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How to Home School: Steps to getting your start

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

Preparing for their home school education, is an education all its own.

But don't let it overwhelm you, follow these helpful steps to getting your home school started.

I know from experience, that navigating the law, yearly affidavit, and in my case the withdraw letter to the school can be intimidating and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Once legal and ready to become a home school, you still need to get going on those fun lesson plans. Not to mention shopping through endless learning apps and curriculum to find what suits your child the best, home school plans can quickly go from exciting to worrisome.

Find encouragement here!

You can easily do this!

After loads of research and living through the process, I have simplified the steps so you can rest easy knowing your home school will be an A+.

So breathe a sigh of relief and let's get your home school going.

Step 1: Choose the option of home school that suits your needs.

There are different types of home school. You may already know this tidbit of information, but at the time of our first year, weeding through the home school process during a pandemic, I did not. So if you are just starting to explore home school there are different ways to go about it. You can charter school or private school.

Charter schools are affiliated with the public school system, however, you choose what curriculum you want to use. Since it is affiliated with the public school system, funding is also available to you. The amount you will receive per child vary depending on which charter school you choose. The funds are not given to you in cash, rather by an online portal system. The funds can be used in a variety of ways to support your curriculum, supplies, field trips, but with some exceptions, such as faith based materials. With a charter school, your child will be assigned to a teacher that you will meet with once a month, and can reach out to for support. Monthly attendance is taken, their writing samples, and educational samples are given each month. Also, charter schools prefer that your child take the yearly standardized testings that begin in the third grade.

Private home schools are different in that they require a private home school affidavit each year, and do not receive any funding. You are the teacher and there is no required standardized testing required to submit. Complete freedom. You do however need to keep attendance which can be as simple as marking it off on a calendar.

There is no "better" between the two options, it is simply whichever is more appealing and suitable for you and your family.

Step 2: Fill Out the Form

Depending on which home school option you choose you will need to complete some paper work. For a charter, you will need to apply to the school of your choice. Schools can fill up, so the sooner you decide on the school of your choice and get the application filled out the better.

If you are choosing to be a private home school, then you will need to file a private school (See how to file this form HERE) affidavit (PSA),or a letter of intent to your local school district. I would love to give specifics, but the requirements do vary by state so check to get the answers to which forms are necessary for your state. Living in California, it is required that a PSA be submitted online each year you home school. The PSA is a form that registers you as a private home school in the state and there is a specific time frame to file the form, just like taxes. The filing date is October 1st.-15th. If you begin your home school year prior to these dates (as I did), go ahead and start your school year, but wait until these dates to file the affidavit. In other words, the affidavit does not determine when you can start school it just needs to be on record. If a letter of intent is required, you can fill out this template and send it to the school district office via certified mail.

In my case, my first child had been enrolled in the public school system, so I additionally sent the school principal a letter of withdraw via certified mail. Once a child has been placed in the public school system but you later elect to home school, you must send a withdraw letter to the school in order that they will not mark your child as truant. You can find many withdraw letter templates online, but all it needs to include is that you are informing them that (your child/children's name) will not be returning for the (school year dates) because they are now attending a private school and to please remove the above names from your school's records.

Step 3: Pick Your Curriculum

Now that the legal bit is done, time to sort through the many curriculum options available. How do you choose? Well, the beauty of home school is that you don't have to choose just one. I can speak to private home school, since that has been our choice for four years, and I greatly appreciate building it all out myself using the common core standards as a reference. This helped me to know what typically gets covered at each grade level, but didn't prohibit me advancing in the areas they were ready to move forward in. You may want more structure, or workbooks, or an online method...the choice is up to you and what works for your child. The main objective is to pull from different resources to make custom "package" for your child's individual needs.

Sound a bit too vague?

I would love to help!

Check out full lesson plans and weekly units here!

Step 4: Have a Great School Year...Together!

The magnitude of teaching can be overwhelming, but remember, you don't need to teach them everything in one year. Learning is a lifelong adventure, and understanding that no one person is going to learn at the same pace as another really extinguishes the pressures of teaching. You are already setting in motion a fun and loving learning environment by choosing to home school, so the pace at which your child will learn will be accelerated anyway, trust me- I've seen this in remarkable ways with my children. Have fun, take breaks, enjoy playing together and learning will thrive.


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