1 . Notify the county school
The county website has the forms you need https://www.fcps.org/academics/home-instruction
First you need to fill out the Home Instruction (Home Schooling) Notification Form
The form needs to be turned in two weeks before you start homeschooling. So two weeks before you remove your child from public school or in the summer two weeks before school starts. The details are listed on the MD State Home Instruction Regulations you can also find the link on the county website. It lists all the requirements for homeschooling in the state.
Before removing your child from school I think it’s a good idea to confirm that the county has received your form and it is clear you are homeschooling. I sent in my form by email and asked for a confirmation email. It helps to follow up to make sure things go smoothly!
2 . Read the regulations!
Read the regulations (MD State Home Instruction Regulations) so you know what to expect.
Basically the requirements say that you must provide regular, thorough instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age and include instruction in the following subjects: English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education. You must show your portfolio to the county representative once each semester. The regulations also state that if you fail to comply you will be asked to correct the issues or put your child in public school.
If you are not interested in working directly with the county you can sign up with an approved umbrella group/school/program. An umbrella group checks in with you to make sure you are meeting educational expectations. Some people prefer to work with an umbrella group. This link goes to a list of approved umbrella groups. http://nonpublicschoolsdb.marylandpublicschools.org/nonpublic/home_instruction/DisplayLocationsByCounty.asp
You can find more information at the sites below.
3 . Start planning your homeschool year!
Every homeschool parent feels that they have found the best way to homeschool! Don’t let that scare you. Homeschooling is amazing because it can be customized to fit your child and your family. What works for one family may not work for another. What works for one child may not work for another. Homeschoolers love to share what they have learned and what has worked with their family! No matter how much they push the right way (their way) do what works best for you. Ultimately, this is about educating your child.
What type of homeschooling? There are both secular (nonreligious) and religious curricula (A curriculum or curricula are just a list of topics you plan to teach and the resources you plan to use.) You can use a secular curriculum and teach bible study. A secular curriculum doesn’t have religious information included in the lesson. Some people prefer that religion is part of every topic and some do not. This is one of the first decisions you will make looking for homeschool books!
Once you have decided between secular and religious or a combination of them it is time to look for books and make a plan. What works for me is to look at the Core Knowledge sequence and decide what I plan to teach this year. But you can just start off with a general list of the required topics and write down what you would like to cover this year!
You can see what they are teaching in the public school at each grade. https://www.fcps.org/academics/ You will have to search through many pages to find and print out the curriculum for each topic at each grade level. That is why I recommend the Core Knowledge Sequence because it is easy to ready!
Start out with the list of required topics and start filling in the types of lessons that fit in each subject.
English (includes handwriting, spelling, grammar, reading, composition)
Mathematics (word problems, measurements, arithmetic, logic puzzles, patterns, shapes, geometry, algebra)
Science (ecology, biology, chemistry, botany)
Social Studies (includes history, geography, civics)
Art (art history, colors, design, patterns, drawing, painting)
Music (music history, music terms, singing, playing instruments, reading music, rhythm)
Health (body systems, nutrition, five senses, drug and substance abuse awareness, body changes at puberty)
Physical Education (dancing, coordination activities, sports, calisthenics, yoga, running)
With an outline ready you can narrow down specific topics and/or resources you would like to use for the year. This is the outline I used for first grade.
4. If you get stuck look for help!
If you have decided to go with an umbrella group you will need to register with one and follow their guidelines for reviews.
If you have decided to go with the Frederick County reviewers you will need to make an appointment for your reviews.
For your first year you will have to meet with your county reviewer once each semester. Usually emails go out twice a year letting you know it is time to make your appointment. Don’t stress out if you do not receive an email about scheduling your review! Email your assigned reviewer and ask for details! Email either reviewer if you are unsure who is managing your file.
Everyone has a different experience with the county reviews. All of my review meetings have been wonderful! For each meeting I take in my homeschool plan (my list of topics to cover and materials I plan to use or have used), a list of books read this year, two or three samples of work or tests for each subject, pictures of projects or activities (for PE, art, field trips), lists of classes taken or currently enrolled, certificates from completed online courses and a list of questions and concerns. I have found slideshows are a fun way to share the information with the reviewer. At our next review my son will be giving the presentation!
Your homeschooled student can participate in the school testing. I have not participated in the school testing but it is easy to get more information about the school testing from the county reviewers
Each summer you will receive a confirmation that you will be homeschooling for the following school year. Be sure to respond as requested.