Why do I title these with questions? (aka Homeschooling at last!)

It’s just a crazy non sequitor thing I noticed a few days ago…

Anyway, we’re back on track with school for the kids. I finally got a CLEAR answer about what it takes to homeschool:

* If you enroll in the K-12 program, it is essentially a home-based PUBLIC school. That means that your kid HAS to go through standardized testing. Also, as much as they’d like to say it’s “self-paced”, it’s really not. I was confused as to why a home-school program needed my kids’ shot records… and then I came to my senses.

* The first step to homeschooling is to keep your kid(s) home. Obviously, if they’re currently enrolled, take them out officially, or else you could end up with a truancy case, regardless of whether you’re keeping with the rest of the legal requirements.

* The only thing you need in Texas to legally homeschool is a [b]written curriculum that reflects programs in spelling, grammar, math, reading, and good citizenship[/b]. You are not required to get this curriculum from anyone else, you don’t have to pay out the nose for anything, and you might have noticed that there are no requirements for science or history. It’s just a bare-bones thing.

* Your homeschool is considered a PRIVATE school according to the Texas Education codes. My recommendation is to treat it as such and keep records of everything you do. Just because you SAY you’re homeschooling doesn’t mean you actually are. The one range of people who might run afoul of the truancy/schooling laws would be the unschoolers, but even they may be able to get around it some.

* You are NOT required to register your intent to homeschool with anyone at any time. They’d like you to, except that there is no part of the TEA that accepts such registration. They’ll keep you running all over hell’s half acre trying to find the right person to talk to, all the while building your stress until you buckle and just send your kid to school to keep from getting in trouble. (This is my guess, by the way, as to their motivation, and I just didn’t fall for it.)

My Facebook friends already got to see Miles’ vocabulary exercise yesterday. I suspect a long and glorious history of similar awesomeness in weeks to come. I will continue to share as appropriate.

I really like the idea of running my school years from January to December. It makes record-keeping easier, and it means that if we wrap up early (which is almost a guarantee), we have no holiday conflicts.

To answer a few questions that have been queried repeatedly:

— Yes, I keep grades. Excel is my friend. I keep weekly overall grades, and subject grades. At some point, I’ll find a good source for converting those grades to GPAs. That still confuses me a little.

— I write out weekly assignments for the kids, and it’s up to them to get them done before the Friday tests. If they don’t get it done – or at least review the material – they’re on their own at test-time. If they don’t get an assignment completed by Sunday night, it counts as a zero on their grade sheet AND they have to do it over again the following week, sometimes with an additional workload in that subject.

— I have collected a lot of school books through the years, and continue to do so. Mostly, this happens in thrift stores. Not all books that I get are used for school – some are just fun to read, like the sociology books that discuss “how to relate to Negroes” (I am completely not kidding) – but inspiration is found everywhere.

— I teach my kids directly, and I let them learn things on their own. They have at least one history research paper to do per week, a current event (starting next week), and then there are the creative writing assignments. I list their resources as needed (such as checking the English book for clarification on the designation of nouns), and then they have to figure it out. This is because spoon-fed information doesn’t do anyone a damn bit of good. If I was fine with that, I’d send them to public school, wouldn’t I?

— For many parts of the curriculum, I keep Lili and Miles on the same level. This means that Lili gets a little more practice, and Miles gets pushed a little harder. The only thing that Lili can do that Miles can’t (yet) is more advanced algebra, but she’s enjoying the foundational practice, too.

And, speaking of which, it’s just about time to get back to it and administer tests. If you homeschool, too, or want to see what we’re doing, let me know. I keep everything, including my vocabulary lists up through… I think we’re into August with vocabulary words. I get them from Dictionary.Com.

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