Vol.2, No.4

How to make the change from public to home schooling

When you decide to home school your child, you're suddenly the new teacher. A few tips to prepare for the change.

Home schooling child reading
Photo Credit: Andrew Taylor
So you've decided to switch your child from public to home school. It'll be quite a change to make indeed. Not only for the student but especially for you, the new teacher. The first matter at hand is receiving permission from your state to teach your child. Do a search online for the appropriate address to contact for your region. You'll usually have to provide a copy of your high school diploma along with the names, ages and grade levels of each child that will attend. You might also need to name the school. Allow at least two months to hear whether or not you've been accepted.

Now you have to set up a classroom at home. A desk, computer and books are a good start. You can order text books online for the appropriate grade level. As a teacher you'll need a copy of the coming year's schedule which includes holiday and teacher workday schedules. Because the child will be learning at home he doesn't have bad weather days. If you know the county is closing school for the day because of weather you can hold school anyway to allow your student earlier dismissal at the end of the school year. Or you can take the snow day off just like other students in the county and stay on their schedule. If you don't have the extra space to set up a classroom the child can sit at the kitchen table with an area set aside for yourself.

Do a little research during the summer to get yourself prepared for the new job. Teaching is a real job that requires lots of after-school hours and dedication. You'll need to go online and find a curriculum for the grade you're teaching. Make a schedule showing what times the student will attend which classes. A paper schedule with dates and room for writing is a big help. Pencil in field trips, tests, class parties and other agendas.

You'll need to print out work sheets, schedules, tests and report cards so have plenty of ink and paper on hand. There are some sites online that will generate practice sheets and tests for you for a minimal yearly fee. Use a grade book to keep track of the student's grades.

Write the classes down on a schedule, showing how much time will be allotted for each class. A home school class usually consists of five to six hours, depending upon what the state requires. Allow two fifteen minute breaks per day and a half-hour to forty five minute lunch period.

Some classes are only required for half a school year. Combine these classes with others that are scheduled the same way. For instance, if physical education and art are only required half a year each have art for half the school year then switch to P.E. The great thing about home school is that if you want to teach something not normally taught in public school, such as studying The Bible, you can add the class to the curriculum.

Be sure and keep good records. At any time the state can send someone to the school to check that school is actually taking place. They can ask to see records of the child's progress and even tests that have been given. At the end of the year the child will have to take the California Achievement Test for his or her grade level. Send for the test at least two months in advance. Many home school teachers trade off for testing. One teacher has the other teacher's student and vice-versa during testing.

Start off on the right foot with your student, letting them know that yours is an official school classroom and that you are to be treated and respected just like the public school teachers. Have in mind a plan for bad behavior as well as rewards for good grades and attitude.