Beginning Your Homeschool Journey | The Logistics
I have so many people I talk to that are interested in homeschooling and looking to find information on how you go about the logistics of starting that process. There are many great resources out there that give this information for Saskatchewan like SHBE and HSLDA but I thought it'd be nice to have a post in blog format with some tips included.
I've done my best to compile the essentials but if you have something to add message me!
First off - Congratulations! Homeschooling is the hardest and best thing I've done. Even though it has it's challenges, it has been the perfect fit for our family. Saskatchewan is a great place to homeschool and I have always found our division administration to be helpful and supportive.
I am entering my 6th year of homeschooling and come at this from that experience and perspective but also of that of a public school teacher. I taught Middle Years for my whole career until I had my own kids and still work in the public system each month.
Let's get started!
The first thing to consider is when to register your child. In Saskatchewan the compulsory years for education are 7-15 years of age. This means that if you are starting to home educate your child for Kindergarten and grade 1 (typically 5 and 6 years of age) you are not required to register them with the division.
This can be a great option to ease your way in and be able to homeschool without having to tackle the registration and reporting process in your first years. You can however register your child at the age of 5.
That said, that process is very simple. If you do choose to register or are homeschooling a child in the ages of 7-15 you will also have access to reimbursement funds depending on the division. The funds and ages seem to be different for a lot of school divisions. In South East Cornerstone you could receive funds for Kindergarten but I do know of others that gave less or nothing for Kindergarten. You will need to check the map HERE to find out your school division and get in touch with them to begin this process.
The first step in your registration process is the Notice of Intent. This lets the division you're in know that you are going to home educate and gives them your child's information.
You can find the form to fill out HERE.
Next up in the process is to create a WRITTEN EDUCATION PLAN that states your educational philosophy and your broad goals for the 4 core subjects.
Now that all sounds very fancy but don't stress. It is a simple outline of your intentions and when they say broad - they mean BROAD!.
The Homeschool Legal Defence Association of Canada are an excellent organization and resource. They've created a fillable form to use as a guide for your own written education plan. You can access it HERE .
When writing your educational philosophy you are really just summarizing WHY you are homeschooling.
Here is an example of one that I have submitted.
We will strive to provide our child with a nurturing and engaging schooling environment that is rich in educational opportunities. We believe that the home is a wonderful place for children to learn and grow, to be encouraged, to learn at a pace suitable to their needs and for them to focus on areas of interest, where he will receive personalized instruction from parents that know him the best and are most vested in his success. We pursue learning as a family and approach it as a lifestyle rather than a task to be completed.
I will again be taking my lead from the goals and outcomes outlined in the Saskatchewan Curriculum but will continue to utilize our freedom in pursuing interest led content and skills.
We strive to provide our child with a strong spiritual and moral foundation to build his life on. It is our intent that he will be given the space, resources and skills to be a self initiated life long learner. We desire for him to acquire all of the practical skills that he will need to succeed in life and manage a home as an adult. Finally, we believe it is integral that he acquire all of the personal and communication skills needed to successfully interact with everyone around him be it peers, adults, the elderly, the young, employers, etc.
Shout out to my friend Karen who sent me an example of her own before I started homeschooling. I'm pretty sure some of her ideas are still in there! And please note -I'm a wordy person and that is reflected in my forms ;).
One of my absolute FAVOURITE parts of homeschooling is the freedom we have when choosing content. Even though I do a read through of the Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcomes for a grade level I often find it redundant (aka I'm not into teaching the life cycle of a plant 4 years in a row) and we love to study things not in the curriculum. For example last year my kids and I spent a good 3 months studying Viking Culture and History. It was fascinating, full of rich learning, engaging activities and no where in the curriculum.
If you'd like to get a feel for what kids in public school will be looking at in your child's grade level you can check out the SASKATCHEWAN CURRICULUM.
I recommend taking a look at the Outcomes and Indicators for each subject.
When writing your broad goals for each of the core subjects try to stay away from being too specific. Create goals for things like exposure to, experience with, opportunities to, etc.
Here is an example from my Grade 4 Written Education Plan (WEP).
English Language Arts
- Explore concepts of identity, community and social responsibility through narratives.
- Use a variety of resources/techniques to deliver information in a clear and concise manner. (posters, Spark videos, written reports, letters, oral presentation, etc.)
- Work through the writing process and be more willing to engage each step of the process without feeling the need to rush.
- Demonstrate an understanding of how to multiply double/triple digit numbers by a single digit number and the same with division.
- Demonstrate an understanding of decimals and place value as well as how to properly add and subtract with decimals.
- Discover equations and solving for unknown variables.
You'll also need to notify the division of how you plan to assess your child and how you will report at the end of the year. I'll be going over your reporting options in more detail in the next post.
You will however be submitting a Periodic Log and one of the following:
- sufficient examples of work
- a detailed summative record
- sufficient examples of work and a detailed summative record
As you'll see in the WEP they ask for what services you require from the School Division. This is a great place to request any support you feel you might need or access to events and programs in the school division. This is where I might include things like :
We would love to participate in a school track and field day and would likely work with _______ school in our neighbourhood. Seeing as my son is in grade 5 he would like the opportunity to join and grade 5/6 sports teams.
I will note here that I have rarely, if ever had a response from the division to this section of the WEP. I however just choose to talk to school administrators on my own. (I feel like this could be a post of its own and I can expand further there) but I have found the school administrators I've contacted to be SUPER supportive and encouraging. In Kindergarten my son took part in track and field (since then we've run our own homeschool track days with our homeschool group), we go to assemblies when it fits our schedule and this year we'll look at my son joining some sports teams.
Because I'm still employed by the school division I do concede that it's easier for me to stay in the loop of what's going but with a little leg work you can also get yourself in the loop ;).
O.K. after this you are REGISTERED! Woot!
Now you can focus on teaching and facilitating that homeschool life.
Stay tuned for the next post where I'll go over REPORTING. It's a great idea to keep up on your recording during the year to make June a breeze.
Feel free to shoot me any questions you may have. Just use the contact form to the side of the post.
Here are some other homeschool posts you can check out!
My Journey to Homeschooling
Our Homeschool Rhythms
Homeschooling Too Hard?
Homeschooling Too Hard? Part II
Homeschooling | Me Time
Creating a Functional Homeschool Room