Homeschooling in Washington
Hello! My name is Jennifer and I homeschool in Washington. I live in the southeast part of the state with my husband, Dave, and our three boys. My oldest child moved to Oklahoma to spread her wings, and although we worry (isn't that what parents do?) we are also very proud of her. We are beginning our eighth year of homeschooling this year.
To find out more about the legal requirements for homeschooling in Washington, articles, and state-specific resources, you can also visit one of these sites:
Legal disclaimer: This section is one family's story and how they meet the mandatory school attendance laws in Washington. It is not intended and should not be used as definitive legal advice. In most states, parents find a variety of legal methods to pursue the educational approach that they prefer for their child.
Making the Most of Homeschool Resources
Our family has been involved with several different homeschool groups in our area. We are blessed to live in an area with many excellent homeschool groups. There is a large support group based out of Spokane, Valley Home Scholars, which includes a monthly newsletter, mom's night, classes and clubs, field trips, activities, etc. They even sponsor a homeschooling conference each year. There is a homeschool co-op group in our town as well. They offer classes and moms' nights. If you have one in your area, I highly recommend checking them out. Co-ops are fun for the kids, but they are good for you as well. Support groups are awesome; they can really help you feel connected and supported, and give you a good place to go when you need advice or resources.
Our family has also been very involved with other homeschoolers through 4-H and Scouts. If you call the offices and ask around a little, they can usually point you in the direction of groups that are homeschool-friendly, even if they are not technically homeschool groups. We have also been involved in our local public school ALE program, but I do caution you to read your homeschool laws VERY carefully if you are looking into those. You may be enrolling your children in a school and if you are not comfortable with that, you need to be very clear about the laws and how they apply. Also, many people feel that these programs may jeopardize the homeschooling law in Washington.
Some of my favorite resources for Washington state include:
Navigating the Homeschool Laws in Washington
If you are new to homeschooling in Washington, the laws can seem a little tricky and even a little intimidating or daunting. They really aren't; but since the list is rather long, they do look rather intense. Rest assured, Washington is homeschool-friendly in most ways and the legal requirements are pretty simple.
The first requirement addresses being qualified to homeschool. There are a few different ways to fulfill this requirement. For many parents, the easiest route is through attaining a certain number of college credits (45 college level credit hours). If either parent has gone to college for a year or more, you probably have this covered. The second way is to take a homeschool qualifying course. If there is not one near you, several companies offer them by correspondence. The third method is to be supervised by a certified teacher. Not many opt for this one, but if you do, you may want to carefully check the laws to find out if your child is registered as a public school student. The final way is to be deemed qualified by the superintendent of the school district in which you live. I don't know anyone who has chosen this method.
The second requirement is that you must file a declaration of intent to homeschool with your local school district every year for each child that is over 8-years-old. If your child is under 8, you only have to file a declaration if they have previously attended public school. It must be filed within two weeks of the beginning of your school's quarter, trimester or semester. It is generally recommended to file before September 15. However, you MAY file in the middle of the year if you decide to pull your child out of public school. Just do your research, know your laws and follow them closely. There is a certain amount of information that school districts may legally require of you. Many add extra information requests to their forms. Again, know your laws and follow them closely. You may choose to provide the extra information, but you do not have to. Legally, they can require your name and address, your children's names and their ages. They can also require that you check a box to indicate whether or not your children will be supervised by a certified teacher. Anything else is optional. You don't have to fill it in, even if they request more. Many people file this by certified mail with a return receipt.
The third requirement is to have your children tested annually. There are several tests that have been approved by the state and several companies that will send them to you via mail. You administer the test and send it back; they score it and send you the results. You do not have to show these results to anyone, nor may they request them from you. You do have to keep them with your homeschooling records, which should include their vaccination records and anything else you would like to have included. You can also choose to take them to the local public school and have them tested for free with the other kids each year, but I don't know many who do that.
The final requirement is that homeschoolers must teach 11 subjects. They are occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music. This instruction must be planned and supervised and must be provided for a number of hours equivalent to program hours in approved private schools. Don't be intimidated by that. The law also states that homeschooling is less structured and more experiential than classroom instruction and that this requirement is to be liberally construed. Also, please notice that it does not divide how those subjects should be taught. If it takes your child 15 minutes to complete their math assignment and then they sculpt with clay or draw or read for two hours, that still counts as two hours and 15 minutes of "school".
Time4Learning is vibrant, engaging, educational, and funny. It sure beats our previous homeschool curriculum which was textbook/workbook based.
Time4Learning is so effective that very little intervention is required. This works great if you're homeschooling multiple children.
A Typical Day in Our Homeschool
8:00 a.m.- Kids wake, eat breakfast, shower, etc.
The kids who get done first will go on the computer until the rest catch up. Since my second grader gets done much more quickly than my seventh grader, he usually goes first. He gets about 30 minutes until the fifth grader is finished and then they switch. This is a great time for us to use T4L. It really helps them to feel that they are having fun, but they are still actively learning.
10:30 a.m.- Usually we have a break now. We try to do some exercising, running around, swimming, stretching, etc.
We also use T4L in this time period to keep one child busy if the activities we are doing are too simple or complex for them or if one child needs extra help and the others are ready to move on to the next activity.
3:00 p.m.OR 4:00 p.m.- Depending on when we get done, we have free time now. Hopefully we will finish our chores before it is time to make dinner together.
After Dad gets home, we have a lot of family time and other things to do until the kids get ready for bed. We read together and then get ready to start all over the next day.
But like I said in the beginning, many days are NOT typical. Don't get discouraged. It takes time to find your groove. Persistence really will pay off in the end. Take a deep breath and remember that everyone has days when the kids are still in their p.j.'s at 11:00 a.m. and math has consisted of you counting to 10 repeatedly to yourself before you open your mouth to speak to your children. Just don't let those days make you give up. You can do it!
The software appealed to me because you can change the grade level of their instruction, to customize it for your child's needs.
1st graders learn about "parts of a whole"
Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
Time4Learning's experience shows that there is no single, best homeschool material. Rather than feeling torn between homeschool resources, parents should select a diverse blend of materials and activities.
For families with more than one child, choosing a homeschool program can be more problematic. What works for one child may not work for another. What works for one subject may not work on the next. What works one year, may fall flat the very next year.
Some of the features that make Time4Learning so successful include:
Time4Learning is proven effective with homeschoolers, has a low monthly price, is easy-to-use, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can make sure that it works for your children!
Sign up for Time4Learning as part of your overall homeschool program.
If you have any more questions or comments about homeschooling in Washington, head over to the Washington Parents Forum.
Some Helpful Tools and Resources
Welcome to Homeschooling Guide - Are you new to homeschooling? This guide was written by seasoned homeschoolers to answer some of the difficult questions new families often struggle with.
Curriculum Lesson Plans - An overview of the number of lessons that are included for each grade and subject. All students have access to at least 2 (and in most cases 3) grade levels of curriculum for each subject, so they can move ahead or review at their own pace.
Homeschool Portfolio Information - Answers common questions about homeschool portfolios and evaluations. It includes tips on organization methods, what to include and how Time4Learning can be used as part of your homeschool portfolio.
The Lesson Activity Finder - One of the many helpful tools that Time4Learning offers its members. The activity finder is a shortcut that makes it easy for parents to preview lessons or find extra practice for their child. You can visit our hints and help section for more information about the activity finder.
Lesson Planning Worksheet - Wondering how many lessons to have your child do each day? Estimate the number of activities per day using this easy to use, printable worksheet.
Online Parent's Forum - Reach out to homeschoolers in your area, join discussions, ask questions and trade ideas on our online community of homeschooling parents. Having the support of seasoned homeschoolers can really help make your homeschooling journey a success.
Sign up for Time4Learning and gain access to a variety of educational materials, which will engage and challenge your child to succeed. Make Time4Learning a part of your children's homeschool resources.