Whether you have decided to homeschool your children from the beginning and have no clue on where to start, or have taken your children out of a public or private school setting and are wondering what the best transition is, all of us in the homeschool community are here to help you!
First things first:
Relax! Take a deep breath in and out. Also, relax your shoulders, being that tense it is bad for your neck! :p
The next thing you need to do is to notify the county 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 school, you are not required to notify the government 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 the government school.
You can bring the form 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.
Please know that so many of us have gone through the EXACT emotions you are going through. In fact, we all 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.
Many 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! However, most kids (and parents) will have an adjustment period. 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!
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 email@example.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. 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!).