Updated: Apr 20, 2022
YES! YOU CAN DO IT! Your kids do not have to attend public school. Homeschooling is a legal option in all fifty states of the United States (and many other countries; but for the purpose of this post, we’re focusing on the U.S.). Check with Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and your state’s Department of Education for the laws governing homeschooling in your state. Notice how I said that again? Become knowledgeable about the ins and outs of what is required by your state.
I don’t have anything against public school. I think it is a great option for many families, option being the key word. Education is compulsory; however, public school is not. This is a choice every family should make, weighing the pros and cons for their family and for each of their children. Parenting is a continual series of choices, and we don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done just because that’s the way they’ve always been done (and, in the history of people, public school is a relatively new concept). Think about how your kids learn and grow. Think about what makes them tick. Think about their strengths and their challenges. Think about your family dynamics. Make a decision about the education of your children. Choose how they will be educated – keeping in mind that they will be educated by everything they hear, see, read, watch, and the people they interact with.
If you decide when your children are young that you want to homeschool, you don’t have to go the traditional route and put them in public school. You have the freedom to peacefully homeschool them from the beginning and continue through graduation. You may have to file an intent to homeschool or an affidavit in your state (check your state’s laws!), or you may not have to do anything at all in terms of notification. When we lived in California, homeschoolers had to file an affidavit with the state every October. When we moved to another state, we didn’t have to notify anyone on how we planned to educate our kids nor notify them about our kids in any way.
If your child has been in public school, but it is no longer a situation that works for whatever reason, you can withdraw them from public school. You can do this in the middle of the school year, or toward the beginning/end, or today. You are the boss of your children. You make the decisions regarding their education.
Many states require you to file a withdrawal letter or an intent to homeschool in order to pull your child out of public school. (Check your state’s laws!) It is important to become familiar with homeschooling in your state so that you recognize that public schools don’t always know what is needed from those exiting the public school system. They may ask you to fill out forms about leaving the school, etc., and those are often not required by law nor recommended to complete. (Check your state’s laws! Did I mention that already??)
Laws governing homeschooling can vary greatly from state to state. You may have to count learning hours or keep a log of work done. You may need to make a portfolio of samples, administer standardized tests, use a grade-level curriculum, or a multitude of other requirements. Look up the laws for your state to be sure you are in compliance – I’m quite sure I’ve mentioned that already and because of its importance I will mention it again… and again.
Once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, find experienced homeschool parents in your state to guide you on your way. Sure, it’s great to have something in common with other new homeschooling parents; however, they also don’t know what they are doing in terms of homeschooling. Get to know those who have been in the proverbial trenches for years. They can point you in the direction of classes, activities, and curricula (yes, curricula is the plural of curriculum, get to know that, too). Experienced homeschool parents can guide you out of the public school mindset of checking off boxes and sitting at a desk all day doing busywork, and into the realm of learning for the sake of learning.
Find homeschool groups in your area on Meetup and Facebook, and put yourself out there. Show up again and again. Introduce yourself and your kids to people and try to find common interests. If you don’t find your people right away (and you probably won’t), keep trying. Don’t limit yourself and your children by only looking for 9-year-old boys because you have a 9-year-old boy. Homeschool homies don’t play that way. Since they are used to socializing with kids of all ages, many of my kids’ BFF’s throughout their lives have been several years older or younger than them and not the same sex as them. Get out there and make homeschool friends of all ages. It is an enriching experience for homeschool kids and their parents, and, dare I say, much needed in terms of support throughout the lifetime of our kids.
Did I mention looking up the laws in your state?
You CAN do this. You are your child’s first and best teacher. You know them better than anyone else. You can find things to spark their interest, tailor their education to their abilities, and make learning joyful and exciting. You can. For reals. And look up the laws in your state!