Before making the important decision to home school your children, take your time and do your "homework." You will feel more confident about making choices and decisions for your children.
Today there are many excellent websites that provide helpful information about home schooling, resources, and the answers to the questions typically asked by families considering home education.
Basic Questions and Answers:
Note: The following are very brief answers. Many books on the topics covered here are included at the bottom, as well as other helpful websites with good getting started information. These answers are provided by Charlene Brown, a founder and past President of the IFHS.
Q: Is it legal to homeschool?
A: Yes. See our Indiana Law page. Home schools are considered private schools in Indiana. Also, visit our page on the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA), where we site the law and the HSLDA brief synopsis from their website, http://www.hslda.org/. Below is a brief summary of the homeschooling law in Indiana. For a detailed analysis of homeschooling in Indiana, see:
Indiana: A Legal Analysis
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Compulsory School Age
"Earlier of the date on which the child officially enrolls in a school or reaches the age of 7 until the date on which he reaches the age of 18."
Indiana Legal Home Schooling Options: 1
Operate a home school as a private school
Same as the public schools; Generally, 180 days per year
None, unless specifically requested by the state superintendent of education
Maintain attendance records
Q: Where do I sign up?
A: Great question. First of all, let's be clear that the Indiana Foundation for Home Schooling is not an organization you report enrollment to. We are happy for you to sign up at our website for updates and information, and as a means of getting a discount membership through HSLDA, but we are not the Indiana Dept. of Education.
As is noted in the legal analysis sited above, in Indiana it is called 'reporting enrollment.' The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) believes that making a blanket statement of request to report enrollment, to anyone in the state who chooses to homeschool, is lawful. The Home School Legal Defense Association believes the Indiana law states that enrollment requests must be a specific personal request.
Q: What is the big deal about whether to report or not to report?
A: You will find that homeschooling families in Indiana really value the freedom we have to homeschool without restrictions. If you value freedom, you usually do not want to give government more than is absolutely necessary, in order to protect future enroachment into your rights as a citizen and parent.
For example, when you complete your tax returns, you submit what is required, but you don’t submit an expense list of what all you spent your income on this past year. The IRS could make a blanket request across the country saying, ‘We are asking everyone to send an expense list with their tax return.’ You could choose to submit that information with your tax return. If many people begin making that same choice, would it become an expectation and sooner or later become a law that you ‘must’ submit a list of all expenses with your tax return? Likely.
So, bottom line is, you can decide whether to report or not. Some parents who have had their children in public school find it easier to ‘just report and satisfy the local school.’ It is a simple online form requesting your address, number of students enrolled, and grade levels. You are given a private school ID number that you give to the local school you withdrew your student from. Public schools have to note a school code in the system so it makes it nice and neat for them when you give them that code. Also, realize they are part of that IDOE system and they are being told by the IDOE that homeschoolers need to report. Just remember, when you walk out the public school door, having told them your child is transferring to a private school, your child is no longer their responsibility.
Q: What is done with the information if you choose to report?
A: From what we can tell, it is mainly used at this time for statistics. In the future, it could be used to rationalize requests to the Indiana legislature for regulating homeschooling…”Look how many homeschoolers we have. They can’t all be doing a good job on their own, we must regulate them.” Then our tax dollars go up even higher. Studies have shown that in ‘low regulation’ states, homeschooled students perform as well as in ‘high regulation’. And either way they perform better than average public school students. So why should our legislature spend millions to monitor homeschoolers when public schools are crying out for money and have failing students?
To date, homeschoolers in Indiana have had a good relationship with the IDOE. IDOE respects your right to choose to homeschool. See the Indiana Law page for links to the IDOE homeschool page.
Q: How does it work?
A: First of all, no one comes to your house to school your kids for you - unless you pay them a great deal of money! Imagine being an entrepreneur and starting a business – all the decisions to make, the research, the investment of financial resources, networking with other businesses to accomplish your end product. Homeschooling is like that – you are starting a private school. You have to make the decisions about why/when/how of homeschooling your child, research options of curriculum, figure out what you can afford, network with homeschooling groups, co-ops, parents and maybe tutors to accomplish your end product – educating your child. Like business, it is a big investment, risks are involved and there are plenty of naysayers. However, there is a big payoff – great time with your child, and a big investment in their future success.
Q: Who is responsible? Where do I get my books?
A: You are the teacher, the principal, the superintendent, the nurse, the guidance counselors, and the janitors of "Rosie Hill Elementary" or the "Sparrow Christian Academy." How your child gets an education is totally up to you and at your expense. There is freedom in that and fright!
The freedom part is exciting because you are now able to incorporate what is important for your children to learn at what age in respect to your beliefs, morals, or academic priorities and learning styles.
The fright is that it is totally up to you. The success or lack of it impacts the big picture of whether your child is prepared for a job and adult life.
By law you are responsible to give your child at minimum, an "equivalent education" to what he would receive in the public school. How you accomplish that is up to you. You choose how to do that - 1) by a combination of one-to-one tutoring with you and/or another person, 2) on-line courses, 3) video or DVD courses, 4) CD-ROM courses, 5) group classes with other homeschooled kids.
Q: How do I know the learning style of my child and pick curriculum? What educational approach do I use?
A: It is helpful to read a book about Homeschooling to think through different issues to consider, like your approach, for example. Will you use traditional textbooks or do a unit study approach, a classical approach? You will find helpful information on our Curriculum Options page.
A very valuable website is done by an author of some excellent books which review home school curriculum, Cathy Duffy. Cathy's books and website, http://www.cathyduffyreviews.com/, give you overviews of different curriculum companies and offer you reviews on many different texts available for whatever age levels you will be teaching. She also gives insight on the learning style of your child. You have a learning style too so you need to evaluate teacher manuals to see if they make sense to you. "Can I read this lesson in about 2-5 minutes and figure out what I need in order to direct my student in this subject today?" If not, it may not be for you.
If you are beginning with a 5 year old, you basically know what they know. If you are pulling a child out of school, you may need to get a handle on what they know before you select a curriculum. Review the scope and sequence of a curriculum company. They may offer an assessment test for placement too. Review the curriculum your child has had this past year at their former school and consider how they managed with it.
Q: What are the Indiana guidelines for each grade?
A: You can visit the Indiana Academic Standards page of the IDOE website. The link is also on the Indiana Law page and the Curriculum Options page. This lists each grade level and also course descriptions for high school level courses which is very helpful to acquaint yourself with, especially if you are developing your own curriculum.
Q: Is there financial assistance available for curriculum?
A: Parents pay for the curriculum and there is not financial assistance available for curriculum. However, on our Curriculum Options page there is information about purchasing used books, as well as suggestions for free curriculum or resources to borrow. To get a tax break, you can use a Coverdell Educational Savings Account.
Q: Do I qualify for Educator Discounts?
A: Yes. Many businesses give homeschooling parents teacher discounts. See our Educational Discounts page.
Q: How do I get help figuring out how to go about homeschooling and meeting other homeschoolers?
A: Get to the library and read a book about homeschooling, or order a book from our online bookstore. Also, see our Local Support Groups page. Find a local group to connect with other homeschooling parents and also for your kids to connect with kids. Different focuses and styles of groups exist:
• Mom support and resources
• Field trips
Q: How do I organize my school?
A: You need a work area for kids and you, and crates or bookshelves for your materials if the dining table is the best spot for you to do your schooling. Other tips:
Q: How do I keep records?
A: Use a chart with attendance for 180 days or you could just track that on your lesson plan book.
Your lesson plan book is a great record keeper. List at the beginning of the lesson plan book what texts you use if you are doing a full year curriculum.
If you watch a video or go on a field trip related to the subject or multiple subjects, be sure to include it on your lesson plan book. A trip to the state museum could be a history lesson, you might do a craft there (art) and you could have them write a report (English) and if they read all those signs about the artifacts they have done their reading for the day!
For high school you need to maintain a transcript. Come to our Map Your Future event in the fall for info on how to make a transcript and lots of other high school planning info! Also, check out the High School section of this site.
Q: Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool?
A: It will take a while. Some say 6 months. Don't give up. There is a big prize that waits at the end. Make it a priority to connect with other homeschooling families - whether you think you need it or not, your kids do.
A few websites with information on the subject of "Getting Started":
American Homeschool Association (AHA) as a lot of information on their blog.
Crosswalk.com has a collection of motivating articles related to getting started with homeschooling written by nationally recognized speakers in the homeschooling field.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Information includes a colorful brochure, You Can Home School, with a good overview, helpful tips and updated research on homeschooling statistics to share with friends and family.
Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) The IAHE website has a list of articles on "Getting Started" and sells a publication Home Education in Indiana, the IAHE INFORMER newsmagazine, and Home Schooling In Action video. Annually the IAHE sponsors a convention in Indianapolis that offers curriculum vendors and many workshops. The IAHE Region Reps would be a good source for finding homeschooling support groups in your area.
Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) The "Homeschool Helpsheet" page has helpful information for new homeschoolers.
Indiana Home Educators Network (IHEN) What about Socialization? Answers to this most frequently asked questions regarding home education can be found on the IHEN website. IHEN offers a statewide network of support and a discussion e-mail list to which you can post questions about homeschooling. They have also produced an on-line brochure about getting started called Home Education in Indiana.
National Home Education Network (NHEN) Designed with material for new home schoolers of all ages, topics include: reasons to home school, how to get started, disclosing, scheduling, dealing with criticism, learning about learning, homeschooling methods, legal information, socialization, support, conferences, resources, financial considerations, and looking beyond homeschooling.
School I.D. - many programs insist kids show their school id cards. You can make one easily if you have Excel with this template.
Books that highlight the "hows" of home education:
• The Whole Hearted Child, by Clay & Sally Clarkson.
• A Survivor's Guide to Home Schooling, by Luanne Shackelford & Susan White
• Home Schooling Children with Special Needs, by Sharon Hensley, M.A.
• Homeschooling: Answers to Questions Parents Most Often Ask, by Deb McIntire and Robert Windham
• So You're Thinking About Homeschooling, by Lisa Whelchel
• The Homeschooling Handbook, by Mary Griffith
• The Heart of Home Schooling, Christopher Klicka
• The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start, Linda Dobson
• The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling, by Debra Bell
Books that examine "Why should we homeschool?"
• The Christian Home School, by Gregg Harris
• Home Schooling: The Right Choice, by Christopher Klicka
• Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, by David Guterson
Visit our Bookstore for some of these titles and more!