Public School Distance Learning
How to get started with homeschool
- Homeschooling in Iowa
- There are a range of options in Iowa, with varying levels of support and accountability from the public school system
- Teaching math, science, social studies, reading and language arts are required for all of the options.
- The packet from the Iowa Department of Education at this link is the most authoritative and comprehensive source for discussing the differences between the different options and the filing and reporting requirements.
- Homeschool Iowa is a state-level organization available for more support
- You do not have to file a form or meet with the public school system to homeschool in Iowa (at time of writing this post--always check the current state law as it can change, and consult a legal professional if you are unsure of the current rules) to begin homeschooling.
- Homeschooling in Nebraska
- Nebraska has a pretty streamlined homeschool program, and you normally have to file a letter of intent by July 15th, although exceptions are sometimes made, so basically, file as soon as you know you want to homeschool and see if you can make it work!
- The official information from the state of Nebraska is here.
- The Nebraska Homeschool Association and Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association are also great resources.
- Homeschooling in South Dakota
- South Dakota has filing and testing requirements for homeschooling families.
- Teaching math and language arts are required for all homeschooling families.
- South Dakota forms and official info on homeschooling are found here.
Choosing a curriculum or learning plan
- Choose a full curriculum
- There are many companies that sell full homeschool curriculums, often running $500-1000+ per child per year. This tends to be the most expensive option, but also the easiest, as it has everything laid out for you, leaving very little planning to be done by the parent! These can be paper/book based or online based! Many are faith based, so be sure to research the religious affiliations and doctrines of a curriculum carefully if that is something important to your family to intentionally include or avoid!
- Timberdoodle, Abeka, the Good and the Beautiful, and Classical Conversations are some of the most popular homeschool curriculums offering a full comprehensive program.
- Combine several programs
- This is a common option as well, and a great thing about it is that it allows you to teach each subject at the level and method your child learns best. For example, you might want a hands-on science curriculum from one company and a story based history program from another company and a reading program from a third company at an entirely different grade level! A disadvantage is that this requires the parents to be more conscientious in making sure all essential topics are covered and that they do the time management to get it all done in the course of a year.
- Many textbook companies will sell to homeschooling families, so if you are planning to homeschool just for this semester or this school year or two until COVID-19 is over, it might even be worth looking for the same textbooks your child's school uses!
- Create your own
- Homeschooling is really flexible, and it doesn't actually have to include textbooks or curriculums at all. As long as you are teaching all of the required subjects, you can be as creative as you want. You can use online programs like Khan Academy for math and take art classes at the art center for art and use a workbook you liked on Amazon for grammar etc.
- This is the most difficult method for planning, but can also be the most rewarding as you can tailor it exactly to your family's needs! Just make sure you are covering all required subjects! It can also be the least expensive, as you use free community resources like museums and nature centers and library books as extensively as you would like!
- Unschooling is even less formal and more controversial; however some kids excel with this type of homeschooling, especially kids who are very self motivated and old enough to make effective use of online and library materials. If you choose unschooling, you still have to teach all the required subjects and meet state law requirements, so it might be difficult to reconcile those.
Set up your classroom
This is the most fun part! Make sure your kids have a comfortable, well-lit area to do school work in. But beyond that, the sky's the limit! One thing my kids love is clipboards, so they can take their work to a comfy couch or a picnic blanket under a tree or wherever else they want to be. For older kids who will keep them tidy, a lap desk is also a fun option.
For younger kids, I recommend getting a big bulletin board so you can do a calendar and weather time at the beginning of the day. An easel is also great as it makes a clear designated place to do messy art (I keep mine outside!) and painting on a vertical surface develops slightly different skills than working on a horizontal surface like a table or clipboard, and that's great for kids brains!
The school/office/craft supplies you need will vary a lot depending on your curriculum and enrichment activities, so your list will vary, but I like to always keep on hand:
- Construction paper
- Watercolor paper
- Copy paper
- Colored pencils
- Glue sticks
- Glitter glue
- Popsicle sticks
- Pipe cleaners
- Foam shapes, sequins, and other pretty things to sort or glue to other things
- FOCUS, Christian homeschool group
- Homeschoolers of Siouxland Facebook group
- Classical Conversations, Christian homeschool group with chapters in Sioux City, South Sioux City, Yankton, and Sioux Falls, based on the Classical Conversations homeschool curriculum
- Our Way of Learning homeschool group (Sioux Falls area), secular homeschool group
- Sioux Empire Christian Home Educators (Sioux Falls area), Christian homeschool group
- Local YouTube channel Molding our Monkeys discusses homeschooling!
- Nebraska blogger Gretchen Garrison from Odyssey Through Nebraska has been a homeschooling mom for more than a decade and is super nice, so I highly recommend reaching out if you have Nebraska specific questions for her!
- My favorite circle time online is Monica J Sutton's YouTube channel. She posts a new one everyday!
- And of course, I try to post tons of local learning events in my group, the Siouxland Family Friendly Events group on Facebook, so if you don't already, please join the group and like my page so you see them all in your newsfeed!