If it's your first year diving into homeschooling, it can feel overwhelming sorting through everything you need to prepare and think about with registration, approach, planning and recording. We've made a handy all-in-one guide to get you started.
By Grace Koelma | Editor
Starting life without school this year? Or maybe you're planning on pulling your kids out of school and starting, but you're wondering how on earth you'd manage this thing called 'homeschooling' first?
We've been publishing stories & articles on our website for a while now, and thought it was time we put our gathering collection of resources on homeschool planning in one handy place.
P.s If you're considering homeschooling, here are 200 quotes to inspire you - it's the largest collection of homeschooling-related quotes on the internet!
Home education is legal across all states and territories in Australia, with varying reporting and registration requirements between jurisdictions.
We did an audio interview with the Australian home schooling expert, Vivienne Fox, President of the HEA. This audio chat is an incredibly helpful starting point if you're new to home education.
You can listen and get lots more resources on homeschooling in Australia here.
Home education is legal across the entire United States of America. But... the federal government has no jurisdiction over education policy. This means that each state is free to craft its own laws in regards to homeschooling.
The rules vary widely, with state authorities requiring everything from no notice at all (Alaska, Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Connecticut), to high regulation locations that expect things such as the implementation of state-approved curriculums, professional evaluations, home visits by officials, teacher qualification of parents, and more (Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). The rest of the states fall somewhere in between, with low to moderate regulations at play. You can investigate the legal structure of homeschooling in each state here.
To be safe, you should follow the laws of the state you are actually in.
"When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws, and, in many cases, to the jurisdiction of its courts," cautions The Homeschool Legal Defence Association. "This is true even if your legal residency is in another state and you are only living elsewhere temporarily (such as when active members of the military are completing a temporary assignment)."
As such, the HSLDA recommends that you comply with the home education requirements of a state if you are live there for a month or more while public schools are in session.
Just like in the United States, home education in Canada gets a thumbs up across the country. And again, just like the United States, the rules about that vary based on where you are.
Each province sets up its own policy on home education. In some cases, there is provincial funding available to families to help support a homeschool curriculum (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Northwest Territories), though as you might expect, more government oversight is in place in those locations.On the other end of the spectrum, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick offer no funding and require little more than the submission of a letter of intent. A HSLDA can be found in Canada as well and is a valuable resource for parents looking to dive deeper into the dos and don'ts of home education in this country. More information here.
Home education is legal across the United Kingdom. Parents must write a letter to their child's school principal before removing their child from school. In England and Wales you do not have to wait for the letter to be 'approved', home education can take effect from the date the child is removed from school and the letter is received.
If a child has never been in school, there the parent has no legal obligation to inform authorities about their decision to homeschool once the child reaches the age of 5.
Home educating families are not required to follow the National Curriculum, or any other curriculum or educational system.
While home school policies over English counties are reasonably uniform, they differ in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The UK Gov website recommends getting specific information from your local council - a search option is available here.
* This information was correct at the time of publishing - but as policies can change - please take steps to research the current requirements in your country before making the decision to homeschool.
Don't see your country?
If you'd like to contribute reliable and up-to-date information about your country's homeschooling policy, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Approaches to homeschooling
There are a myriad of approaches to homeschooling, and as homeschooling gains popularity and is shared on blogs and social media sites, new styles are popping up more frequently. Once you've legally registered your children for home education, the next step is deciding what approach you'll adopt.
Many families start off with a very structured 'school-at-home' approach, and then this approach morphs and becomes more customised as they get more experience homeschooling.
We've gathered information from our own site and the best homeschooling resources around the web to give you a brief look at the different styles out there. Click on the links to read more.
Planning and curriculum
Again -- and I'm going to sound like a broken record! -- planning and curriculum requirements differ, depending on where you live. The first step is finding a home education approach that resonates strongly with you. Remember, you don't have to pick one, you can be eclectic and draw from a couple!
Next, you'll need to find resources and books to support your approach.
These can be pre-written curriculums, books and eBooks, PDF guides, podcasts, e-courses and membership sites.
You'll need to look for resources on:
- HOW to home school with your chosen approach (ie. The Montessori Method), and
- WHAT to teach (ie. topics, units, outcomes, foundational concepts and skills)
These resources will form the basis of your planning.
How other parents plan
Planning is an incredibly individual task, and comes down to your personality and style.
We recently published a detailed article showing how different parents plan their homeschool using our Mulberry Planner.
Finding a rhythm
Establishing a rhythm for your days is an important part of planning your homeschool. Your homeschool rhythm may include any or all of the following (click for more information):
- A morning circle time
- Nature study activities
- Read aloud time and rich classical literature
- Audio books
- Games for learning (ie. Gameschooling)
- Music and singing
- Art and creative exploration
- Hands-on learning and slow science
- Technology and YouTube
- Your own or other cultural traditions
- Cooking and eating
- List making and recording
Recording and reporting requirements differ hugely between each country, and to further complicate it, within each state or jurisdiction in each country. When home educators and authorities talk about reporting, they're not (necessarily or only) talking about test results. Reporting is a catch-all word to encompass the many and varied ways of recording your children's learning and outcomes.
Families often choose recording methods that suit their family dynamic, routine and preference, as well as being a good fit with their homeschooling approach.
There is no right or wrong, as long as the home education authorities in your state are satisfied with the scope and level of detail you're providing.
Here are a few recording options:
Evaluating and evolving
Parents who write to us telling us they've been homeschooling for years share something in common. Their homeschool has changed and evolved over that time, as their children have grown, their family dynamic has changed and the parent/s have become more comfortable in their role as facilitators of learning.
You'll never get everything right, and the wonderful thing is that makes it the best kind of adventure. Find your tribe of homeschool parents, on Instagram, Facebook or in real life, and be encouraged.
You can do this! And best of all, you can find meaning and joy in homeschooling your children, whether for a season or for their whole schooling experience.
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Founder + Editor
Grace is the Editor and Founder of The Mulberry Journal and when she's not reading submissions, divides her time between hanging out with her simultaneously delightful and headstrong 2-year-old and writing and travelling full time with her little family. You can follow her travels at @darelist.family on Instagram.