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Homeschooling in Alaska
Hi! My name is Denise Brown-Chythlook and I homeschool in Alaska! My husband, Gary and I have lived in Anchorage for six years now. We have three children; Colton is 9, Ella is 5 and Grant is almost 2. We live on a small acreage with three horses and a dog. We love living in Anchorage and feel a great sense of joy and purpose about living in Alaska.
To find out more about the legal requirements for homeschooling in Alaska, 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 Alaska. 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.
Alaska Homeschooling Regulations
Homeschooling in Alaska is fantastic! In fact, if we hadn't moved here, I don't know if I would have even considered homeschooling. The laws, system and community are so easy to navigate and homeschooling is so common in the state that it makes it all very easy to start, continue and have great success. The state of Alaska has very few legal requirements for homeschoolers. The state does not require a parent to notify, test, seek approval, file forms, or have any teaching credentials if they choose to homeschool their children.
Homeschooling Laws in Alaska
The burden is on the state to prove that parents are not teaching their children in the case of a legal issue. That being said, there are many families that homeschool through a public school program. We, for example, are enrolled in Raven Correspondence School which is in the Yukon-Koyukuk School district, several hundred miles to the north of us. They have an office in Anchorage, as well as several other cities around the state, where they employ a small number of advisory teachers and administrative staff.
When enrolled in a public school program, you are assigned an advisory teacher. Their job is to ensure your child is being educated. In our case, this includes a conversation with our advisory teacher at least once per month and turning in work samples for each subject once a quarter. Students are then required to participate in state-mandated testing, which is arranged and hosted by the school program. Each student enrolled in a public school program is then given an allotment of funds that the schools dispense. These funds can be used for any educational purpose associated with the subjects in which your child is enrolled. Families use these funds to purchase curriculum materials and to get reimbursement for classes in physical education, music, or any optional subject your child may be enrolled in. Our family uses these funds to pay for our Time 4 Learning membership, any materials for projects we may do associated with our curriculum, music lessons, physical education lessons, memberships to local learning opportunities such as the museum, and any consumable school supplies we may need.
There are many of these distance-learning schools available throughout the state. Most of the school districts throughout the state have one that anyone around the state can participate in. Families choose which one they like based on many factors. In our case, we chose Raven because of the great relationship we had with our advisory teacher and based on the social and educational opportunities Raven provides in the Anchorage area.
As a side note, children enrolled in private school can be dually enrolled in a public homeschool program. These families can choose to enroll part time (2 core subjects) or full time. They have the same requirements and are given an allotment of funds. If they complete their program through grade 12 they receive a public school diploma along with their private school diploma. This is a unique opportunity to give people a taste of homeschooling. It was the way we were introduced and gave us the confidence to continue on a full time, exclusive basis.
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.
Favorite AK Homeschooling Resources
Our favorite resource, besides Time4Learning, is our local homeschool group. It is comprised of like-minded homeschooling families from around the city. We have a couple of regular monthly activities, but many of the things we do, such as field trips, are scheduled by one family and then the group can join in. These activities are communicated through email and by our Facebook group, Anchorage Christian Homeschoolers.
This group allows us to more fully address the dreaded "lack of socialization" that so many are concerned about. Many of my children's best friends are in this group, as well as many of my best friends. I would encourage every homeschooling family to plug in to a similar group or create one if you can't find one. With social media, such as Facebook, all you need to do is put the word out and people will show up.
We also enjoy many of our educational opportunities in Anchorage. We probably use the library most. But we also use the Imaginarium, a children's science museum; the Alaska Museum of History and Art, the Alaska zoo; plus many other places here in town. We've found that there is some place we can go at least once a week that will expand on something we are learning that week.
We are also beginning to use World Book online. With an annual subscription there is a wealth of information at your fingertips and the kids just love it! We found out about World Book at our state homeschool curriculum fair which is another fantastic resource for us. It is hosted by another public school distance-learning program. There are dozens of representatives from around the country displaying their programs or complimentary materials. It gives a family the opportunity to touch and experience curriculum and resources they might not otherwise know about. Hopefully next year we can represent Time4Learning there!
Our Daily Homeschooling Schedule
We have a daily schedule which I first posted on a white board in our school area (the dining room table). But then the kids got to know it and I didn't have to post it any longer. Now I simply print out a weekly calendar for them using Google Calendar so they can see any special events they have coming up that week.
We begin our day around 8:00 a.m. which is when the kids usually roll out of bed, with hot chocolate and a cartoon. Then we have breakfast and worship together around the table. While I clean up breakfast, the kids get their laptops and head phones out, along with a notepad, pencils and whatever else they may need for their school work. I make myself completely available while the kids are doing school. We even began using headphone splitters so I can wear headphones and plug in to hear what they are hearing. This way they won't disturb the other.
The kids log on and begin their daily work. Our kindergartener works at her own pace and I have a couple of workbooks that she can use along with T4L so she can choose what she will do for that day. She generally works about half the time that our fourth grader works. Our fourth grader has a list of what he needs to accomplish every day. I made this list by simply checking the lesson plans at the beginning of the year. He can do these in any order he likes.
Our kids know that every day of the week is pretty predictable. Mornings we're home, working, usually in pajamas with hot chocolate. Then after lunch we're out for lessons, errands, activities and exercise. Finally, after dinner, the time is all theirs to enjoy as long as their schoolwork is complete. I find that these chunks allow the kids to know what's going on. That way we have routine without being regimented.
Time4Learning is a fun software, entertaining and I really like the way it explains things in a way that the kids can understand, without making it boring.
In the lesson, you can click on the highlighted word and hear it spoken.
Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
Alaska homeschool law includes the freedom for families to pick and choose their own curriculum based on what works best for their child. However, families new to homeschooling quickly discover a dizzying array of choices when it comes to selecting homeschool curriculum. There is no more popular discussion among homeschoolers on the web than the pros and cons of various homeschool curriculums. After sifting through the homeschool curriculum reviews, most parents end up mixing and matching homeschool programs, trying to create the best match for their child.
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 Alaska, head over to the Alaska 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 what's available for each grade and subject.
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.
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.
Hints & Help Section - Whether you're new to Time4Learning, a long term member, or a future member with questions about how the program works, this section answers questions about navigation, lesson planning & previewing, how the teacher guides and worksheets work, and more!
Puffin Academy App - Learn how to use Time4Learning on most mobile devices with the Puffin Academy app for iOS and Android! Get details on this kid-friendly app, including how to download and use it on the go with Time4Learning.