Images and reports are still pouring in from Texas and Louisiana of the horrific devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Here at HSLDA, our hearts break for the families affected by the destruction.
We anticipated that many homeschooling families would need replacement curriculum and educational supplies, but the devastation has created even more unexpected challenges. Yesterday, HSLDA received a call from a member who informed us that in certain areas the schools were shutting down indefinitely. These new families are not only facing ‘typical’ problems caused by the storms, but now they must rethink their children’s education. Some are turning to homeschooling and others are relocating.
To those of you affected by the hurricane, here is information from HSLDA’s Toddlers to Tweens Consultant, Vicki Bentley:
Maybe you were already homeschooling before Harvey and now find yourself shaken from your normal routine, or even displaced from your home. Or perhaps you suddenly find yourself considering homeschooling because your local school is not currently an option. This brief article will hopefully help answer some of the immediate questions you might have. If you are reading this, I hope it means you have access to power or the internet somewhere. Let me share a few basics that I hope will encourage and equip you.
When you make the decision to homeschool because it suddenly seems to be your only option, where do you even begin?
First Things First
The first step is knowing how to comply with your state’s law. If you are living in Texas, the state simply requires you to conduct your homeschool “in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math, and good citizenship.” There is no paperwork to file. (You can read our synopsis of Texas law.)
Louisiana requires homeschooling parents to cover the same subjects covered in a public school, so at a minimum—math, language arts, social studies, and science. In Louisiana, option 2 paperwork can be filed electronically online. (Learn more in our synopsis of Louisiana law.)
If you need additional legal assistance, please call HSLDA at 540-338-5600. If you’re not already a member, our membership staff can assist you with joining and connect you with financial aid for membership.
What Does Homeschooling Look Like?
Think of homeschooling as being purposeful, with a written plan of what your child needs to cover this year. Kids are more secure with a routine—a pattern to the day—even if you fit in your homeschooling at less-traditional times or in small increments throughout the day.
Homeschooling is incredibly flexible: you can homeschool anywhere! Kids can learn at a table, on a couch, on a bed or cot, on the floor, or even in your favorite outdoor space. You get to adapt the learning pace and environment to your child’s needs and your current living situation.
What about Curriculum?
Curriculum is more than just books—it includes hands-on activities and interests and everyday skills. It can include games of all kinds, reading storybooks, gaining life skills, and even researching or pursuing a fascinating topic. Have your child retell his day or adventures—or make up a story and write it out or tell it to you. Let your child learn some basic math, physics, or chemistry by helping you measure for repairs or cook a meal.
For curriculum, online may be your best option right now. (It doesn’t have to be shipped, you can use it anywhere, and you can get started very quickly.) There are online programs that offer a complete curriculum and programs that offer supplementary or individual courses and resources.
Here are a few examples:
- Ambleside Online (free) includes an emergency plan
- Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool (free)
- Time 4 Learning
- Homeschool Connections Online(Catholic-based) and most of the major publishers offer online programs, such as Monarch (Alpha Omega), ABeka Academy, and BJU Distance Learning.
- More free online curriculum and courses are listed here.
You can find more options available to homeschoolers at our website here or in our video session on choosing curriculum in our Exploring Homeschooling recorded symposium. (Order it for free by using coupon code HARVEY during online checkout.)
Regardless of what you choose, remember that your curriculum is simply a tool—use it, adapt it, modify as needed. The bottom line is that there is no ONE “perfect” curriculum—no one “right” way to home school. That’s the beauty of home education—you can tailor the plan to your child’s needs!
Finding a new normal: start with a routine
My friend Vanessa shared this bit of wisdom after going through trials of her own: “When life broadsides you, the most important—and difficult—thing to do is re-establish ‘normal.’ ‘Normal’ provides a framework for healing.”
Wherever you are, a routine can help. One of the great things about homeschooling is that it fits around your life—and whatever you need to do in this season. So work your school schedule around your life schedule right now. When you feel incredibly overwhelmed—just start with the basics of normal.
Make a short list of what has to be done. Right now, this probably consists of meals, hygiene, and clean-up efforts, with homeschooling coming alongside. (That means you can homeschool at any time of day that it works for your family right now.)
In our experience, children whose parents have had to slow down for a period of time on the textbook studies because of family crises often do remarkably well on standardized achievement tests. Not only do they usually do just fine on the tests, they have learned valuable lessons in how to be resilient and resourceful during crisis, how to help one another when under stress, and how to connect and communicate with the people around them.
How to Get Help after Harvey
The Home School Foundation, HSLDA’s charitable arm, offers financial assistance for curriculum and educational materials. Homeschool families in need can contact one of our Grant Administrators at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-338-8688.
If you are a homeschooling family in Texas, please visit the HSF Texas Ambassador’s Homeschool Relief Network Facebook page.
How to Give Curriculum, Donate, or Volunteer
If you are in a position to offer help to others, please visit the Home School Foundation’s new page Help Texas Flood Victims Rebuild.
Financial Aid for Joining HSLDA
Email email@example.com to learn how to apply for financial assistance.
A Final Note
We understand that you probably have more questions. We don’t want to overwhelm you. This short article is designed just to give you the basics of starting homeschooling. You can build on them. And we’re here to equip and encourage you on our website.
Remember that HSLDA’s educational consultants are available to give personalized advice to our member families as they embark on their homeschool journey! Learn more about membership at hslda.org/jointoday or call 540-338-5600.
-Vicki (Intro by Rachel Bell, HSLDA Representative)
Parts of this article were adapted from these previously published articles by the same author: “Starting to Homeschool after Conventional School;” and “When Life Broadsides Your Homeschool”
Photo Credit: Texas Military Department https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode. Background wood created by Fwstudio – Freepik.com.