Are you a parent thinking about homeschooling this fall? Has this year just been a little bit too much for you or your student? Did something happen? Is school just not ‘clicking’? Has your gut been saying your student is capable of so much more? Or are there circumstances from this year you’d just rather not repeat?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, you need to save or print this post. If you have friends in a similar situation, why not email them a copy, too? Because in a minute, I’ll be sharing with you the 10 things you should do right now in case you find yourself homeschooling next year.
Why are these things important, you wonder? Well, for starters, parents always need to remain as informed as possible about a child’s performance and activities in school. So, if you aren’t presently as informed as you’d like to be, these tips will help you do just that.
Next, nearly everyone who has ever withdrawn a child from school in a hurry wishes they had done something differently. These tips will insure that, next year, once you’re homeschooling, you’re not kicking yourself because you forgot to do something important now.
Finally, while the truth is that some of these tips are far more important for some families than others, they’re helpful for everyone on some level. Besides, since you’ll never know what you don’t know, it’s always better to look deeper now than to wonder if you have done all you could once your child has left the school. Basically — cover your bases before it’s too late.
Plus, a side benefit to being proactive is that these activities may even help you make some difficult choices right now, perhaps clarify the issues, help to put everything into perspective — instead of having these important decisions weighing on you all summer long.
So here they are, in no particular order…if you think you may be homeschooling next year, suggestions for what you need to be doing right now.
The 10 Things You Should Do Right Now
- Write down the names and ISBN numbers of all of the textbooks, workbooks, supplements, and other printed material your child is using in school now. Photocopy publication information and table of contents from textbooks if you can. If none of this is possible, at least jot down the general topics your child studied this year. [Author’s Note, Added: This tip isn’t about using the same books next year (although you can if you want to). It’s about being able to document (should your state require) and understand what your child already studied in order to build a homeschool year that is best for that particular student.]
- Write down the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of key personnel at the school, including school counselors, plus all of your child’s teachers. If a teacher offers that you may contact him/her at home, write down that number too.
- Visit the school yourself and ask to view your child’s permanent record. Using any method you wish, make a list of the documents contained in the file, and request photocopies of test scores, medical information, notes from teachers or administrators, and anything else that warrants a copy for your files at home. Should your child have an individualized plan of instruction or receive additional services, ask for copies of that information, too.
- Arrange to have all student work sent home, at least by the end of the year. This includes graded homeworks, projects, artwork, journals and anything else that may end up being left behind once your child comes home for the summer. Don’t forget things like gym clothes stored in lockers or items that may be on display somewhere in the school.
- Save to computer disc or print out emails containing important information from the school web site or any email addresses to which you are currently granted access that may expire over the summer.
- Visit your child’s classroom for a few hours, or the entire day if you like. Or, if you haven’t done so in a while, volunteer to assist at some event or activity requiring you to be on campus for some length of time. If your child rides a school bus, see if you can ride the bus for the day, too.
- If a parent-teacher conference has not already been scheduled for the end of the school year, request a meeting with each of your child’s teachers. Inform teachers you’d like to discuss your child’s progress (or not), your child’s learning and study habits, special achievements, disciplinary problems or concerns, or anything else the teacher may be able to tell you about your child’s school year.
- Pick up a copy of the school handbook and/or student handbook used in your school district.
- If you do not do so regularly, attend a meeting of the School Board in your district. After the meeting, greet members of the Board if you are so inclined.
- If you have not done so, attend at least one meeting of the PTA, PTO, SAC or other committees that meet on campus.
If these steps sound paranoid, ridiculous or excessive, they’re not. Talk to parents who have been in your shoes, and you’ll hear over and over about the surprise or regret they experienced by: 1) not staying informed; or, 2) by leaving a school hastily/impulsively. No parent may ever be criticized for staying involved in a child’s education, thus no parent should ever be worried about asking too many questions.
Taking these steps now creates a win-win. Should you make the decision to homeschool, you’ll be happy you took the steps to close out your child’s experience in the district armed with any information that could be necessary in the future. On the other hand, if your child remains in school, that’s okay, too. It only means you’ve become a more active/informed parent. And — the best part – it will probably translate into greater success for your student next year, too!
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a teacher who has homeschooled her children all of their lives. As a speaker, mentor and a coach to homeschooling families all over the country, she demystifies the process and helps make homeschooling accessible to everyone. Her newest book explains it all: “Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in 2 Weeks” (available at Amazon and most other online booksellers).
Image 2: Wikimedia Commons