Monday, April 09, 2007

What you Need to Know about Homeschooling in Kansas

by Shelley Ryan

Complying with Kansas laws is simple

Kansas law requires that all “non-accredited private schools,” i.e., homeschools, register once with the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). You do not have to give the names of your children. Registration can be done online and takes less than five minutes: (Kansas State Department of Education) You will not receive a response from the KSDE as its only role is to keep a record of homeschool registrations. The KSDE does not “approve” homeschools.

Kansas law requires you to “hold classes for a period of time which is substantially equivalent to the time public schools are in session.” This means you must provide 1,116 hours per year of instructional time. You do not need to follow the public school calendar. You can take vacations when you want; you can “hold class” in the evenings, on the weekends, or during the summer. You are not required to keep a record of your instructional hours. You decide what counts as “instructional time.”

Kansas law requires that all classes be taught by a “competent instructor.” It does not specify what constitutes competency. You do not need a teaching degree. You do not need a college degree. If you have a desire to help your child learn and a willingness to learn right along with them, you are probably “competent.”

You do not need anyone's permission to start homeschooling

You do not need the permission of your child's teacher, the school principal, the superintendent, or the State Department of Education. If you've decided to homeschool your child, no one can stand in your way.

You can start homeschooling today!

If you have decided you want to homeschool your child, you need not wait until the end of the semester or the school year to withdraw your child from school. Register your homeschool with the state, then write a short letter to your child's principal stating that you are withdrawing your child from school and enrolling them in your homeschool. That's it! You can begin!

You don't have to use traditional materials or methods to homeschool your kids.

Some homeschoolers do re-create school around their kitchen tables, with textbooks, worksheets, tests, and grades. Others find that this approach doesn't work for them. Children learn in a variety of ways and from a variety of materials. Your children might learn just as much -- if not more -- from museum trips, hikes, videos, online courses, family reading time, library trips, or travel. You are free to use any of these resources, and more.

Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive

You don't need to purchase expensive prepared curricula in order to homeschool. Many families homeschool with little more than a library card! Free online resources are abundant and garage sales are a good source of used books. For those who do want to use a prepared curriculum, used copies are readily available from a variety of sources. But take your time evaluating materials so you spend your money wisely. While you evaluate your options, rely on the public library and on non-traditional methods and materials for your children's learning.

Don't worry about socialization

Homeschool groups are active in most parts of the state. If you join one, your child will have ample opportunities to socialize with other homeschoolers. Scouts, 4-H, Campfire, Parks and Rec activities, town sports leagues and neighborhood children will provide other opportunities for socializing. Some homeschooling parents say their children are so busy with social activities that there is little time left for school! Nearly all homeschooling parents are glad they are nearby to help their children develop appropriate social skills rather than leaving them to fend for themselves on the school playground.

You can homeschool all the way through high school

Many resources are available to help you homeschool your high schooler. Some parents purchase high school textbooks and work through them with their high schooler. Others use online courses or enroll their children in a nearby community college. Still others use real life experiences -- paid or volunteer work, travel, community service projects, e.g., -- as a way to help their children learn those things they can't learn from books. Most children who have been homeschooled will be skilled independent learners by the time they reach their teens; your high schooler may need little direct instruction from you. When you're done, you issue a diploma.

Your child can get into college

All Kansas regents institutions welcome homeschoolers. Those schools automatically admit Kansas homeschoolers who have passed the GED or who have earned a "C" average in 24 hours of community college coursework. Admissions committees at the regents schools also admit a limited number of additional students after an individualized review of their credentials. Admission to community colleges is open to any student who has passed the GED or who the admissions committee has determined will be able to benefit from the courses in which the person wishes to enroll. Most private and out-of-state public schools -- including the most elite schools in the country -- have procedures in place for evaluating the applications of homeschoolers. Admissions committees nationwide know that homeschooled kids are curious, self-motivated, and focused on their goals. Being a homeschooled kid likely will be an asset, not a liability, in college admissions.

Legal disclaimer: The content herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should seek the services of a licensed attorney.

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