In Oklahoma our right to homeschool is written into the State Constitution. We are not governed by the State Department of Education and therefore there is no one we must "register with", no department we must report to, and nowhere to sign the kids up to start homeschooling.
If your child is currently enrolled in school you may withdraw them at any time, which is important if you want to avoid any future charges of truancy. To officially withdraw your child, inform the principal of the school, in writing. It is in your best interests to keep the letter brief, as shown in this sample withdrawal letter (pdf). No "homeschooling form" or registration of any kind is required by law. It isn't necessary to notify the school if your children have never been enrolled in your school district.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on to finding our way down this new and sometimes overwhelming path of homeschooling our children. I'm a list maker by nature so I find making a list to be the simplest way of covering the topics that are most important for helping a new homeschooler find their way.
1) Educate yourself on the laws in our state. That's done easily enough by reading our Oklahoma Homeschooling Laws page. We've summarized the information to simplify the reading while leaving links to source documents in case you'd like to read all the legal jargon. Since we are required to provide an education "equivalent in fact to that afforded by the state", you may find it useful to read the Priority Academic Student Skills document on the State Department of Education's website.
2) Learn as much as you can about homeschooling. You can do this by,
reading our FAQs,
meeting with other homeschooling families, joining a local homeschooling support
group and reading books on homeschooling. We make this easy for you by
maintaining a list of
Oklahoma homeschooling support groups, as well as sponsoring
email support groups,
and by recommending great homeschooling books.
3) Learn about different homeschooling styles.
There are as many styles of homeschooling as there are families doing it.
It is easier to understand if you think of homeschooling as a spectrum, with one
end representing very relaxed "unschooling" and the other representing very
structured "school-at-home". There are many styles in between and
lots of families are eclectic, using some parts of several styles to make up
their own individualized style. That's the beauty in homeschooling, being
able to tailor it to suit your needs, the needs of each individual learner and
even to change throughout the year as you find your way along this new path.
It is important to realize that homeschooling is more about the journey than
about reaching a certain destination as quickly as possible.
4) Learn about various learning styles.
How do you learn best? Does your child learn best the same way or is
he/she a different type of learner? Learn how to meld your style with
their style, so that everyone comes out with the best end result. If your
child is a hands-on kinesthetic learner, and you are trying to teach them
everything by learning out of a text book in a visual styles, then both of you
are very likely to wind up frustrated, frustrated with the subject, frustrated
with each other and frustrated with homeschooling. Taking a little bit of
time to learn about learning styles can really help to smooth the way for both
educational curriculum and resources. Give more attention to the types
of materials that suit your learning style and chosen path, ignore the rest.
Read curriculum reviews and ask other families using it what they like as well
as what they don't like. Try one thing at a time. Don't feel like you've
got to buy the whole lock, stock and barrel, though many new homeschoolers feel
more secure starting with a full curriculum and then gradually customize it as
they get to know what fits and what needs to be tailored to their needs. A
particular resource may not be the right choice for your family and you
shouldn't feel guilty about that. It may however be the perfect choice for
another homeschooling family. To each his and her own, and happy
homeschooling to all.
6) Create your personal plan. Don't hold yourself so strictly to the
plan that you fail to be flexible when you need it most. Track your
progress whether is it checked-off lists, a portfolio of achievements or just a
photo album of what you've been doing along the way. Being able to look
back and see what you've tried, what works as well as what doesn't, is a real
Hover your mouse over the book image for more information
Linda Dobson's Homeschooling Book of Answers is the ultimate question and answer book for homeschoolers. A compilation of wise thoughts from a wide variety of noted homeschool experts. An "outside the box" view of homeschooling and unschooling.
The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start, by Linda Dobson.
Linda shares homeschool approaches, learning styles, myths about homeschooling, "what I wish I had known" tips, first year hurdles, and a special "week in the life" section that lets you peek in on real families homeschooling.
The Homeschooling Handbook, (revised 2nd edition) by Mary Griffith. A thorough and inclusive introductory book for homeschooling. If you're only going to read one homeschooling book, make it this one! Highly recommended for beginning homeschoolers.
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling (3rd Edition) by Debra Bell. A very balanced overview of homeschooling, focusing on the basics as well as college preparation.
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, by Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore Raymond and Dorothy Moore are referred to by some as the "parents of modern homeschooling." This handbook addresses preventing and alleviating homeschool stress; waiting for children to be developmentally ready to learn rather than forcing a learning timetable; volunteering and service as important learning tasks; standardized testing; learning the basics; and a few examples of effective homeschooling families.
Home-Style Teaching: A Handbook for Parents and Teachers, by Raymond & Dorothy Moore Raymond and Dorothy Moore reveal: how to begin teaching at home; teaching secrets not commonly practiced, such as making reading easy and re-motivating a burned-out child; how to teach thinking and writing; your child's best socializer; readiness and the truth about super-babies.
The Relaxed Home School: A Family Production, by Mary Hood
A book for parents who are seeking a more "user friendly" approach to homeschooling than the "school-at-home" approach. Explains a version of unschooling from a Christian perspective.
Home School: Taking the First Step, by Borg Hendrickson A guide to homeschooling, written by a high school teacher. This book advises freeing your children from a "schoolish" education and helping them take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities offered by life.
Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School, by Rebecca Rupp If you are looking for a guide to tell you what your child should learn when, you may be interested in this book. Also discusses pros and cons of different methods of homeschooling, from school-at-home to unschooling.
Complete Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling, by Marsha Ransom For information specific to Oklahoma, you can't beat the HERO website you're looking at now. If you're looking for the most basic, general information on homeschooling and you want to read it in bed rather than online, this is your book.
Homeschooling for Dummies, by Jennifer Kaufeld Like the Complete Idiot's Guide above, this offers basic information on homeschooling.
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Revised and Updated Edition, by Susan Wise Bauer How to give your child an academically rigorous, comprehensive education from preschool through high school.
Trust the Children: A Manual and Activity Guide for Homeschooling and Alternative Learning, by Anna Kealoha
Kealoha emphasizes fostering a love of learning and self-motivation. This book is an excellent resource for homeschoolers.
Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School, by Grace Llewellyn Want your child to develop a lifelong love of learning? Grace and Amy show how parents can keep the joy in learning by respecting and encouraging natural curiosity and interests, and by removing forced learning and arbitrary learning timetables. Practical advice for incorporating fresh ideas about education.