Thursday, July 31, 2014

For Fellow Ohio Homeschoolers

Every year I get a call or two from  homeschooling mommies here in Ohio asking questions about the law, what the requirements are for filing, ect. So....I decided to sit down as I'm filling out this year's paperwork and do a tutorial that I hope will be helpful.

This is the Ohio Homeschooling Law:
A Legal Analysis can be found here. This simply means that any parent with a high school diploma can teach their child at home provided they agree to provide 900 hours of education in the areas required. If you have any further questions about the specifics of the law feel free to contact me.

What has to be filed each year:
Every year the following must be filed for children ages 6-18:
A parent must provide an annual notification to homeschool to the local superintendent which shall 
include (Ohio Admin. Code § 3301-34-03(A)):
a. School year for which notification is made;
b. Name and address of the parent, and full name and birth date of child;
c. Name and address of person(s) who will be teaching the child, if other than the parent;
d. Assurance that the homeschool will include the required subjects listed above (“except that home 
education shall not be required to include any concept, topic, or practice that is in conflict with the 
sincerely held religious beliefs of the parent”); 
e. A brief outline of intended curriculum and list of textbooks or other basic teaching materials; 
“Such outline . . . [and] list is for informational purposes only”; and
f. Assurance of hours and qualifications.

Step One: Part A
Every year you homeschool, a letter must be sent to your school district stating that you intend to homeschool. The letter will include the information listed in a-d and f written in typical business letter style.

 To see my sample letter click here.

Part B. 
What is a bit confusing is letter "e" which states: A brief outline of intended curriculum and list of textbooks or other basic teaching materials; “Such outline . . . [and] list is for informational purposes only”  The "brief outline" is not the same as "Textbooks or other teaching material". These will be two separate lists.

The "brief outline" is simply the scope and sequence of the curriculum that you're using. In my case, I simply print of the Scope and Sequence pages from the BJUP website . If your curriculum publisher doesn't have anything listed online, they should be able to send you a printed copy that you can use for filing purposes.

Part C. 
The "list of textbooks" is simply that. The following subjects have to be covered every year for every grade:
Language, reading, spelling, writing, geography, history of the 
United States and Ohio, government, math, science, health, physical 
education, fine arts (including music), first aid, safety, and fire 
prevention. Ohio Admin. Code § 3301-34-03(A)(5).

For each of these there needs to be a list of materials you intend to use to teach the concepts. Now, a question I get asked a lot is, "Do you teach Ohio history every year? What about fire, safety, and first aid?" Our curriculum (history and science) touches on each of these areas every year to varying degrees. What I try to do is just take a week to spend some extra time going over fire safety and prevention, and every time they get hurt we go over first aid care. I do use a health textbook as my launching point and go from there. So, I don't teach them as individual courses but I try to be thorough enough that they have more than a cursory introduction to those subject areas.

A sample textbook list can be found here.

Part D. 
Also needed at the time of notification is one of the three assessment options permitted by law. This is necessary if you're child is older than 6 and completed a grade. For example: All my children have been 6 years old going into first grade. But because reporting is not needed for work done before 6 years old, I don't send in any reports from kindergarten. When I file for first grade there is no assessment forms. When I file for second grade then I send the reports from first grade at the same time.

The most common forms of assessment are portfolios and standardized test scores. I'm a tester for BJU Press Testing and Evaluation Services  and have found it so easy to just print out my reports from my account and put them with my other paperwork. Another option is to provide the assessment from your previous year's portfolio.

Step Two: 
Once you have compiled your
1. Letter of Notification
2. List of Textbooks
3. "Outline" = Scope and sequence
4. Assessment report
then you're ready to mail it to your school district. You'll want to address the letter to your school superintendent and may need to call your district to get this information.

After the school district receives your information, they have 14 days to notify you of any missing or incomplete reports and you have another 14 days to resubmit. Any time that I've neglected to include some item of information my school district has been quick to get back with me. But I try to always have my paperwork mailed by the first of August. If you mail it later, it may take them longer because of the work-load they have with students starting back to school.

I hope this helps - feel free to leave feedback on areas that need to be expanded, anything I missed, or any questions. Hope you have a Happy Homeschool Year!

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