New Homeschoolers, Getting Started, or Refresher Notes

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(Meme Courtesy of Indiana Association of Home Educators)

Congrats on considering homeschooling!

Here are some of our words of wisdom:

  • Homeschooling is HARD… there we said it.  Make no mistake, in Nevada if you file a NOI to Homeschool, you are legally taking “full responsibility for the education of your child.”  Planning, preparing, and providing an education to your child cannot be taken lightly; you are after all preparing him or her for life outside of your home.  HOWEVER, we can assure you that homeschooling IS a rewarding experience for both parent and child; a path worth taking!  Many, many parents have successfully educated their children at home.  You can do it too!
  • Know and understand the Nevada Homeschool laws.
    • It is LEGAL to homeschool in all 50 states. “Homeschooling” in Nevada means “private, self-funded education of a child, directed by the parent.”
    • By law, homeschooling does not include “public school at home” – virtual charters schools nor any other government funded “school choice” program (see #7 below).
    • Nevada Homeschool Network has created an explanatory document that accurately reflects the 2007 homeschool law changes. This document can be used by School Districts and individuals to answer some common questions regarding homeschooling in Nevada and includes a Flow Chart for homeschool students wishing to “participate” in public school classes, activities, and/or sports. June 2007 – NHN Homeschool Memo
    • NOTE:  If your child is enrolled in a NV public school prior to homeschooling you MUST officially withdraw your child from the public school.  Contact the school’s principal to do so.  You have 10 days after withdrawing your child to submit the NOI to Homeschool to the Superintendent.
  • Visit the NHN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) page to get answers to all your questions that may come up over the years, K-12 and into college, trade school, or straight to work!  We endeavor to keep these questions and answers updated but if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for Contact Us!
  • Be prepared.
    • Once you’ve made the decision to homeschool spend a lot of time researching and studying the many books, blogs, and websites available to learn how to begin directing the education of your child (See #6 below if you find yourself in an “emergency” situation without much time to prepare to homeschool).
    • There are many Facebook groups that can be an encouragement as well. Check out the NHN Facebook Page and find NV Homeschool Facebook Groups through the local Support Groups link.
  • Consider your options.  Below is a discussion of reading materials on “how to homeschool,” audio/videos on homeschooling, learning styles of children, different systems of home education to consider, and links to resources to help you get started.  This page is by no means complete as you will see when clicking into different links but a great place to start.  So enjoy the exploration.

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Here are several important links for those already familiar with “how to homeschool” and needing to take immediate action regarding homeschooling:

PLEASE NOTE: NOI’s must be mailed or delivered to the Superintendent of Schools in the School District in which the child resides (district mailing address) — DO NOT mail the form to NHN, we cannot submit it for you.

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Yes, I want to homeschool my child but what should I do before I file?

1.  READ, READ, and did we mention READ? There are so many great books available on homeschooling!! Here are some favorites:

Just to name a few!  Explore Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Christian Books.com for more “how to” titles.

2.  Watch videos or listen to audio recordings on topics pertaining to homeschooling:

Original Interview on Homeschooling; Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Raymond Moore  This audio interview from the early 1980’s is credited as one of the events that launched the homeschool movement. Our friends a CHEA of CA have posted a rebroadcast of the original interview.

Answering the “Socialization” Question by understanding the history of education and why parents, not the government, should direct the education of their child.  Life Plus Homeschooling Host: Rebecca Keliher with Israel Wayne, author, speaker. and homeschool dad; www.israelwayne.org

3.  Search the internet… there is much information available there.  But be sure to “source” the website; you want to be sure you are getting reliable information.  If a website doesn’t say “who” they are, what their worldview is, be wary.  If in doubt, ask an experienced homeschool parent, co-op/support group/state leader who their favorite authors/bloggers are.

4.  Consider attendinghomeschool convention in a surrounding state (Phoenix, AZ, Pasadena, CA, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Boise, ID, and Salt Lake City, UT all have annual conventions).  These conferences can be a great introduction to the world of homeschooling!

5.  Take the time to figure out your child’s “learning style.” This is a benefit that homeschooling offers us…to tailor our children’s education to fit THEM! There are 3 primary styles of learning: Visual Learners (seeing), Auditory Learners (hearing), and Kinesthetic/Tactile Learners (doing). University of Minnesota: Learning Styles  A great book on learning styles is called In Their Own Way by Thomas Armstrong …read anything by him! Also check out books by Cynthia Tobias.  Even Pinterest is getting in on the act, https://www.pinterest.com/afheconnect/learning-styles/

6.  Know that there are many different styles of homeschooling… there is NO right or wrong way to go about it. It is about what is RIGHT FOR YOUR CHILD and you! Here are some “terms” to become familiar with:

  • Deschooling- a period of time after a child has been in public school to get out of the mode of ‘school’ . You may find that if you try to go right into homeschooling you will have a battle on your hands.. so if you take time to have some fun, go to museums, out to lunch etc.. things you could NOT do during ‘school’ before.. it might help. The loose rule of thumb is…for every year spent in schools, they will need a month to readjust…to relearn that learning can be fun!!! To love it again.
  • Curriculum based homeschooling: traditional textbook- it is just as it sounds, you buy a prepackaged curriculum that comes with all the “bells and whistles” (A Beka, Alpha Omega, or a secular publisher are examples). There is such a wide variety to pick from. Cathy Duffy reviews different curriculum packages, HSLDA has links to oodles of curriculum packages and/or schools, or Google “Full Curriculum Packages”.  Basically, the decision for what to teach at each grade level are predetermined by the publisher/provider you choose.
  • Eclectic homeschooling: curriculum matched to child’s needs- An eclectic curriculum is where you pick and choose resources, books, and/or textbooks, etc. for each subject to be taught using resources from different curriculum publishers/providers.  Classical education, Charlotte Mason Approach, or a history based education program are just a few of the formats used by parents in this style (see video at the end of this section for more information). So rather than purchasing your entire curriculum (prepackaged) from the same publisher, such as A Beka, or provider you build your own curriculum from a variety of publishers/resources. For example: A 1st grade English curriculum might use Hooked on Phonics , Pathway Readers , Spelling Power , and Writing Strands, all from different publishers. Similarly, you could choose Making Math Meaningful, Math-U-See, or Saxon Math for your 1st grade Math Curriculum based on how your child learns. And then read aloud the Little House in the Big Woods series by Laura Ingals Wilder for your Social Studies: History, Geography, Economics, and Government curriculum, all in one set of books! You are still using books and workbooks but from different sources that meet your child’s interests and needs.  Rainbow Resource Center, Timberdoodle, and Sonlight have been long-time curriculum providers to homeschoolers choosing to use an eclectic education program.  However, there are many more!  Google “homeschool curriculum.”
  • Unit Studies: learn by doing- Unit studies is like.. your child loves horses so you do a Unit Study that includes reading, language arts, math, and science. You do your math with horses, (age appropriate… like counting them, percentage of white and brown, etc) your history of horses, biology of horses, etc. You study one thing that encompasses several subjects. Many people use this when they have many different levels in the household…it is easy to provide for all grade levels. Also, it works well with special needs children because you can focus on what they want to learn about.  Konos and Weaver are two well known unit study sites or Google “unit studies for homeschool.”
  • Unschooling: learn by living- Watch “Learn Free” – a short documentary on You Tube. Child led learning; Natural learning; Delight-led learning; Spirit-led learning. The child is given back his own education. Learning is happening all the time. The parent is always on the lookout for that “teachable moment.” It is a lot easier to do than it sounds. If the child wants to learn about the Civil War, that is what they study etc. We use whatever resources work! Here’s a hint: Unschooling is what you have done since birth. It is the way you helped them walk, and talk, and learn the alphabet.  Find some unschoolers to talk to. It is very interesting!
  • NO Common Core State Standards please –  Many parents choose to homeschool to avoid “Common Core” now adopted in most states for public schools (Nevada in 2011).  CCSS is equivalent to “national standards” and a threat to local control of public education.  Nevada homeschool parents are NOT required to meet NV State Education Standards (Common Core or otherwise).  View HSLDA’s “Common Core Issues” page for more info.  To see whether or not your curriculum or textbook choices have “aligned with common core” (many have not!) check out The Homeschool Resource Roadmap.  Also refer to worldbook.com for “pre-CCSS” or a “classic” course of study.  

A recently produced YouTube video breaks things down a little differently but may be helpful in understanding your choices:  Five Flavors of Homeschooling

7.  What about High School?  We generally find that parents are pretty confident in homeschooling their children K-8, especially with the encouragement of other homeschoolers in support groups and co-ops.  But many fear the “high school diploma” issue and often resort to enrolling their child in a public high school… this may be good or bad depending on the child.

  • To help parents overcome their anxiety we’ve created a Guide to Homeschooling High School in Nevada Guide to Homeschooling High School in Nevada.  There are so many options now available to students in Nevada that most families aren’t aware of.
  • If you need more help, Contact Us, and one of the NHN Officers will help guide you in learning your options.

8.  If you find yourself looking into homeschooling mid-school year or during the summer due to your child struggling in his/her current school situation, consider using a “pre-packaged” curriculum or private online school for the first year while you learn more about parent-directed homeschooling.  But for those wanting to jump right in, the “eclectic” method may be a better fit (See #6 above for a detailed description of homeschool styles).

  • Parents often already have a good idea where their children are academically and we have found that this Typical Course of Study from World Book (not common core aligned) of what children should learn in each grade to be VERY helpful in deciding where you need to begin your child’s homeschool experience.  Using this course of study as a guide you can pick and choose your own materials based on your child’s needs.  Rainbow Resource Center, ChristianBook.com/HomeschoolingTimberdoodle, and Sonlight offer a wide variety of homeschooling materials to choose from.
  • For those not ready to “choose their own,” we recommend parents contact Alpha Omega and discuss the many options available for homeschooling (they also offer placement testing if you’re not sure where your student is academically).
  • HSLDA also lists many other pre-packaged/online options, click here for K-8, or click here for high school.
  • If you have a special needs child with an IEP in the public school, a new national special education organization SPED Homeschool can be of help as you move to directing your child’s education yourself. Also check out our Special Education Homeschooling page.  We believe Mama Bears to be the BEST educators for their children, including those with special needs, but having others to support you is very important.
  • If you use an online private school, you file the NOI to Homeschool and simply submit the verification of your child’s enrollment in that school or a “scope & sequence” if purchasing a pre-packaged curriculum for that school year  as your “education plan” submitted with the NOI.
  • NOTE:  If your child is enrolled in a NV public school prior to homeschooling you MUST officially withdraw your child from the public school.  Contact the school’s principal to do so.  You have 10 days after withdrawing your child to submit the NOI to Homeschool to the Superintendent.

9.  Understand the differences between homeschooling and government funded “home based” (school choice) education programs –What you need to know:

  • a.) Online charter schools are public schools and the child is a “public school student at home” not a homeschool child. The parent does NOT chose nor control of the education provided to the child but rather serves as a non-paid teacher’s aide supervising the daily activities of the child.  In this scenario, the child is not being homeschooled.  Please see Homeschooling vs. Public School At Home  as well as The Problem with Home-based Charter Schools that explain the differences.
  • b.) Education Savings Account (ESA) Opt-in Child* allows the parent to provide a “home based education” but again this is not the same as homeschooling since there are different legal requirements.  The ESA parent, acting as a “Participating Entity”, must comply with requirements set by the NV State Treasurer such as testing the child annually, submitting the results to the Department of Education, applying annually for the program, auditing of the account, etc., etc., etc..  In comparison, homeschooling requires a simple one-time notification, not an application, and is “self-funded” by the parent.  This allows the MOST freedom in directing the education of the child without government controls.  For more information please see Homeschooling vs. State ESA GrantsKleenex vs. Puffs; Homeschool vs. ESA Program or click on our ESA tab.
*6/15/17 – The 2017 Legislature did not approve a bill to fund the ESA program.  At this time the program is non-operational though it could be considered again in the 2019 NV Legislative Session.  If the program ever is funded it is unlikely to remain as described above, and will probably have many more restrictions (there are always “strings attached” to government funding).  For example, this year Democrats proposed major changes to the ESA in a surprise compromise amendment , which some Republicans were willing to agree to (not good!).  But in the end, the Democrats, who controlled the 2017 Senate and Assembly, chose not to fund the ESA and, contrary to his promise at the beginning of the session, Governor Sandoval did not insist upon funding the program.

10.  Lastly, be sure to consider using a good Record Keeping system to demonstrate your child’s academic progress while being homeschooled.  The beauty of homeschooling is that you can address your child’s individual educational needs while not being “beholding” to someone else’s standards (including the government’s).  However, just as most of us recorded every “first” of our child’s life when they were born (and sometimes before 🙂 ), so too should we record the academic milestones he/she conquers.  Record keeping will differ family to family but please don’t ignore it, you never know when you may need your records for a reason you can’t anticipate now.  More information on this can be found in Section 4 of the NHN “Frequently Asked Questions” tab.

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Now that you’re homeschooling: LOVE your kids 🙂 Hug them, learn with them, and have fun!  NHN Officers are here to help, check out our Contact Page for assistance.

Here are some additional helpful links:

NHN – Homeschool Resources & Catalogs
HSLDA – Teaching My Kids
Beginning Homeschooling: Articles to encourage and equip homeschoolers, a service of the National Alliance of Christian Home Education Leadership
Eclectic Homeschool Online
School Is Dead; Learn in Freedom! Great site, offers a list of colleges that accept homeschoolers.
NHERI National Home Education Research Institute
Worldbook.com ‘s Typical Course of Study curriculum overview by grade

HOME SCHOOLED: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up – poster depicting the history of homeschooling nationwide and how we’ve done

For information regarding standardized testing (not required in Nevada) please see our Frequently Asked Questions page; Section 4, Question G.

Videos on why Homeschooling can be so much better than a public school:
Indoctrination; the movie; Trailer – Indoctrination in the Public Schools; The Call to Dunkirk
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