Homeschooling After Harvey

Homeschooling After Harvey_blogfinal2

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.

State and regional homeschooling organizations stand ready to help, as well, in both Texas and Louisiana.

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:

If you have mail delivery and would prefer real hard-copy books, you could order a packaged curriculum (or specific courses) from companies such as Timberdoodle, My Father’s World, or Sonlight.

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 info@homeschoolfoundation.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 mhm@hslda.org 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. 

13 Comments on “Homeschooling After Harvey”

  1. Lisa's * Everyday Life
    September 2, 2017 at 1:09 am #

    Great post.As a long time resident of Louisiana Harvey is just another bump in the road. We were lucky that we had no problems in our area and was able to school as normal with our on line school at home. But we had made plans in case we lost power or internet for any amount of time. Hope everyone is safe and getting back to school

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alice
    September 4, 2017 at 10:09 pm #

    Thank you for posting HomeschoolConnections.com. They offer an inexpensive option of recorded online classes that can be taken anytime, anyplace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Laurie Popovich, Pops of Life
    September 5, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

    What if we had curriculum to send that we are not using? Csn we mail it to a physical address that would get it to families in need?

    Like

  4. Boris & Joanna
    September 7, 2017 at 9:57 am #

    PART 1- SINCE MY POST WAS REJECTED DUE TO LENGTH.

    Vickey,

    Your article was very much appreciated, especially since listing the resources you did, as I wasn’t aware of several of them.

    A note: even though Harvey has been devastating in simply unimaginable ways, I would like to urge HSLDA, members and anyone we all come in contact with, to remember that Harvey isn’t the only disaster that is ravaging the lives, routines and potential of homeschoolers. Here in Montana, tens of thousands of acres of land is going up in flames- and this has been going on for a while. Not much about it is broadcast in the news, but people are fleeing for their lives, evacuating even before fire because of the caustic smoke and leaving behind all but the memories they can carry within their hearts. Wildfires are seemingly do not have as much social support dedicated to their victims because wildfires are so common in certain areas of the country. The reality is, a disaster is a disaster because it ravages its victims, turning their lives upside down and devastating the normal routine and potential of those it ravages, and robs them of the comfort and assurance of even that one small thing that sometimes grounds us all- a small space to call our own, where we can go for refuge.

    Like

    • SHOK
      September 16, 2017 at 10:28 am #

      Those sound like some great ideas to start some good programs with for other struggling homeschoolers! Go…HSLDA!!!!

      Like

  5. Boris & Joanna
    September 7, 2017 at 9:59 am #

    PART 2- SINCE MY POST WAS REJECTED DUE TO LENGTH

    I can’t imagine how these victims make it through their days, except by the light on their children’s faces and through the Grace of God.

    I would like to propose an idea that perhaps HSLDA could create a program where someone who is already a member could sponsor a family who (isn’t yet/ wants to be a member of HSLDA and )has been effected by a disaster. If those families in need could be matched up (financially via sponsor) then those families could have HSLDA as their one small thing they “know they have”, something that can ground them and provide a bit of assurance as they try to create some normalcy in their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Boris & Joanna
    September 7, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    PART 3- SINCE MY POST WAS REJECTED DUE TO LENGTH

    One idea is if there were HSLDA members who could be willing to be a resource and be called, by a matched up homeschooling disaster victim [mother or father of a child in the same grade], so ideas could be shared about homeschooling or even materials emailed back and forth- which would also alleviate cost, since PDFs of assignments and such could be emailed with only the cost of printing- which at a local library might be zero or close to zero if there is a program for disaster victims there as well. This guidance by an experienced homeschool parent- providing comfort for the disaster victim and also keep costs at bay for HSLDA because it could limit the scope of calls they receive about general schooling info, and perhaps only then require them to handle matters of higher importance or more complication. (I don’t know how this would work though….)

    An incentive to help/ get involved for the HSLDA members who already are members, could be a specific discount or even a free amount of time added to their membership.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Boris & Joanna
    September 7, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    PART 4- SINCE MY POST WAS REJECTED DUE TO LENGTH

    Also it would be nice if there is a program where we could donate curriculum/ homeschool materials that we are finished with (but that are in good shape) with reduced cost or free shipping labels. Is there any such program through UPS or FEDEX-anyone know? Is there a distribution center or warehouse that would take and store these materials for the purpose of disaster victims? Perhaps a church or such?

    Just ideas….I will keep all of these people in mind as I pray for my families safety, as we are suffering smoke from the wildfires but not yet had to leave our area, here in Montana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vicki Bentley
      September 14, 2017 at 10:22 am #

      Thankful for your thoughtful comments (and my apologies that you had to divvy it all up!). I’ll pass the suggestions along — my husband and I had thought it would be awesome if churches could sponsor families or groups of families. 🙂 On the curriculum: Although you’d have to cover postage, there are places in those areas that can take the materials. You can also check with your state organization–they are often familiar with groups that will store and distribute homeschool materials. I’m praying for your area, as well, and hopeful for more rain.

      Like

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