Updated April 2018
So, where do you start?
First things first. By Arizona law, you must submit an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool to the county superintendent’s office. Make sure to bring an official birth certificate. They will make a copy of it at the office and return it to you, but you cannot bring or mail a copy. I recommend bringing it to their office in person verses mailing it to them so you can keep your birth certificate.
Do some research on homeschooling, what options are out there, and figure out what your family needs for your children’s education (also what you’re able to do) and the costs you are willing to pay for their education. Really, the options are endless as to how to approach homeschooling, where to get curriculum, and how much you will fork out ($$) for homeschooling. There are a bunch of free and very low cost homeschooling options out there. When we started homeschooling 7 years ago, my husband had just completed 13 years of college (lots of student debt), and he started his own business. Finances were tight and we could not afford much. I relied on the Internet, my own creativity, and the library for the first few years. I actually believe homeschooling can be cheaper than sending our kids to public schools–with all the supplies that each student “must have”, the school fund raisers, the school clothes and uniforms.
Here are some links you can start looking at. These will direct you to other sites. So just follow your heart and interests and you’ll be led to the homeschooling options that fit your family best.
www.afhe.org: This website is the home of Arizona Families for Home Education. They also put together a large convention every July that anyone can go to. Great resource for local homeschool options.
www.homeschool.com: This website has a bunch of great resources for someone just starting:
- recorded pod casts
- book recommendations about homeschooling and methodologies
- curriculum links and reviews
- on–line school links
www.hslda.org: This further covers homeschool laws and requirements in each state.
www.currclick.com: This website has a bunch of on-line classes and curriculum at low costs. They also have frequent freebies.
I recommend selecting an educational style/method/philosophy to follow. It helps you keep out of ruts and keeps you going when the going gets tough. Don’t get hung up on trying to figure out EVERYTHING before just starting (I have a problem with that). Start with the basics and then just go from there. Most methods/philosophies have online groups and an umbrella organization that will help you implement the methodology and keep it going through the years. They become your support group.
How do you do it?
Homeschooling is a whole lot like teaching your child to use the potty independently. There are a lot of different ways to do it successfully. In this section, I’ll highlight several types of homeschool styles/methods/philosophies. I would also love to spotlight different local homeschool families who incorporate these methods into their home education. Contact me if you are interested in being spotlighted. firstname.lastname@example.org
School at Home
One popular way of homeschooling is by selecting a private or public on-line school for your child’s education. I wrote another article here for more information about some of the local choices for school at home. These options are usually paid for by the government (unless there is a private school tuition option), they must keep “common core” standards, and children are required to participate in state testing.
For many ages up until about a century ago, it was common for a wealthy family to hire a governess or private tutors for their children. For those who couldn’t afford private instruction, the parents in a community would band together to build a schoolhouse and pay the salary of a school teacher and provide room and board for him/her.
Lately, I have also met more and more homeschooling families who pay a private teacher to come into their home to teach their children a few days a week. Some families group together and pay a teacher to teach their children for a monthly fee. In each of these cases, the parents will choose the curriculum and method of instruction. This gives the parents the opportunity to provide the curriculum they feel their children need along with relieving them the responsibility of being the sole teacher.
The Well-Trained Mind
Check out the book, The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise, at the library to learn about this method. This is a classical approach to education using the trivium of grammar, logic, and reasoning to learn all subjects. The book gives curriculum ideas, scheduling tips, and breaks down how to teach this method.
Classical Conversations is a Christian-backed approach to a classical education. There is a local group that meets weekly for group-learning classes. This is a paid-for curriculum but it comes with the accountability of the group so it helps you be motivated to stay on top of the lessons.
The Robinson Curriculum is a curriculum that encourages your children to be self-led learners. Once they learn how to read independently and learn some basic arithmetic, they follow the curriculum one level at a time, read the recommended books, and take quizzes to show competency. This method is great for kids who love reading and who are self-motivated.
Unschooling is a popular style of homeschooling everywhere, including here. Unschooling is an educational philosophy and movement that was started by John Holt, who was a public school teacher for many years and felt like the education system in public school squashed the natural curiosity and learning desires of children. This method basically asks that the parent/teacher guide the child in their learning based on their strengths, talents, and interests. It steers away from a “one-size-fits-all” kind of education where certain things are learned at certain ages/grade levels. Instead, the teacher/parents guide the children through their natural curiosities and at their own pace. The basis of this is trusting that each person has unique gifts/talents to bless the world and they will gravitate to learning all they can learn in that area.
Local Unschool Group:
Join the Facebook Group
Charlotte Mason was an educator in the late 1800s, early 1900s in England who took education to a new level. She wrote down her philosophy and methods in a series of 6 books. She encourages teaching children many subjects in small amounts of time so they remain focused. She also believed strongly in spending the afternoon outside for “nature studies.” There are some pockets of homeschoolers in Arizona who follow the Charlotte Mason education method. Joining a group would definitely be advantageous for this methodology for the children and for parental/educator support.
Taken from Simply Charlotte Mason: “The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, ‘Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.'”
Ambleside Online, which has several digitized Charlotte Mason resources, including a digital version of Charlotte’s 6 volumes of books on educating the child.
Thomas Jefferson Leadership Education
The Thomas Jefferson Leadership Education, TJed, is a model of education using a mentoring approach to teaching students through reading and internalizing classical books and literature. It’s a model based on studying the education of the great American leaders in the era of the Revolution. The DeMilles, who codified the leadership education model after studying the education of early American leaders, identify 7 Keys of learning along with 4 phases of learning that children and youth naturally pass through as they grow towards adulthood.
Tjed on Design Your Homeschool: Great overview of the TJed method
Williamsburg Academy: An online school with real-time classes for Middle and High School age students (Transition to Scholar and Scholar). They use classics instead of textbooks and mentors instead of teachers.
I once checked out a book from the local public library about a Waldorf education. Honestly, I can’t remember much about it! But, one of our local charter schools, Mountain Oak, is a charter school whose educational approach is inspired by a Waldorf methodology. Nature, the arts, and kinesthetic learning is woven into academic learning. It’s a methodology that works well with homeschooling, too.
Most people probably fit into the eclectic homeschooling approach. They will have their kids take a class or two online, take some academic or extra curricular classes from a teacher/coach/mentor, use curriculum from a variety of sources for teaching their children (classic for some classes, religious for some classes, contemporary for some classes). I believe many homeschoolers start with one thing but try out other things as they figure out the best “fit” for their family.
Other resources (And there are SO MANY MORE RESOURCES):
Easy-peasy All-in-One Homeschool is a website of K-12 educational plans and links that a mom created for her own kids but shares with others. It’s all free but most of the learning is on a computer.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are higher level education available online for free or for a tuition fee. These can be used for high schoolers and parents who want to further their own education or understanding of something. I also wrote an article about MOOCs and other higher learning resources (including making college affordable).
Khan Academy was started by Salman Khan who started it by tutoring his nieces in Math long distance using a computer drawing pad. He recorded the tutoring sessions, turned it into a website, added math quizzes for the student to show mastery, then launched into a huge, free world-wide tutoring resource. Khan Academy now gives students access to multiple subjects and disciplines.
Latter-day Learning Family School is a homeschool resource for K-12 directed for LDS homeschoolers. The curriculum is academically thorough with a gospel element woven into each lesson.
I’ve heard from multiple homeschool friends that the Abeka curriculum is high quality and easy to use. I often find it highly rated on other homeschool websites and resources. It’s Christian based but homeschoolers of all faiths use the curriculum.
Other Faith-based curriculums and methodologies are out there. If you have a friend of your faith who homeschools, find out what he/she uses for teaching their children. I’ve seen whole catalogs of resources for Catholics, Christians, Latter-day Saints, and agnostics. That’s another beautiful thing about homeschooling. You can pass on your beliefs and family values to your children. The homeschooling culture here is, I’ve found, very friendly and open to personal beliefs of other families. We live in a great place to homeschool.
Does your High Schooler need a transcript to get into college?
My oldest is 10 years old, so I haven’t crossed this threshold yet. I believe the answer is yes and no, depending on the college you plan on sending your child to. But, to keep things safe, there are ways to get a transcript.
Scott Meadows, the developer of the transcript software for HSLDA, contacted me and let me know about this transcript opportunity.