|Last day of parochial school!|
After making a decision to immediately remove your child from school, what do you do first? I'm a planner, an organizer, a list maker, a very methodical person. Doing anything without research and planning doesn't happen here.
After a minor panic attack, the following are the steps we took to withdraw our daughter from her parochial school to start homeschooling:
- Pray - First, and foremost, we prayed. We prayed for guidance, we prayed for help in the coming days, we prayed for acceptance. We prayed for everything.
- Discuss the Schedule - In our family we discussed the timing for withdrawing our daughter. Did it need to be immediate, as in the next day? Were there reasons to wait for a week or more? After thought we set a date for her final day, but did not announce this to anyone. Just setting a date that you know will be the final day will help your child and you prepare for the change.
- Research How to Notify the School - Thankfully, we live in a very homeschool friendly state and our daughter went to a small parochial school. According to the school handbook, we only needed to notify the school administrator (principal) verbally or in writing. Since our daughter never went to public school, there was nothing official we had to do with the state. Otherwise, we would have needed to notify the school of our intention to homeschool after withdrawl. As it was, we didn't have to tell the school what she would be doing. We did tell them, but it wasn't required. The rules for withdrawing do vary by school, just as they do by state. So, be sure to know what applies to you.
- Discuss Notification With Your Child - One of the best things we did was to ask our daughter how she wanted this done. We preferred, and assumed she would too, the option of notifying the school at the end of a school day (hopefully a Friday) that she wasn't returning the next school day. Our daughter actually preferred we notify the school in advance so she would have time to tell friends and give herself some closure. It all worked out great. We notified on a Tuesday in a private meeting with the principal, then we stayed around to tell her classroom teacher after school that same day. Our daughter's actual last day was the Friday of the same week.
- Research State Laws - Look up your state rules on homeschooling to determine what is required of you as a homeschool family. Determine what paperwork you might need to file and what you will need to ensure is completed by the end of the year. Again, in Missouri there is very little we needed to do.
- Get Records from the School - Everyone kept telling me this. Don't give them a chance to alter the records, don't let them forget. The school secretary is a wonderfully kind lady and she was more than helpful to us. We did get our daughter's records right away, but there really was very little in them that we didn't already have ourselves.
- Determine where you child stands academically - Our state is very relaxed in its homeschooling rules. We basically have a number of required hours per year, and a certain number of those hours must be in core subjects. To ensure we fulfilled those hour requirements, I needed to know how many she had completed already. I used the published class schedule to determine how many hours she had been in school total and how many would be considered core hours. Depending on the state requirements, you may need to determine days already in attendance instead of hours.
- Find Curriculum - This is possibly the hardest thing to do for some people. We had it fairly easy. We purchased, at the beginning of the school year, a used copy of all of our daughter's textbooks to keep at home. This made our decision for curriculum easy. We simply would continue with what she had been doing, unless something wasn't working. In the end, we changed curriculum in one subject and added foreign language. Most people don't already have a copy of the books their child is using. If you are willing to use the current school curricula, you can ask the school for assistance. They may be willing to loan you some books. Also, check Amazon or other online sites for used versions of the current curricula. It was actually cheaper to purchase those than it will be for the homeschool curricula we will be using next year. Teacher's guides are more difficult to find, but can also be found used online.
- Determine a Recording Method - Even our very relaxed state does, technically, require some recording of hours and school work. There is no requirements for us to turn this information in, and from what I understand, the state rarely comes asking for it either. We don't even register as homeschool families in our state. Still, it is good up front to know how you plan to record the school work and if you will be issuing report cards or other types of grades. For us, since our daughter will eventually return to parochial high school, we decided to continue grading assignments and tests. She receives quarterly report cards. I selected a homeschool management software that allows me to track grades and lesson plans. I'm just that type of person. You could also simply use a spreadsheet to track grades. It would work just as well.
- Activities - Our daughter was involved in activities at her school that required us to decide if she would remain or withdraw from those as well. We actually had the option to leave her in most of the activities because they were technically through our church, even though it was mostly the parochial school children involved. In the end, we decided to keep her in all the activities, at least for this school year. Some public school activities are also open to homeschoolers, if you take the responsibility to get your child there for the activity. Check into the rules, because you may be surprised what school activities and functions are actually open to homeschoolers.
- Tell Family & Friends - This was a hard step for us. Many of them knew about the difficulties our daughter was having at school and that we were leaning toward homeschool for the next school year. Most of them where shocked that we were willing to do it so quickly. Very few were openly against it. All of our family, and many of our friends, were extremely supportive and kind. The key for us, with so many people we know being associated with that same school and church, was to not constantly talk about our reasons for leaving. We would answer truthfully, if asked, but we did not give every detail of our decision. We also did not disparage the choice anyone else made in staying at the school. Homeschool may not be the best for other families, but it is what we need right now. Understanding that made it so much easier to explain the situation to others without anger or resentment on any side.
- Set-up School Area at Home - This doesn't have to be an entire school room, it can be the kitchen table. Just determine where you will be having school. It will make life so much easier to decide this in advance so that you can mentally prepare your child for school. Our daughter has a built-in homework area in a section of our house. It is actually a small room that is open without doors. We modified this a bit to make it more easily used for instruction and not just homework assignments. We don't stay in that area all day, but it is nice to have a place to keep all the school stuff and a place for her to go during work time or independent study time.
- Set up a Daily Schedule - I know that a lot of homeschoolers don't have a written daily schedule, or even a mental schedule. That just doesn't work for us. It also doesn't generally work well for a child that just came from years of scheduled days in a traditional school. As a bonus, my child has always been extremely schedule oriented. Even at the parochial school she needed a schedule and was a bit frazzled when they strayed from the posted schedule. So, for us it was very important to set-up a daily homeschool schedule. There are days we don't even come close to sticking with the schedule, but we try to at least complete the subjects in the order listed and on the days listed. It also helps me in planning so that I know what supplies to have ready for each day and when I may have time for household chores and errands.
- Talk to Other Homeschool Families - We have several friends who homeschool and their advice to us was invaluable. Even if we chose different curricula or even methods than others, the information and support was so wonderful to have. It makes you feel like you aren't alone out there, and you know that others are doing the same thing successfully. We haven't joined a co-op or homeschool group in our area. We just haven't found any that are a good fit for us at the moment, but those are also two other good ideas.