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Writing a Cover Letter for Homeschooling

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A cover letter is optional for sending your notification letter to the superintendent when you are notifying. However, it is a nice idea and the person who is receiving your papers can see what you have included in your packet of information. Here is a sample of what that might look like.

Homeschool Family

123 Street Name

Anytown, OH 45000

Superintendent Smith

123 Street Name

Anytown, OH 45000

 

Dear Superintendent Smith,

This is to inform you that we will be homeschooling our child___name of student____, for the 20__-20__ school year. Attached are the following documents: the Home Notification Form, a list of the intended textbooks and curricula we are using, and list of the intended topics we will be studying.

Sincerely,

Your Name

No other information is needed to send to the superintendent unless you homeschooled last year. Which in that case, you will need to either send in test results from a nationally standardized test, or have a written portfolio form signed by an Ohio certified teacher (such as myself), or some other option that has already been approved by the superintendent. An example of that would be a certified teacher from a different state.

Have a terrific school year!

~Lisa

Completing the Home Education Notification Form

photoIt’s nearly time for school to begin! You may be wondering, “How do I  let the school know I am going to homeschool?”

In order to home school here in the great state of Ohio, you must submit the necessary paperwork in order for your child(ren) to be excused from compulsory attendance. The notification form can seem a bit intimidating, but once you have gone through this step-by-step explanation you will realize it wasn’t too difficult afterall. Please have the Notification Form form in front of you for reference. This is not legal advice- please contact HSLDA or a state/local home school organization if you have questions.

A. This is just the introduction- no need to put anything here.

(1) Fill in the upcoming school year- for example if you are going to teach your child in the fall you would write the current school year.

(2) Write your name and address. There is no need for you to fill in your telephone number.

(3) If you are not going to be teaching your child the majority of their school work, then you will need to list the person’s name here. For instance, if you work and your mother is going to do the teaching, you would list her name and address. The phone number is not needed.

(4) Full name and birthdate of your student(s) is listed here. Grade level is not necessary.

(5) Put a check mark on the line that shows you will be providing an education in each of these subject areas.

(6) Place a check mark on the line for the outline of intended curriculum.You have the freedom to change your mind once school begins. The school just wants to see that you have planned what you will be doing. You want to have a list of the concepts/ topics you intend to cover for the year. Please see an example of what I have submitted in years past  Each person’s list will look different based upon what you have planned. Each year will most likely look different as well. I suggest you have broad categories as this will give you the freedom to choose several types of curriculum should one not work out as you had planned. Here are examples for you to see: Elementary Intended Course of Study  High School Intended Couse of Study

(7) Check this line. Be sure to include a list of books, DVD’s and other curriculum that you intend to use for the year.  Titles of library books that I intend to use are listed here because I know that we will be using those for school.  Again, if the curriculum is not working out, you may choose something different during your school year. Here are two examples of what I have sent in previous years. Elementary Intended Curriculum   High School Intended Curriculum . I also have another blog post that gives you more specific details if you need clarification for lines 6 and 7.  outline of topics and curriculum

(8) Check this line with confidence! We all educate our children beyond the 900 hours the state requires. Education is not only limited to sit-down-at-the-table time and bookwork. This includes co-ops, playing outside (physical education), helping watch brothers and sisters (health- family life, safety), going to a library program (language arts, science, social studies, etc.), going grocery shopping (math, health), participating in a local park program (science), symphonies and plays (fine arts),etc. I documented these activities in my lesson plans by writing what we did.

(9) Check this line because you are qualified to educate your child(ren),but read this section to make sure you do meet the  qualifications to be able to home educate your child(ren).

(10) Lastly, sign your form that signifies that you have completed it and will abide by the requirements that were stated on the notification form.

Many people include a cover letter stating their intention to home school and a list of all the paperwork that is being included. If this is your first year to home school you do not need any type of evaluation (portfolio assessment or standardized test). This will be added after your first year is completed.

Congratulations! You have completed the form you and are that much closer to officially home schooling!

This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer, nor have I played the part of one. 

Notifying your School District

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Notifying the school district is quickly approaching! Here is an explanation from Home School Legal Defense in regards to notifying the school district. Please read carefully since the law changed in 2014.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

We have received numerous inquiries related to a recent homeschool law change in Ohio. Although you are not required to send your notice of intent over the summer we know many do, since, while there is no deadline for notification, we generally suggest that the notification be submitted by the start of school in your district.

Ohio homeschool law (Revised Code Section 3321.04) formerly required homeschool families to notify the “city or exempted village school district or the educational service center.” However, the law has been amended to read that the notification should be sent to the “superintendent of the school district in which the child resides.”

This means that homeschool families who previously notified their educational service centers or county superintendent must now notify their local school district’s superintendent instead. Please ensure you are sending your notification and assessments to the correct address for this coming year.

If you need help with filling out the Home Education Notification Form, please see my post called Filling Out the Notification Form.

This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play the part of a lawyer in any capacity. 🙂 If in doubt or you have a legal question, contact Home School Legal Defense.

Portfolio Review Time!

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You are almost finished with school! Yippee! Now what do you need to do to continue homeschooling next year? Here in Ohio you will need to have your child’s academic progress assessed. This can be done through a portfolio review (also known as a written narrative) or taking a standardized test. Since I have a portfolio review business, I am going to concentrate on this.

There are many advantages to portfolio reviews. I have listed what I think are the most common reasons.

  • If you have a child who is not yet reading or fluency and speed are being developed, a portfolio review is an excellent option to testing.
  • Perhaps you have a “Wiggly One” who has not been used to sitting for a long period of time, written narratives are perfect for them!
  • Many homeschool curricula doesn’t follow the typical public school academic courses and of study or Common Core so what your child has studied will not be tested that particular year.
  • The time is much shorter than testing. 30 minutes is all the time we need, while testing takes between 3-9 hours, depending upon the test.
  • You can use this form of assessment throughout all of your scholar’s academic career (senior high too).
  • It is affordable. My fees are $40.00 for each student. I will give you the state required form needed to continue homeschooling and I also send you an electronic feedback form that is for your own personal reference.
  • It is perfect for students who have special needs. I have tutored ASD students and I have also had several families come for reviews.
  • If you are an unschooler or don’t use textbooks, portfolio reviews (written narratives) allow you to showcase your academic year.
  • I only need to see and evaluate work samples, not your student, so there is no stress to your child being interviewed or quizzed.
  • I successfully homeschooled and graduated my own children. 🙂

If you are new to the portfolio review process and would like detailed information concerning this option please read the post, Understanding Portfolio Reviews under my Portfolio Review Tab that I believe will be especially helpful.

Please email me at schoolmarmohio@me.com to set up an appointment if you live in the Cincinnati area. I have some evening appointments if day appointments are not possible. I have a NEW Option for anyone who can’t come to my house or meet me at a nearby coffee shop because of distance or an extenuating circumstance. I am offering Skype appointments. If you are interested in this option please let me know when you email me.

I look forward to meeting with you,

~ Lisa

9oo Hours

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When you first read the Home Education Notification Form that you need to provide 900 hours of home education you might have had visions of your precious child sitting at a hard wooden desk for 8 hours. Maybe your thought was, “How are we supposed to do that?”

The good news is that you do not need to spend those 900 hours only doing schoolwork at a desk and reading monotonous textbooks. Although, using an interesting textbook is an excellent way to learn. 🙂 Home Education takes place each day, all day long. You are instructing your children throughout the day.  Discussing the importance of taking a bath, brushing teeth, and eating a well-balanced breakfast all are part of a health curriculum since these are components of hygiene and nutrition. Receiving an allowance; deciding on a plan for saving money to purchase something; tithing; and saving a portion of it are areas of math that are not necessarily covered in a textbook; but are essential to teach our children how to manage their money. Keeping toys picked up, not touching a hot stove, discussing and practicing how to get out of your home in case of a fire or an emergency are all part of a safety curriculum. All of these activities help to reinforce and enhance what you are studying.

One time I was telling the boys about how sound carries better if you cup your hands around your mouth and shout. Well, of course, we had to go outside and prove that idea. I couldn’t just have them go outside and yell, I decided to incorporate stranger safety into the activity as well. One son was on our play set slide while the other son was on a swing, each yelling “help” and kicking their legs with all of their might.  It didn’t occur to me until well into the activity that someone might really think the boys were actually in trouble. Fortunately, no one was around to witness this event except me.

So, how do you go about making sure that you have covered 900 hours of home instruction? If you take a typical school year, which is approximately 180 days and you divide into 900 you will arrive at 5 hours. This means you would provide instruction for your student a schedule of Monday through Friday beginning at 8:00 (if you are an early bird) and finishing at 1:30 with a 30 minute break for lunch.  Of course, you can begin and end school with the schedule that works best for your family.

Many families go on school-related outings on the weekends with things such as park programs with a naturalist (science), participating in sporting events such as a soccer team (physical education), going to a museum (history, art) or going on vacations and identifying birds, wildflowers, seashells (social studies,science), etc.

I created an attendance sheet that was Sunday through Saturday since we had several weekend events and field trips. You can keep track of the number of days you are homeschooling and have a record of that to put in your lesson plan book or school binder. Days add up quickly and you will find you easily meet the required hours of home instruction.

Am I advocating you sit around and watch cartoons, eat 3 bowls of ice cream and call that home education? No, I am not. You need to be purposeful in your home instruction and plan your school year, which includes all of the subjects listed on the Home Education Notification Form. You can watch cartoons and eat one scoop of ice cream in your free time. 🙂 You can, however,  make your school practical and fun while teaching your children; that is one of the benefits of home education. Educating our children doesn’t stop when we put away the school books.

If you are in need of a calendar to plan school and extra curricular activities there are many free printable calendars available. Some you can even edit, which is a nice feature.  I marked the calendar date with a diagonal line through the date if it was just a half day (such as a weekend) or an x for a full day. This is a website I have used over the years and i just type right on the calendar and print it off. Easy! To view, CLICK HERE.

This is not legal advice. It is my opinion. I am not a lawyer, have not studied law, nor do I play the role of an actor in any play or motion picture. 🙂 Please consult your local homeschool group, CHEO, or HSLDA if you are in need of legal advice.