I will be finishing my discussion on the topic of homeschooling today. Please note that due to the lengthy topics I will not be able to cover all topics in full detail so please feel free to comment on the posts or email me. If you are a blogger and have an article that you think fits a certain topic please email me with the link and I will be more than happy to include your link in my ABC’s of Homeschooling 5 day series. Here are today’s final additions to the series…
It is vitally important that no matter what type of program you are in as a homeschooler, be it a charter school, a religious program, or on your own, that you understand your State’s laws pertaining to homeschooling. Most states allow homeschooling, but the regulations governing the implementation and execution of homeschooling vary greatly. One state might allow require physical education, another might not. One state may allow electronic transmission of records, another may require it by mail or fax. The list goes on. I would highly recommend that you find out for yourself what your state’s educational laws and regulations require of you as a homeschooling parent. I would also recommend that if you do not know where to find this information you should be able to ask your homeschooling contact (education consult, teacher, proctor, charter school, or whatever your program calls it) to explain the rules or provide them to you. You never know what you might find in your rules and how often the rules may be changed; just remember to know how they apply to your family. Here are some wonderful articles and links to get you started on your research into understanding your state laws:
You can also do a Google search for you state to find out more. For example “Oregon Homeschooling Laws”
What would this world be like without YouTube? Seriously though, how many times have you read a blog and it links you to a video? I know that I reference YouTube and other video options (like a DVD from your local library) in my blog posts. I also rely on videos in my homeschooling day. It is not every day that I use a video, but I know that brick and mortar school use them, so why not us homeschoolers, right? Just make sure that you are not relying on videos all the time. There is no substitute for teaching your children efficiently, so I sometimes use educational videos to emphasize my curriculums. Are you teaching about a historical figure? There is probably an official site about that person with imbedded links, why not use it? Are you teaching about an event that has happened? There is probably a video, CD, news snippet, or DVD about that person out there, why not use it? I would just highly recommend previewing and loading it first since there seems to be less and less controls on the content out there in cyberspace. Be safe and view it first so that you can verify that it is what you want it for, assuming you do not trust the source already.
Why did you choose homeschooling? This is a question I get all of the time. I can go on-and-on about the positives and negatives, but I think the best reason to choose homeschooling is for you to decide for yourself. The reason that you should choose homeschooling will be yours and yours alone and please do not let anyone tell you any different. Each family is different and homeschooling can be a great environment for you to teach your children, grow as a family, and provide the best environment for your children to grow into great adults under your influences.
A common phenomenon that is sometimes unavoidable in the homeschooling world is the constant comparison to other homeschool family routines, other curriculum’s, one family’s version of extracurricular activities and so on. Thanks to the digital age and homeschooling building such a large online community and presence this phenomenon has become even more prevalent. While we all would love to put on a pair of X-Ray goggles and stand outside the home of a homeschooling mom that we may envy, there is something important to be learned from this. While watching another homeschooling parent can be a lot of fun and you can gain insightful ideas that you can implement into your own homeschool please remember the old adage, “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it”. Just because you see something in one family’s routine that ended up not working in yours it does not mean that they are doomed to the same results as when you did it. You might also see something that totally failed you in your situation working wonders for theirs. It is hard to remember that each family is made up of different people, personalities, circumstances, and different sets of situations. It is often hard to say what works and what does not because I do not get to wear the X-Ray goggles that often, but I know what has worked for me and it has come from trial and error. Do not be afraid to try something and then if you end up realizing at some point that it isn’t working or it isn’t doing what you thought it was, try something different. It goes the same with others that we interact with. Do not be afraid to give your honest opinion on something, but remember that each situation is different for those involved in it and they might not be looking for your opinion either.
So, when it comes to homeschooling, I see a lot of great things out there that I pin or move to implement in my own homeschool, but I also see a lot of things that make me think, wow, how the heck or why do they do that? I try not to put on the X-Ray goggles and then pick apart what I am seeing, but rather on those rare cases where I do get my turn of using the X-Ray goggles, I try to see how it would work or fit into our homeschooling journey.
Record keeping? What is that? Why do you have to keep records you ask? The best reason is that you never know when or who will ask you for them in an official capacity. The records that we keep are to document by keeping proof that your student has met their education objectives. Because larger schools can produce records at the drop of a dime, so should we as homeschoolers. This also means that those schools will also have tried and true methods of what to keep. As homeschoolers we need to determine what the state laws and regulations are and keep records that illustrate our students meet those requirements. Although it is not always the case, a lot of regulators may view homeschooling records with skepticism and that can lead to a lot of heart burn if you have not kept enough records. I have often heard the mantra that whether it is correct or not, the more records you keep (and examples of work) the more likely you will be to overcome the skepticism. As a parent your record keeping will be vital if your consultant or teacher looses, misplaces, or simply does not get enough samples to justify your progress. I tend to keep extra samples of my children’s work in a spare printer paper box so that I have my own records and samples of what I have turned into my homeschooling fairy. Do not get me wrong, I do not keep everything, but I do tend to keep more than my fair share. It is also important to remember that not only are you keeping these examples and samples for your records, but you are also keeping them for yourself as keepsakes too!
So, now that it has been established that it is indeed a good idea to keep records, what type should we keep? I would recommend keeping the following times (you might come up with more): Daily attendance, grades, test scores, reading logs, PE logs, accomplishments, accolades, examples that meet specific standards, official letters, proof of grade advancement, education agreements and so on. The most important thing to remember is that even if you are not required to keep records, it is always a good idea to keep them anyway to prevent any issues later down the line. And remember that you only need to keep enough records to substantiate the homeschooling education you have completed. The length of time to keep those records varies, but I would recommend keeping them for about four years during the lower grades and permanently once they get into junior high and high school. I would also strongly recommend looking into your state laws concerning high schoolers since some will be applying for colleges, military careers, scholarships, work programs, and the like. Keeping records might not be the thing about homeschooling you want to do, but you must keep records to protect the hard work that your homeschoolers are doing each day, not the mention the dedication you are providing to them as their parent and teacher.
Do you have a Zoo in your community? I know that we have a local zoo and it is always a blast to go. In the past I have even had a yearly pass to ours and we went every few weeks. The kids had a blast learning about the animals. What they did not realize at the time was that I was planning days at the zoo around their school lessons and was supplementing their learning with real live animals. At one time we were learning about tigers so I made sure the next time we went to the zoo to have the kids ask the tiger keepers about the tigers. Then, the next day when we started learning about tigers they really connect because the spent the previous day learning about them already. It was great to see the children build on their hands-on knowledge with classroom exercises too.
Also keep in mind that most zoo’s give discounts to students and teachers (see my I is for ID cards
section of this series) so do not be afraid to let the ticket booth workers know you are a homeschooling family. You can also look into your local zoo because most will have educational programs for schools. Since you are a teacher you should be able to tap into their educational resources for your homeschool too, your children. Then, when you are at the zoo next you can sometimes participate in the learning events, special education themed shows, and special school themed behind the scenes that any school child would love to be part of. Remember, because you are a homeschooling family means that you have a teacher and student in the same place and most zoos require teacher and student involvement. Zoos are a great resource in my opinion.
Thank you for taking the time to read my ABC’s of Homeschooling 5 day series. I hope that some of the topics I have covered and links I have provided have helped some of you while on your homeschooling journey.
Participants for the 5 Day Series Blog Category of School Activities (make sure to hop on over and say “Hello!”):
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