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If you are choosing/considering to homeschool for the very first time there are probably a million questions that pop into your mind. Questions such as: "Is it legal to homeschool?", "What are my state requirements?", "Do I have to inform anyone that I am choosing to homeschool?", "How many days or hours am I required to homeschool each year?", "How can I balance homeschool with all my other roles/responsibilities as a mom & wife?", "Is my child going to learn all they need to learn at home?", "Am I going to ruin my child?" and on and on and on. So I want to take a moment and address some of the questions I hear most often! 

1) What are my State homeschool laws?
Every state differs in their homeschooling laws. However, it is LEGAL to homeschool in every single state in the USA. I am not familiar with homeschool laws in other countries. So if you are reading this from outside the USA/Canada you'll definitely want to do your research and be aware if there are any restrictive laws or policies where you live. Some states have no requirements, others have low regulations, than moderate, and a few have very high regulations. A great place to start is by going to HSLDA and clicking on your specific state.

In the state of Washington where I live you are required to turn in a Declaration of Intent to the Public School District Office within 2 weeks of your child's 8th birthday. We are also required to do testing annually from age 8 on. I am choosing to test in our own home so we will be ordering a test such as the one offered here. You are given 2 weeks to finish the testing and return to the company. They grade the test and send you the results. Some states require testing every other year and others don't have any testing requirements. Also I am not required to show my test scores to anyone, they are for my own personal records and help me know areas my child is excelling in or struggling in. I also believe we have to fulfill 180 days of school a year or so many hours a day.

Make sure you do your research and know what is expected for things like subject requirements, annual testing, letter of intent, parent qualifications, record keeping, and compulsory attendance. Even though I have a side of me that thinks "I shouldn't have to report anything to anyone in the public schools about the choices I make within my home to educate my child"...I do need to abide by the laws of the land and am thankful for the freedom to homeschool!

2) I already feel like I have so much on my plate, how can I add homeschooling too?

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Being a wife and mom and ALL the responsibilities that come with those roles is enough to make your head spin sometimes: Cooking, folding laundry, loading dishwasher, changing diapers, bathing kids, scrubbing toilets, running errands, fixing a boo boo, correcting a bad attitude, grocery shopping....and that's all before 10am! You may feel overwhelmed with raising a family and now on top of an already hectic, crazy, busy life you feel this tug on your heart to homeschool?! How can you possibly add another thing to your day? 
Lets start with those who are currently sending their kids to public or private school. Your life is going to SLOW down quite a bit just by removing them from school and bringing them home. No more rushing around in the mornings to get kids ready and out the door to catch the bus by 8am. No more running to the school to drop off a lunch that was left behind. No more parent/teacher conferences. No more volunteering in your child's class at school. No more spending hours in the evening getting homework done. Do you get my point? So many of the things that consume your time and control your schedule are no longer apart of the picture.

Even if your kids are not school age yet, you may still be trying to figure out how to fit educating your kids at home into your life? You definitely will need to make adjustments, create a daily schedule perhaps, come up with a family chore chart, possibly let go of some things that consume alot of your time, and most importantly allow yourself time to ease into homeschooling and adjust to this new "role" in your life! You are not going to have it all figured out overnight.

I encourage you to wrap your mind around homeschooling being a "lifestyle of learning". This means that you are not trying to cram homeschooling into your already busy life but instead you are seeing your everyday life as an opportunity for learning. Learning DOES NOT just happen sitting down with a book in front of you. Learning happens anywhere and everywhere for a child. They are a sponge just ready to soak everything up! In our home I set aside time daily for the sit-down school but certainly not 7 hours like a public school setting. I recognize the sit down learning is only a small piece of the puzzle.

Also make sure you take time for yourself in the midst of the homeschooling journey! You need things to help recharge your battery when you feel overwhelmed or drained!

3) How can I homeschool multiple kids all at once, or a few kids but with a huge age gap?

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Since I am homeschooling only 2 children close in age I can not give first hand advise about this question. But I can tell you I know lots and lots of homeschool families who are covering multiple ages/grades under the same roof. So if you know a homeschool family like this I suggest getting together with them and asking them how they do it. Often an older child can work more independently and/or help do some school activities with a younger sibling. Another suggestion is to combine as many subjects together as you possibly can! Math and Language Arts typically have to be taught at the appropriate levels but most everything else you can combine all/most of your kids together.

One of the curriculum companies that I have heard so many great things about because it allows you to combine multiple kids together is My Father's World. A few others I recommend are Winter Promise or Sonlight. Many homeschool families also turn to online homeschool curriculums such as Switched on Schoolhouse. They offer curriculum for 3rd-12th grade.

4) Am I going to ruin my children if I homeschool?

If you are feeling that tug on your heart to homeschool but fear you will "ruin" your children. Can I just put you at ease about that fear. It's not going to happen. With the decision to homeschool, you have the opportunity to pour into your child's life and heart on a daily basis. You gain MORE TIME spent with your children to disciple, invest in, and influence and shape their character, values, morals, integrity, and their attitudes. I have had people tell me, "the only thing my child has learned at school is how to have an attitude". You are able to shelter them from being prematurely exposed to content their little hearts are not ready for. There is nothing wrong with protecting your child's innocence for as long as possible. Your child is given more time in their day to be a kid, to play, use their imaginations, and let their creative juices flow. I met a mom who had recently returned to homeschooling her children after 3 years of public school. She told me that she was beginning to see her kids show creativity once again and use of their imaginations. They are able to build stronger & closer friendships with their siblings, rather than a separation happening. They are able to learn in a manner that best suits them and their learning styles. Learning can be done in fun, hands-on and enjoyable ways! Their little self-esteems are being boosted every day. And you are not having to worry about them hearing contradictive messages every single day to the things you are teaching and training your child in.

Your child could not be in a more better environment and taught by a more qualified person than you!

5) Can I homeschool through the High School Years?

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I have heard of many families who homeschool all the way until 9th grade and then send them off to school because it just feels like an impossible task to do. Transcripts, college prep, high school graduation, Chemistry, Biology....yikes that does all sound kind of scary. But wait....many have gone before you and homeschooled through the high school years. It is possible!!

Here are some suggestions: Check to see if there are any options in your area for specialized classes your older kids can get involved with? One example are these high school classes offered through First Class Homeschool Ministries. Another website to check out is HSLDA. Have you heard of the Pioneer Woman? Here is something from her blog. And finally, The Home Scholar, is a great resource for helping parents homeschool through high school.

Since my oldest is only going into 2nd grade I have some time to get my questions answered about high school. I'm thankful for those whose kids are older than mine whom I can learn so much from!!

Do you have a question regarding homeschooling? Feel free to email me!

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