You Have Decided to Homeschool! Now What???

By Melinda Larke - Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid July 16, 2020

 Homeschooling is an exciting and epic adventure!  To make the decision to homeschool is not an easy one, but the decision is the easiest part. Once you have made that decision, what do you do next?  I am here to help you with the next steps in homeschooling your child/ren.

  1. Learn the Washington State Homeschool Laws – Yes, there are laws regarding homeschooling your children.  Luckily for you, Washington is not as strict as some other states in the country when it comes to homeschooling but there are a few different laws you must abide by to homeschool your children.  The best source for these laws is the Washington Homeschool Organization. They go into much more detail and can really break things down for you.  
  2. Do You Qualify to Teach Your Child? – You will see in the homeschool laws that the primary teacher must meet some qualifications to homeschool your child/ren.To homeschool your child/ren you must have meet one of these qualifications.
    1. Have earned 45 quarter units of college level credit.
    2. Your student meets with a certified teacher at least one hour per week. 
    3. You attend a parent qualifying course.  More information on that here
    4. You are deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of the local school district in which the child resides.
  3. Unenroll Your Student – If your child has been attending a public or private school you will have to unenroll them from that school.
  4. File a Declaration of Intent – After you unenroll your student, you will have to let the school district that you will be homeschooling your student.  You have until September 15th to file your declaration of intent.  You can find the paperwork either on your school districts website or on the Washington Homeschool Organization website.  If your child is under 8 years old, you are not required to file your declaration of intent.  Why? Under Washington State Law, children are only required to attend school between the ages of 8-18 years old.  If you have a 6-year-old, you are not required to let the school district know that you are homeschooling or required to adhere to the Washington State homeschool laws.  If you child is turning 8 in the middle of the school year, I would file the declaration of intent within a few weeks of their birthday.  
  5. What Will Homeschooling Look Like in Your Home? – This is one of the biggest and most confusing questions that families must consider once they decide to homeschool.  For my family, that idea has changed many times in the last 8 years, and it is OK if you change your mind. It happens to all of us as we start to do the homeschooling in real time and real life.  For some different options see my article on the different types of education and homeschooling. 
  6. Get Some Support – Honestly, it is hard to homeschool your kids.  You are responsible for everything and that can really bring some stress and anxiety into your world.  Add in the public and family trying to interject their “opinions” and it can just be too much sometimes.  As homeschooling has become much more popular over the years, the support system has grown and grown.  Have friends that will be homeschooling also?  Get together with them once a week and chat, even if it is on-line. Bounce ideas off each other, talk about curriculum, and just vent.  We all need a good venting session every now and again. There are also many local Facebook Groups and Co-Ops for homeschooling families.  These are great places to ask questions, learn from veteran homeschool families and find out about opportunities for your children and families.
  7. Find Your Curriculum – Ok, this is what I had the most problem with.  I just kept finding more and more fun and cool things, thinking that I had to do it all with my children.  Here is some advice, you do not have to do it all; all the activities, do all the reports, or read all the books. There are so many different types of curriculum.  And it seems that every teacher out there has a different way to teach the same things. I would do some research, check out some reviews for different types of curriculum, and if you can get your hands on that curriculum before you buy it and look at for yourself. For more information on curriculum click here. 
  8. What About My IEP? Can My Child Keep Playing Sports?  – Does your child receive services at their school?  Do they participate in school sports?  Do you want them to continue with these services while you homeschool?  Under the law, your children may continue to participate in their therapies, sports teams, and/or extracurricular activities through your local school.  They can not deny them because you are now homeschooling them. 
  9.  Prepare a Folder for Each Child – You must keep records on each child as you teach them.  In the state of Washington, you are required to have all the test/assessment scores for each year and immunization records. While these are private records for you and you do not have to show them to any state agency, if you do decide to reenroll your child in a traditional public school, they may ask for these test scores.  I just find it easiest to keep in all in a folder for each child.  You can also include examples of work they have completed, but that part is totally up to you and not required by the state. 
  10. Be Flexible – Homeschooling not only affords a lot of flexibility, but it requires it.  The curriculum you pick may not be best for your child, be ok with throwing it aside and trying something else.  Your child or you may be having a bad day, be ok with taking a slower day or just spending the day reading or watching movies.  You may have planned out this (what you think to be) awesome activity but your child thinks it is awful.  That is ok, not your fault, we are all different people with different interests, be ok with yourself, and do not give up over one activity.  

If your child has been attending traditional school, and you have never taught your child before, this is going to be a huge adjustment for both of you.   Be patient, know that you can do it, it will get easier over time, and do not be afraid to reach out to your support system. My biggest piece of advice, when it all becomes too much, take a big deep breath, and put yourself in a time out. 

Keep finding your family fun -