Have you ever considered homeschooling? When it was time to send my oldest to kindergarten I was considering homeschooling but all the information and rules seemed completely overwhelming. What I learned over time was that there is a great homeschooling community out there that will help you out while you try to figure out curriculum, local laws, and how to manage being with the kids all day, every day.
What I want to do today is to provide you with a quick list of “homeschool hacks” for living in Vermont, so that if you are considering homeschooling or on the fence, you can get a quick “jump start” on all the information out there!
This is quite possibly the scariest part of homeschooling for most parents just starting out. There are so many options out there that it is completely overwhelming. Some of the materials are extremely expensive and most of them are impossible to find locally to get your hands on them to look them through.
The hack to this issue is to make a list of things you want your kid to learn (or that your kid wants to learn!) and then head to the local library or to Amazon and pick out books to read! As an example, my oldest has been really into spiders for awhile now. Studying spiders is a great addition to science so I went to Amazon, read reviews on spider books, and ordered a few that I thought would be beneficial. We then used those books as part of our science. We also made a spider habitat and caught a spider from the wild to watch and study. This taught us not only about spiders but also taught the kids about responsibility as we needed to catch the spider food to put in the habitat. We got to see a spider egg sac and tiny little spiderlings as well as webs and what a spider does when it catches prey in it’s web. Then we released the spider back into the wild to continue on with life.
You can use this for pretty much every subject out there. Some would consider this “unschooling” since there isn’t a specific curriculum in place but others wouldn’t consider it unschooling since the parent would write the list of what to cover. You don’t need to spend a ton of money (or any!) to homeschool.
This approach also gives you a chance to see how your child learns best so if you want a curriculum, you have a better idea of what type to look for.
#2 State Laws:
The material on the state site looks scary at first but really, it isn’t too bad. The information for homeschooling, or “home study” as they call it in VT is here http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/pgm_homestudy.html
What it boils down to is you need to write out a VERY brief “minimum course of study” that you plan to cover with your child. It can be as simple as this for math for a 1st grader, “Aaron will continue work on double/triple digit addition and subtraction. He will also begin to explore multiplication as well as measuring both length and weight.” It is exactly like it says, a MINIMUM of what you plan to cover.
You also need to present either a report card/screening from previous public school years or if you don’t have those, you need to provide an evaluation from a doctor basically making sure that your child doesn’t have any obvious special needs.
If you want more information about the state laws and the minimum course of study, look to the “community” section below. There is a small amount more to it than that if your child has learning disabilities or if you are planning on your child taking some classes at the public school (which they can do!), but those are the basics.
Being in Vermont, we already know there is a low population which of course translates into meaning that there is a very low population of homeschooling families. The reality is that while there is a low percentage of families that homeschool, there are quite a few active groups in the state, particularly in Chittenden County. On Facebook there are a few groups, NW VT Homeschoolers and Homeschooling Vermont Chat are two that I know of. On YahooGroups there are at least three different groups, including one for just Chittenden County that has a weekly meeting in during the traditional school year in various places around the community. All of those places mentioned are full of families with a wealth of knowledge about homeschooling in Vermont. Families that have been homeschooling for 10+ years and some that are brand new. These groups are only the ones in Vermont too, there are MANY national/world wide groups on Facbeook and YahooGroups as well!
In addition to all this, there are also co-ops in the area. These are groups of parents (typically) that meet in a place at a specific time/day each week/month/etc and take turns teaching the kids material. If you can’t find the “right” group for you, you can always start one too! I am starting one this fall for 5-8 year olds since my kids are 5 and 7.
I hope this gives you a good idea of how homeschooling can seem pretty scary and overwhelming but when you boil it down and find a few “hacks” things aren’t quite as intense as they seem. If you are thinking about homeschooling in Vermont, look more into it! If it is something that would work for your family, it is a great deal of fun for both parents and kids!
Written By Shannon Forsyth
I am a homeschooling mom with two kids (5 & 7), four cats, and a husband. I have a passion for learning that I hope to pass on to my kids! I earned my BA from Johnson State College which I completed in 2011. I enjoy reading, blogging (with most of my posts written while sitting on my kitchen counter!) http://newadventureshs.wordpress.com/, and fitness.