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Homeschooling: No Tie Required

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Homeschooling - The Stay at Home Dad Solution

    When you hear someone say, "We're Homeschooling our child," what images go through your head?  For me it was kids running around in homespun clothes, eating organic oatmeal out of hand-carved bowls.  But upon further inspection, I realized homeschooling is an option that fit our situation perfectly for our family, and we didn’t have to learn how to operate a loom or anything!  

    A little background on me first. I was 56 when I left the workforce consisting of 3 different careers (Military, Restaurant Management, and Radio Production) and my wife became a Nurse Practitioner.  Our daughter was entering the 2nd Grade in a school system that was below average on many levels. Good friends of ours were homeschooling their 4 kids and showed us how simple it is to get started. I have the temperament and patience to be a teacher (I had often thought of becoming one) and now I had the time to do it!  

Requirements to Legally Homeschool

    In many states there are just a few rules or guidelines, this site is a good source to learn about your state. : https://hslda.org/content/laws/  In my state, Tennessee,  the main requirements are 4 hours a day for 180 days a year. More on that in a minute. Most states require that you become a member of some sort of umbrella organization that reports attendance and grades to your local school board.  These can vary from stand-alone organizations to church groups and the like. For a nominal fee, membership allows you to obtain the next step: Curriculum. Sounds daunting, but really simple, "curriculum" is what your child will be studying.

     There is a plethora of curriculums available from Kindergarten to High School provided by your umbrella organization, or from numerous agencies and companies.  A quick Google search will give you a good start. I chose Veritas Press  for most of the subjects I teach; Math, English, and Spelling.   

How does it Work?

   Now that on itself is simple to follow, but the real joy, and source of so much flexibility, is the 4 hours a day/180 days a year requirement.  It can be any four hours, consecutively, broken up, at any time. Is your child into sports? Practice and games count towards those four hours. Shopping with the kiddos at Walmart?  Have them add up the total, guess what, that counts! Go to Sunday school?...that counts too! There is soo much we do that can count towards the school day.

    It's the flexibility that has proven to be the so gratifying as a parent.  You don't need school uniforms, I call our school PJ Academy because that's our school uniform, there are no In-Service days, you can pick your vacations and time off.  No need for Doctors notes and there are no fundraising candy, wrapping paper or lawn chairs to sell!!

    And the very best part of it all?  Spending quality time with your kids!  There is nothing so rewarding than to see an alien concept (Math or Adjectives) being understood by your child!!  You can decide what and how your child is taught. You are in control. Is that to say you can skip math altogether, teach Zorastic Fundamentalism instead of science… No.  Keep in mind that as long as you stay at or above the minimum requirements for the state, you good to go.  Working with your umbrella organization will get you started in the right direction.

Details, Details, Details

In future articles, I will discuss the issues brought up by the naysayers...OOhhh your child will never be socialized....What about standardized tests?....  What about team sports?

I will happily cover those topics soon! All in good time, all in good time.

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We have " homeschooled" for many years now.  We actually use a Public virtual charter school.  Not every state has them but Texas does. WHat that means to me is the following. First,  since it is a Texas charter school all costs are paid. Instead of tax dollars going to local school district they go to our Charter school. Second all online teaches are certified by the State of Texas . Classes are similar to skype.  Parents are considered " learning coaches".  State mandated standardized tests  are still taken. They are given at a remote site. We have a love/hate relationship. I hate it that all schools teach towards the tests. On the other hand my son takes and passes the same state ( STARR) test as all the other kids in Texas. You can't say I am feeding him the answers, we aren't even allowed in the building where they test.  The whole things is pretty flexible. If our son is having a good day maybe we go long. If he is having a bad day we cut short. If we want to travel we test or study in between stops. ( Actually we try to work slightly ahead all the time. So If something comes up planned or emergency we have a cushion.)  We live in a busy neighborhood with dozens of kids. Our son spends time with his friends. He also has Karate and church. So he has plenty of social time.


     Teaching / learning coach has been challenging at times. Its been years since my High School chemistry or algebra. However, there are ways around it. One of the big advantages we have is this. In a brick and mortar school the teacher has to get say 30 lights to come on before moving on to next subject. We only have to get 1 to come on.  If a class is easy we can double up or use the extra time on a class that is hard.  Also....youtube !!! Almost any subject you wish to teach/learn is available on youtube. ( If you need something in addition to whats taught in class).     

  Sorry, I have probably gone all over the subjects you will be touching on. 

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Great comments, and I totally agree.  Here in Tennessee there are various methods and options to choose from.  Our church sponsors a great series of classes for the middle school and high school age kids specifically designed for math, history, and science.  There are online seminar formatted classes available also, along with a plethora of other formats.  Your description of the time management aspect is the largest benefit for us as homeschool parents.  As we work with the guidelines established with the state (180 days, with 4 hours a day) we tailor the schedule with many events and family activities.  Standardized testing here is required after 5th grade, so we have one more year before move to that challenge, but like you mentioned, one light bulb to light is a lot easier to teach to than 25+!

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There is a local association of homeschooling parents here, that puts together special events and field trips catered for the homeschooling child.  We have dances, go to sporting events, plays,  museums, and other local events.  It's a great way to get the kids together and for us parents to share experience and problems.  Not to mention, that a network of parents, similar to a PTA, is beneficial when it comes time to look for new curriculum for the next year, we have a lending library that is totally free, or at least very reduced prices on books and teaching aids.

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