Sunday, February 20, 2011

Homeschooling in Utah 101

My girls in some of their "back to school clothes."

I don't claim to be an expert.  I am just trying my best.  Some days are good, some great....others not so good.  The reason for this post:  I often get asked How to get started in homeschooling.  Some of the information is Utah specific, but most can be adapted and used in any state.

HOMESCHOOLING 101 (by Mindy)

I love homeschooling because it gives us such flexibility. We can do school any time during the day. We can take vacations whenever we want. Aubrey missed the deadline and is a grade behind most kids her age, so I have actually been able to get her a grade ahead. Also, I can teach and explain things until I know they understand where in the public school, they have to move on (also, if they get the concept quickly, we can move on). There is rarely homework because we do everything during the day. So we have our evenings together as a family. I remember how mean kids were in school and that is another reason we homeschool. We still have MANY field trips and activities that we do with other homeschooling families. They get lots of social activities that way. There are TONS of yahoo groups that you can join. Some of my favorites are:  (This is the group I own and do all the planning).

There are TONS and TONS of homeschool groups that you can find for wherever you live. We always have lots of fieldtrips and get GREAT discounts for homeschool groups. Get signed up on these boards and get involved with the different groups. These are great support groups as well as great places to ask questions and get ideas.

We still get to participate in the pizza hut book it program.

We also get a HUGE discount at LEGOLAND!!

And the subway fitness program 

http://www.subwayki classroom/ RandomActsOfFitn ess.aspx

We take field trips to Great Harvest bread, Sweet Candy company, Thanksgiving point, Clark Planetarium, Wheeler Farm and Farnsworth Farms.  We also have TONS of holiday parties.


I have read TONS and TONS of books about homeschooling. My favorites are:

What your _______ grader needs to know (they have all grades...even Kindergarten, etc.)
Homeschool your child for free. By Gold and Zielinski
The ultimate book of homeschooling ideas. By Linda dobson
Homeschooling step by step. By Gold and Zielinski
Essential Homeschooling. By Sherri Linsenbach

These books have great ideas of how to make your homeschooling work. It gives ideas of how to make it work when you have several ages that you are doing together. The things that I have found work well is I have some toys for Rachel to play with and I also have her pack n' play that I keep in my “school room” and when Rachel gets to “busy” I will let her play in the pack n' play. I do most of my 1 on 1 when Rachel naps. When she is up we cover topics that I can do with both of them (history/ geography, Social studies, arts, crafts, music, etc.) When we get into math and language and letters and the ones that I have to do one on one teaching, I do that while Rachel naps and I can dedicate all my attention to teaching.

The subjects that we cover are:
Letters (Phonics)*
History & Geography*
Health & Manners*
Spelling & Poetry*
Community people (social studies)*
Reading & Writing
Art & Music

We don't do all of these subjects every day. We do math, reading, language, writing every day....and do the others on different days along with the core subjects.  Sometimes we will just do a "unit" study and focus on JUST one of the "extra" subjects.

I use Abeka curriculum for all the subjects that have the * symbol. The arts and crafts, I just have some books of ideas and I also have an art appreciation book. For the Reading and writing, etc, I use a method called “The Writing Road to Reading” by Romalda Bishop Spalding. This method is FABULOUS! It takes some reading and planning on the teachers (parents) part to get the concept and figure out what your doing, but it is the BEST reading program ever. I have a set of beginning readers by EPS (Educators Publishing Service) called Primary Phonics.

There are other programs (Christian Libery Acadamy) that you can do the upper grades for and get High School credit (diploma) for. John knows more about that than I do. Let me know if you have any questions about that.

For the state of Utah, the only requirements are:

To educate your child at home, you must submit a signed affidavit each year to your school district. By submitting the affidavit, you are informing the school district that your child will attend a home school and receive instruction
  • in the subjects the State Board of Education requires to be taught in public schools in accordance with law, and
  • for the same length of time as children in public schools (180 days per year - 990 hours, 810 hours for first grade).

The Annual Exemption Process
The law states that you must submit your affidavit annually. Although the law doesn't dictate the time of year, this is usually done during the summer months.
The annual exemption process is very simple:
  1. Provide an affidavit.
  2. Get your affidavit notarized.
  3. Deliver your affidavit to your school district (by mail or by hand).
  4. Wait to receive your certificate of exemption from the school district.

Provide an Affidavit

Utah law allows you to submit your own affidavit. So, you are not required to use an affidavit provided by your school district. Although many school districts provide sample affidavits for you to use, we recommend that you provide your own or use one of the sample affidavits below.
Creating Your Own Affidavit
Creating your own homeschooling affidavit is not difficult. You can simply write a letter indicating that your child will attend a home school and receive instruction as required by law. That's it.
To avoid having your child's information made available in directory listings, you might consider adding a phrase indicating that you don't allow that (see the sample affidavits).
Sample Affidavits
The sample affidavits below can give you an idea of what a homeschooling affidavit looks like. You may use these sample affidavits or create your own. The first is an affidavit written in letter format; the latter is written as a form.
 Download Sample Affidavit Letter (printable version)

 Download Sample Affidavit Letter (editable version)

 Download Sample Affidavit Form (printable version)

 Download Sample Affidavit Form (editable version)

A Note About Using District Forms
If you choose to use an affidavit provided by your school district, be sure to carefully read the affidavit before signing it. Some school district forms may ask for information that is not required by law. For example, they may ask the reason you are educating your child at home, the curriculum you are using, etc. You are not required to provide this information. If you disagree with any of the language on the district's form, you can simply cross it out.

Get Your Affidavit Notarized

In Utah, an affidavit is required to be notarized. After you have created your affidavit, take it to a notary. Be sure to not sign your affidavit until you are before the notary. For free notary services, try your credit union or bank. Many cities provide free notary services too.

Deliver Your Affidavit to Your School District

Once your affidavit is notarized, either mail it to your school district or deliver it by hand. Be sure to make a copy of the notarized, signed affidavit for your records. When sending your affidavit by mail, you might consider sending it by certified mail to ensure that it gets there.

Wait to Receive Your Certificate of Exemption

Within 30 days of receiving your signed affidavit, your school district is required by law to issue you a certificate stating that your child is excused from attendance. Your school district cannot tell you no. Most school districts' certificates of exemption expire in June of each year.

Utah doesn't make you prove your hours or keep records or do standard testing. This is really nice! Some states are really sticky about that! I still do keep records though. I get the free teachers planning books from Lakeshore and I put my topics along the top and then I write what we do each day in each subject. It provides me with proof and it shows what we did for the year and I can reference it for the next child.

A GREAT website is:
It is the Utah Home Education Association website

Typical Course of Study and curriculum

As a source of information, World Book offers the results of ongoing research into curriculum requirements and standards. The learning levels include preschool through grade 12.

I spend about $100 on the Abeka books each year for each grade...but some of them can be reused by the next child so each following child will cost less. It doesn't have to cost that much either, you can get less if you are able to come up with the curriculum and ideas on your own. (you do save money by not having to buy all the “back to school clothes, backpacks, new/ namebrand stuff, etc)

Email me with any other questions you have and I would love to help you!


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