So You’ve Decided to Homeschool. Now What?

Regardless of why you are choosing to homeschool, all of us in the homeschool community are here to help you! More parents are going to be homeschooling with the 2020-201 school year looking uncertain and we are here to help!

First things first:

Relax! Take a deep breath in and out. Also, relax your shoulders, lower that ribcage…being that tense it is bad for your neck! :p

The next thing you need to do is to notify the county superintendant of schools, in which you reside, of your intention to homeschool. This is required by Montana law and you are required to file this intent every year. If you live in or around Great Falls, Cascade County puts its form online for you to print here. Alternatively, you can write your own letter and bring it to them.

If you are pulling them from a government or private school, you are not required to notify the school superintendent or principal where your child/ren were enrolled, but many have chosen that route so that they are not contacted by their offices. Most parents have teacher or principals’ emails available. You do not have to give them a reason, though some parents prefer to explain why so that the school has written confirmation of any unsolved issues. Some parents have found that a verbal notification goes unheard or they try to be persuaded by staff to keep the child in that school.

You can bring the form or letter into the superintendent’s office or you may mail it. They also have forms at their office (map in link, located behind the treasurer’s office-white porch). Either way, you will want to get a copy of it (after the office puts their stamp on it) so you can use your form at many local businesses for a discount.

To view the laws regarding homeschooling in Montana, please click here.

Now that you know of the laws and have filed your exemption, take another deep breath or two. Or three. Repeat this phrase: We can do this!

Please know that so many of us seasoned homeschool parents have gone through the EXACT emotions you are going through. In fact, we all STILL have moments of anxiety, fear, and exasperation in our homeschooling journey. None of us have the perfect home school or the perfect students.

That super homeschool mom you saw with kids-in-tow? The one that looked all put together and the children listen and never say a word out of place? She has felt what you are feeling right now. Or the frazzled one with sweatpants and a hat because she hasn’t showered in a few days—you know-the ones whose kids are wrestling in the middle of the aisle? She has felt those feelings, too. There is no ideal home school. Now that you know that, you can let the grasp of fear and doubt loosen its grip a little and try to relax.

For those who are starting off the school year as homeschoolers, things may take a few weeks to get settled in. Parents and children both need to find their groove and learning style.  For those who take their children out after the year has started, some parents want to jump right in and start school at home right away. If that is your style and the kids are game, that is great!  Many families suggest taking at least a week off to just read, look at books, find out which homeschool style fits your children (yes, there are many styles of homeschooling, and most of them intermingle!), find out what activities are available, and most importantly, just enjoy being together! Regardless of WHEN you start, most kids (and parents) will have an adjustment period.

Children who have had anxiety and stress around the process of learning may take time to adjust to even being able to decide when to eat breakfast, let alone what time they want to start their work!

It is rare to find two people who learn exactly alike, so you must remember to be flexible. Your way of learning might be different than your child’s. If you have multiple children, they might learn in different ways, too. That is why homeschooling works for so many families. Government and Private schools usually cannot provide the individuality your child needs and desires, so take the time to learn what they need. Your reasons for choosing homeschooling someone else’s reasons for choosing to homeschool may be on opposite sides of the spectrum. However, these decisions and reasons are what makes homeschooling communities so diverse yet supportive.

Curriculum decisions will change, and your homeschool style will change as well. We have rarely met a homeschool family where they started with one curriculum and continued it throughout the child’s entire education. There are several local groups that you can join and pick their brains on what might work.

Homeschooling is not for every parent or child or for their entire schooling years either. Some students are homeschooled for only a few years, yet others are homeschool alums who are continuing the family tradition. You will find a wide spectrum of people in our homeschooling community, and we all hope you come to embrace homeschooling with all of its benefits and quirks!

As a community, we are all here to help you. Feel free to ask questions and get recommendations, try new things, ask your child’s input, and know that you have support! Our email is cmtoah@gmail.com.

We do suggest signing up for our newsletter (by clicking Become a Member) so you can be kept up-to-date on local activities and events.  With the current uncertainty of the times, many families have opted for small gatherings and we, as CMOAH, haven’t been able to plan any of our fun events that we normally have throughout the year. Many homeschoolers are on the Local and State Facebook Groups and our calendar has almost every local homeschool event on it (that we know about, anyway!).

Homeschooling This Fall?

The Cascade County Superintendent of Schools has posted the upcoming school year Notice of Intent on their page. You can click on the link below to view it. (Copies of this document are also available at the Superintendent’s office.)

2020-2021 Homeschool Notification

This exact form is not required, but a written Notice of Intent to Homeschool MUST be turned into your county superintendent’s office. (Some families choose to write their own.)

Regardless of which form you choose (printing the one provided by the county or writing your own), we suggest hand delivering it to your county superintendent’s office so you can get a copy of the notice to be used for discounts at local businesses. You can also mail your notice, but be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a note letting them know you would like a copy mailed to you. We also recommend keeping a copy for your records.

Silverwood Read2Ride Program

Screenshot_20200211-133126_1581453182480Great news! Thanks to the hard work of one of our homeschool parents, we are now on the list for the Silverwood Read2Ride program! Silverwood is a Theme Park in Idaho and they offer Pre-K-6th graders a free ticket for reading! Check your email for more information. Information was sent out to CMOAH members on February 11th!

Pulling the Kids out of School?

This is a common time of year where we see parents pulling their children out of government schools. While there are multiple reasons why you could be choosing to do so, we wanted to make sure to steer you in the right direction.

We are here to support you in this journey, whether you had to pull a child due to health reasons or illness, were tired of fighting with the government schools and their inaction regarding your child being bullied, or are struggling with the overwhelmed and understaffed government schools that keep shuffling your special needs child.

Please visit our First Time Homeschooler? page to read about the steps you need to take and what other parents have done.

We are here for you!

6th Annual CMOAH Christmas Party

Christmas Party image

Please join us for our 6th Annual CMOAH Christmas Party! There will be Food (Potluck-style), Games, a Youth Gift Exchange ($10.00 max), music, dancing, crafts, a rock-paper-scissors competition, a cookie exchange, and the Christmas Store will be open! Adults-We will be having a White Elephant Prize Walk! Please bring a gift from around your home with a value of $15 or less)

Please RSVP with the ages of your children that will be attending. Please contact Adria at 231-5851 if you have any questions!

6th Annual CMOAH Christmas Party

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

5:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

The Bridge Church Activity Building

Tentative Schedule of Events: (Updated 11/7/19)

5:30 Social Hour/Christmas Store Opens

6:00 Dinner 

6:30 Crafts and Rock-Paper-Scissors Contest begin

7:30 Youth Gift Exchange

8:00 Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship

8:05 Adult Gift Exchange/Kids Games

8:30 Cookie Exchange/Music/Dancing

9:00 Clean-up begins

The Details:

The Christmas Store will open at 5:30! Dinner starts around 6:00 p.m.

We will be having a potluck dinner (last names A-F bring a Main Dish, last names G-L bring a Side Dish or Salad, and last names M-Z bring a dessert). Please do not bring foods containing nuts.

CMOAH will supply drinks, plates, cups, utensils, napkins, etc.

After dinner, we’ll separate into age-appropriate groups for crafts and a gift exchange (toddlers-6, 7-11, and 12+). If you want your child to participate in the gift exchange, please bring a non-gender specific wrapped gift (valued $10 or less) (one per child). CMOAH will provide the crafts. There will also be a photo booth and games and activities to participate in, too!

Throughout the night, we will be having a Rock, Paper, Scissors competition, and everyone, including adults, can participate!

We haven’t forgotten about the adults, either! We will have fun with the Prize Walk/White Elephant Mash-up. When you arrive with your gift (valued at $10.00 or less), you will place them in one of a handful of themed categories, then we will use those items as prizes in our Prize Walk!

Finally, we’ll conclude the evening with DANCING for anyone who wants to dance, including a few of the contra/line dances from dance class and the COOKIE EXCHANGE. If you’d like to participate in the cookie exchange, please bring 2-4 dozen cookies for your family to exchange. We’ll put them all out and everyone who brought cookies will go home with as many as they brought.

PLEASE RSVP with the ages of your kids so we can plan supplies accordingly. You can message here or call/text Adria at 231-5851 if you have questions.

We will need volunteers to arrive a little early for setup and stay a little late for clean up, and if you like to wash dishes, we need help there, too! If you are willing to help, please contact Adria or Coya.

Montana Homeschooling Groups

Due to Montana’s rural-ness, which can make it hard to meet face-to-face, and the desire of families to seek out Montana as a place to live and work, we noticed that many are seeking places online to gauge the homeschool communities or find things to do while traveling through our great state.

One of the things we love about homeschooling during the current technological age is the ability to connect online with others for support, information, encouragement.

Our goal, through CMOAH, is just that. We decided to compile a list of all of the online groups of homeschoolers in Montana. If you happen to know of an online group that isn’t listed on the page below, please email us at cmtoah@gmail.com and we can add it!

Montana Homeschooling Groups

Box Tops, Get Your BOX TOPS! (in!)

BTFE

Good news! Erin D. has agreed to be the Box Tops coordinator and she has posted the following:

Box Tops will be phasing out the cut-out-coupons and are now accepting scanned receipts within 14 days of purchase. While this means you need to take a few steps to get set up, it is pretty easy and rewarding to see what has been earned in 24 hours after submission. Please check out the link and sign up to earn the new way! There is also a full list of items that qualify if you scroll down the page.

https://www.boxtops4education.com/How%20To%20Earn?fbclid=IwAR2gOIzVolg6lZouxJe47_1fsaIRU5pXdB5HcTSQcb5wpGmOgeGdkBWhpwY

There will still be prizes for those who turn in the most (clipped and/or scanned-need a screenshot) so make sure to save and send! Her email address is in the newsletter.

Back to School Kickoff!

See those kids in the process of jumping for joy? They are only a fraction of those who attend our annual Back-to-(Home)School Kickoff! This year’s kickoff party is on Friday, August 30th, at 1:00 p.m. More details will be available in our newsletter! (Coming out soon!) If you do not receive our newsletter, please click on the Become a Member link in the menu.

We will have a school supply treasure hunt, games, and upcoming information regarding upcoming events for the 2019-2020 year!

See you there!

Planning for Next Year?

One of the requirements for Homeschooling in Montana is to notify the County School Superintendent of your intentions to homeschool.

You can bring in or mail your own letter or you may use the form below.

If you bring your letter or form in, make sure to get a copy of the stamped letter so you can use it for your own child’s records and for discounts at local stores.

If you are mailing it, we recommend sending a Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope and a little note (to ask them to please return a stamped copy) with your notification.

The link for the Cascade County Notification form is here. They also have copies at the superintendent’s office.

If you would like us to add other county’s forms, please email us at cmtoah@gmail.com and we can update this post!