. He has a lot to say, and it’s not always comfortable to hear, but it is important.
And of course there are always books by approach.
Eclectic: I’ve already covered that with the Linda Dobson books. And besides, being liberal, secular and eclectic, we steal from every approach. I mean, we borrow extensively from best practices.
Christian: This is not my area of expertise, but this is the best reviewed and most popular guide on Amazon:
Charlotte Mason: Charlotte Mason herself wrote a series of books about how to implement her approach, but they are a little dated.
However, this book does an excellent job of bringing the approach up to date, and explaining it all:
Waldorf: Again, Steiner himself wrote books about education, but they are dated, too. Also, in his lifetime he was not a homeschooling proponent, living as he did in a time where regular education was not a given for all children. But by all means, dive in:
The Christopherus website is an excellent Waldorf resource, and contains links to books, materials, OTHER Waldorf curricula companies, and lots more besides.
Lastly, but by no means leastly, find support.
There are lots of co-ops that exist to help new or experienced homeschool families get connected. Here’s a list of the LA area ones: http://lahomeschool.50megs.com/
There are also plentiful email lists and online support groups that disseminate info about classes and social events. Here’s a list of the ones in the LA area: http://www.homefires.com/support/los_angeles.asp
You’ll be amazed at how many other people are already homeschooling in your area. It’s like fans of Neil Diamond: We’re everywhere.