Deciding to homeschool can be daunting. Whether your children are toddlers or high school aged, the choices can seem overwhelming. Take a deep breath and know you, and only you, can make the best decisions for your child. To be successful you don't need to (and some would argue should not) school your child with the curriculum and/or structure of a typical school. It takes time to figure out how your child learns best, and their academic strengths and weaknesses.
With the number of resources out there, how do you decide which, if any, curriculum is right for your homeschooler? Many new homeschoolers try an all encompassing boxed or set curriculum. The majority move away from it quickly, realizing it's not a good fit, while some find it suits their needs. Homeschooling means you can educate your child in a myriad ways, from Child-led learning to a boxed curriculum. You can pick and choose from everything the world has to offer. There are books, workbooks, museum memberships and programs, various online education opportunities (don’t forget YouTube!), library programs, homeschooling co-ops, county and community classes, travel, picking only parts of more than one curriculum and putting them back together in a way that makes sense for your child. Regardless of which method you choose, it is fine to change and adapt to fit your family's needs.
Education is about creating passion, and boredom will not incite excitement. What excites you, a sibling, or fellow students may not create an interest in your child. One person might love to memorize the multiplication tables and proudly recite the 12 x tables with gusto, while another might have difficulty learning them. Believe it or not, both of them can excel in math. It may even be the case that someone not good at recitation/memorization might be better at higher math than their precocious counterpart. Likewise, a student might have difficulty reading, but have a propensity for literature. Similarly, there are quite a few excellent writers who had/have problems with handwriting. Homeschooling gives parents the latitude for students to find their passion.
Families that have previously been in the school system may need time to “deschool” before finding their groove with homeschooling. Children often need to decompress before they are comfortable learning in a non-school environment and being part of their own education. Parents often need to observe their child’s learning style and interests and to adjust the way they think about HOW learning happens and “let go” of the notion that in order to learn, children must sit at a desk for hours a day while someone “teaches” them.
Homeschooling allows parents to individualize their child’s education. Some families start down one path and then change course, adapting to their family’s needs. Talking to friends or others in the community who homeschool; joining homeschooling groups (in person and on Facebook or other social media platforms); reading blogs, articles, and other online resources are all great ways to gather information! LEAD members can post on the Forum to ask questions about various resources, often finding someone who will lend them curricula to look at, etc. before purchasing themselves.
Following the homeschooling laws in Georgia is simple to do. Requirements include:
- Filing Declaration of Intent to Homeschool form.
- Providing basic education in the areas of Mathematics, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Reading. Parents choose the method / approach that best suits their family.
- Giving a nationally standardized test every 3 years starting in 3rd grade. (Scores are to be filed and are not sent to GaDOE.)
Helpful Resources when Starting Out:
Meeting the State's Testing Requirements:
LAW - Ga. Code Ann. 20-2-690(c)(7) "Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests to evaluate their educational progress at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade and records of such tests and scores shall be retained but shall not be required to be submitted to public educational authorities."
GHEA information on testing.
Standardized Test Options for homeschool:
Any "nationally normed" achievement test will fulfill the requirements. Homeschoolers do NOT take the CRCT. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the Stanford Achievement Test are two commonly used options. An older edition of the California Achievement Test is also available to home schoolers, though the current edition is not. Hewitt's "Pass" test now seems to qualify in Georgia as an acceptable test.
There are other organizations in the area that arrange to give the ITBS or Stanford for homeschoolers. It's also possible to administer the ITBS at home (if you have a BA or BS degree or higher), or the abbreviated CAT test is available for home use for anyone.
ITBS - Must have a degree to administer.
CAT - May be adminstered by a parent, but the edition available to homeschoolers is from 1992. Terra Nova may be normed to 2005 but more expensive than standard CAT.
- Stanford Acheivement Test - online testing option; While a parent may administer the test, they must also test two non-relatives from a different household at the same time.
- Family Learning Organization - offers CAT/5 and CAT/5 Survey tests for adminstering at home.
- Seton Testing - offers ITBS and CAT to be administered at home; They are reasonably priced and serves students K-12.
- HSLDA information on testing option
Most homeschoolers develop their own style, but here are some theories of homeschool education, and links to help you find more information:
- Ambleside Online - a free homeschooling curriculum designed to be the modern equivalent to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own PNEU schools
- Penny Gardner - resources and information on the Charlotte Mason method, by Penny Gardner, the author of the Charlotte Mason Study Guide
- Simply Charlotte Mason - features a curriculum guide, living books, narration and dictation ideas, copywork, and online planner
- The Well Trained Mind
- The Classical Scholar - teaching resources for classical educators
- Pandia Press - features secular classical history and science curricula, History Odyssey and R.E.A.L. Science
- Classical Education Resources
- Moving Beyond the Page - comprehensive, research-based curriculum designed for gifted and creative children
- The L.A.M.B. Company Curriculum - curriculum that is custom designed around the needs of each student
- Laurel Springs - accredited online private school
- Keystone - accredited, middle/high school
- The Willoway CyberSchool - online, immersive learning for grades 6-12
Thomas Jefferson Education
- Natural Child Project
- What is Unschooling?
- Freedom to Learn Articles
- Foundations of Unschooling
- A Life Worth Living: A Documentary about John Holt (father of the Unschooling movement- Youtube Video