New to Homeschooling (for Non-Members)
So you're considering educating your children at home? Congratulations! Many families are discovering "coming home" to homeschooling, and finding it rewarding and enjoyable, and a great way to build strong family ties.
The modern homeschool movement began in the 1940's by the "grandparents" of modern education, Dr. Raymond and Mrs. Dorothy Moore. Since then, gaining more popularity and respect in the last thirty years, many people are finding home education a viable educational alternative for their families.
If you're considering homeschooling, it is important to be as informed as possible of the options available to you. It is important to be familiar with the Colorado State home education law, and to be equipped with the tools you need to get started.
You will find a copy of the Colorado State Homeschooling Law (or provision) on our website. Study it carefully. It is perfectly legal to homeschool in this state and most people find Colorado Springs a very positive climate in which to homeschool. There are many families homeschooling here and many great support groups here to help you along the way.
Colorado law provides two options for the homeschooling family. The first, in which you choose your own curriculum, is by far the most flexible approach. It provides a tailor-made curriculum for your child, your family schedule, and your budgetary demands. You, the parent/teacher, decide what course of study your child will pursue based on his/her academic needs and interests. You create your own lesson plans and keep your own records.
Within this single approach there is an entire gamut of educational philosophies, from unit studies to 'un-schooling,' to the traditional textbook approach. If you have time to study these different schools of thought, it is wise to do so. Establish your own personal philosophy of education. The Pike's Peak Library has a wide variety of books available about home schooling, many of which have a Christian orientation. There is also much about homeschooling on the internet. You may want to plug in “Christian homeschooling” into your search engine.
There you will find resources that will acquaint you with various Christian textbook publishers, as well as some popular secular ones. Keeping your own records can be very simple--for instance, marking your calendar the days you "schooled." Or even simpler--the days you didn't school! Lesson planners are inexpensive, easily obtainable, and help make the record-keeping process simple.
If you choose this popular method of homeschooling, Colorado law requires that you send a "Letter of Intent" to a school district administrative office in the state two weeks prior to starting your school year. You can send the letter by certified mail and keep the receipt for your records if you’d like. Also provided on our website is a sample Notice of Intent form you can use to inform your district. You may also look over the Comparing Educational Choices Chart we've provided, which charts out the positive differences homeschooling affords your family.
In general, the first option provides more flexibility for your child, your family schedule, and your finances. It is completely legal and acceptable in the State of Colorado. It does place more responsibility on the homeschooling parent, and you are required by law to notify your local district. See the Colorado Homeschool Options Chart.
The second option is to enroll your children in a Colorado independent or private school. Some independent schools grade your child's work, keep academic records, and provide achievement testing. They also encourage and advise the new homeschooling parent. If you choose an independent school within the state of Colorado, you do not have to contact your local school district or send a Notice of Intent. This alternative makes you accountable to this private school. You are not technically homeschooling (under the homeschool regulations), but your child is enrolled in a private school as an off-campus student. The laws regarding private school enrollment and subjects are slightly different than the home school law (see the Colorado State law). There are any number of independent private schools available; all vary as to price and services offered.
Our group also provides this option through High Country Christian Academy (HCCA), our independent/private school. HCCA is incorporated as a private school in the state of Colorado. You can find more information on our website. Be sure to choose a school that requires you to send in monthly attendance records, and be wary of any organization which claims to be a private school, but does not ask for any records throughout the school year. This may not satisfy the intent of the law.
If you are a certified teacher in the state of Colorado, your requirements are different. Read the home school law carefully. You will have less requirements than these other two options.
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started can seem like an overwhelming task. It is a good idea to take time to learn about the various curricula available before you purchase one. It is also important for every family to define its purpose for homeschooling at the outset. No two families homeschool for the same reason; but if you identify your goals and your purpose, it will enable you to buy your curriculum wisely and help your school year get off to a better start. This is very important for the children as they adjust to this change.
Some local resources for information can be found by contacting the following organizations:
The Pikes' Peak Library District
The library has an excellent listing of homeschooling books. Many are Christian in orientation, a few are not. Reading several different books can help you identify your own personal philosophy. Look especially for books by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Gregg Harris, Debra Bell, and Cathy Duffy. The 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, by Cathy Duffy summarize the pros and cons of top curricula available to homeschoolers. Also very complete and helpful are the elementary and secondary versions of The Christian Home Educator's Curriculum Manual by Cathy Duffy, though these are older versions. These also summarize many different curricula on the market.
Mardel Christian Stores
A Mardel store is located at Barnes and Powers Boulevard in Colorado Springs. It is a Christian store with an educational department that includes lots of homeschooling resources. They also have sales periodically throughout the year and you can sign up to receive email notices about them if you'd like.
High Country Home Educators
The homeschooling families of New Life Church offer a three part program. High Country is, first of all, a support group. We offer a variety of services, group activities and events for support and fellowship to our member families. A monthly newsletter, family directory, and legislative updates are included. We also offer field trips, beginner seminars, a senior graduation, formal prom alternative, a group discount for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, an online library of homeschool workshops, curriculum exchange listing and so much more. Please visit the Support Group section of our website for more information.
In addition, High Country, in conjunction with the Small Group Ministries of New Life Church, offers a variety of Enrichment Classes geared toward supplementing your home schooling program. Please visit the Enrichment Classes section of our website for more information on classes and to download a current semester registration handbook.
As mentioned earlier, we also operate an independent private school, High Country Christian Academy (HCCA). Please refer to the Colorado Homeschool Options chart on our website to know the different homeschooling options under the homeschool law or under the supervision of our independent school.
The Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) is our state group and offers an invaluable resource DVD, “A Guide to Home Education in Colorado”, complete with everything you need to know to begin and more. Every summer, CHEC holds its annual State Home Educators' Conference in Denver--a must if you can possibly go! They also offer a free quarterly magazine.
Begin planning now for the fall!
The Colorado homeschooling law requires 172 school days averaging four hours per day. Get a lesson plan book, if you want, and schedule your school days. Many families like to allow a few extra days off during the busy holiday season; you may want to start your school year a little early to allow yourself some flexibility during the holidays.
Determine your personal philosophy. Why are you homeschooling? What do you hope to accomplish? Write down your goals and intentions and keep these in your homeschooling file. There will be times throughout the year when reviewing and reflecting on them will be helpful. It may also be helpful to read a good book on homeschooling to keep a fresh view and outlook on what you are doing and why.
Prepare your children. If they are leaving a traditional school setting, they will experience some adjustments. Begin reading to them, doing fun activities together, talking about school. Prepare them for the changes, and explain to them both why you are homeschooling, and what will be expected from them. Establish a routine in your home. Teach your children to help with household chores. Above all, be sure that your children exhibit an appropriate level of obedience for their age. Work with them patiently but firmly.
Again, if your children are leaving a traditional school setting, you must allow them some "down time," especially if there have been hurts or other problems. You must allow some time for healing from unhealthy experiences. Do not pressure your child, but lovingly establish guidelines and routines, and help them through this transition time.
Above all, immerse your children and your school in the Word of God. Read and pray with your children daily. Study the Word for yourself, and see what it has to say about education. God's Word is always our best resource! Educational fads will come and go, but God's Word remains true.
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Please call our phone line at (719) 278-9135 x3 or Email us at HCOffice@hche.org if you have more questions that we can help you with. We’d love to talk with you!