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Homeschooling in Minnesota
Need some help educating yourself about homeschooling in Minnesota? We hope this page will help you by providing others' experiences with homeschooling.
To find out more about the legal requirements for homeschooling in Minnesota, 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 Minnesota. 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.
Minnesota Homeschool Resources
We live in a really rural area in East Central Minnesota and currently we only belong to MHA (Minnesota Homeschooler's Alliance). They are a great help with getting started out and have resources on groups and connecting with others as well as forms that you can use for your yearly reporting. Of course we also use Time4Learning.
There is also a wealth of co-ops. These can be beneficial in that they divide up the teaching work among parents and give your child a network of buddies that are all learning the same material. They also offer you a community of parents to share experiences with. The drawbacks are that they can be expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes share similar problems with regular classroom learning such as discipline problems and boredom with lessons due to your child's current level in the subject. You can find a wealth of support groups, co-ops, associations, and umbrella schools at any of the following:
And buyer-beware: some school districts are gearing up to promote "government sponsored homeschool co-ops", which in reality are probably more likely "part-time public schools" and not very flexible.
Blogs Can be a Source of Support Too!
I've listed just a few homeschooling blogs below. These can be a great resource for support and sometimes it's just nice to see when someone else is having a terrible homeschool day -- OK, it's nice to see when their day is great too!
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.
Minnesota Homeschool Laws
The state of Minnesota requires compulsory school attendance of children between the ages 6 and 17. Minnesota does not have any particular requirements as to days of study per school year, but they do recommend that homeschoolers cover the following subjects of study: reading, writing, literature, fine arts, math, science, history, geography, government, health, and physical education. It also does not have any mandated teacher requirements or standardized test requirements. According to Minnesota law, "Children not enrolled in an accredited program or public school must be assessed using a nationally norm-referenced standardized achievement examination."
Minnesota's requirements for a home instructor include at least one of the following. Home instructors must either:
Homeschooling parents must also provide the name, date of birth, and address of each child homeschooled to their local school superintendent annually. This report must also include a calendar of proposed instruction for each child.
Homeschooling in Minnesota Since our First Daughter was Born
We have been homeschooling since our first daughter was born over seven years ago. My husband and I both had negative experiences with regular public school and didn't feel that we wanted the possibility of those same or worse experiences for our kids and private school was just too expensive. We knew we wanted to homeschool before our eldest was born, but knowing that we wanted to homeschool and figuring out how we would go about homeschooling were two separate things! We now have two children, ages 7 and 3, and while there are many similarities in their schooling, they both also have individual preferences for how they like to learn and we try to accommodate that as much as possible while retaining our sanity.
This software is very comprehensive and can be used as an entire curriculum or to supplement what you already use.
As part of fourth grade language arts, students are asked to identify the suffix of a word.
Our Approach to Homeschooling in Minnesota
Mainly we use whatever we can. The library is very popular in our home and we use Internet-linked books to help us learn more as well as get technologically fit. You can find many of these great books through Usborne or through your local library (sometimes via Inter-Library Loan).
We've tried "school at home" and found that it didn't work for us and adopted a more open approach to learning. Panic really struck when my eldest was nearing age 7, the age when you have to start reporting to the district that you intend to homeschool. I purchased a very expensive "whole" curriculum and set out to use it just the way they outlined: daily schedule, attendance sheets, and parent outline for each lesson (with parts outlined for how to literally talk the lesson through with your child). It bombed. Within three weeks, my eldest would cry every time she saw me pull out the books. "Not again!," she'd say, and I'd drearily thunk down the five or six books plus the lesson guide onto our kitchen table for another hour-long talk about how this was "all necessary," and that "other kids have to do even more boring things in school".
I started to question the veracity of using a whole packaged curriculum. For us, it just made no sense at all, especially since I was spending much of the time ignoring my other daughter's needs in favor of "getting through school". Family life was falling apart, chores were going undone and my kids were miserable. Something had to give and what gave was me and my preconceived notions of what homeschooling was supposed to look like. We had fun in our cobbled kindergarten, right? She learned a lot and we still got to do the everyday things. Even better, kid sister got to play and learn alongside.
So that's where we are today. We use library books to read what I classify as "good classic books". Here are a few we are using right now:
Sure, it's cobbled, but it's fun. We use Time4Learning to help bridge the gaps and assist with the teaching of subjects that Mom isn't very good with, like math. We don't really use any other standard curriculum at this point; that may change as our needs grow. I guess you could call us unschoolers, but I really like the term "accidental homeschooler" more--I see it as a whole way of life rather than something we do. It started out with actively choosing to stay home with my kids and being a positive force in their lives rather than a smile and a nod every afternoon. It's morphed into us living together through both the "teachable moments" (even when they're not positive) and the moments where life is just life. I am a big fan of Love and Logic which, when used consistently, is an amazing way to get your kids to do what you want them to!
Recently, we underwent our first yearly standardized test with our eldest. We chose to use the Peabody Test (PIAT-R). What it amounts to for the average person is this: your child meets a tester in a public place (like a library) and for about an hour they are asked questions about general things like science, social studies and the arts, and are given a reading and math test (all oral, the questions are printed on a flip chart and there are multiple choice answers listed underneath for things like "choose the correct spelling"). Afterward, you the parent, get to talk to the tester about the results. The nice thing about the Peabody is that not only do you get the percentage score for the "grade" your child is in, but you also get a grade equivalency for where they truly are. So for example, our eldest scored at grade level 2.2, even though technically she's in the first grade. It gave us a nice number to tell concerned grandparents but it also gave us individual grade equivalencies for each subject so that we know that she's closer to grade level 1.8 for math. That can be helpful for us harried homeschoolers in that we can better pick curriculum and teaching games and not waste time on things that may be too easy or too difficult. You can usually find Peabody testers advertising through the Minnesota Homeschooler's Alliance, listed in the State Homeschool Resources on this page. Look on their WikiWeb Pages under Peabody Testers.
Meeting the Minnesota State Homeschool Requirements
Minnesota is very relaxed when it comes to homeschooling, so meeting the requirements for our state is easily accomplished by sending in a once-a-year update form on who's homeschooling, what their credentials are what your plans are for testing (there are many options). This form is sent in each year before October 1st. A quarterly report may need to be sent into the district as well, depending on your credentials. The results of your standardized testing are private and you need not share them with the district or the state. You do not have to use the forms provided by the state or district and can simply send in a letter of intent (but be careful that you cover all of the bases and know exactly what is required). Generally the districts forms will "require" more information than you legally have to provide, so it's a good idea to give yourself a solid foundation in what is required. I recommend the Minnesota Homeschooler's Alliance's forms because they are succinct.
I LOVE Time4Learning! It holds the attention of my kids, plus I can keep track of their learning without hovering over their shoulders.
I am really pleased with Time4Learning. It has made a world of difference in my son's academic performance in school!
Choosing Homeschool Curriculum
Minnesota 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 curriculum. 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 Minnesota, head over to the Minnesota Parent 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.