a rare photo with me in it
Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.
As you read this, I’ll be in the middle of my first official week of homeschooling my son. We have been homeschooling for the past few years, but now that he has turned six, we’re required by law to declare our intent to homeschool. I’ll also have to submit attendance forms once a year starting at the end of this year.
The law recently changed, so all homeschoolers in Georgia will be reporting directly to the Department of Education (GaDOE) instead of their local school district. The GaDOE has some simple online forms on their website, and the other night it took me less than five minutes to submit my declaration of intent online. It could not have been easier.
Some homeschoolers are not happy with the online form because it requires us to give our child’s birthdate while the law states that we only have to report our child’s age. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the GaDOE should be updating their form to reflect this, but that remains to be seen.
Currently the attendance form is a monthly form instead of a yearly form. I e-mailed the GaDOE to ask about that, and I was told they would be changing it to a yearly form shortly. (UPDATE 9/6/2012: I checked the GaDOE website, and a yearly form has been posted.) I’m not surprised that since this is all new there are some kinks to smooth out. In recent years there have been over 107,000 homeschooled students in Georgia, so the GaDOE will probably hear from some unhappy families, if not.
For me, now that my form is turned in, it’s an exciting week. I’ve been telling my son that “school starts next week,” but after clarifying that I meant “home school” and not real school, he didn’t seem too impressed. Perhaps it’s anticlimactic because as a homeschooler, he’s always in school. We do a lot of educational activities that he thinks is just plain fun.
Starting anew is more for me as I once again begin to keep track of exactly what he’s doing and plan a more structured routine. We had a nice routine last year, and I had planned to keep it going through the summer, but as a friend said to me, the summer has it’s own “time sucking vortex,” and I decided we needed a break from all things planned. More than that, I needed a break from keeping track of how my son’s natural curiosity moves us through most topics in a typical course of study for his age.
The most important subjects we’ll tackle are reading and math. We’ll start the morning off with either a reading or math lesson. At six years old, my son is still pretty squirmy and more interested in playing, but I think he’s old enough to understand that we have to get things done.
After a formal lesson, we’ll spend most of the morning on a project that will be multi-disciplinary. As he gets older he’ll be able to pick his projects, but for now, I’m directing most of them. I think he’ll like my choices, though, especially a project we’ll be doing on ants, and I’ll be sure to write about it when we’re all finished.
There will also be days that we go to science classes or spend an afternoon with friends. Field trips with daddy are sure to happen, and both my boys will learn the basics of housekeeping and shopping. That’s a side effect of homeschooling, but a good one.
We’ll also get back to doing book time, library visits, and I’ll try to throw in a short and easy preschool lesson for the three-year-old. It’ll be a challenge to get anything done with my littlest boy present, and I really don’t know how any of this will pan out.
The three-year-old loves to draw, so I’m hoping he might be satisfied with a little box of art projects he can do while I’m working with my older son. I’m also hoping to teach him how to use a gentle touch with our iPod Touch, which was a handy, educational tool that my eldest mastered at two years old. For some reason, my younger son is all thumbs with it, but I’ve noticed he’s gotten better lately.
I’m sure there will be bumps on the road, but hopefully we’ll settle into a routine like we did last year. Now that we’re official homeschoolers, it will definitely be a test for mama to see if this lifestyle will be worth the effort.
Please come back and I promise to tell you how this homeschooling journey turns out! Meanwhile, please share your “back to homeschool” stories in the comments section.