Home Education Information
Many people ask us, or refer others to us, for information about educating their children at home. We decided to prepare some basic information that made our decision easier in hopes that others could benefit from it as we did.
- Familiarize yourself with TN homeschool laws. Doing so might take a while. Do not feel that you must do this before jumping into curriculum perusing/selection, etc. One great website is www.tnHomeEd.com. This is a layman’s site for the state law and the one to which I refer.
- Register with an umbrella school, also known as a church-related school. Technically, you are considered a teacher for their school, which is what makes it a legal option in the State’s eyes. Some schools of which I have heard are Aaron Academy, HomeLife Academy, Franklin Classical School, Daniel 1, Gateway. There are several more across the state, too. You will not have to physically go to the umbrella school unless your children are testing at their school or choose to “walk” in graduation exercises there.
- Submit a letter to the school your child previously attended stating your intentions to homeschool, your umbrella school’s address, the names of your children; if necessary, request their transcripts be sent to your chosen umbrella school.
- It is necessary to warn new homeschoolers that you owe the Board of Education nothing. If they ask for more than what’s stated in #3 contact your umbrella school before answering.
- Now, the fun part. Determine what subjects your children need and want to study. Help may be received from your umbrella school and from other home educators on this.
- Curricula choices are next. I would really recommend that you attend a curriculum fair each year. The MTHEA (will discuss in next point) Curriculum Fair has always been the second week-end in May at the Nashville Fairgrounds. At these events, you can talk to curriculum vendors, listen to great workshops, purchase curriculum, books, DVD’s, CD’s, games, science equipment, and just about anything that you might want/need for your school, and usually at a fair-only discount.
Resources for educating the educator:
- A Charlotte Mason Education, A Home-Schooling How-to Manual by Catherine Levison
- 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy
As of 3/30/2014:
We are currently using A Beka (Language Arts/English) and Teaching Textbooks (Chloe and Clark’s Math). For History we select a unit study from www.homeschoolinthewoods.com we just finished the American Revolution. Currently for Science we are using Jonathan Park audio CDs.
We have used Switched-On schoolhouse for Math and Science but it wasn’t a good fit for us.
- Join MTHEA (Middle TN Home Education Association). Now, this is strictly optional. It is your local home ed assoc. There is one in west and east TN, as well. I like it because I am supporting home education and the lobbyists who fight for our rights on Capitol Hill. An informative and helpful newsletter is published by MTHEA, called Jonathan’s Arrow. Additionally, I have found the mthea-chat and mthea-swap e-groups extremely beneficial over the years in a variety of ways. MTHEA members receive free admission into the curriculum fair in May. Non-members must pay to go. More info may be found on www.mthea.org .
- Also, I’ve been advised by several Homeschool families to join HEART. It’s a homeschool support group in Rutherford Co. They have an annual picnic together in the fall and go on several field trips throughout the school year.
- Another optional membership is to join HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association). This is an organization that works to support rights of homeschoolers on a national level. They will ‘go to bat’ in court for their members at no charge to the families, if necessary. It is almost like “homeschool insurance”, although they probably would object to that term. More info can be found at www.hslda.org . You may join at any time throughout the year.
- Research and read lots of information! Books, internet and other home educators will help you form your own brand of homeschooling. I advise new homeschoolers to read, read, read.
- “Get to know your children.” When your children are in the public school, or any school, for the majority of the day someone else is educating and in a large sense, raising, your children. They see your children more hours in a day than you do. Get to know your children. Spend time with them, talk to them, learn from them. They will be a joy to your heart.
Audio CDs are invaluable in our home. We listen while doing chores or while in the car. Our children delight in listening to Your Story Hours (www.yourstoryhour.com) and Jonathan Park Science CDs.
Other resources are www.focusonthefamily.com, www.radiotheatre.org, www.christianbooks.com
Joe and I read aloud to the kids. There are many authors who tout the benefits of reading to your children, of all ages. It has been researched that children to whom books are read that are above their reading level, can learn new vocabulary and comprehension skills more readily.
There are also Netflix videos to help with Grammar skills and History.
Who Should We Then Read? By Jan Bloom
Books to Build On by John Holdren and E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
Field trips!! The Lord has blessed us with so many things to see, smell, feel, read, hear, taste, touch, enjoy. Take advantage of all you can. We enjoy field trips the most when they can involve Daddy too! Field trips can be extravagant or free! Learning can be and IS fun.
First, look at what is contained in your child’s history textbook. What is he/she studying? Last fall Chloe began studying Tennessee history so we visited all three TN Presidents’ homes. We took on overnight trip to East Tennessee where we visited Andrew Johnson’s home and walked through Jonesborough which is TN’s oldest town.
I was also able to take the two oldest on a day trip to Memphis to see replicas of the Nina and Pinta ships. Field trips are good memories!
There are many free opportunities in Rutherford Co. if you keep your eyes and ears open. Rutherford Co. is a great place for homeschoolers!
Start with what is local and branch out. Vacations are learning opportunities. Have fun while learning! Use your time wisely.
How do I assign grades?
- You may give worksheets/quizzes/tests and grade them. If you really want to give grades like school teachers, you may purchase a grade scale at a teacher store.
- Programs such as Teaching Textbooks will do the grading for you.
- Programs such as Switched on Schoolhouse (www.aop.com) do it all—teach the child, record the grades, etc. This type program is not inexpensive. Rule of thumb: the more work that a company does for you, the more expensive it will be. SOS is a great idea but can be more costly than books.
- This may sound strange, but it’s OK to just pull a grade out of the air. You have an idea of how your child is doing, whether it is A work, B work, etc. If you’ve been homeschooling a while and are about to school a child through the high school years, just keep giving grades like you have been. If your children have been in public school for a while, then you have some idea as to what constitutes A work, etc.
- Do not let the idea of ‘how to give grades’ bog you down. It’s not a big deal.
What kind of diploma will my homeschooled high schooler receive?
- He’ll receive a ‘general path’ diploma if he follows the general path offered by your umbrella school.
- He’ll receive a ‘college-bound’ diploma if he follows the college path offered.
- Colleges actually seek out students who are home educated. We’ve even found some who give additional scholarships to homeschoolers.
- Contact your umbrella school for diploma answers.
We bathed our decision in much discussion and prayer. We spoke with homeschoolers we admired such as Kimball and Dinah Bullington. They prayed with us and greatly eased our minds that homeschooling could be a lifestyle that would work for us.
We don’t regret the decision we made to bring the kids home but that doesn’t mean some days aren’t hard and challenging. The good days far outweigh the bad days though. The children and I attempt to start each school day in prayer which brings a peaceful presence into our home.