by Amy Pass, MHA Board Secretary
So, you’re wondering how to get started homeschooling? First of all, welcome to the community of Minnesota homeschoolers! With over 27,000 homeschoolers in our state, our community is alive and strong! Let’s begin with some basic information to get you started.
There are a few primary legal requirements for homeschooling in MN:
- For students between the ages of 7 and 17: Submit a Letter of Intent to Homeschool to the superintendent of the school district where the student lives by October 1st of each school year OR within 15 days of withdrawing your child from school.
- A listing of school districts and superintendents can be found on the MN Department of Eduaction website here: http://w20.education.state.mn.us/MdeOrgView/districts/superintendentsDistricts
- Forms can be found on our website here: http://homeschoolers.org/homeschooling-info/mn-homeschooling-laws-forms/reporting/
- For students between the ages of 7 and 17: Have your child take one standardized test each school year (even if you withdrew in the middle of the year and they already did standardized testing in school). Options for testing can be found here: http://hsadventures.org/homeschool-testing. You do not need to report test results. Tests are for your record-keeping and planning.
- For all students: Teach the required subjects. In MN these are:
- (1) basic communication skills including reading and writing, literature, and fine arts;
- (2) mathematics and science;
- (3) social studies including history, geography, and government; and
- (4) health and physical education.
The statutes do not specify how these subjects should be taught.
- For all students: Keep records. In the state of MN, homeschools are considered “non-public” or private schools. This means that you, as the parent, award credits, track progress, write a transcript, and graduate your student (if you homeschool all the way through high school). There are many different ways to do this, and the methods are about as diverse as the homeschool community. Record-keeping might include portfolios, photos, and written records. Parents of high school students might use college entrance requirements as a guideline for what materials to cover. Some use state standards, and still others create their own standards based on their child’s future plans. Basic info on record-keeping can be found at our website here: http://homeschoolers.org/homeschooling-info/mn-homeschooling-laws-forms/record-keeping/
One frequently asked question is who can homeschool a student in the state of MN. The law states this fairly simply. According to MN Law 120A.22:
A person who is providing instruction to a child must meet at least one of the following requirements:
(1) hold a valid Minnesota teaching license in the field and for the grade level taught;
(2) be directly supervised by a person holding a valid Minnesota teaching license;
(3) successfully complete a teacher competency examination;
(4) provide instruction in a school that is accredited by an accrediting agency, recognized according to section 123B.445, or recognized by the commissioner;
(5) hold a baccalaureate degree; or
(6) be the parent of a child who is assessed according to the procedures in subdivision 11.
It is a common misconception that students with special needs cannot be homeschooled. In fact, many families choose to homeschool specifically to meet the special needs of their child. Homeschooling works the same for special needs children as for anyone else. Since the parent is the also the teacher, they know what works best for their child and are able to implement a teaching style and routine that accommodates their child. The only difference is that the school district is required to continue to provide services to a student with an IEP if requested by the family. School districts can vary on how they handle continuing IEPs. The best place to ask questions or learn about the experiences of other families is to email MHA and ask for our Special Needs Coordinator or join the Minnesota Community of Special Needs Homeschoolers Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1610417495881542
Part of the homeschooling journey is finding your community. There are several places to begin finding your tribe:
- Minnesota Homeschoolers Alliance has a very active facebook community here: https://www.facebook.com/mnhomeschoolers/. People use the Facebook page to ask questions about curriculum, testing, schedules, etc., and to find other homeschoolers in their area.
- Our partner organization, Homeschool Adventures, has listings of field trips and events, co-ops, lessons, testing options, and a host of other resources: http://hsadventures.org/
- Minnesota Homeschoolers Alliance hosts a number of events each year where you can learn more about homeschooling and meet other homeschool families. You can stay informed about upcoming events by signing up for the e-newsletter on the right sidebar of our website here: http://homeschoolers.org/
Choosing your approach to homeschooling and/or curriculum is a much broader topic and covering all of the options is beyond the scope of this post. However, as someone who is just getting started, you might consider checking out this excellent blog post at The Homeschool Mom on types and styles of homeschooling: https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschooling-styles/
Some places to read about curriculum are:
Remember, homeschooling is a journey. You don’t have to decide everything all at once. You might try several methods or types of curriculum before finding something that works best for you. Every family and every child is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Take some time to find what works best for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and, above all, enjoy this time with your children! This is your adventure!