Last Friday I met up with a wonderful group of local homeschoolers. Many of them were well seasoned in their homeschooling ways, some were brand new to the homeschool registration process like I was, and one family was even new to the country!
We shared stories, methods, curriculum, online programs and so much more. I found out I’m not the only one who doesn’t do a lot of structure, and learned that many families start out extremely structured then move to the less structured, while others yet love their structure.
What I found was a well established community who welcomes other homeschoolers with open arms and an appreciation for our differences. It was so much fun, and the girls spent the morning playing out back with a lot of other kids. Much to their excitement to announce to me, “there’s a trampoline!!!”
I did a lot of prep work before I went to this meeting, so I had more questions about how others are doing their homeschooling to gain ideas, as well as a few technical questions about the paperwork. The FAQ’s that came along with the paperwork made it easy so I didn’t have to worry about too much when it came down to filling out the papers.
One of the first places I looked to give myself an overview of the state laws for homeschooling was HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association). I like to get an overview of what I’m getting into before I jump into the fine details, and this organization provides a great overview for each state.
After that I went to the Nebraska Department of Education to find and print off the necessary forms. They make it easy by including everything you need in one place, including two copies of Form A (which both parents need to fill out, sign and have notarized.) The forms become available around mid-May each year, and need to be completed by July 15th, which is the start of the school year.
Because we’re not using a set curriculum, nor set text books at this time we have to provide a scope of study summary. This is easier than it sounds. What I did was found the academic standards for the State of Nebraska and printed off the kindergarten and first grade standards. I went through all of the standards and highlighted mastery and a need to address each concept. We found that we are right in line with state standards and we’ve completed everything for first grade and we’re just now getting started with first grade concepts. I just copied what we were planning to address, which was most everything on the list, then added my own details if I was planning to cover something the state doesn’t list as a standard. It was easy.
To help give me some more ideas I also looked at the course of study from World Book online. Most everything matched the state standards, but it did give me a few ideas to add in.
Right about the time we were getting paperwork finished up, Nick called to let me know they let him off work early so we decided to head to the bank and get things notarized after lunch, then drive over to Lincoln to the State Office Building to drop off the paperwork.
The State Office Building is right next to the Capital building so we pointed it out to the girls. They thought it was pretty cool, but didn’t want to hear too much about it. I figured as long as they are getting exposed to the vocabulary and the landmarks we have a good start.
It was nice to show the kids the process, even if it was just to walk up to the Dept. of Education to hand the paperwork to the receptionist. We talked a little bit about what government is, as well as some of the different departments. We gave them a little insight into why we needed to provide paperwork and toured the building just a bit.
My favorite was the memorial wall for fallen Nebraska soldiers. My husband shared memories of those he had connections too and we taught the girls a bit about Memorial Day.
Before we headed out of the State Office Building I took advantage of the pamphlets.
I didn’t take every pamphlet, but I did grab just about anything that had to do with history, trails and historical museums. For our state, that was a lot of pamphlets. I decided that it was only fair that if I was going to drop off the paperwork, I would pick up even more to help me build our school year, which will have a big focus on the history of our area. Let’s just say we have a lot of field trips and discussions coming up in our future.
What requirements does your state have for homeschooling registration? Is it easy? Tell me about your experiences in the comments.