New to Homeschooling?
Are you new to the idea of homeschooling and don’t know where to start? It can be very overwhelming! We would like to give you some information to get started. We would also be happy to answer questions so feel free to ask!
Let's start with the law...
There are 4 important aspects of the law that homeschooling families need to be most concerned with:
- You have the legal right to homeschool your children (Minnesota Statute 120A.22).
- You must submit a letter of intent to your school district by October 1 (Minnesota Statute 120A.24). The best method of doing this is by using the forms provided by Mache.
- You must include instruction in the following subject areas (Minnesota Statute 120A.22):
- basic communication skills including reading and writing, literature, and fine arts;
- mathematics and science;
- social studies including history, geography and government; and
- health and physical education
- Your students must take a nationally normed achievement test each year (Minnesota Statute 120A.22).
For more specific information on the law, download this FAQ document published by the Minnesota Department of Education.
Next, make a plan...
- Elementary School:
- There is a lot of freedom in elementary school to discover the joy of learning. You need to have a language arts program and math program in place, but there is a lot of room to explore in the other subject areas listed above. Let their interests guide you!
- Junior High:
- School gets more structured in these years. Students should be studying in the core areas of language arts, math, science, and social studies, but there is still a lot of room to build on the student’s interests.
- High School:
- Minnesota has the following graduation requirements (Minnesota Statue 120B.024):
- 4 credits of language arts
- 3 credits of math past Algebra 1, including Algebra 2
- 3 credits of science, including biology and either chemistry or physics
- 3 ½ credits of social studies
- 1 credit of arts
- 7 credits electives (minimum)
These graduation requirements are for Minnesota public schools and do not apply to home schools. They do, however, represent a typical college prep curriculum.
When you reach the high school years it is important to have a rough grid of the classes that you want to include over the course of the 4 years of high school. From there you can make adjustments as needed.
Now start looking at curriculum...
There are many standardized curriculums out there that have comprehensive grade level packages that cover all subject areas for that grade. There are also curriculums that are subject based, which allow you to pick and choose depending on the subject being taught. As parents get more experience and become more confident, they often will start piecing their curriculum together themselves. A word of advice here: don’t be afraid to throw out something if it’s not working, regardless of how much you paid for it. All homeschoolers have books on their shelves that they bought with the best intentions but that did not work for them!
A word about keeping records...
Your record keeping does not have to be a burden. For obvious reasons it gets more important as your students get older. Whether you have a written plan to start the week or you write it down as you go, take that sheet of paper and throw it in a file box at the end of the week. You may never need to look at it again, but if you need it you will have it. For high school records there is a bit more involved which is beyond the scope of this short tutorial, but the short answer is to save everything!
So let’s see where CHAT and eCHAT might fit in…
Many families do part of their instruction at home and part at a tutoring institution such as CHAT and eCHAT. By taking classes, students benefit from excellent instruction, group activities, and interaction with other homeschooled students. Parents benefit by having someone partner with them and share the load of the academic responsibilities, especially in areas that parents do not feel equipped to teach. You can sign up for as many or as few classes as you want.
If you would like help deciding which classes would be the best fit for your family we would be happy to help you with that. Between the two of us, we have elementary and secondary education degrees, experience teaching in public and private schools, and a combined total of over 30 years of homeschooling experience with our own children, most of whom have already entered or finished college. We want to see you succeed in this adventure and will do what we can to help!
Kim and Laura