Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Official! or, Not Back to School 2012

My response to all of the back-to-school photos everyone is posting on Facebook.  I think I'll do this every year.

Ok, I know I've been writing about homeschooling for almost 2 years on this blog, but I have now sent in our first legal home schooling notification letter... and we received our excusal letter in the mail from the school district yesterday.  Now it is legal and official and real!

In Ohio, the rules are that you must notify the school district in writing of your intent to homeschool, confirm that you will teach the required subjects, that you will provide the required minimum number of hours of instruction for the year, and that you are qualified to do so (high school diploma or equivalent).  You are also required to provide a "brief outline of intended curriculum for the year" and a "list of textbooks, correspondence courses, commercial curricula and other basic teaching materials parent intends to use".  Here's where it gets tricky:  both the outline and the list are for "informational purposes only" and the school district is not supposed to make judgements about them, it's just to show that you have some kind of plan.  But I've heard stories of districts demanding extra information from people, things that the parents are under no legal obligation to provide.  Some districts don't seem to understand that under the law, we are notifying them, not applying for permission.  But you do still need that all-important excusal letter from the district to prove that you're kosher.  Everything I've read about notifying says that you should give them the very minimum information that is required and nothing more, to avoid setting a precedent and causing problems for other families.  So it's a delicate balance of being thorough enough, but not giving any more information than you have to.  For me, the anxiety level of "needing to get this just right" was slightly higher than writing a resume.  I was surprised though, to find that the process was actually a bit helpful, in making me sit down and compose a formal (if still rather loose) plan for the year.  It was especially tough because we are pretty eclectic and child-led, so we don't know what books we will be reading until the topic comes up and we start researching whatever it may be. 

I've seen other people posting their notification letters online in some of the homeschooling groups I belong to, so other people can use them as examples.  So, in case anyone else finds it helpful, here's my actual outline:

(I couldn't get it to format right by copying/pasting, so I just took screenshots directly from Word.  Click the images to see higher-res versions.)

For my list of materials I included: the local library, metro parks, museums, homeschool co-op classes (more on that in a minute), board games and other educational toys, online games, and documentaries/television programs.  The only specific books/curriculae I mentioned by title were Math-U-See, Story of the World Vol. 1, Bob Books, and Usborne's First Reading set.  I did mention a few specific local museums and a few specific websites we'll use, but that's it.

Since yesterday was the first day of school for our area, and we happened to receive our excusal letter that day as well, I wanted to do something special to celebrate the day - however, my motivation was dampened by the fact that Bug woke up with his first-ever stomach virus in the wee hours of the morning, so most of my attention was devoted to him instead.  I did take a moment to feel very grateful that I was not dealing with one vomiting kid AND trying to get the other kid ready and out the door for his first day of school at the same time.  It really is lovely to be able to go with the flow and live by our own schedule!

Oh, and the homeschool co-op I mentioned?  There's a new one that has just formed not far from where we live, and we are going to give it a try.  It's an inclusive group with people of multiple faiths and I think there may even be a few like myself who do not practice any faith at all, so I think it will be a much more comfortable fit than the rest of the (fundamentalist) options around here.  I'm excited about it but also incredibly nervous as well.  Since it's a co-op, all parents are required to work in some capacity, and although I tried signing up for the option of being a permanent member of the cleanup crew instead of teaching, I was recently asked to replace one of the co-teachers of the Astronomy class, and I said yes.  For some reason I feel totally capable and qualified to teach my own kids, but I'm sort of terrified of teaching other kids.  But I *do* love Astronomy, and it makes sense... and I'm no good at saying "no"... so, yes.  That's happening.  Will keep you updated on how that goes!

In other news:

Monkey got glasses!  And he digs 'em!

Bug "Pities da fool."  At least he did, before he got sick.  Now he's just pitiful.

We got a new family member.  Meet Parker the fish!

Bug giving me his adorable/ornery grin, before he was overrun by cooties.


  1. Gee, your not-school gets started really early! Gosh, I thought it wasn't supposed to happen until after Labor Day, or something! I wonder if your school year is just able to accommodate more not-snow days, or you have longer winter or spring not-breaks than we do.

    I have the same terror of teaching other people's kids. Total stage fright! And with kids I already know well. It's ridiculous. Don't worry, you'll rock!

  2. Nice! We decided last year to do an annual first day of homeschool pajama photo and pancake breakfast :D

  3. We don't stop for summer, but I start another work binder/scrape book of things on Sept. 1st.


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