Homeschooling is Legal in All 50 States, by Megan

 

 

Yes! Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.  

Here is a list of websites to help in your search for the laws and requirements of your state.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

When possible, I have listed the state’s Department of Education website for information. If that information was unavailable or too full of legal jargon, I have linked to a homeschool organization in that state. For example, Utah recently changed its laws regarding homeschooling, but its DOE website hasn’t been updated to reflect the new requirements. For this reason, I linked to a Utah homeschooling organization which summarizes the changes. If any of other state websites have outdated information, please let us know in the comments. We’d be happy to find the updated laws and keep our readers up to speed.

 

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware – Look under sections 2703-2704 for homeschool requirements.

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan 

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

I often hear that people are afraid to homeschool in NY or PA because of all the regulations. My friend Pauline has a wonderful website that’s a huge help to homeschoolers in PA. Someone, please create a similar resource for NY!  🙂 Pauline encourages anyone interested in homeschooling in PA by saying, “PA’s laws sound complicated when you first read them, but it’s mostly a matter of paperwork. Don’t get overwhelmed – it’s easier than it looks!

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

A website with a little more information about homeschooling requirements in Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

Washington, D. C.

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

 

Megmeganan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck (girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

A Tale of Two Boys: Learning How to Write, by Megan

 

PIGBY

I’m worried that this post will make me sound a like a fairly uptight or perfectionist mom. (More so than I really am, because I sort of am.) I tried not to be that way when my oldest son, Pigby, was doing “preschool” with me. He demanded I teach him how to read, so I did. He never showed any signs of wanting to write, and anytime I tried teaching him it led to struggles, so I backed off. For several years, I didn’t push the issue at all; I didn’t want to kill his love of learning.

When he was five, I figured it was time to start in earnest. I thought most kids learned how to write in kindergarten. I vaguely remember being able to write all my letters as a kindergartner. We struggled big time. We started with one program that offered no instruction in how to form letters. It just provided the dotted lines and expected him to copy the letters over and over and over and over. Oh my word, just remembering it makes me want to pull my hair out. He could not copy them well. Some of his letters were so skinny, some were so fat, and most missed their marks on the three guiding lines. I was struggling so hard not to freak out about it in front of him. “How can this be so hard for him? All he has to do is recreate each letter?!” I was figuratively pulling my hair out every day.

I ended up switching him to Handwriting Without Tears. It started with using gross motor skills and would eventually translate those same motions into fine motor skills (writing the letters on paper). Someone pointed out to me that he disliked anything to do with fine motor skills and he always had. That was why at age three he’d had no interest in stickers, buttons, shoelaces, glue, scissors, or coloring; he avoided them all. In fact even now, at eight years old, he still struggles; he’ll try to get me to do lots of things requiring those pesky fine motor skills. When he was five, people recommended that I help him build those hand muscles, then it wouldn’t be so hard for him.

We started by coloring every day. I was advised by one person to use crayons because they require children to push harder, which would build the muscles. Another person advised me to use colored pencils, because they required more control and precision. I compromised by having him alternate colored pencils and crayons every day.

As time went on, I had to adjust the way we did school to accommodate his hatred of writing, while still working on that particular skill. Some of the things we did:
• I used Handwriting Without Tears to help me teach him how to break down the formation of letters. This program really did stop all of my tears over teaching him. Copywork wasn’t enough; he needed to practice creating each stroke.

• Once we completed the first two levels of HWOT, he wanted to learn how to write in cursive. I bought the StartWrite software and created my own copy pages. I created pages of one letter filling the line. The letters were dotted so that he could trace them. After he got proficient at copying, I’d leave space in between each letter so he could try to recreate the letter next to the one he had traced. Then I started doing the same things with his spelling words. Then we moved on to sentences. We took as many baby steps as we needed.

• In subjects other than handwriting, I would often write for him. I wrote for him in math, grammar, writing, spelling, science, and history. That way his progression in certain subjects wasn’t hindered by his desire to not write.

• We used phonogram tiles for spelling. We do use the program All About Spelling, but I got my phonogram tiles from Mama Jenn, printed them on card stock, had them laminated and put some magnets on them. Using the tiles greatly cut down on the amount of whining because as with math, his abilities in spelling greatly surpassed his progression in writing.

As we took these little baby steps, I was often worried that he’d never be able to write on his own. I worried that I would fail him somehow. It was all for naught because now at the end of second grade, he does almost all writing on his own. I’m glad we took it slow and steady and I’m glad I took the battle out of this issue.

 

DIGBY

(All his letters in green, mine in gray)

Teaching Digby to write has been a completely different story. Whereas Pigby was reading at three and avoiding handwriting, Digby showed no interest in reading, but was extremely proficient in all things involving fine motor skills. He was very proficient with scissors, tape, stickers, buttons, markers, etc. I first started giving him pages of letter outlines made with StartWrite because he wanted to do school like big brother. I would show him how to write one letter, then he would do the next.

Last year, I found a fun app for my tablet that gets kids to make the correct letter formations by having them start at the green dot, trace the line, and end at the red dot. If they veered too far off the line or didn’t start and end at the right place, they had to do it over. This app pretty much taught him the correct way to form letters. Now all I do is make sure he writes them properly on his own (he often writes a backwards “N”). I plan on starting him with more formal HWOT work in the fall when he starts kindergarten.

 

Megamegann–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck (girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

 

Memoria Press Review by Megan: Timeline

I was very excited for the chance to review Memoria Press‘s (MP) timeline curriculum.  I have never used any MP products before, but I’d heard so many great things from my friends that I knew it would be good.

What I loved about this product was its simplicity. It’s not overly complicated; there are no frills, bells, or whistles. Our process included: learn about the key event, fill out the workbook, color in the illustration page, and paste the timeline card into our timeline book of centuries. This was simple enough to get done but involved enough to be interesting and memorable. My son loved doing the illustrations and narrations.

The beauty of its simplicity is found in tailoring this program to suit our needs.  In the handbook, each event is accompanied with an informational description. While my son and I didn’t cover all sixty events in the program, I did read the entire thing on my own. What a wealth of information! It was more detailed, informative, and sensible than much of my world history classes in high school.  And yet it can be a jumping-off point for even more reading and discovery. Take the Great Pyramids page, for instance. The description in the handbook is fairly brief. It is so easy to add other resources to this section. Movies, websites, and books can all be added if a child wants to know more (and believe me, they do!).

From the opposite side, it’s also very easy to supplement your regular history spine with this program.  All the events are clearly labelled and categorized, making it easy to use when you reach that spot in your studies. We aren’t studying much history at this point in time, but I can see that if we were to continue only using this program for the next few months, it would lay a solid foundation for more in-depth study later.

One more aspect that I loved it how it tied in various subjects in one place. While writing the key people and places, my son remembered from his grammar lessons that proper nouns should be capitalized. He had to erase a few mistakes and correct them, but he did this on his own. One time I did have to remind him that capital letters don’t go in the middle of words, but again he corrected it without complaint (unusual for him). I thought the picture above was cute. It’s the illustration that he did to go with Noah’s Ark. He drew the ark and the water but wanted to add the pilot whale so that it could spy hop, “something that only pilot whales do, Mom.” When I asked him about the fish out of water, he told me that some fish jump out of the water a lot. And he made the sky green because he’d heard that the sky looks green when there’s a tornado about to form (the tornado is the black shape in the middle of the page). I know it’s not very accurate, but I thought all his extra details were just so cute. I love how he is gathering all this information and processing it in every area of his life. This is the beauty of a classical education.

One thing to note, this program is written from a religious perspective. As a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’ve tended to avoid any religious curricula. I’ve found it easier to use secular materials and add in my own beliefs. I’m happy to say that even though it was written from a religious perspective, the general descriptions from the handbook were easily adapted for our own beliefs. There wasn’t anything major, but my son and I did have some good discussions about our beliefs. We did some extra reading from the scriptures and I shared what my interpretations of it were (this was mostly in the Creation & Fall event).

My only complaints with this program is 1) that it is not a complete curriculum; it is a supplement and 2) that the workbook is not spiral bound. At $39.95, it’s a decently priced program if you use it for all four years. It is so informative and easy to use that I wish there were four separate curriculums, one for each year, with each one having more events. And the workbook not being spiral bound is just me wishing that all workbooks were spiral bound. I would love it if it were, but it’s not a deal breaker for something this great.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

megan

Megan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck (girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

Why Classical Education? From the Well-Trained Mind to Charlotte Mason, by Megan

 

I made the decision to homeschool when my oldest child was two. Even though I had several years to plan, I immediately began scouring the internet for curricula. I was overwhelmed by the numerous options. I wanted to ensure that my children received a better education than my own but I didn’t know which path would get me there.

I asked for help on a homeschool forum, and someone recommended The Well-Trained Mind (WTM). I got it from the library and couldn’t put it down. This was exactly what I was looking for, but didn’t know existed! It was how I wish I had been educated.

I loved the idea of laying a foundation that could be built upon in greater detail further down the road. It seemed so logical, so obvious once I’d read it, yet so completely different than my own experience that I never would have come up with it on my own.

sts-why-classical

Two of the biggest reasons drawing me to this method were how Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise handled History and English. In the public elementary school I attended growing up, Social Studies started with the child and they learned about self, then their community, then their state, and then their country. Social Studies in 7th-12th grades were a convoluted mess. Between 6th and 12th grades, I took four and a half years of American History and only one year of World History. In the WTM method, History is done chronologically from beginning to end and the cycle is repeated every four years. And every time it repeats, the historical facts make more sense as they build upon they foundation the students already had. I loved this idea that History could actually make sense!

I listened to Bauer’s method of English instruction here. I loved the methods of copywork, narrations, and dictation, and her explanations of why they were so important. I could understand the skills they taught and appreciated that they’re developmentally appropriate for younger children. I could also see how students will take those skills and build upon them as they grow, and learn to be persuasive writers by college. That made me hopeful because I feel like I struggled so much in college whenever I had to write papers.

After a year of this method, I began to realize that although it was exactly what I wish I had had, it wasn’t working very well for my son. Apparently, different people enjoy learning in different ways. I started learning more about Charlotte Mason’s take on classical education and we’ve added some more of her methods. I still get chronological history, copywork, narrations, and dictation (among other things), but I’ve tweaked how we approach them. He’s behind in some areas and ahead in others. I get to tailor his education to his needs and it works out very well. I still love the WTM as a guide and a starting off point whenever I need curricula suggestions, but I love the natural learning of Charlotte Mason’s approach.

Even though we’re still in the “sandbox” stage of our homeschooling journey, I feel confident that we’re on the right path. We may no longer strictly follow WTM, butI know my son is getting a high quality education. It’s a proven method and my friends who are much further along in this process are there to encourage and support me. With their help, I am able to see the big picture of where I want my children to be in ten years.

 

Meganmegan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck (girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

"Write From Ancient History" Level 1: Review

Megan and Caitilin each received a review copy of Write from History; Megan a Level 1 copy, and Caitilin a Level 2.

Megan says:

“Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. I try to apply it to my own homeschool as much and as often as I can, so I was excited to review a product that both followed her methods and incorporated two subjects into one. I always appreciate programs that make my life easier.

I used the Write From Ancient History Level 1 manuscript models. We used the digital format, which retails for $22.95. Each lesson has a story for the child to listen to or read, a page where you can write your child’s narration of the story, and three copywork sections. There are also instructions on how to use these lessons to incorporate grammar.

At eight years old, my son often balks whenever he has to write copywork sentences. This was not the case when we used the Write From History program. When we first started, there were a couple of times when he didn’t want to copy longer passages. When I told him he didn’t have to write the entire passage, he cooperated much better. By the end of the review, he was willing and able to copy the entire passage.

He really seemed to enjoy the stories we read.  I was surprised at how well he did with narrations. I told him that he needed to pay attention and he’d have to tell the story back to me at the end. Then at the end, I’d ask him to tell me what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. And as he narrated, all I’d do is ask, “Then what?” and he would keep going. This is the first time he’s narrated such long passages with such accurate detail.

We aren’t really studying much history at the moment, but I think it would be very easy to coordinate Write From History with your regular history spine. Since we aren’t using a history spine, I would just talk a little about the history and try to explain any questions he had.

Some things that I would have preferred:

–Online samples of what a lesson looks like. I would have a very hard time not being able to see samples before I bought a program.

–More stories and less copywork. The level we used had one passage for narration and three copywork sections. One of those sections is a passage that is meant to be copied twice. I think I would have preferred the reading to be divided into two days and two days of copywork. Also, one of the chapters is Aesop’s Fables. While I love Aesop’s Fables more than anyone, I would have preferred more history stories instead of the fables.

–A clearer schedule. While I understand that this program is meant to be flexible according to each student’s needs, the sample schedule was very confusing to me. It lists parts of two lessons for one week. I wasn’t sure why they would suggest using two lessons instead of one or why there would be so many copywork sections if they weren’t all needed. In the end, I chose to do one lesson per week. I did the narrations one day, plus three days of copywork. I did simple grammar lessons with our copywork.

All in all, I would recommend this program as a history supplement.”

Caitilin says:

“Overall, I enjoyed the program, which used as its base Famous Men of the Middle Ages. The materials were engaging, and the writing selections were well-chosen. I used it as a temporary hiatus from our chosen program, also based on Famous Men, so we were able to pick right up in the middle of the program. For our family, Write from History was not as good a fit as our original program, due to the style of the writing assignments. We prefer less copywork or dictation but more essay or comprehension questions in our history work. That said, I would heartily recommend it to a family whose children need extra practice in writing and don’t want to add another subject into their weekly routine.”

If you would like a chance to win an e-book copy of Write from History, enter our giveaway!

Disclaimer:  We received a free copy of this product in exchange for our honest reviews on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of ourselves or our families and do not necessarily reflect those of the From Sandbox to Socrates blog. We received no compensation for this review, nor were we required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Megan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck megan(girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

Pigby, Digby, and Chuck Learn About Matter, by Megan

Teaching Elementary Science

 

My eldest son is a science fiend. He devours all science books he can get his hands on. He loves to do science projects with my husband. He loves watching science videos, Bill Nye the Science Guy being his favorite.

This year for our science curriculum, we’re using REAL Science Odyssey Earth Science & Astronomy Level 1. I feel like it has the right balance of interesting, factual text and fun, hands-on projects. It also has worksheets for recording data, which makes my life easier.

This week, we did the Unit 2 lab #1 demonstration. Unit 2 is about the water cycle and for this lab we observed water molecules in their solid, liquid, and gas states.

We started off by taking a dry jar, making sure that it was dry by feeling it, then adding ice and water, drying off the outside, and letting it sit. We came back to the jar when we were done with the rest of the demo.

science-2

Next, we took some ice cubes and put them in the hot pot. Before we turned the hot pot on, we felt the ice cubes and Pigby recorded his observations on the accompanying worksheet. We did the same with a bowl of water and the water vapor in the air.

science-3

Next, we turned the hot pot on and watched the ice melt into water and then turn into steam. As the water heated, I pointed out the moving air bubbles and how the hotter the water got, the more they moved.  I said the same thing was happening with the water molecules; we just couldn’t see them individually.

science-4

science-5

Then we discussed how to get water vapor in the air to turn back into a solid. We did this by pouring the boiling water into a jar and then putting an upside-down lid filled with ice on top. They could see the steam fogging up the sides of the jar and then see the droplets fall back to the bottom.  I also lifted the lid and and showed them the condensation that had gathered on it.

science-6

Next, we compared the two jars. I wiped my fingers on the outside of the hot jar and showed them that my fingers were dry. Then I let them wipe the outside of the cold jar and they could see the water that had gathered. I asked if the water in the cold jar had leaked through the glass. Pigby said yes, but I again explained how condensation works.

And while Pigby finished writing his observations, I let the littler two put their mittens on and play in the ice in the cooler. This might have been their favorite part.

science-7

Some points I’d like to make: While the pictures show the little two patiently observing, I would like to make it known that keeping three and four-year-olds occupied is fairly difficult, even with an intriguing subject. The pictures don’t show them crawling over, under, and around the table! The pictures don’t show me telling them to back up before they burned their faces in the steam. They spent most of the time playing in the ice cooler and asking me questions both related and not related to the subject at hand. This is all normal and a little frustrating, but the thing to do is just go with it and redirect as you can. Playing in ice is more important for a three-year-old than trying to stay quiet and listen to explanations on molecules and condensation. Get them to participate as much as you can (mostly to keep them occupied and out of trouble) but don’t be surprised when they wander as much as they can.

Megan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck megan(girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.