Indiana is a great state in which to home educate students. Home educating families appreciate the freedoms and flexibility that homeschooling offers. Learning together, families love the special bond that is created within the home. Home education in Indiana gives students an excellent knowledge of academic subjects and prepares children to be extraordinary adults.
The Indiana homeschool law states the following-
1. The Indiana homeschool is considered a non-accredited private school.
2. Beginning in the fall of the school year in which the child turns seven (or earlier if enrolled in your private school) until the child turns 18 or graduates, your child must attend school for the same number of days public schools are in session. Generally, that is 180 days each year.
3. Attendance records must be kept and may be requested by the state superintendent or the local public school superintendent to verify attendance. Therefore it is recommended that you keep your attendance record separate from your weekly lesson plans.
4. The child is to be taught in the English language.
5. A private school administrator shall furnish upon request of the state superintendent of public instruction, the number of children by grade level attending the school. This request should be an individual request and not a blanket announcement such as the one on the Indiana Department of Education’s website to the public at large. Please understand that this is not a registration form or a request to homeschool but it’s a form to report that you have a private school with students enrolled in your school.
6. The child must be provided with instruction equivalent to that given in public schools, but the State Board of Education is not given the authority to define “equivalent instruction” nor to approve of homeschools. In fact the law has removed all subject requirements, leaving the homeschools without any mandatory subjects.
Home education takes commitment. Please pray and research home education before you withdraw your children from the traditional school or begin to school at home. Talk to other home educators, learn the state law, read books on the topic of homeschooling, and shop for curriculum. (You will find resources that are helpful at the end of this article.) Please seek God’s wisdom and educate yourself before you decide to home educate.
Home education takes money to purchase school curriculum and supplies, and to cover activity fees. Usually curriculum costs are approximately $400.00 a year per child. More money if the teacher desires the curriculum to do more of the teaching and planning; less money if the teacher is willing to give more of her time to prep and teach each subject.
Home education takes time. Although students must be educated the same number of days as the public schools, each private school may choose the days and times that their school will be in session and record it on their school’s attendance record. Usually the bookwork in the early grades can be done in 1-2 hours per day, but as the child grows older it takes more time, about 4-5 hours a day. It is important that parents consider the time required to educating their children.
Should you decide to home educate, discussing with your spouse what your approach to homeschooling will be is the next thing to do before purchasing curriculum and starting your school year. Make a list of why you both wish to home educate and what goals you would like your children to achieve this year and in the years to follow. Not only will this list include the basic academic objectives but it should also include character goals and basic life skills, such as budgeting and maintaining the house and cars.
Sometimes home educators get discouraged and lose track of their goals; therefore having a vision will help to keep your family going in the day-to-day tasks of what is required. As new home educators, it may seem easy to read many how-to homeschooling books and then become overwhelmed by the variety of advice offered in the books, but don’t allow them to overwhelm you. Spending time around other people who share your vision can keep homeschooling enjoyably fresh. Participating in a few field trips or a co-op class with several home educating families can strengthen both your family and the others.
It can be very easy to get bogged down with too many details and forget the reason you have chosen to home educate in the first place. Make your lists. Have a plan. Connect with other home educators through your local support group. Thinking through your approach to homeschooling will benefit your family throughout the years to come.
Curriculum choices abound in the homeschool world. Classical curriculums follow the medieval “trivium” which means that a child’s education progresses from fundamental facts and skills to logic and advanced language abilities. Students study the great works of Western literature.
Traditional curriculums consist of the standard textbooks that have a different book or workbook for each subject. Rod and Staff Publishers, ABEKA Book, and Bob Jones University Press all have nice traditional textbooks with lots of reading, practice questions, and tests. Generally, children who cover approximately 80% of each text have completed a year’s worth of knowledge within each subject.
Unit study curriculums are based on a theme, which incorporates several different subjects. Unit studies are great for large or small families because of the ease to integrate the topic for different aged students. Sonlight, Greenleaf Press, Diana Waring, and Konos all offer good unit study choices.
There are several other types of curriculums and methods, but beginning to research the above three will get you off to a good start. Interestingly, many families use a combination of the three. Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Homeschooling and Cathy Duffy’s Christian Home Educators’ Curriculum Manuals were written by veteran homeschooling moms who wrote curriculum review guides to try to help save families time and frustration. Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson is an excellent reference book full of homeschooling encouragements and tips to make your home a vibrant center of living and learning. Attending the annual IAHE State Home Educators Convention, reading various home education catalogs, and talking with other veteran homeschooling moms can also be excellent ways to learn which curriculum materials work well. As mentioned in a previous paragraph, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with home education curriculums, so please stick to your main goals for each year. Many local support groups host a moms support group meeting annually to discuss their curriculum favorites and why it works for their family. These moms gatherings, if available in your area, provide a way to help you wade through the new choices to be made for the following year.
When you begin to purchase curriculum, start with Bible and/or character training. Then look for the basics: reading, writing, and math. After that, add the other subjects such as science, history, health, etc. Since children have different learning styles, you, the teacher, will want to look for curriculum that will motivate you and your children so that you all have a desire to learn. Purchase curriculum that inspires learning but also covers the basics.
One tip for motivating a love of learning is to utilize your child’s interest. If a specific subject such as art, horses, computers, or pioneers, etc. peaks his interest, go to the library and check out books and videos about his favorite subject. Schedule time for him to read and learn about this new topic.
Another suggestion for starting the school year off on a good note is to pick an interesting classic or award winning book and read it aloud for at least 20 minutes each school day. Allow your children to draw, do needle work, or play Lego’s while quietly listening as you read the story to them. Take short breaks during the reading time and discuss what is happening in the story. Soon you will have your children begging for more story time and desiring the school day to last longer if you will only read one more chapter.
Having a schoolroom is not necessary because learning can take place anywhere in the house. Most families work wherever it is convenient. Many moms teach the subjects at the dining room table, read on the family room couch, and then each child moves to a different room in the house to do their individual assignments. Some families have tubs or plastic milk crates for each student’s books. The student pulls the books out as needed and then puts them away at the end of each day. Other families have a set of shelves just for home education books. One common bond among home educators is the accumulation of great literature and textbooks; therefore bookshelves are one item that every homeschooling family desires to have more of.
Home educating moms include teaching their children to be good workers around the home as part of their children’s education. Moms can’t do it all; therefore children should be expected to be helpers within the home. If mom spends a few hours each week training their children how to do chores, the house runs very smoothly. Not surprisingly, taking the time to compose a weekly schedule makes it easy to accomplish more. The schedule can list family prayer time, school subjects, appointments, activities, and house cleaning chores that need to be done for the week. The goal is to keep family life in balance and let everyone in the family know the plan for the week. Of course this schedule may be adjusted daily as needed. Moms, you can’t do it all so make your time count for those things which are most important. Be the trainer and expect your children to be the trainees.
Are you ready to begin a wonderful family experience? Then discuss home education with your spouse, order your materials, and get started. Enjoy your children. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy the fact that home education does work!
The Indiana Association of Home Educators is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 for the purpose of serving the Lord Jesus Christ through supporting and encouraging Indiana families interested in home education. As a state homeschooling organization, the IAHE maintains visibility with civil government leaders, monitors and seeks to influence the legislative process, and sponsors an Annual Home Educators Convention in Indianapolis. Published by the IAHE, Home Education in Indiana and now posted on the IAHE’S web site is a useful resource which answers the questions of “Where do I start?”, “What are the laws that need to be followed to home educate?”, and “Where do I find curriculum?” You may find this book available at your local library. The IAHE also publishes a quarterly magazine called The IAHE Informer. Many great articles and information about statewide events such as the Home Educators Convention and Annual Mother’s Retreat are included within the magazine. To sign up for your free subscription click on the website link.
Home School Legal Defense Association brings together a large number of homeschooling families around the world so that each family can have a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense for homeschool issues. It gives the freedom to home educate without the fear of legal threats. The IAHE strongly encourages HSLDA membership. Annual membership to the HSLDA is $115.00 a year but those on the IAHE mailing list can get a discount of $20.00 by claiming the IAHE as their discount group. Simply enter “295170” on the HSLDA membership application. For an application, contact HSLDA, (540) 338-5600. The HSLDA website has useful forms and information for their members. One unique member benefit is the Special Needs Coordinator who offers counseling and helpful materials for families with children who have special needs. The free brochure “You Can Homeschool” has many great tips and is published by HSLDA for anyone interested in home education,
Homes School Legal Defense Association suggests doing the following to your children from the public school to your homeschool. Please realize that these suggestions do not constitute legal advice.
Send a letter to the principal of the public school your child is currently attending. Include your name, address, and the name of the child who is going to be homeschooled. The letter should state that you are withdrawing your child from the school as of the date of withdrawal. Tell the school that you are transferring him/her to the private school based in your home. Request the school to please send your child’s school records to the name of your private school. You will also want to mention that your school will meet for the same number of days the public schools are in session and that your school will keep attendance records as required by law. You may call HSLDA, 540-338-2733 with problems or questions about withdrawing your children.
Audra Hacker, (317) 232-9111, of the Indiana Department of Education is the home education contact if you have additional questions about withdrawing your child from the public school. The Indiana Department of Education has many useful pages about homeschooling on their website, Interesting Facts-“Today an estimated 1.6-2.0 million children are being taught at home by their parents.” Brian Ray, Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, Broadman & Holman, 2002, p. 7
“On average homeschooled students in grades 1-4 perform one grade level higher than their public and private school counterparts.”
Lawrence Rudner, Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998, Education Policy Analysis Archives.
“Research and practical experience show that it is dedication and hard work, not special training, that produce outstanding educational results in a homeschool setting.”
You Can Homeschool! “Socialization is not a problem for homeschoolers because of the wide variety of outside activities. Students have no problem interacting with a broad spectrum of people and make positive contributions to their community. Experience has proven that homeschoolers are well socialized and able to make lasting friendships across age and cultural divides.”
You Can Homeschool! “Among homeschooled graduates about 2/3 go to post secondary education and 1/3 go directly into the job market which closely parallels public school graduates.”
You Can Homeschool!