As a parent considering homeschooling, where you are in the world may impact the logistics of your decision. Here, I am mostly describing what it is like in America with my specific experience being in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the Bay Area there is an extensive network of homeschoolers with over 800 families electing to Home School.
However a lot of this information can be applied to other countries with some minor adjustments. There are generally many ways to home school regardless of where you live.
1. You can set up a Private School out of Your Home: by filling in a Private School Affidavit with your local school district. This means that you choose the curriculum goals, materials and methodology yourself and largely go forward with your child’s education without supervision. This is the kind of set up that can be transplanted to a country that does not have a Home Schooling structure or system in place.
The only requirement is that you set up an “attendance sheet” documenting what your child is doing on a daily basis. You also have to have a detailed curriculum plan in place for every academic year along with documented proof that you are following this system with your child (through worksheets, pictures, logs or whatever documentation method you choose). It is unlikely that you will ever get a “visit” that requires you to show such proof, but in the event that you do, not having this documentation is a pretty big legal deal, as in the United States it is highly illegal not to educate your child. In all cases, beyond the legality of the set up, it is highly recommended to have a detailed plan and documentation process for each academic Home School year.
Usually parents following this system choose to “un-school” meaning they do not follow State controlled Common Core guidelines. Instead they decide what is important for their child to focus on each academic year.
2. You can enroll your child in a local Home School Charter: If you are residing in the US there are a number of Home School Charters that provide you with a visit from a local teacher every three weeks, to guide you through the process of curriculum planning, set up and materials and some even provide you with a budget for these. This local teacher’s role is to ensure that you are following Common Core standards and are helping your child remain on par with his/her grade level.
L1 (my oldest daughter) was enrolled in a local charter and received $2000 for her classes and materials across the 10 months of the academic year. She used her funds for athletics (Soccer, Ice Skating, Jazz&Tap and Gymnastics), STEM materials, cooking classes, sewing classes and books. These classes took up approximately two hours of our school day almost on a daily basis.
In this system you follow Common Core Guidelines but you can choose your pace and grade level as well as the method of delivery, books and materials. So there is a lot of freedom but there is also guidance and support be it moral, educational and/or financial. It is an ideal way to ease into Home Schooling if you feel like you would rather not wander into it on your own and experiment with your child’s educational experience.
3. You can enroll in an Online Public School entirely for free if you reside in the US: Within this system there is a lot of required work that happens online and you do not get to select the curriculum or delivery methods of your choice. It is basically the equivalent of the American Public School system without physically attending a school. Some parents with children with special health needs opt for this. Furthermore, some American citizens living abroad opt for this option.
4. You can enroll in an Online Private School from any country in the world: Even if you do not live in the US you have a variety of online Home Schooling programs to choose from. I know an Egyptian family who home schooled in Egypt and had a very successful experience with Laurel Springs. Their website is: http://laurelsprings.com/
Your Daily “School” Routine
Most parents consistently find that they can compress an entire 6 to 8 hr school day of learning goals into 3 hrs in the morning or afternoon. Basically, you find out when your child’s optimal learning time is and you schedule that period for academic work and the rest of the day for sports, activities and non-desk based learning such as trips to the museum or nature walks etc..
With L1, we worked together from 9:30 to 12:00 and covered Language and mathematics and the rest of the day had a different sport or class scheduled. We covered geography and Montessori math in a group setting twice a week as well.
Furthermore, L1 was enrolled in Stanford’s online Home School math course which was truly beneficial. We allocated 20 mins of Stanford math to every school day. Learn more about that course by going to www.GiftedandTalented.com
Hoda Rashad is an author and educator who earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Eastern Studies and her MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the American University in Cairo. Rashad wrote “Rising from Tahrir” in 2012, a Creative Non-Fiction collection of ten individuals’ stories from the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Rashad pursued a career in teaching for more than 12 years and worked as an educational consultant for over 7 years before moving to the US in 2005, where she continued to work as an educational consultant in private schools and corporate projects, until founding and running her own preschool project and teacher-based homeschooling program in the Bay Area. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out her blog!