Right now in WV, teachers and other state employees are hitting the picket lines striking for better pay and better benefits. While I support the teachers, and other workers, kids are suffering the consequences. Due to social media posts, families are also discovering, in glaring detail, just how inadequate our public schools are. That, on top of the most recent school shootings, has led to a tremendous amount of people asking about homeschooling. While the laws stated here are only for WV, the tips and advice are for any new homeschooler.
The laws governing homeschooling vary from state to state. I've linked the state page that goes into detail with WV state homeschooling laws. I will also provide links to two different groups, HSLDA and WVHEA. Both deal with the rules and regulations with homeschooling. I'll give a brief run down here. These are all under the assumption there are no extenuating circumstances such as legalities surrounding CPS charges, truancy, etc.
1.) To get started you must send in 1 notice of intent (NOI) There is a sample NOI under resources, getting started, on the WVHEA page. You are only required to send in one, unless you move. If you move out of the COUNTY, then you must notify the superintendent of the county you are leaving, and then upon moving in you are to send another NOI to the superintendent of the new county. This law recently changed, and some Board of Education (BOE) workers are not up to date on current laws, so it is a good idea to have a copy of the law handy just in case they are unaware of the recent changes. After all, we are all only human, and they deal with a lot of people on a daily basis.
2.) There is NO waiting period for homeschooling. You submit your notice of intent, and that's that.
3.) You do NOT need approval, nor do you have to have permission from a school principal, teacher, or any other employee.
4.) You must file a NOI for any child who will be turning 6 prior to September 1st for the remainder of the 2018 school year and the 2018/2019 school year. Beginning with the 2019/2020 school year, that will change to any child who turns 6 prior to July 1st. If you have already registered your child for Kindergarten, then you must file a NOI for them regardless of age.
5.) You can't graduate a child early. WV has a minimum age of 17, and each county can choose up to age 18 if they wish. So you can not issue a diploma to a 15 yr old and claim they have graduated.
6.) You must show progress via a portfolio review OR a national standardized test. The results of these reviews must be sent to the board of education for grades 3, 5, 8, and 11. You must keep these results for at least 3 years. For testing, your child's test scores must be in the 4th stanine or above. If they are not, they must be higher than the previous year's test scores. For a portfolio review, you must show progress through the year, and the work must be evaluated by a WV Certified teacher.
7.) You must teach the 5 core subjects of reading, science, math, language, and social studies. How you do this, and what materials you use is totally up to you. You are not required to list exact materials you plan to use, or provide a detailed lesson plan.
8.) You can homeschool your own child, or you can designate someone else to teach them, but whomever does the teaching must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. A college degree or post secondary certificate from an accredited school is also accepted, but most will urge you to provide the lowest level diploma/degree you have in order to maintain the current status quo.
9.) You can issue your child a homeschool diploma. There are a variety of sites where you can order these, or you can make your own. It is legal and must be accepted throughout the state. There are a number of students I know personally who have gone on to colleges from state public schools to private Ivy League universities without any type of diploma. There are a variety of Facebook groups dedicated to homeschooling through high school, and they are a wealth of information.
10.) Parents CAN administer their own assessment test provided the test perimeters allow for parent testing, and the test has been written and/or normed with in the last 10 years.
How do I start?
The first step is deciding to homeschool. Why do you want to? What is it that you hope to accomplish? The next step is to file your NOI and keep your kids home. I highly recommend letting them sleep in that first day, HAHA! Many first time homeschoolers, especially of the youngest students, wish to push their kids to a higher grade because they are advanced, or other reasons. I TOTALLY understand that feeling, BUT I always recommend staying with the youngest grade possible for a variety of reasons. Your child may seem advanced now, and that's GREAT, but the higher levels aren't necessarily more difficult due to academics, but more socially and maturity. There's a vast difference between 4th and 6th grade, for example.
I also suggest "de-schooling" for a period of time. Just relax, and really get to know your kids. They have been away from you for 7+ hours a day, 5 days a week, for a really long time. Get to know them. Figure out what they like. Figure out how they learn best. One may be more hands on, another may prefer reading non-fiction over fiction. Another may really want to take Latin classes! Who knows?! Get to know them in a way you've never known them before. Ask what they like about each subject. Find out what they don't like, and why. Little Johnny may claim he hates math because in 2nd grade he had a really hard time with subtraction, and the teacher had to move on before he mastered it so now math is really difficult. By knowing this, you can easily back up and fill in any gaps that may be causing difficulty and frustrations, leading to discontentment.
I can't tell you how many times I get asked, "What is the best curriculum to use?" And the answer? I have no idea! I'm not your kid! I'm not in your situation! The best for us is not the best for everyone else. Curriculum is a truly unique and individualized concept. I remember seeing BJU for the first time. Oh how I thought it was the best ever! I just knew it was going to be EXACTLY what we needed, and of course it was so expensive it had to be fantastic. I also remember the gun wrenching feeling when I realized I had wasted a LOT of money on something that we both hated. But a few of my friends LOVE BJU, and it works great for them! The most expensive doesn't mean the best out there. And it is definitely not the best if it brings about financial stress for your family.
There are different methods. Some people choose to go with all one method. Others, like me, choose to go with whatever works across the subjects. We do Charlotte Mason for some, traditional for others, and classical for the rest. I have several posts on choosing a curriculum that fits your family, so be sure to check those out. I'll link a few at the bottom.
Subscribe to my blog! I review loads of curriculum to give you an indepth look at what it's really like. Also check out The Homeschool Review Crew (link at the bottom.) Many of my crewmates review dozens of different things every year, and the Crew is a valuable source of curriculum reviews.
I do have a few favorites that I ALWAYS recommend to others. These companies provide resources that cover a wide range of grades and styles, and I feel they are more than worth the money for all they provide.
Schoolhouseteachers.com offers more than 300 courses. They feature an online World Book, home planning, education from Pre-K to 12, and sooooo much more. You can search my blog for numerous reviews, and that's not even the tip of the iceberg of all that you will find there. Seriously, go check it out.
Notebookingpages.com I love these people there's seriously a page for everything. If we want dinosaurs, they're there. Rocks? You got it! Planets? Sure thing! It's THERE! We've been using this for years!
I will probably add a few more after tonight :)
The best advice I can give is this: There WILL be times where you question if you are doing the right thing, if you've made the right decision for your children. You will wonder if homeschooling is working, if you're doing a good job. You will regret ever starting. You will want to call the school and beg them to take your kids back. And then you will wake up the next day and realize all of those doubts and negative feelings were just temporary because if you can teach them to walk and talk, you can teach them to read. You will NEVER be able to teach them EVERYTHING they need to know. No one can! But you CAN teach them to learn. You can give them to greatest tool so that they can in turn teach themselves what you are unable to teach. That is the greatest piece of advice I can give anyone.
Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them or find an answer for you! Good luck, and God Bless!
5 Days of Homeschooling 101-Curriculum (This has links to several other bloggers, too!)