You’ve recently removed your child from public school and you’re thinking, “Now what?”. First, don’t panic. You’ve got this. I’m writing this entire series for families just like yours. You’re not alone. Second, I would recommend you start with the post called “New to Homeschooling: Legalities and Making it Official“. This will get you through the first technical steps. If you’ve already checked those boxes, fantastic! Then let’s move on to some practical areas of homeschooling and answer a few common questions.
Question #1: What is De-schooling and Why is it Important?
If you’ve connected with a homeschool veteran they might have recommended something called “de-schooling”. Be aware, de-schooling can sometimes get confused with Unschooling (a learning style used by homeschoolers). What I’m writing about today is the concept of taking time off after removing your child from public school.
Generally it’s advised that your child take a one month break for each year they spent in public school. This won’t work in every situation; for example, if you’re going to be homeschooling a senior you can’t take an 11 month hiatus. However, some time should still be taken to shed ingrained habits. Let your child have a mental break from being controlled like cattle: responding to bells that tell them when and where to go. Allow them a chance to find a love for learning. In addition, maybe they need time to heal from bullying or anxiety. It’s important to change how they view education. Homeschooling and the freedom it brings will be a completely foreign concept to you and them, which is why the longer they spent in that system the longer it takes to get rid of the mindset.
In practical terms, avoid anything that seems “schoolish”: worksheets, textbooks, rigid schedules, tests, etc.. Instead, take the time to build a relationship with your child and let them explore their interests. Learn to relax, because in that state, learning can be fun.
Question #2: Is There a Day or Hour Requirement?
Depending on the state there may be hour and/or day requirements. Some states require a minimum number of instruction days, a certain number of hours each day, or a minimum of hours per year. There’s a lot of variance, so it’s important to know the laws that affect you.
Since my home state of Minnesota doesn’t have a day or hour requirement it’s required to keep detailed records. This could be attendance records, samples of work done, or lesson plans for the curriculum used. I believe, the way Minnesota law is written, keeping these records makes it clear you are educating your child in place of the state requiring day or hour minimums.
Question #3: Do I Have to Follow the District’s Calendar for School Days and Holidays?
Minnesota does not have this requirement, and in my searching I don’t think I’ve found a state that does. However, just to be sure, check with your own state’s law. In Minnesota, I homeschool year-round and choose which days we’ll have off throughout the year. I find this choice gives my family the most freedom and keeps things moving at a relaxed pace.
Nevertheless, some people choose to follow their district’s calendar, especially if they have some of their kids still enrolled in a public school. They feel it keeps everyone on the same schedule. In my opinion, this is easier said than done. I know parents who have tried to do this and have ended up very frustrated and frazzled. Be warned, if you live in a state that does have hour or day requirements; the schools in those states likely aren’t held to that same standard. So if the school takes off extra time for weather or other reasons it may not exempt you from your time requirements.
These are three basic questions I hear right after a parent says, “I removed my child from public school, now what?” There are still many more questions from rookie homeschoolers to be answered in this series. I am eager to help along the way as you navigate home education, so please stick around for more chapters in New to Homeschooling? The Most Common Questions Answered.