Homeschooling Houston Where Do I Begin and Do I Want To?
Families come to homeschooling for many different reasons. Some come with an academic ferocity to bolster their child to greatness. Others for more traditional reasons – religious beliefs or grappling with a learning difference that they felt were not being handled well by public schools. Some want the flexibility to teach their children at their own pace or let the children really delve into and follow interests that may only be brushed in passing in a brick and mortar school. But, everyone wonders where to start?
Many turn to homeschooling because they have become disenchanted with public school but can’t afford private schools. In a city as big as Houston and with a homeschool population in the many thousands, we have heard a myriad of stories that have led families to take that first step down the path to homeschooling.
The big question is do you really want to? This is a really big question so I’m going to send you to our post, Should I Homeschool?, before deciding to change your entire family dynamic carefully contemplate the decision. Because it will.
Becoming the parent and the teacher is a big decision and it is not for everyone and that is okay. Maybe what you need is just a different school or a tutor or a girl’s night out. Before you decide to make the kind of change that impacts your children’s futures evaluate if you are coming from a place of frustration. Homeschooling requires family commitment.
From here on out, I am going to assume you are on board.
Welcome! Now let’s get you started!
How to Begin
Where to start is actually really easy. You just begin. Texas is one of the best places for homeschooling. Every homeschool is considered an unaccredited private school. You have enormous freedom to teach your children in the way you think is best.
All that is required from the state of Texas is that your “curriculum is designed to meet basic education goals including reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and a study of good citizenship.”
If you are starting at the beginning with a Preschooler or Kindergartner you do not need to inform the school district you may simply choose your method and get going.
If you are taking your child out of public school you do need to inform them. That is all. You do not have to use “accredited” curriculum or keep records, transcripts, or portfolios (though you may want to as you get into the high school years if your child is college bound). Your child is not required to submit to state testing. Your child will not be eligible for a state diploma or participation in school sports, electives, etc. Speech therapy and diagnostic testing must be provided from your local school district.
What you do need to do is send them a letter (or drop one off). The letter is simply your letter of withdrawal and needs to include:
- The day’s date,
- A statement that the child is to begin homeschooling,
- The date the homeschooling will begin, and
- The parent or guardian’s signature.
Legally, the letter is all that is required. Some districts have withdrawal forms they like you to fill out (disclaimer: not a lawyer but it is clearly stated by the TEA).
If the school district suspects a child is being homeschooled they may request a letter of assurance from the parent. Parents (or guardians) are not required to make a personal appearance with school officials or present curriculum for review.
There are numerous styles of homeschooling and finding your perfect fit may take a little trial and error. The way most parents begin is by replicating school at home. Sometimes down to the cute school desks and a large whiteboard. There is comfort in familiarity for the parent who came up through traditional schooling. Very few homeschoolers maintain this rigorous structure. Mostly they abandon it because they realize they can. They start discovering the awesome things that keep people homeschooling like the ability to be flexible (even if you’re a planner), to drop and go when you hear of an amazing experience that’s happening tomorrow, to be the one who gets to the see your kid’s “A-ha!” moments. Once you become more comfortable taking on the role of teacher-parent you can find your rhythm.
Personally, we have fluctuated and it took a while to find our cadence and what I could handle and the kids were happy with. Part of the “problem” is that there are so many opportunities for homeschoolers in Houston. It is sort of the comparison of shopping at HEB and Aldi. At HEB you can become overwhelmed with the sheer number of olive oil options. Do I need it cold pressed, organic, extra light, swirled by fairies?! When you swing by Aldi you get what you get.
I’m not advocating for “you get what you get” schooling. I am advocating with starting somewhere and exploring. And, not feeling bad when you completely abandon that expensive curriculum that makes your kid cry and you take nature walks for two weeks and keep a journal instead.
All that being said you do need to start somewhere and the place I usually recommend to start with is Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool. I am not an affiliate (it’s FREE) but it is a really good place to start because it is comprehensive, it does include religion but it is extremely easy to strip out, and, as I mentioned, it is completely FREE. Currently, it goes through middle school. If you feel like you need to do something this is a good place to start.
Next, I would suggest visiting The Homeschool Store (another Homeschool Bookstore has opened in Stafford as well). Here you can actually lay your hands on curriculum. It has a small play area in the store so feel free to bring your kids. If you are already researching options online then bring some printouts because there is absolutely no cell phone service in the building.
Find Your People
Once you’ve got a good idea for who you are and what your kids are like as students then I would say reach out and start looking for your homeschool tribe. There are a lot of options for groups, classes, and co-ops but if you don’t know what you can handle these may actually make your week harder instead of easier.
When you are ready to reach out come join us in the Greater Houston Homeschoolers Group. It is private and for Houston-area based Homeschoolers. If you are neither of those two things we have a public group and there is always the regular Greater Houston Moms Facebook page.
Also, check out our list of Houston Homeschooling Days and Ongoing Classes & Activities.
Sometimes the need to homeschool is only temporary due to illness, sports, or travel, etc. In other instances, the children ask to go back. Often, the parents decide their child needs to go back. Going back into the public school system is very common and not at all a problem. Each district has its own policies and procedures on how to re-enroll and assess the mastery level of homeschooled students. Simply call the school you are zoned to and they will guide you through the process.
Houston also is home to some unconventional schools that may be a better fit. And, there are certainly a plethora of online options. Going back does not necessarily need to mean going back to public school.
Good luck and feel free to ask you questions, join in the conversation, or just lurk about here or in the groups!
COMMUNITY, CLASSES, ACTIVITIES?
- Houston Homeschooling Days and Ongoing Classes & Activities
- Homeschool Houston Groups & Co-Ops
- Greater Houston Homeschoolers (GHH) Group
- GHH Public Group
- Greater Houston Moms Facebook Page
- Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool (Free)
- The Homeschool Store– located in NW Houston
- The Homeschool Bookstore– located in SW Houston
- The Best Online Schools for Your Home Learner
HOMESCHOOLING ARTICLES & MISC.
- “Should I Homeschool?”
- Texas Education Agency (TEA) – Homeschooling Policy & Guidelines
- Styles of Homeschooling
- Nine Unconventional Schools in Houston