An Open Letter to the New Homeschooler I Met Today

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Dear Homeschool Parent,

I ran into you today as I was dropping off our homeschool evaluations at the school district. As I walked in, the secretary looked at me with relief and said, “She homeschools!” Remember me?

First off, I want to say congratulations on making the decision to take the reins on your child’s education. Honestly, there’s no better time to pull your kids out of school than in this day and age we are in right now.

Before the secretary saw me come in, I heard her telling you to hire an out-of-district teacher to help you find curriculum. I wanted to jump in front of you and scream, “No! Don’t!” but I had to compose myself because, after all, we were in the school administration building. Frankly, I was relieved when she turned your attention to me and tried to enlist me to help you. While I did give you some very basic information, the name of my evaluator, and some helpful websites (including mine!), I was dying inside because I couldn’t help you the way I wanted to. Not there. Not while the school employee was standing there listening to us.

I can only hope that you’ll soon type in my web address and find this post here just for you because here is where I will have the freedom to say what needs to be said. It’s not that I don’t trust the school district. I do, but they are school employees and probably don’t understand what homeschooling is all about. So here is what I wanted to say to you then and there:

-Don’t ask people at the school district for help with homeschooling. They likely don’t know any more than you do, and in fact, may well know even less. As school employees, they have been trained in the methods used in the public school setting, which is fine, but homeschooling is nothing like school– at least, it shouldn’t be. It is for this reason that I would strongly recommend that you would not ask a school teacher for help with your curriculum. Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of teachers who homeschool, but the vast majority do not and don’t understand what it’s all about. If you need help, there are so many great homeschooling books and websites out there. Google is your friend.🙂

Don’t ask people at the school district about homeschool laws. Speaking from experience, they do not fully understand them, which is why it is so important that we as homeschooling parents do. Do your research. Visit the website I gave you that explains the law. Ask other homeschoolers. The problem is that if you don’t know the law and rely on the school district for information, they are likely to require more information than they legally should which will, in turn, cause problems for other homeschoolers. Our state laws were recently changed so that the only thing now required to give to the school district is our homeschool evaluation letter. That’s it. Yet, last year the district tried to get our standardized test scores, as well. Thankfully, I knew they were not entitled to them and told them so. Interestingly, I noticed that the paper they hand out still asks for test scores. I’m assuming that’s for homeschoolers who don’t know better. I truly think this is just another way for them to have control over us. If you know the law, this won’t happen.

The first thing you asked me about was where to find curriculum. I’m here to tell you that that’s the last thing you should worry about. I wasn’t comfortable saying that in the school building because sometimes people fear what they don’t understand, and I didn’t want the employee jumping to conclusions. But honestly, just spend time with your kids. Watch how they do things. Look for what interests them. This is how you can choose your curriculum. You just may discover that your child will do better with library books than with textbooks. Remember, textbooks are not mandatory. They are simply a tool for learning that often aren’t a great fit for most kids.

As the homeschool facilitator, it is up to you what your children will learn. Homeschoolers do not have to follow the school itinerary, although some choose to. You had expressed concern about knowing whether or not you were on track with what you would be teaching. If you are teaching something that you and your children find valuable, then you are on track. There are very few things specified about what we must cover (PA history, US history, fire safety, etc.) I don’t even go out of my way to address these issues because these are topics that come up in day to day living and don’t need any additional materials other than a newspaper, a discussion with you, or reminders about the dangers of fire. You certainly don’t need to waste your money on a curriculum for them, unless your child is so interested that it would be worth it. And even if they are, there are many free printables online on so many different things. You’d be amazed.

In closing, I just want to wish you the best on what can potentially be an awesome journey. Just keep reminding yourself that homeschooling is not school at home, and you’ll be on your way. Maybe someday we’ll run into each other again. Until then, enjoy the ride!

Shelly

 

There’s No Place Like Home is now on Facebook and Pinterest!

 

Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

41 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the New Homeschooler I Met Today”

  1. #37 at Jaime’s – your neighbor. I love this letter. My daughter has homeschooled my grandson since first grade. He enters 8th grade this coming fall. She has never looked back. She uses A Beka and Simon is lightyear’s ahead of kids his age going to public school. #homeschoolrocks

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My daughter used A Beka for biology this year and is using it next year for consumer math. It’s a great curriculum. And I have to say, I love that you know what curriculum she uses. My mom and my mother-in-law never seem interested in our homeschooling. Your daughter is very blessed!

      Like

  2. Your passion for homeschooling is admirable. I too hope she finds this site. Everything you said is absolutely true and while I would bet over time she will figure that out for herself, precious childhood years can be wasted in the search. Causing parents to give up, feel defeated or worse end up in a battle with the school district. Ya know, because form A did not arrive with form B and form B must be processed within 10 days of school start date, then a letter comes that says put them in school or else. I hear these stories all the time. People doing exactly what they were told to do, only finding out later the law says something entirely different.

    Keep doing what your doing Shelley. Awareness and knowledge are, in my opinion, the most important things we can teach humanity today and the next generation. So glad I found your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. And even beyond the bureaucratic red tape, I don’t want them to think they are obligated to recreate school at home. I did at first, and after 2 yrs I sent the kids back to school. Another 2 yrs passed before I finally took my kids out for good, and I vowed to never do that again (recreate school) and to make sure that other homeschoolers are at least aware that they don’t have to either. I honestly think that every homeschooling family should try unschooling for at least a little while. Although we’re now relaxed homeschoolers, the lessons we learned as unschoolers was priceless.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What a great letter! I wholeheartedly agree, the best place to get answers about homeschooling is NOT the public school administration. I’m glad she turned to you and hope she follows up on what you shared with her (including visiting here) — enjoy summer, and look for those opportunities to spread those seeds of encouragement!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a great letter, Shelly! It can be terrifying being a new homeschool Mom and I agree with you, the school district is probably not the best place to ask for help. Thanks for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely ON POINT! I can not say enough good about this post, having been there myself. The public school system knows nothing of the real homeschooling deal, DON’T ASK THEM! Lol. I’ve been in many a row with my local district over things and they don’t know the rules either. Thank God for the HSLDA, right?! Ugh.

    I’ve mentored young, homeschooling moms myself and everything you said here was exactly right. I love how we can tailor their learning and curriculum to fit them – that’s what I loved about homeschooling the most. And no, it isn’t a system, it’s a way of life. A learning way of life.

    Thanks for sharing this on Tuesday Talk, wonderful, wonderful post! (My heart is for the homeschooling mom, in case you didn’t notice!;)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is an incredibly sweet post and I hope that the mom you ran into does make her way to your site to read it. We don’t homeschool but I know that it is different from traditional schooling (as it should be). If you wanted your children to be taught as they are in public schools I would imagine you would simply send them there. Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday this week. I feel like I know a little more about homeschooling now.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember back 18 years ago when I was just considering homeschooling and I, like this person you met, was worried about all the wrong things… curriculum, laws, routines… and what to do in high school. (my oldest daughter was 4 at the time!) My advice to new homeschoolers now is much like yours. Relax. You can teach your child. You know him/her best. Just take it one step at the time and get good advice from those who have done it for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I first started, an acquaintance offered to let me come observe a homeschool day at her house. I never did because I felt like I would be intruding, but I wish I would have. It would’ve saved a lot of frustration!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love, love, love this letter! I’m so glad you were there to give this mom a little helpful advice. Hopefully she will visit your blog because it rocks! So, thinking about your comment on here wishing you had watched another homeschooler in action, I did that when I first started out. I only knew one homeschooling mom and she did school-at-home, all textbooks and worksheets on a strict time table and that was how I figured out that way was definitely not for us! I ended up having her kids over a lot which they loved as my homeschooling was entirely child-led/unschooling (our kids were 5 &6 at the time).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Camie. That really means a lot. The woman who offered to let me watch her was using Five in a Row, so her homeschool routine was probably fairly relaxed (although I have seen some people go all out with it, so you never know…). It’s a good thing you had the presence of mind to realize that school-at-home wasn’t the only way. I wish I would have!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think this is really a great post. As a new homeschooler that’s not yet officially homeschooling, it’s so helpful to see (read) reminders about the importance of following what will work for my children and our family. It’s also encouraging to have constant reminders that there are so many people who are homeschooling, yet everyone is doing it differently.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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