I have 3 daughters. I started homeschooling my 10 and 5 year old daughters on February 17, 1999. When I took my two older daughters out of public school they were 4 months into the school year. My oldest was in 4th grade and my youngest was in K5. In 2001 I had my youngest daughter who never set foot in public school. My 3 daughters are now at the time of this writing 27, 23 & 15 years old. February 17, 2019 will mark 20 years of homeschooling for me. My 2 oldest daughters didn’t get much of an education in public school. I knew I could do better since I was doing it all along. I just didn’t know it at the time. I had many ah ha moments in the beginning of our homeschooling adventure.
I have always been a very hands-on mom who spends tons of time with my daughters. This is just a general rundown of what we’ve done & experienced in the past as well as the present:
hang out with extended family & friends
making new friends
attend different church denominations
visiting alternative healing/spiritual shops
exploring different spirituality paths
organic food stores
making Montessori materials
using Montessori materials
pretend play-doll houses, dolls, tea time, restaurant, pet shop, zoo & store
vegetarian, vegan & raw foods
caring for plants
drives along the lake & in the countryside
talking to people
playing with & caring for pets
setting butterflies free
being horse whisperers
listening to coyotes at midnight
hearing odd birds & tree frogs outside our windows
watching dvds & videos
singing & dancing
listening to music
making websites/blogs/social media
games & puzzles
cooking & baking
sewing & knitting
putting funky colors in our hair
homemade bath & body products
The list goes on and on. I know this list is long but this gives you a general idea. They show you that the possibilities are endless because we are able to explore our passions. When I started my homeschooling journey in 1999 I realized that I had been a homeschooler all along!
While my daughters were growing up I talked to them on their own level. I wanted them to ask me anything that they were curious about. I listened to them and answered their questions. If I didn’t know the answer to their question then we found out together. I never sugarcoated anything. I encouraged my daughters to find their own paths & I still do. I raised free spirits but more importantly freethinkers. Homeschooling did so much for my daughters! It was absolutely the best thing that I could’ve ever done for them. Homeschooling has been a wonderful experience for us. There is such joy and freedom in homeschooling your children.
Some things I would like to share about homeschooling in the future:
The Wisconsin Parents Association in Madison
Pioneers of alternative education
Different methods of homeschooling
Types of curriculums
How I started
My recommended reading list of educational authors
What methods I used throughout the years
My 3 daughters learning styles
If you are reading this blog post and find yourself thinking-wow I’m already doing those things-then keep doing them! It doesn’t matter whether your kids are in public school, private school or even homeschooled. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single or working parent. It doesn’t matter if you are using textbooks, videos or online instruction. It doesn’t matter what method you use. Homeschooling comes in many forms. Some parents are eclectic while others follow a strict schedule. Some do school at home while others unschool. A parent may follow a Classical style. (The Trivium or Charlotte Mason) Another parent may choose a Waldorf Education or the Montessori Method. There is no one way to homeschool.
I recommend researching the homeschooling law in your state before you take your children out of school. Understand what is required and what is not. Seek out other homeschoolers in real life or online & ask questions. Think about out what will be beneficial for your situation. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your children. Homeschooling is a lifestyle so let things evolve naturally. If you can find a grassroots homeschooling organization that would be very helpful as well. Support groups are awesome too!
I will close with this bit of information. I live in Wisconsin where the homeschooling law is very relaxed and reasonable. We are considered a private school and have private school status. If you are thinking of homeschooling and you live in Wisconsin, I recommend the Wisconsin Parents Association as a starting point. Purchasing the Wisconsin homeschooling handbook: Homeschooling in Wisconsin-At Home with Learning would be helpful as well.
I must add that in Wisconsin on October 15th we are to notify the Department of Public Instruction of our intent to homeschool. We do not register nor do we need permission!
What Is Legally Required?
Wisconsin has one of the most reasonable homeschooling laws in the country. It is important to understand what the law does and does not require and how to comply. Please take a few minutes to read the information below.
Please note that homeschoolers have worked long and hard through WPA to gain and maintain Wisconsin’s homeschooling law, and we are still working to keep it. Join WPA -your support is needed.
The first step is filing Form PI-1206 with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on which you agree to comply with Wisconsin’s homeschooling law. Instructions on how to file the form are here. In signing the PI-1206, you are signing a legal affidavit saying that you will do the following:
Provide 875 hours of instruction each academic year.
You do not need to spend 875 hours at the kitchen table, reading textbooks and completing worksheets, although you can do that if you choose. Homeschooling in Wisconsin means taking 100% responsibility for the education of your children. That means you decide how to provide the minimum 875 hours.
You can follow a schedule similar to a conventional school, that is, 5 hours a day for 175 days, taking off weekends, winter and spring breaks, and summer vacation. Or you can follow a different schedule you choose for your family. Because homeschooling offers so many opportunities for learning and because you can choose learning activities that are well suited to your children’s interests and abilities, homeschooling families find that it is not difficult to meet this requirement for 875 hours of instruction.
You must provide a “sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.” What this means is that you will provide an educational plan for learning basic subjects in which children build on what they have already learned. You can add as many other subjects as you want to: art, music, religion, woodworking, home economics, etc. Since there are no specific requirements for how many hours are spent on each subject, you decide what to emphasize.
How do I meet the requirement of a sequentially progressive curriculum?
As the administrator of your homeschool, you decide how best to meet this requirement. Some families purchase a curriculum, some create their own using a specific approach or set of goals, and some plan to learn from life experiences. Most families combine these three options to create a plan that works for them.
Figuring out how to sort through all of the choices can be overwhelming. It also gives you the freedom to customize a program that works for your family.
Many experienced homeschooling families find that their approach changes over time and that having some flexibility and being willing to change plans if things aren’t working can be beneficial.
It’s important to remember that you can begin homeschooling without having made a definite decision about your approach.
Some Things Not Required of Wisconsin Homeschoolers
Homeschooling laws vary greatly from state to state. Wisconsin has one of the most reasonable homeschooling laws. Because parents are required to file form PI-1206 with the DPI and attest that they are complying with the law, the law holds parents accountable. However, the law acknowledges parents’ right to choose for their children an education consistent with their own principles and beliefs. The law does not require that parents raise their children according to government standards.
Homeschoolers in Wisconsin are NOT required to follow a curriculum chosen by the state; we are free to choose our own curriculum.
Homeschoolers are NOT required to take the state-mandated tests that students in public schools must take. Instead, we can evaluate our children’s learning in ways we choose. We can observe them learning, listen to their questions and ideas, and keep records of things they do. If we want to, we can have them take standardized tests that we have carefully chosen because they are consistent with our principles and beliefs, but we are not required to have them take any tests.
We are NOT required to have school officials review and approve our curriculums or collect progress reports or test results.
Homeschooling parents do NOT have to be certified teachers or have any specific educational degrees. Homeschools are private schools, and teachers in conventional private schools are not required to be certified.
I hope this post was helpful to you. Please leave your questions or comments below. I will try to answer them as best as I can.