What exactly is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is the natural implementation of ‘parent directed education’. In homeschooling, parents take full responsibility and direct oversight for the education of their children in their own homes. This does not necessarily infer that the parents provide all of the corresponding instruction. However, true homeschooling is parent lead and does not depend on either the organization nor oversight of an outside institution.
Is homeschooling really legal?
Yes. For complete details on the laws & legalities of homeschooling in Georgia, go to our web site and review the information which the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) makes available at “Know The Law“.
Is homeschooling something new?
No. The size of Georgia and its rural history made homeschooling the natural approach for early child education in many parts of the state. However, even apart from Georgia’ historical evidence, homeschooling is not new; it was the normal means of instructing children prior to the creation of our modern public education system. This historic evidence for homeschooling was one of the most compelling reasons for the Georgia General Assemble to recognize home schooling as a legal entity.
Does homeschooling really work?
Yes. Numerous studies and the success of many prior home school graduates prove that homeschooling really works. In homeschooling, the parents are intimately involved in the child’s education, the education progresses at the child’s actual comprehension rate, and the child understands the material more thoroughly. Also, the majority of negative education factors are non-existent thereby providing a more encouraging environment in which the children are able to excel.
Does ‘how my child is educated’ really matter?
Yes. Your child will form his or her opinions and beliefs based on the content and manner of information being taught. Within a homeschool, the parent is able to teach their biblical convictions without unwanted contradiction or causing the child to encounter unnecessary ridicule. Further, since the parent is directly involved in the child’s education, the natural relationships are positively re-inforced, the child receives loving attention & encouragement, and the child’s personal learning styles & interests can be accommodated.
Any educational institution which attempts to instruct a diversity of children using a repeatable pattern technique, eliminate the intense parental involvement, or bypass the faithful adherence to biblical convictions will naturally be incapable of producing graduates or alumni who hold these family tenants.
What if I, as the parent, don’t feel qualified to teach?
Unless they have received a traditional education which culminated in the acquisition of a teaching certificate, most parents feel somewhat inadequate. This inadequacy is frequently enforced by their focus on the difficult higher level education courses and by the comments offered by ‘well meaning’ friends. The feelings are natural, but they are not insurmountable.
Today’s curricula are designed specifically for parental use in the homeschool. These curricula include all of the guides and instructional materials that the parent will need; many also include special access to experts.
Finally, if homeschooling is begun while the child is still very young, you will be able to acclimate & progress slowly. By the time you encounter the courses which originally worried you, you will have developed the confidence and a complete support network.
Where can I find someone to homeschool my kids?
Homeschooling is the responsibility of the parent or guardian. You can cooperate with other parents; and, you should most definitely be in agreement with your spouse. But, no one else can do the job; they can only assist you.
Where can I find help?
Providing you with the help you need to homeschool your children correctly is the ministry of organizations, such as GHEA. There are, however, many other aides: area support groups, parent co-op teaching teams, on-line discussion forums, magazines & periodicals, and regional conferences.
What curriculum does Georgia require?
State law dictates that homeschoolers include the following:
Where do I find a curriculum?
There are several good books which provide overviews and reviews of the available curricula; among them are Mary Pride’s and Cathy Duffy’s curriculum critiques. You should obtain one of these books; they are available in many church libraries and larger book stores. If you live in one of the regions where a home school conference or bookfair is held, you should make plans to attend; discussing the curricula directly with their representative and other veteran home schoolers will provide immeasurable guidance in helping you select the best combination.
What are the big differences in the curricula available?
There are a very large number and variety of curricula available on the market. Some curricula cover only specific subjects, whereas others are all-encompassing. Some curricula are very grade specific; others provide the complete coverage of all elementary & secondary grades. Finally, most curricula are published in printed form; but, an increasing number are available electronically. You will need to study the options carefully to choose the curriculum that’s right for each of your children.
Do parents need to be state certified?
No. Parents are neither licensed nor certified in Georgia. Further, if you choose to become involved in a co-op education program with other parents, you are permitted to teach their children as well, so long as the primary oversight of the education remains with the child’s actual parents. Many studies have been performed which prove that teacher certification has little affect on the educational outcome of the children. Your convictions to homeschool and your personal involvement in their education will do far more toward advancing your children’s education than any certification.
How do I get ‘permission’ to home school?
In Georgia, parents do not need special permission to begin homeschooling their children; it is your right. Therefore, you do not need to ask nor receive anyone’s permission. Naturally, since both parents should be involved in the home school, it is advisable to reach a mutual understanding with your spouse. You should, however, anticipate a certain level of opposition to your decision. Many well-meaning people will question your decision; some will even try to interfere.
Do I need to register my home school?
Parents must submit a declaration of intent to home study to the local superintendent thirty days after the establishment of the home study program and by Sept. 1 every year thereafter. This declaration must include the names and ages of students, the location of the home school, and the time the parents designate as their school year.
Do I need to have my child take standardized tests?
Children must take a national standardized achievement test every three years beginning at the end of the third grade. “Test scores are not required to be submitted to public school authorities.” .
What do I do if DFACS or the truant officer comes to my homeschool?
In Georgia you have the legal right to homeschool your children, including both natural and adopted. You do not need to be apologetic nor fearful. However, the possibility of encountering an episode with either DFACS or a truant officer is a very real possibility, especially if you have withdrawn your children from the public schools. GHEA, and most home school experts, recommend that you join the HSLDA for exactly such an eventuality. As a member, you can immediately call their offices and receive assistance. Meanwhile, you should be as polite and non-confrontational with the officers as possible. Unless the officer presents a valid search warrant, you are under no obligation to let them enter your home, examine your records, question your children, or ridicule your convictions. If requested, you should provide a copy of your “Declaration of Intent Form”.
Since most people are not truly familiar with homeschooling or the laws which govern it, you may find it wise to make both family members and neighbors aware that you are homeschooling; similarly, you may choose to avoid certain activities which increase the probability of receiving a DFACS or truancy officer’s visit.
How do I take my kids out of public school?
If your child has been enrolled in a public school you must formally withdraw him/her. Follow the procedure for your particular school. You should ask for copies of your child’s records and/or transcript. You will not receive the original, but will receive a copy. Naturally, if your child has never been enrolled, you will not need to notify the school of your intentions.
How does a home school handle transcripts and diplomas?
According to the Georgia Home School Law that recognized home schools as an educational entity along with private and public schools, you as the officials of the school have the right to determine graduation requirements, recognize graduation status, grant diplomas, and issue transcripts. Since colleges, universities, and businesses have certain unspecified expectations on these documents, check with the institution or business to determine what they require.
What about grades?
Grades are a useful way of tracking your progress through the educational material, verifying your child’s comprehension of this material, and validating your school complies with the legal mandates. However, until you actually prepare to place your child into another education institution, such as a university or public school, the grades you keep are actually only meaningful to you. Since events arise which can suddenly alter even the best plans, you should at the very least keep records of the assignments you have given and the children’s corresponding activities. Once your child enters the upper grades, you should also keep records of your child’s major projects and accomplishments.
What about extracurricular activities?
Depending on whether you live in a metropolitan or rural area, the number and variety of extracurricular activities available will differ tremendously. In the larger metropolitan areas, you will be able to find choral groups, ensembles, ballets, drama teams, debate tournaments, and sporting opportunities. In smaller and rural areas, your options will be somewhat more limited; however, you may actually be able to enroll your child in some private or parochial school activities, especially if they are small enough to have difficulty filling the available positions.
What about socialization?
Most homeschool children are very active in a wide variety of activities outside of their home, including their church, music, sports, and scouting programs. The few homeschoolers who don’t naturally receive sufficient opportunities can create alternatives, including neighborhood or civic involvement, club enrollment, or specialty ministries. Generally, however, homeschool children receive completely adequate socialization.
When is the best time to start?
Naturally, the best time to start your home school is just before your first child would normally enter into the formal education system. However, as a parent and resident of Georgia, you are free to start your home school at any time. You can start your home school, including disenrolling your child from the public school, anytime during the normal school year.
The above information is from the Georgia Homeschool Education Association (GHEA) website. For more info about GHEA , go to http://www.ghea.org.