Surprise, Surprise! Mastering the Midyear Start

I never intended to start homeschooling partway through my student’s senior year. But there we were, six weeks in, with homeschooling our only acceptable option.

“I can do this,” I thought. After all, I had watched my mom homeschool my siblings and me through graduation. I had taught college English for two years. Following that, I had helped homeschool my younger sisters when my mom was sick.

And as a legal assistant at HSLDA, I had guided thousands of parents through their homeschool questions for nearly four years.

But my head was still spinning with everything that needed to be done. I like to plan ahead, yet now I had no opportunity to neatly prepare my school year in advance.

“Notification comes first,” I rehearsed aloud to my husband. Legal requirements vary by state, and I knew our state required that we let the school district know we’d be homeschooling. (You can find your state’s homeschool requirements here.)

“And he can keep going through his current workbooks while we decide on curriculum,” my husband replied.

We prepared our notice, sent it in via certified mail, return receipt requested. After all, it’s always advisable to have proof that you’ve complied with the law!

Meanwhile I reviewed the textbooks we’d already purchased for the private school courses and scheduled several assignments. This was another key strategy I’d learned for beginning midyear: start with what you have so that your student keeps learning while you decide what option you want for the rest of the year.

Didn’t purchase textbooks for your student’s current school? You can utilize library books, purchase inexpensive summer review skills books available at many everyday stores (e.g., Walmart, Target, dollar stores), or take advantage of free educational materials online (e.g., Khan Academy, Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool) while you evaluate materials.

We decided we’d continue using most of the same textbooks we started with, since the publishers had homeschool curriculum guides in addition to traditional school packages.

With notification sent in and curriculum ordered, I thought we were all set. Our homeschool would consist of online courses for physics and Spanish, and I’d oversee the English, math, and economics courses.

But wait! Instead of receiving the expected homeschool acknowledgement from the school district, we opened a letter that demanded we supply more information, information I knew was not required. Several letters (including one from HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff) and phone calls later, the district finally acknowledged our homeschool. (See—it’s always important to join HSLDA!)

The rest of the year was a repeated cycle of plan, evaluate, and adjust. The physics enrollment was delayed on the provider’s end, so we had to double up to finish by graduation. I customized English since we had a literature book from one publisher and grammar and vocabulary books from another. We dropped Spanish so we could focus on research projects instead.

Sometimes I had the time and energy to plan two weeks out; other weeks I planned as we went. My student studied well on his own, as long as I reminded him of what projects needed to be completed.

At last, June arrived. With a flurry of cramming, the final assignments were completed in time for the local homeschool graduation ceremony. We had successfully navigated an unexpected homeschool year. I would have breathed a sigh of relief—but we had a graduation party to host the next day!

-Jill Baker

Photo credit: iStock.

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